Friday, March 22, 2013

Heart health and poor decisions.

Sometimes Google lets me down. Not often. But occasionally it happens.

Whenever I have questions about my health, I go see my doctor I check online. I don't have health insurance and I do not want to know how much an EKG costs without it; Google is the next best thing. Not really.

I have been having heart palpitations all. freaking. day. It feels like my heart is hiccuping. You know when you're in the middle of a bout of hiccups but you're not actually hiccuping and you can feel the anticipation in your diaphragm and you are hyper-aware that you're not hiccuping but one is on the way? It's that same feeling, but in my heart.

Apparently Google is not an adequate replacement for a trained and licensed medical professional because all it will tell me is that heart palpitations are either completely normal and harmless...or they might kill me. And it won't tell me which side of the fence I'm currently on. Thanks for nothing, Google.

Can you believe the nerve? (Obviously I am being sarcastic. Go see your doctors for an accurate and informed diagnosis, ladies and gents. And for the love of corgis, do not listen to any of my medical/lifestyle/hairstyle advice.)

So I was laying (lying? I can never remember which one it is. Damn. Useless college degree...) on my bed and staring at my running calendar:

I use a corgi puppy wall calendar to keep track of my runs. You're allowed to be jealous.

I was trying to decide if I should go for a run. I wasn't really feeling it since it felt like my heart was trying to bust free of my chest and run away. (That's a slight exaggeration) But I don't really have very much wiggle room left in my training schedule. (Read: none at all) The half marathon is in two (!!!!!) weeks. I decided that if I died during my run, I wouldn't need to worry about the half. And if I survived, then at least I got some sort of run done. 

Ladies and gents, do not follow my example. Sometimes I do really stupid things. Running while experiencing some sort of cardiac upset probably doesn't even make the Top 5 List of Dumbest Things I Have Ever Done. (#1 is driving in LA; #2 is believing the fraternity brother at the fraternity party that he would show me, and not my friends who apparently have bladders the size of swimming pools, where the bathroom is - he actually did, but hot damn that could have gone downhill very fast) It probably (hopefully?) wasn't harmful. But the safe route would have been to sit it out and consult someone who knows anything about cardiac-type-things.

Anyway, I decided to keep the run short since this is my first back-to-back run in about two months. And because my heart is on the fritz. But since it was short, I decided it should be fast. Kindly re-read the last paragraph where I mention that sometimes I do stupid things. We will see if I pay the price tomorrow.

Good news: I didn't die (Although whether or not that is good new is subjective) and I didn't notice my heart palpitations while running. Bad news: the palpitations came back once I stopped running. Damn.

Hopefully they will be gone tomorrow. Hopefully I will be alive tomorrow. Today I am thankful for cardiologists because someday when I have health insurance and can afford to see a doctor, I'm going to pay one a visit! Go visit your cardiologist for me! (Not really...unless you actually need to see your cardiologist...)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Treadmill run.

I didn't take any pictures because I'm lame. Feel free to hate me.

I've been doing a lot of treadmill running recently. For a while it's because I was traveling and treadmill running is easiest when you're on the road. (Not the touristy type of traveling though, because then I would highly recommend running outside) And for a while when I wasn't traveling, I was just being lazy. (I live in an area that isn't super safe for runners, so I usually drive somewhere else to run)

Anyway, I think with the amount of treadmill action I was seeing (Oh baby), my mind was numbed to how awful it can be. Don't get me wrong - there are some great perks to the t-mill. Once you drown out the screaming in your head. However, after getting in a couple runs outside and then going back to the treadmill, all I can say is eugh eugh eugh eugh.

Let's start with the positive: I love (to a certain extent) being able to control the pace. It allows me to do something that sort of resembles speedwork. I don't know anything about pacing (I haven't run very many races, so I don't know what 5k, 10k, etc paces are for me) and I don't think I've run enough to judge effort (Is this 70% max effort? Or only 68%?), so my version of speedwork is just to run for a certain distance at a pace faster than I would normally choose. Seems simple enough to me. And I love that the treadmill has everything laid out in front of me.

Paradoxically, the thing I hate about running on the t-mizzle is that...everything is laid out in front of me.

I still have HOW MANY MILES LEFT????

And am I the only one that feels this way, or does it seem like it takes a lot more effort to run at the same pace (or in my case, a slower pace) on the hamster wheel than it does outside?

It just gets depressing. I hate looking at the display and feeling like I'm stuck in the land of slugs. (One of my classmates in college - seriously, guys, college - once called me a slug. And slugs aren't exactly quick. So I thought they were appropriate for this description. And yes, he called me this after he already knew I ran/hobbled/crawled/log-rolled a marathon. I don't get it.)

Since I'm not usually much faster than slugs anyway, I won't talk hard numbers. But let's just say that my warmup mile outside with a hill was at a pace that would be hard to maintain on the dreadmill. My overall pace for my run outside (which I'm choosing to consider a tempo :P) was about 1:30 min/mile faster than I usually do inside.

Is this all in my head? Or is there something about treadmills that messes with pace? I've heard that they're technically supposed to be easier than running outside, so I set the incline at 1.0% to help negate that. Is it because I'm expecting it to be hard that makes it difficult? Or is it because I can watch every 0.001 mile tick away?

Anyone else out there experiencing the same thing? Bueller? Bueller?

(By the way, today I'm thankful for my library card. My broke a** college grad butt can't afford my book addiction. Hollaaaaaa free books!!)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The scale is a liar.

Sorry I've been gone. I visited my sister for a belated birthday celebration and then got hit with the apathy bug afterward.

Anyway, I learned a couple of important lessons these past few weeks. The first one is about your diet while running, specifically things you eat before running. I don't want to jinx it (like I jinxed the Chafing Gods - it is Chub Rub City all up in here. But I'll spare you the details...), but I always thought I had a GI tract of steel. I usually never get heartburn (unless I eat an entire family sized bag of Flamin Hot Lays by myself in one night), I don't notice my stomach/intestines/etc when I run (I have never -knockonwoodknockonwoodknockonwood - had to crouch in the bushes/frantically look for a bathroom/waddle home), and with the exception of one unfortunate time eating Domino's pizza, I pretty much never have an upset stomach. 

I don't know how familiar you guys are with Asian food/Asian fusion food, but shabu shabu is my current obsession. My sister found a really good restaurant near where she lives. This place is not traditional Japanese in the slightest but it is delicious beyond reason. It is a hot pot style meal where they bring out plates of raw meat/veggies/seafood/horse and you cook it in pots of boiling water and dip it in sauce and enjoy! I don't like meat so I always get the vegetarian entree. It is literally (and I literally mean literally) a plate bigger than your face piled high with vegetables. Fiber mountain. I wish I had taken a picture. But with food, I devour first and ask questions later.

I ate the entire mountain. And then ran 7 miles a couple hours later. Not one of my smartest decisions. And I always wondered why/scoffed at the people that stopped eating salads a couple days before races. I understand completely now. Lesson of the day: don't eat 8764 grams of fiber and then expect to be in tip-top shape for your run. It wasn't even like I needed to run to the bathroom every 46 seconds. It was just a giant rock sitting in my stomach. I definitely didn't make it all 7 miles at once. I usually hate taking walk breaks, but this time I let it slide.

Anyway, moving on. Here is a picture of my other obsession:

His name is Xiao Liwu and I want to give him a giant hug.

I know for a fact that pandas are the coolest animal in the world. Part of my birthday celebration was going to see the pandas at the San Diego Zoo. I wish I had a bigger purse because I was definitely thinking about packing this little guy in there and hightailing it home.

So with all of my traveling/fiber-eating/panda-watching, my running schedule got a little messed up. But I reworked it. I'm getting nervous for the upcoming half marathon (SLO Marathon on April 7 - if any of you are going to be there, HOLLER AT ME!! I want to get cake at the Madonna Inn after!!) but there's not much I can do except run my feet off. So I was supposed to do my long run this last weekend. But then this little guy showed up in our laundry room:

I named him George. He's not actually little. He's kind of a tank.

We rescued him off a utility pole when he was a kitten and he's been hanging around ever since. For the past few months, he has been spending more time at the neighbor's house. I've been trying to woo him and convince him to spend more time with me. Trying to make a feral (but friendly!) cat love you = Sisyphean task.

The next lesson I learned: sometimes life happens. Sometimes feral cats happen. Sometimes logic and reason escape you and only leave you with enough time to do some speedwork instead of a long run. Just roll with it. I did my long run a couple days later. I have enough things in my life to stress about, I'm not going to add my improvised running schedule to that list. I run to be happy. Petting a fluffy, friendly cat also makes me happy. I'm lucky enough that I got to do both, even if it wasn't exactly how I planned it.

He is the heaviest sleeper ever. He also looks like he's dead. He's not. Can you see his tongue sticking out?

I finally did get my long run in. I was waiting for my mom to get off work so we could try out a new Zumba class so I went to the CVS next door to get some sort of sports drink. When I was staring at my options, I didn't feel like getting a sugary Gatorade. But then I saw this hiding in the corner:

Vitamin drink before.

It's like Vitamin Water. Except it actually has vitamins in it. And it's sweetened with stevia. I have no idea if it actually works. The bioavailability of vitamins/minerals is a little unclear right now (euphemism for: scientists don't know crap at the moment, but hopefully that won't always be the case) but at least I felt good about drinking it.

Vitamin drink after!

Anyway, apparently certain vitamins degrade in water, you the cap holds all the vitamin powder and you're supposed to shake it up before you drink it. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Finally, (and to put an end to this monstrous post) I have decided to stop weighing myself. I was feeling pretty good yesterday. I had done three pretty difficult workouts in two days, so I got the bright idea to check on my weight.

Highest. Weight. Ever. (Literally ever. Sigh.)

A frantic Google search seemed to indicate that there was a link between delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and weight gain. I weighed myself again this morning, and I was down 4+ pounds. Clearly my scale hates me. But more importantly, clearly body weight fluctuates a lot in a short amount of time. And perhaps most importantly, body weight is not a measurement of one's intelligence, goodness, morality, personality, or ambitions. It's just your relationship to the earth's gravitational pull. The earth and I are a little closer than we used to be. Oh well. So today I'm grateful for being grounded - for literally being able to have my feet on the ground running and also for being able to take a step back and get some perspective.

Thanks for sticking with this ADD post. I promise to make my posts more focused in the future.

PS - I'm bad at keeping promises.


What is your favorite food?

What do you do to refuel?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Holy thigh chafing, Batman!

Two in a row! Woooh!

Random announcement: I signed up for the San Luis Obispo half-marathon!! Holler at me if you're running and we can go get cake at the Madonna Inn after!!! :)

I got a running skirt today.'s not exactly a running skirt. It's a general athletic-type skirt, and I think that may have been my fatal mistake. The little shorts underneath ride up. All of my shorts have been riding up lately, so I opted to get a skirt so that I can save everyone else from having to look at my pasty white thighs. You're welcome. I think I may have tempted the Gods of Chafing when I talked (okay, bragged) in an earlier about how my skin doesn't chafe. There was definitely some thigh rubbing going on. It doesn't seem to have removed any layers of skin, but I don't want to press my luck.

The skirt in question. Purchased from Costco. I'm going to keep wearing it because a)it was cheap, b)I need new workout gear like nobody's business, and c)I like to tempt my chafing fate. And I literally spent 5 minutes maneuvering myself so I could get a picture without anything in the background. I clearly failed. I don't know how you guys can take pictures of your skirts/legs/shoes and have them look nice/not demented.

Last weekend was my birthday weekend. I ate at Panera for the first time in my life. Because I'm classy like that. I don't know how you guys do your birthdays, but in my family/circle of friends, the birthday person gets to eat wherever he/she wants. When I heard about the ooey, gooey, super cheesy macaroni and cheese at Panera, I decided I had to have it. There were many nomz to be had. I mostly just felt like revisiting my mac and cheese bliss, so I thought I would share it with you all.

Are you jealous? I'm getting jealous looking at my own picture. Mac and cheese is my kryptonite.

Also for my birthday (it was really for Christmas, but I wasn't around to get it, so it turned into a birthday present), the Significant Other's little sister got me panda headphones. I love pandas. End of story.

I feel like a 7 year old when I wear these. It's fantastic. Even though they don't fit in my ears very well (I have notoriously difficult ears), I wear them everywhere. Except while running.

Last, but not least, I enjoyed a chocolate soymilk after my run. I have heard that chocolate milk is the way to go for refueling after a run. I don't really like dairy stuff that much (I don't think I'm lactose intolerant, but it does weird things to me. In case you wanted to know. Which I'm sure you didn't), so soy and almond milk are my main squeezes. Two things that made me happy: Silk brand uses non-GMO ingredients (take that, Monsanto!! Go be brain-washed by Food, Inc. if you don't know what/who Monsanto is) and this particular product is fortified with Vitamin B12 (which can be difficult to find in non-animal-derived products).


Basically this post is a long distraction. I had a super frustrating run today (back at sea-level though! Hooray!) and I was feeling the need to put things back in perspective. All of the things that I pictured and that I have enjoyed within the last week are from people who care about me. Having a bad run doesn't change who I am and realistically has very little influence on the larger portion of my life. What's important is that a)I survived and I got the miles in, b)I am surrounded by amazing people, and c)I have a good run coming my way!


What are your favorite foods?

What do you do for your birthday?

Friday, March 1, 2013

High-altitude running.

I know I was trying for the whole write-a-post-once-a-week thing. But that obviously failed.

New March goal: blog more.

Okay. Glad I got that out of my system.

Anyway, like I mentioned in my last post, I went to Denver to visit some friends. I was a little nervous about running there. I have lived at sea level for my entire life so traveling to 6000 feet is always an interesting experience. When I visited last year (during one of my many breaks from running), I couldn't even get through a single mile. Completely pathetic.

So I went into this run with only a mileage goal in mind and ZERO expectations about pace, how I would feel, whether or not I would pass out and scrape my face on the treadmill belt, etc.

There is a gym in the apartment complex where I stayed, and what should have been a 2 minute walk took literally 10 minutes. It was basically a blizzard outside. (or at least that's what it was in my Californian mind) I was almost up to my knees in powder and there were crazy gusts of wind coming right at me. I can't breathe when wind is blowing on my face (apparently babies will hold their breathe when air is blown on their faces - I guess I never grew out of that?), so I pretty much had to walk backwards the entire way. I couldn't find the sidewalk and almost killed myself on some curbs, so I decided to walk in the street. Talk about a really easy way to get hit by a car. But I survived. I guess natural selection doesn't always work.

My view while running. This was the shallow end of the snow.

I'm going to preface what I'm about to say with a little explanation about my personality. I am the kind of person that will do exactly what I set out to do. I (usually) have very high expectations, so the fact that I don't go beyond what I originally planned is (usually) not a problem. But if I set a goal, no matter how easy or painful, I will do it, and not any more or less.

When I started running, I had decided to run 1 mile and take a 0.25 mile walk break, and repeat that until I finished my miles. When I got close to 1 mile, I realized that I actually felt really good (compared to how I felt last time I attempted to run in the Land of No Oxygen). So I decided to go a little bit further until I didn't feel quite as good. Straying from my original plan is fairly contrary to how I normally operate, but I decided to go with the flow.

On the next run, I decided to keep up the pattern from the first run. But by the time I got to the point where I took a walk break on the previous run, I realized that I was still feeling all right - so why not keep going? It was scary and exhilarating, but since I decided that I didn't have a good reason to stop, I didn't stop. And then on the next run, I pushed a little farther. And on the next one, I pushed a little farther. I may have pretended that I was Shalane Flanagan running a marathon...but you gotta do what you gotta do to get through it, right?? I can't be the only one who does this. It helped me destroy the (boring) treadmill runs and I walked away feeling like a badass.

Anyway, so this post is about the little voice in your head that says you can do it. It's the little voice that says, "Why not?" And it's the little voice that is probably a heck of a lot quieter than the loud, obnoxious part of your brain that tells you to play it safe, to stop when it hurts, and to be comfortable. Sometimes you just need to listen to the little voice that tells you to keep going. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own heads and we don't stop to look at the situation as it really is. I think sometimes, and this applies to more than just running, we need to take a step back and look at our reality, instead of our perceptions, and make decisions based on the current situation and not what we think or want it to be.


Do you live where it snows? (Pretty much anywhere that isn't California or Florida...)

What do you do to beat boredom on the 'mill? I stare at one spot in front of me and focus on my music, my posture, and my breathing. I really wish I could watch TV on the treadmill, but for some reason I just can't focus on the TV and run at the same time.