Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The bee is moving!

I've decided to move my blog to WordPress. To continue to follow my blog, visit my WordPress blog here!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I’ve been on a big organic/natural foods kick lately, and honestly, once I started looking more closely at the ingredients in things, it really started creeping me out. I’ve been looking at calories/fat/fiber for Weight Watchers, and sugar for my hypoglycemia, but I’ve never concentrated this much on everything else. Right now I’m kinda feeling like I’d like to be able to identify the ingredients in my food in a lineup, know what I mean?

For instance, sometimes it’s really hard for me to drink enough water, and I like to put low-calorie flavor packets in them for a little fruity taste. Strawberry banana is my favorite-yum! But hold up.....what is dimethylpolysiloxane? I can barely pronounce it and have no idea what it is, but it's in my drink mix. A quick Google investigation later, and I'm disappointed to know that I have 4 boxes of this stuff that I bought on sale I will never, ever be able to drink again. Because, according to Wikipedia, dimethylpolysiloxane...

"...is the most widely used
silicone-based organic polymer, and is particularly known for its unusual rheological (or flow) properties. Its applications range from contact lenses and medical devices to elastomers; it is present, also, in shampoos (as dimethicone makes hair shiny and slippery), caulking, lubricating oils, and heat-resistant tiles.....As a food additive, it has the Enumber E900 and is used as an anti-foaming agent and an anti-caking agent. This silicone can be found in many processed foods and fast food items such as McDonald's Chicken McNuggets."

Oh yeah, and it's also a main ingredient in Silly Putty. So we've got Silly Putty, caulking, lubricating oils, heat resistant tiles, McNuggets and my drink mixes....that just can't be good. In fact, it seems pretty disgusting.

It's usually always easier, quicker and cheaper to buy processed foods...but look what you're getting. I just think there has to be a better way to eat! And I'm trying to find my path to that better way.

To replace my old drink mixes, I found Flavrz drink mixes, which, while not as low calorie, are organic, low sugar, made with real fruit and have absolutely NO artificial ingredients. Brilliant! I'll take a few extra calories if it means I don't need to be a chemist to understand an ingredients listing.

Busy Bee

Saturday was a wash as far as exercise goes. James’ band had a show, and then there was a late-night ER visit for a friend who had a concussion...so we didn’t get home until 7:30 am. That certainly justifies sleeping til noon. I was still very tired once I woke up, and the swim and bike ride we had planned was something I didn’t feel physically OR mentally capable of. So that just meant that Sunday suddenly became a super-active, super-busy (but great!) day. No time to slack off! James & I started off with an hour bike ride, sprinkled with a quick run and topped with a gorgeous view. There is a KILLER hill to get up here, so the fact that our bike ride was shorter than usual didn't make me feel so bad. I was still feeling really tired, and the fact that it was hot and I was incredibly thirsty didn't help the overall weak feeling I had, but James really pushed me (in a good way!) to give it my all.
Then it was off to the farmer’s market for fresh veggies and live music by a friend’s band...oh yeah, there was also fresh black raspberry ice cream and organic pizza topped with nasturtium (flowers! On pizza! How fabulous!). We shared, so I didn’t feel bad about indulging.Next up was swimming. We went to a local lake, and since we weren’t town residents it was $17 to get in. 17 dollars! It was worth it, though, because I really need the swim practice. James watched out for my form while I swam some laps. And of course we goofed off for a bit, too, because all work and no play isn’t much fun! Honestly, though, I hate swimming in lakes. It creeps me out a bit. And no one was swimming all the way out to the buoys like I was, so I started envisioning monstruous lake creatures waiting out there to eat me. The good thing about swimming with goggles on is that you can see— and the bad thing about swimming with goggles on is that you can see! Seeing long green slimy grass or even a bunch of rocks makes me think of the creatures that would love to call it home....eww! I think I have too much of an imagination sometimes :) In reality, I know that no lake creature is going to eat me...maybe!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nine Days

I know I said this already, but the triathlon has really snuck up on me this year. I can’t believe its only NINE days away! Maybe it’s a matter of knowing what I’m in for this year, but I like this relaxed feeling. I hope it carries all the way through the big day. Don’t get me wrong, when I started reading through the athlete info guide they released this week, I kinda wanted to vomit for a few seconds. But it went away quickly :)

I remember last year, I was SO SO nervous the two days leading up to the triathlon. I was a ball of nervous anticipation and excitement. It was like creaking up an old rollercoaster for days. But on the morning of the tri, which should have been the top of the rollercoaster, the height of nervous anticipation and excitement and energy, I was incredibly calm. I can honestly say I was not at all nervous on that day. I was sooooooo ready. So focused and care free. It was great. I hope I can have that same feeling again. It’s my natural tendency to worry, something I’d been working on a lot, so the fact that I was so calm and clear-headed is one of the things I’m most happy about when I think about that day.

Then there’s swimming. I survived last year’s swim, but it wasn’t pretty. I’ll never forget the feeling of choking on the lake water, of being only a few seconds in to the start of the tri and feeling panic sweep over me. It was awful. And I think it’s an experience that has only been amplified by my memory of it. Last year, I was most nervous about the swim. This year, I’m most nervous about the swim AND I have a reason to be. Eeek! But the amazing Audrey took Lola & I for a swim practice the other day, which was wonderful, went great and made me feel much better. We’re going to go again next week, and James is going to go with me this weekend, so hopefully it’ll all be enough to boost my confidence and push away my bad memories.

And since somehow, the triathlon is next weekend (oh my gosh I know I can’t stop saying this, but I still can’t believe it!) I’ve already made my packing list for the weekend of the tri, in an effort to calm any nerves that may arise next week. I just feel better when I’m organized. Although I’m sure James & I will be going through the same routine as last year--we sat in my apartment and talked out every step of the next 30 or so hours of my life and all the things necessary to be properly equipped for those hours, in order to make sure I had packed everything I would need. And I still managed to forget my balloon (although thankfully James was at the race site at 4:45am the next day, balloon in hand).

I have an interesting new outfit for the triathlon. I had ordered a new tri top--OBVIOUSLY cannot wear the same thing two years in row ;) -- but the company didn’t send me what I ordered. Instead, they sent me what I like to call my triathlon catsuit. When I pulled it out of the box, I laughed. I initially tried it on only for laughs; it’s a one-piece triathlon suit, so the shorts are attached to the top. I was figuring this would be a body-image nightmare. But when I tried it on....it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t much different from my tri shorts and top, and it was comfortable. So...I decided to stick with it! Comfort is key, and I like that since the top and shorts are attached, I won’t have to worry about my top riding up or moving around. And anyway, let’s face it, a triathlon is not the time to worry about being super cute. It’s the time to worry about...nothing :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Be here now.

Somehow, the triathlon has crept up on me. Last year it was looming large, shadowing everything I did. This year, it's quieter, a pinpoint on the map of a jam-packed summer.

I've felt bad about my lower level of intensity, constantly telling myself I need to pick it up, work harder, do more, be better. Get back to where I was. Lose 5 pounds. No, 10 pounds.

But something in my mindset has shifted yet again.

Yeah, you know what, I'd like to weigh a little less. But right now, it's ok. I honestly do feel like I could stand to lose a few pounds. But overall, I FEEL good. Being active, eating right, it's an ongoing effort that I've made a part of my life. And that's better than working to achieve a short-term goal. The transformation I went through last year, it's complete, and yet it's not complete. It's every day. And that's what I wanted, that's what I set out to achieve for myself.

And in this ongoing effort, yes, I'm going to skip the gym sometimes. And it's ok! I'm going to struggle a bit with my knee, but you know what? My 5K time actually isn't that much worse with an injury than without it. And that's ok, too! Because overall, I've made exercise a can't-live-without-it part of my life.

And food....ah, yes, food. I'm going to eat too much sometimes, or eat the wrong things. I'm ok with that. Mostly, I want eating to be about health, about energy, about properly fueling my body. But sometimes, I want it to be about enjoyment, about friendship and family and love, when sitting around a table with great people or seeking out an ice cream cone on a hot summer day is about adding to the great moments in my life, not counting the points in my meal.

Otherwise, will it ever end? At my thinnest, I still wanted to lose 5 more pounds, when everyone else was telling me to stop. I think, if I choose to focus on weight, I'll always want to lose 5 more pounds.

I want to be here now. Be. Here. Now.

I could focus on a year ago, when I was 10 pounds thinner. I could focus on last month, when I should have done more. I could focus on next month, when I'd like to weigh 5 pounds less than I do now.

Instead, I want to be here. I want to be in the right now and make good choices, but not beat myself up for the slip-ups or the lazy days. I want to love myself for who I am today. Because I love who I've become, a healthy person who is more likely to be running a 5K or climbing a mountain on a Saturday morning than sleeping in; someone who tries her best to eat naturally and organically but still can't seem to resist the occassional french fry.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

News flash

News flash: this year is not going as planned.


Honestly, most of the greatest things in my life have been unexpected and outside of my envisioned “plan” for myself. I have actually been MORE successful when I set goals but don’t painstakingly plot out, point-by-point, the path I’ll take to get there.

So, when Lola and I made a 2010, prep-for-the-triathlon-5K-super-schedule, I should have known that life sometimes invades the most well-intentioned plans. And that the happiest, most successful people learn how to suck it up and move forward in whatever capacity they can. I’d like to always be one of those people, but I can’t deny that I’ve faltered a bit here.

Even so, I’ve never questioned that I will still be standing on the shores of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg early the morning of July 25th (yes, that really is the name of the lake, and isn't it just fitting that its name isn't simple, either). If it means that I run in pain, then I’ll be running in pain. I hope not to be, but if so, oh well. I’ll deal with it. I still have 79 days from today to strengthen my knee and get better. I’m confident that I’ll be standing strong that morning.

A positive outlook, one in which I thought only about today and didn’t worry needlessly about tomorrow, is what got me so far last year. Very few things worth achieving are achieved without a struggle, and I don’t want to be the kind of person who wilts at the idea of something that won’t come easy.

I can't leave behind the lessons I've learned-- that what I want, simply and honestly, is to be happy. That I’ve found pursuing happiness rarely leads to happiness; pursue other things, and you find happiness.

And I find true happiness in running and writing....they keep me invigorated, give me energy and make me feel vibrantly alive. I need to pursue them without focusing on the obstacles that might stand in my way, because whatever personal successes come from the pursuit of those things are all that I need- no more, no less.

Monday, April 19, 2010

And don't it always seem to go....

I’ve been dealing with this knee thing for a month now. In my entire 27 years, I’ve never given much thought to my knees, but now I think about them more than anything else. Or at least, I think about my right knee. The weak one, the one that’s messing with me. It makes clicking noises, every now and again, to remind me that it’s there. As if I could forget.

When I got to the orthopedic doctor’s office and sat down to fill out the paperwork, Miley’s “The Climb” was playing softly from the overhead speakers. I almost started to cry, but it also made me feel stronger, more stable. My doctor’s appointment revealed no major damage, but the doctor’s attitude towards my situation once that was discovered frustrated me. I felt like he couldn’t get me out of his office fast enough. I followed him out of the room, still asking questions. While I was relieved that nothing major was wrong, I was still concerned about the pain, what was causing it and how to get it to go away.

The first time I went running after the doctor gave me the ok (with the brace, always with the brace), I switched on my iPod shuffle and the first song to play was “The Climb”. I just don’t know if I can explain how much that song affects me, but if you’ve read these words over the past year, you have an idea. The fact that it showed up at these difficult, emotional times is amazing to me, leaves me feeling encouraged, determined.

The second time I went running I thought maybe I just needed to push past the pain. Keep running. Try harder. That was not the case. There’s no pushing past it; the pain holds strong. At this point, I can run about 3 minutes before the pain asks me, not so politely, to stop.

I don’t have to wear the knee brace on a normal day; maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, but it only hurts when I run. I wish I could tell you that my knee and I were getting along marvelously, wish I could say that my attitude has totally improved since my last post, but that wouldn’t be true. I go back and forth throughout the course of a day, between being positive and feeling down.

I started physical therapy, which came with it’s own (mostly financial and logistical) annoyances, but I’m doing my best to stay positive. I’ve decided not to sign up for the next race that Lola and I were planning on doing, since it’s this weekend and I know I’m not ready for it. I’m trying not to be too discouraged and frustrated by this, but it’s hard.

All I can do, it seems, is be patient. I have not been very good at that, to be honest. I guess I’m not good at being patient in general— I want control, I want to make things happen. I don’t want to have to sit back and wait, or stand in the physical therapist’s office 2-3 times per week for 30 minutes, making miniscule muscle movements that feel like nothing yet cause my knee to ache and cost $45 a session.

I miss running. On a bad day, just seeing someone running can overwhelm me. I’ll neither confirm nor deny that there was a day, a gorgeous blue-skyed day, when seeing too many runners in too short a time period made me start to cry quietly, a few tears almost hidden by oversized sunglasses. I miss running. I miss the feeling of a really good workout, of clearing my mind of everything. I miss races. I miss trying to be better. I miss the feeling of just running and being, nothing else. I miss writing, but what do I have to write about if I’m not running, not racing? But running, racing and writing... those are my things. My outlets. They are what I do when I want to do something for me. I miss my running self. However slow I was, however much I hated running at times, I ran freely and it made me happy.

I don’t know what else to say. I don’t want to be negative. I don’t want to throw a pity party, and to be honest I hope you wouldn’t RSVP if I did.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Buzz Buzz Blah

Its hard to write a blog. Because when, on Wednesday, you write things like you’ll be “unstoppable in mind” and that you’ll “keep a positive attitude”, and then you spend the next two days after that being a totally cranky bee-otch, well, you might appear a little hypocritical.

Truth is, Wednesday feels like a long time ago. I’m annoyed by this knee brace. I’m on day four of wearing it, and it’s getting less and less comfortable. It fits invisibly under only 1 pair of jeans, which I’ve now worn for 3 days in a row. I’m not in pain all the time, but every once in the while the pain shoots through my knee like a burst of electricity- when I’m walking, or I turn the wrong way, or when I first get out of bed in the morning. The nice weather makes me want to be outside: running, biking—anything! And yet I can’t be. I can’t run in tomorrow’s race; I’m not even supposed to walk it.

It’s not the worst possible thing that could happen, and I know this. I’ve only been out of commission for less than a week. I know that wearing a knee brace is not that much of an inconvenience. I know that whatever is actually wrong with my knee is probably not a huge deal, and that I can handle a few weeks of restricted activity; at least it’s probably going to be weeks, not months. I also know that letting negativity buzz around in my brain has never gotten me anywhere I want to be.

But right now, on this day, in this moment, I’m totally bummed and I can’t seem to shake it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bumblee Bee...Sidelined.

“The worst that could happen will almost certainly not happen. And even if it does, you’ll find a way to handle it.”

This is part of my mantra, the Ralph Marston quote that has propelled me through so many days. I’m holding strong to these two sentences in particular, now more than ever.

The words popped in my head after I got a text from James on Monday morning that said "Promise me that no matter what the doctor says, you'll stay calm--we'll get through whatever it is." I haven't let any of these words leave my mind since.

As I mentioned last week, Sunday was my first 5K of the season. Yay! I was excited to get back into running. I was excited to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our first 5K. Lola, James, and James’ brother and girlfriend were all running. It was a St. Patrick’s Day race, and we were all in the spirit with green shirts, green hair, green socks. The day was fighting against our positive attitudes with its gray skies, windy gusts and drizzly rain, a stark contrast to last year’s race, when it was warm, sunny and bright. As we were lined up, waiting for the race to start, the wind started blowing even harder. Lola turned to me and said, “I guess this might be a warning, that everything is going to be harder this year.” Her prediction turned out to be right; it foreshadowed what would come next.

I was maybe a 1/4 mile into the race when my knee started to hurt. I had experienced some knee pain in the last race I ran, back in November. But that was a longer race, I thought that the extra miles were what strained my knee, and I’ve been taking it easy since then. I was concerned about longer distances, but it never crossed my mind to be concerned about a 5K. I may not be fast, and I’ll probably never think they’re exactly “easy”, but I’ve run enough now to be comfortable with a 5K. I still get a little amped up before a race, but I’m no longer nervous because I know what I’m in for. There’s comfort in the familiar— knowing how my body will feel, knowing how to regulate my breathing, running to the beat of the music that has propelled me along so many miles.

This knee pain was familiar too. It was the same pain I felt at the end of the last race I’d run. Except I was at the beginning of this one. I had miles to go.

I slowed down considerably. James had passed me within the first few steps of the race, and now I watched Lola fade into the distance, too. I was stunned that this had happened. Still, I thought it could be simple-- mind over matter. But by the time I turned the second corner of the race, I was barely running. And now, compensating for my injured knee was causing the pain to shoot down to my ankle and up to my butt. Even so, I was determined to keep running. I thought if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to start again. I passed the first mile mark, still running. It was getting increasingly painful, and eventually I had to stop, walking when the pain got to be too much, running when the pain had eased enough.

I always feel like a race is a competition against myself, not anyone else. For me, it’s always mind versus body. When I’m running, I have to ignore my mind when it says “I’m tired. Why are you doing this to me? I want to rest.” I need to ask my body if it’s tired, if it needs to rest. Most of the time, the answer is no. This time there was a different battle raging in my head. My body was saying “Stop”. My mind was saying “Keep going”. Every time negative thoughts started to overwhelm me, I would think to myself: “If it doesn’t hurt enough to cry then you can keep on going. And you aren’t going to cry because you are not a baby.” Repeating this to myself kept me putting one foot in front of the other, even as the distance I could run without stopping became shorter and shorter. I repeated it as the firefighters on the rescue cart passed me by. Twice. In my mind, getting on that cart was never an option, neither was not finishing the race. I would have kept on going if I was the last person, if I had to walk across the finish line dragging my bum leg behind me. I wasn’t giving myself an out. I didn’t want an out. I just wanted to finish the race.

And I did. It took nearly 42 minutes. So much for beating last year’s time (although last year’s time was 39 minutes, so apparently an injury doesn't make me that much slower than I was last year!). Once I crossed the finish line I was struggling to keep the tears from flowing. I spotted James and Lola and I’m pretty sure some tears escaped at that point. Not from pain, but because I was so disappointed and frustrated. And now that the race was finally over, for just a few minutes I allowed myself to be worried.

I saw my regular doctor on Monday and he’s sending me to an orthopedic doctor. I couldn’t get an appointment for two weeks, so for now I’m armed with a bottle of anti-inflammatory pills, a knee brace and a positive attitude. While I won’t know for sure until I see the orthopedic doctor, my regular doctor said I would be lucky if in 4-6 weeks I could run again (I’m determined to be lucky). He thinks I’ll probably need a little bit of physical therapy. Then, if that doesn’t work, he said it would probably mean an MRI and possibly surgery. But that’s worst case scenario, one that I’m not even thinking about at this point— this is where the Ralph Marston quote comes in. The worst that could happen will almost certainly not happen. And even if it does, I’ll find a way to handle it.

I can’t lie, there are moments when the disappointment rises up in me like a wave—sudden, strong, knocking my positivity off balance. It’s not fading as the days go by. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about standing on the sidelines at this weekend’s race, but I know I won’t like it. I already know that the thought of not being able to run for weeks-- just as the weather is getting nicer, the sun is shining more and the days are getting longer-- feels like a cruel punishment. Which is funny, because with my love/hate relationship with running, sometimes running itself feels like punishment, and yet not being able to run feels so much worse.

Still, I consider myself resilient. If I can’t be unstoppable in body, I can be unstoppable in mind. I’ll keep my knee brace on all day. I’ll take glucosamine & chondroitin in the hopes that it will help my healing. I’ll follow the acronym so many runners already know: RICE (rest, ice, compression & elevation). I’ll take my anti-inflammatories twice a day, as directed. I’ll flavor my dinners with garlic, ginger and red pepper, all thought to decrease inflammation. I'll take my place on the sidelines instead of in the crowd of runners ready to race (for now). And I’ll cross my fingers, keep a positive attitude, and hope that this is just a minor bump in the road, as overcomeable as any challenge I’ve faced before.

Monday, March 8, 2010

'Tis the season

This Sunday marks the first 5K of the “season”. I’m sure many runners would say there’s not really a running season, but as far was winter running goes, personally I’m far too clumsy to run in the snow. Also its freaking cold out and I really hate the cold. And I go into semi-hibernation in the winter. But now, as the temperature rises, so do my hopes that spring is finally here. The sun was peeking through the blinds this Saturday morning when I woke up, and in between the slats I could also see slices of blue sky and clouds— the good kind of clouds, puffy white ones, the kind that always look like something else, that mesmerize you with their infinite possibilities.

Not only is this Sunday’s 5K the first of the year, it’s also a special one in my mind because it is the first race Lola and I ran a year ago. It is our 5K anniversary, if you will. Tradition says the gift for a one-year anniversary is paper so it’s appropriate that on Sunday we’ll be pinning on our paper race numbers, an anniversary gift to ourselves as we celebrate not only a year of struggle, success, achievement, perseverance and the happiness that has come with it, but also another wonderful running season ahead.

Those race numbers might be just paper, but they represent so much more. I have them framed in my bedroom. Seeing them hanging on the wall is a demonstration of my determination, a reminder to myself of what I can achieve, and how far I’ve come. My eye always goes to the green and orange race bib, the first one I ever pinned on.

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by. A year ago, I was running this 5K based on Audrey’s suggestion, as a “practice” race in preparation for the triathlon. I was about halfway to my weight goal. Lola and I had recently started going to the gym together and somehow she agreed to do the 5K with me. I remember our pre-race dinner the night before, watching Run Fatboy Run and praying that neither of us would take a face plant like that poor guy did. I remember my concern over my finish line photo— that was totally warranted, as it turns out, since the tank top I wore that day turned out to be way too low cut to run in (in my official finish line photos I looked like I belonged in a Girls Gone Wild 5K). I remember my late-night safety pin run, I remember being so so SO nervous the morning of the race. I remember sitting on my parents kitchen floor later that day, after the race, in a semi-daze over the accomplishment.

I don’t think either Lola or I would have dreamed that we’d become almost addicted, running a race every chance we could, leaving us with more free race t-shirts than we can fit in our drawers. I don’t think we would have guessed that through the following months we’d recruit her husband, my boyfriend, friends and family to run with us— heck, I bet we even convinced total strangers to run a race or two. I don’t think we could have guessed that, by the end of 2009, we’d have run in ten races and be planning a similar schedule for 2010.

It’s amazing what happens in a year. Shifting slowly over time like those puffy white clouds, life changes until suddenly you see something completely different. The constant evolution can be scary, but look again, and let it look like something else— like fun, like opportunity, like another great journey ahead. Let yourself be mesmerized by the infinite possibilities.