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Monthly Archives: January 2012


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I can’t eat enough carbs. It’s not that training has made me insatiable for carbs — that’s not it at all. In general, I feel like I have a pretty healthy relationship with carbs. That is, I try to get most of my carbs through fruits and veg and multi/whole-grains, although I do heart pasta ever so much, and it usually plays a role in my diet at least once or twice a week.


The problem is this: I have been using the nutrition logger on the Map My Run site, and according to that site, for my height and weight, I do not eat nearly enough carbs for my activity level. I always eat plenty of protein, and fat is not usually an issue, either. But my carbs are always way way low, according to this site, for what I should be eating.

For example, this morning for breakfast I had an english muffin with jam (not just any jam: it was blackberry bay leaf jam artisanally fashioned by Laura Ann’s Jams).


For lunch I had a dinner roll with potato leek soup, and a beet salad with wheat berries. According to the nutrition log on Map My Run, I have only consumed 41% of their recommended carb intake for the day. So even if I double the amount of carbs I have eaten (english muffin, jam, dinner roll, potato leek soup, beets, wheat berries) today, I still wont be at 100%.

Carbs are very important for endurance running because of that stuff in your joints and storing it and getting more energy and lots of technical nerdy things that, well, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

So, I have been consciously trying to up my carb intake. Which I know, for many people, is as hateful of a statement as “I just can’t seem to gain weight.” Don’t you hate that person? Well trust me, THAT is not my problem. But it’s all like pasta pasta pasta rice rice rice.

I did make this extremely tasty and high-carb roasted carrot and parsnip soup. Want the recipe? It couldn’t be easier. Preheat oven to 300 (or 325 — it’s not fussy). Take a couple of peeled parsnips and a couple of peeled carrots (trust me — a little will go a long way for this soup), throw some olive oil on a baking sheet, cut the veggies into big chunks, put them on the same baking sheet and roast a good long time (like, an hour or so). Move them around in the pan a few times during roasting to make sure they don’t stick. In a soup pan, large sauce pan, or dutch oven sautee about a half of a large white or yellow onion (diced) in your choice of fat — olive oil alone for vegan, butter for decadent, a little bit of both if you are me, or bacon fat if you are Paula Deen. Saute the onions until they are very tender and translucent — about 7 or 8 minutes — and then either add the roasted vegetables and a couple cups of stock (veggie stock if you’re vegetarian, chicken stock if you’re me), or just set them aside until the veggies are done roasting (easy to poke through with a fork), and then add them and the stock, and let them all cook together for a little bit — anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Then, put all this stuff in a blender and puree until smooth. You will probably need to add more stock while you are pureeing, or else you will have something the texture and density of baby food. Puree the shit out of that soup.

If you have a super fancy blender like a Vitamix, the soup will have the satiny texture of a bisque. If you have a regular blender, it may be a little grainier, but it will still be delish

Return the soup to the pan that you used to saute onions, etc. Add more stock as needed to bring it to your preferred soupy texture (you may need as many as four cups of stock). Add salt and pepper to taste, and voila!

Variations — to make this a “real” bisque, you can also add a little heavy cream in place of the stock, and a soupcon of sherry. You can also play around with the veg. Celery root is good with parsnip, for example, and fennel is good with carrot. The basic strategy remains the same. Also, fresh herbs or curry powder might make a nice addition.

If you are trying to carboload, serve this with lots and lots of bread.

In other news, at this point I am fairly obsessed with the nutrition logger on Map My Run. Today I logged 1/12 of a piece of quiche to record the bite of Nikki’s that I had at lunch. Since I began, I have charted every food, snack, glass of water, cup of coffee, Hershey’s kiss, beer, etc., that I have consumed. Because what my life was missing was something else to be neurotic about.



So Here is What Happened

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Okay, so today was the much-hyped 9-mile day. The day I predicted would determine if I had what it took to finish a marathon. The day on which everything else hinged. So I’ll just jump right to it.

I did not run 9 miles today.

I know, I know, and before you start to a) rest content in your smug assurance that I never had it in me or b) tell me this isn’t the end of the line, I just have to keep training, please let me explain.

To get a better mental idea of what nine miles looked like, I charted a nine-mile course on the site Map My Run and was a little dismayed by how much terrain 9 miles actually covered. Then, I missed my easy 3 mile training run on Thursday. Friday’s high intensity interval training class kicked my ass — this morning, two days later,  my quads and my upper body were still sore from that workout. Then, last night, we went to my friend Philip’s birthday party, except before that of course we went out for tapas, where I had a glass of wine, and then at the party I had two beers. And not light beers. Super delicious rich beers with a lot of body.

This morning it was kinda snowy, kinda sunny, and too cold to run outside for a wimp like me. Also, Nikki couldn’t run with me, as she is just getting over the flu.

So, there you have it. I did not run 9 miles.

Because I ran ten, suckas! Ten Miles! I ran ten miles today! Woo hoo! Woo hoo! (Singsong voice: I ran ten miles. I ran ten miles.).

On the treadmill, at the gym. It took 2 hours and ten minutes for me to run ten miles, but I did it. I drank a whole 32 oz. bottle of Powerade, but I did it.

10 mile dance! 10 mile dance! Except, it might a kinda slow and achy dance.

And, I really wanted to stop at 7 miles, but I didn’t. And I got an ache in my hip but I ran through it. And my neck and shoulder got a kink, but I ran through that as well. At the 7 mile point, I reminded myself of my conviction that if I couldn’t pull off 9 miles today, I would not be able to finish a marathon. It gave be a big kick of motivation to keep pushing through the molasses.

People on the treadmills next to me came and went. I kept running. For the first half hour, I listened to Second Story podcasts (ending with Megan Stielstra’s awesome recorded-live New Years Eve tribute to the 2008 that was), and then I switched to the rather ridiculous playlist I (actually Nikki) uploaded to my IPod. Ridiculous because I have a very strange assorment of music in my ITunes. I kind of ignore my own ITunes catalog, because Nikki has, like, tens of thousands of songs, so I usually count on her for all things musical. 90% of my personal music library is classical or classic jazz — not exactly the stuff to get your body moving. The other music I have is a hodge-podge from past interests and projects (a video, for example, that I made for my mom’s 70th birthday). So, my 10-mile soundtrack included “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis, “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Sisters, some Johnny Halliday (the French Elvis), Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs Robinson,” Alanis Morrisette (I’m not going to lie: “You Oughta Know”  was kick-ass to run to), Missy Elliot, JT, Peaches, and then, when I reached mile nine, and was deciding whether I wanted to stop or push out one more mile, it was Britney Spears, asking me to hit her one more time, that propelled me to the finish line.

Hey, whatever works. In any case: YAY!!!

Now I am going to go watch the rest of the Bulls/Heat game and enjoy a well-deserved beer.

Week four is in the books.

People DIE Running Marathons!

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“People DIE running marathons.”

These comforting and heartening words were spoken by a student of mine, along with the not so subtle intimation that people who run marathons have something wrong with them.

Just the support I need as I mentally prepare to run my longest run so far — 9 miles this weekend. 9 miles all at once. Continuously.

Up til now, I have been on par with my week four training. Hell, in  immediate and direct contradiction to my very last post, I even ran outside twice this week,once for 3.5 miles, and the next day for 4.75.  It’s actually quite motivating to run outside because if you stop running, you get really cold, really fast. But I also felt like there was something there about mettle that I have to keep testing to make sure I’ll have what it takes to run 26.2. I can’t be a wimp.

But I confess, I am very nervous about this 9-mile run. A part of me keeps thinking about how 9 miles is three times the amount that I am most accostomed to running. Then I remind my self that I ran 7 miles only two weeks ago, and 9 miles is only 2 more than that. But I also feel this kind of pressure, like this is my first true test for running endurance. If I can finish the 9 miles strong, I will have a LOT more confidence about my ability to make it through to the end. But if I struggle though the 9 miles, I am going to have serious doubts. It will be a mental setback. And marathon training, according to both of the books I am using as my training guides, is as much a mental game as it is a physical challenge. I know I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself for one long run. I also know that all of the work I have been doing up until now is preparing me for this challenge.

There are two corny things that one of the books recommend to mentally stoke me for the marathon. One is to tell all of my friends, fam, loved ones, etc., to ask me if I am a marathoner, so I can say, “Yes! I am a marathoner!” I kind of blush/cringe/squirm at even the mental conjure of this verbal transaction. So please, don’t.

The other thing is for me to create two imagined narratives. One, where I am mentally reliving my best run, and the other, where I am picturing myself crossing the finish line triumphantly. They leave out the imagined narrative where I am swinging in a hammock hung between palm trees, sipping a drink out of a coconut while Bjork massages my tired quadriceps, although I do suspect that mental reverie would elevate my mood no matter what circumstances I found myself in.

9 miles. This Sunday. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Time will tell.

Sexy Treadmill Workout: wk. 3

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Week three of my 18-week marathon training program is now history. I ran 18.5 miles last week, beginning the week with a 7 mile run on Monday, and finishing the week with a 6 mile run on Saturday.

I am pretty freaked out that I am now beginning week 4, and also that I have to run 9 miles at the end of this week. To the first point, it seems like my training is going too fast! Am I really supposed to be ready to run a marathon in only 14 more weeks?

 To the second point — why, for cripe’s sake, did I decide to begin training for a marathon in the middle of winter? Running 9 miles itself is hard enough, but I have to run that shit on a treadmill. That’s 3 5K tracks! And I am a slow runner, so I am going to have to be laboriously slogging away for more than two hours on that thing. Cripes. Also, the treadmills at my gym are super annoying in that they automatically go into cool down mode after you’ve run an hour, so I will have to keep resetting it.

Alright, alright already. I know I could run outside. Lots of runners do run outside in the winter. I see them all the time. And each time, my response is is mixture of admiration for their tenacity and derision for their idiocy. Am I right?

Although I will run outside if it’s not too too cold out, or wet, or slippery, or cloudy, or if there is a breeze. To be fair, I don’t own all that fancy, expensive state-of-the-art under armour stuff that winter outdoor runners own and I refuse to buy it. I can already see it gathering dust with my weight bands, free weights, yoga mat, tennis rackets, etc.

I did, however, just download about 45 million hours

(keeping them honest: about 3 hours)

 worth of Second Story podcasts to listen to during my long run. This is because Second Story podcats rock (check them out on ITunes. They’re free!), and also because I am supposed to be in the process of writing a story for Second Story to perform at this big-deal reading in front of all of my colleagues and students, and I am hoping that hearing a bunch of other stories will help inpire my own crafting of true wackiness from the life of Kathie. If I am going to be spending 3 hours on a treadmill, I am going to multitask (maybe it would be a good time for me to take up knitting again). And  if I listen to the playlist of music from my wedding that is currently on my IPod one more time I am going to run directly through the window at my gym and end it all.

Multi-tasking on the treadmill. I’ve also thought about downloading a Czech language course on my IPod to listen to while I run. And yes, I will practice along with it. I mean, if my whole gym can tolerate that one guy who sings very off-key oldies while running around the track every day, they can tolerate me repeating “I think there is a mistake in my bill,” in Czech (Myslim, ze v uctu he chyba. Same to you and more of it).

I do love to listen to music when I am running. Music with a real driving beat and over the top running appropriate good vibes and inspiration. Here are some of my favorites to run to:

Beat Control by Tilly and the Wall (this is my current fave)

The Salmon Dance by the Chemical Brothers

Aint Got No / I Got Life Nina Simone remix by Groovefinder

A Little Less Conversation Elvis remix (I think by Fat Boy Slim, not sure).

Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton

Brimful of Asha remix by Cornershop

And (don’t act like you don’t do this) — I like to get into a groove, get into the run cruise zone and imagine the music as the soundtrack to the movie of me training for the marathon, (depending onthe song, I’ll be imaging that I’d overcome some type of heartbreak or hardship as the backstory), and as the song kicks into full gear, my running stride increases (soft focus on my legs) and as when it pans out, I am running on an asphalt trail, outside, and then you see the numbered bib pinned to my shirt and I am raising my arms through the air and breaking the tape it the finish line!  Whooo!!!! Whooooo!!!

Also, my abs suddenly are toned like this.

Jak daleko je to odtud do nejblizsiho mesta? (How far is the next town from here? That’s really how you spell that shit. I am not making it up. Do you want to know how to spell the number four in Czech? It’s ctyri. Put yout tongue around that one!)

Okay, so this week. Bootcamp tomorrow, and then I run 3 miles. Wednesday I have a 4 mile run, and then high-intensity interval training on friday. Saturday night is my friend Philip’s birthday party, and then the 9 mile run. I may try to do the 9-miler on Saturday instead. Considering the birthday party, it might be well-advised. The nine miles will be arduous enough without being, uh, fatigued  from too much birthday cake.

Week Two and I’d Like a Frosty Cold Pint, TYVM.

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Plodding through my 7-mile long run today on the gym treadmill I was temporarily distracted by a news story about I don’t know what, which showed several frosty pints being poured. My response, of course, was completely Pavlovian. I am absurdly swayed by the power of suggestion; especially if the suggestion involves frosty cold beer, melty cheeses, glasses of wine on summer patios, spontatious dinners at Bistro Campagne, or naps.

No wonder that since I began my marathon training regiment, I have actually gained about 3 pounds. Because let me tell you something about rigorous physical workouts. They make you very hungry – and thirsty. And, if you are burning, say, 700-800 calories a pop (I burned more than 800 calories during my run today), it’s very very easy to justify over-indulging! So in that sense, my uptick in physical intensity is actually making me gain wait, not lose wait. I know there is a moral or lesson or revelation in here somewhere but I refuse to acknowledge it, and instead I will just keep harping on the amazing and absurd irony of it all. I mean, by this measure, if I really want to lose those pesky last ten pounds, the first thing I should do is STOP WORKING OUT!!!

But I can’t do that because I’ve already publicized my marathon intentions on Facebook and in this blog, which at least ten people have read, and so it’s basically the same as being imprinted in stone and tattooed on my forehead and signed in the blood of my ancestors.

This lesbo bath image came up when I typed "written in stone" in Google images search. Okay, whatevz.

But I am always so hungry!

Friday, we had our first high intensity interval training class, and it was all that was promised, meaning I couldn’t move for two days afterward. That night, we celebrated the success of surviving the class by having friends over for raclette, which is a dinner that is basically comprised of melted cheese and starch. We had fun and drank wine and then Scott Smith came over and there was a dance party and anyone who knows me at all can both see the writing on the wall and read between the lines of that selfsame writing.

Fortunately, Saturday was a pre-determined “recovery day”.

Saturday consisted of a breakfast of a half bagel with cream cheese and scrambled egg, followed by two chocolate chip cookies, buttered popcorn (we’ve moved on from breakfast by now), half of a small spinach pizza, a Caesar salad, and the entirety of season one of Downton Abbey and a full day in my pajamas.  I’m sure this is similar to most everyone’s marathon training, right? I did have two glasses of low-sodium V8, and not even with vodka in them.


Pavlovian response aside, alas it seems (so far,anyway) that the frosty pint of my dreams is not in the stars for me tonight. Instead we have some horrid super healthy and low-fat vegan Morrocan tagine with cous cous (which actualy isn’t horrid at all — it’s one of our favorite winter comfort foods. Its main shortcoming right now is that it is not a bacon cheeseburger. Look, I burned more than 800 calories today! I mean, how is an athlete supposed to survive off of vegan cous cous?).

Oh yeah, and did you catch that part about week two being over, an me running 7 miles today? It was hurty.

A Big Sigh of Relief

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First off: phew! After a night of insomnia, fretting over my employment situation, I received a call from the assignment guru this morning, telling me that a class had been found for me. So, everything is good, disaster averted. I will be gainful employ (Confederacy of Dunces reference) this spring.

The weather has been unseasonably warm for January, so I took advantage of it to have my 3 mile run outside today.  Running outside, there is hardly a single moment where I don’t think, “I could just stop and walk.” or “I don’t feel like running anymore,” but I pushed on, just one foot after another. Mileposts work well for me here. I say, “Okay, I just have to make it to the bridge,” then, “I just have to make it to the park,” then, “I just have to make it back to Kedzie,” and so on.

It wasn’t that long ago that I could not run 3 miles without stopping to walk at all. Now, I find it kind of easy, (despite my constant resistance), which is a good thing, or else I don’t know how the hell I would aspire to running 26.2. And to be honest, I am plagued with fears about that — that it is way more than I will physically be able to do.

Outside, runners form a happy kind of community. We smile and nod at each other as we pass; it’s kind of like gaydar that way: the acknowledging nod. Every runner I encountered today smiled a greeting to me — I think we were all dumbstruck that we were running outside on January 11.

It wont last, though. The first real snow dump of the season is supposed to begin tomorrow.  Still, compared to yesterday, things are looking up. I’m half way through week two of my training, and I have a job.


Running on a Bummer

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This morning started out clumsily and Nikki had a dentist appointment (no cavities!), so we decided that instead of our usual 9:30 a.m. bootcamp, we’d go to the 3:30 p.m. class. How my weekday training has been working is that we go to our regular bootcamp (Tues/Thurs) and then hang out and run afterwards, and then also run on Wednesday, with a long run on Sundays. Confused? It’s like this:

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: Bootcamp / run (3 miles total)

Wednesday: Run (distance increases weekly)

Thursday Bootcamp / run (3 miles total)

Friday: High-Intensity Interval Training (beginning this week)

Saturday: rest day

Sunday: long run (distance increases weekly)

Anyway, because I had the morning unexpectedly free, I decided to work on the syllabus for my spring class. Except, I checked the roster and saw that there were only 5 students registered for the class. So, I emailed the course assignment guru to have my worst fears confirmed: my class was going to be cancelled.

In the past couple of years, I’ve typically taught two classes in the spring (I work for two departments at my college) but earlier on I got word that one of those classes was a no-go (I was told they were giving all spring assignments to grad students). So, I was already down one class which sucked enough. But now, exactly one week before the beginning of the new semester is starting, I  learned that I will not be teaching the other class, either. Okay, the assignment guru did say he was going to do what he could to shuffle some classes to get me a replacement class (“what hours are you available?” “ANY HOURS!!!”). And if anyone can do it, he can, but see, I can’t count on that.

I’m totally bummed. And also, unemployed.

And then it was time to go to bootcamp. I was not feeling it. But maybe, I thought, some grunting and sweating would relieve my stress and make me feel better. Sometimes it does.

Except this time it didn’t, really. Everything felt arduous. The push-ups, the burpees, the lunges and squats. The only thing that didn’t feel like I was doing it while encased in 3 tons of cement were the sprint drills we did around the track. And then afterwards, it was time to run. We’d run a total of two miles in bootcamp, so I had to run another one to make my 3-mile goal.

I started on the track but felt too lethargic, so I went to a treadmill. The first quarter mile took forever. The second one was just as bad, but then I was halfway done. The third wasn’t so bad, and then I only had one more.

So, I pulled it out. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t exhilarating or transcendant. It was just work, but it was work I had to do and I did it.

When I was done, I didn’t really feel any less glum, but at least I did feel satisfied knowing I had pulled out of me at least the bare minimum of what I needed to do to stick to my training regiment and my goals.

Somedays, I feel, that is going to be as much as I can hope for. That, and a picture of a taxidermied kitten in a ridiculous outfit.

This is a postcard that David Sedaris sent me.