Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Getting Back on the Horse...Er, Bike

Sunday marked my first ride after oh, I don't know, 6 months?  I'm still giving my knee a break (no running and no stairs) and I'm going bonkers.  I feel like a teenage girl whose boyfriend just broke up with her.  I think about it all the time, I wonder why my knee is betraying me, I get excited about  group runs I see forming only to remember that it's not in my life right now.  I'm trying to bear this grief silently; well, sort of silently...I'm sure E is tired of my "but I want to ruuuuuuuun" whine.

Anyways, the original point of this was getting back on the bike.  I was exciting about getting cardio, but a little wary about how much this ride was probably going to blow.  I remember last year, when I also went all winter without riding.  That first ride back was miserable.  Mostly just because making it event to 15 miles an hour felt as hard as a long uphill climb.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a great way to see - or feel rather - the benefits of marathon training.  My legs felt great.  Sure, it was tough at certain parts, but I was in it mentally and physically.  My quads were screaming at me in certain parts, but I pushed through.  I was overall really happy with the ride, glad to be back on the bike and most especially, glad to be getting my heart rate pounding.

I also had an interesting experience during my swim last week.  The pool I'm in now is a lot smaller than the pool I used to use - this one is a junior olympic size.  About mid-way through my swim this pack of big guys came into the pool area, very obviously dedicated swimmers.  One wound of sharing a lane with me.  After warming up, they started doing drills, fast.  And the combination of their high speeds and the small pool meant suddenly I felt very much like I do when I'm swimming in a tri.  There were people and choppy water all around me and I immediately reacted like I do in a tri: all thoughts of a proper swim stroke left me and I started flailing, doggy-paddling almost, with my head jutting out of the water like a dog, gasping for air.  I'm actually pretty happy this happened - I think a smaller pool where i have to share a lane sometimes and sometimes am surrounded by big swimmers might be a big win for my anxiety!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stylish Blogger? Who, me?

I haven't done one of those posts yet, but Ryan over at I Tri Because I Can nominated me so darn, I just have to find seven things about myself to talk about.  I know you're all enthralled, right?

1.  I love NPR.  I have a piece of junk stereo in my car that only plays CDs when it's in the right mood, and for those of you who haven't experienced it, Jacksonville has got to have some of the worst radio stations in the country.  I mean, they're just all bad.  So a couple years ago, I started listening to NPR now and then to mix things up a bit.  Now, that's pretty much all I listen to.  If I'm in the car, NPR's on (I occasionally switch it up with a few minutes of the classic rock or alternative stations, but not often).  Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, Car Talk?  You name it, I listen to it.  I have recently started perusing the NPR gear shop online - I have the frightening feeling that some sort of "I <3 NPR" clothing is in my future.

2. There are two areas of  my life I spend way too much money on:  running/tri gear and books.  I could spend my days reading and running and cycling and be perfectly content.  Since getting a nook for Christmas, I'm back to my bookstore employee level (a job I got for using the word "voracious" on my application) of reading, so I've put  myself on a buying hiatus.  I have to read everything on that nook before I buy anything new!  And follow that up with the huge stack I just got of real books from the library book sale.  Phew!

3.  Baking is something that relaxes me - it is an act of creation.  I am not artistically inclined - I couldn't draw a straight line or make an attractive arts and crafts project to save my life.

4.  I collect quotations.  I recently moved everything into a google doc and it is a massive collection of quotes on every topic from everywhere.  Any time I find one, I add it to my collection.  This document goes on forever.  I've kept this in some form or another since I was 15.

5.  I could eat cereal all the time. In fact, I do often have it for both breakfast and dinner.  I'm on a kick right now with Kashi Honey Toasted Oat - mmm, that along with Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk is like a little bowl of heaven.    

6.  I am a sucker for corgis.  Especially (and perhaps most pathetically) for Youtube videos of corgi puppies.  It's an addiction; I'm seeking help.

7.  I love old movies.  No modern movie star can ever replace Cary Grant's wit or Clark Gable's charm.  I grew up on a  lot of these movies, and to this day, one of my favorite things to do is watch Judy Garland belt out a tune about trolleys or get riled up along with Kate Hepburn as she spars with Spencer Tracy.  I also find old horror movies far more bone-chilling than anything out today.

I think I'm one of the last one's to do this, so if you haven't done this...I nominate you!

Also, my grab-bag swimsuit came in the mail....and it wasn't hideous! It's actually kind of cute! I wore it to the pool on Thursday - but more on that swim later, it was an interesting one.    

Monday, March 14, 2011

Let's Take a Moment to Reflect on Strange Food Preparation

This weekend marked our 2 year anniversary.  On Saturday night, we went for a great dinner at the Capital Grille followed by dessert at our favorite place, JJ's.  Great night that was full of wonderful food and conversation.  I've never been to Capital Grille, but appreciate the dog and pony show they provide for special occasions.  We were greeted at our table with a card signed by the staff wishing us a happy anniversary, and a single red rose.  They also took a photo of us (our confusion at the waiter whipping out a digital camera and offering to take our picture is evident in said picture) and brought us complimentary champagne at the end of the meal.  It was really quite lovely.

Sunday was our actual anniversary, and while we didn't have anything specific planned, it was a gorgeous day out, so we decided it was the perfect time to go find a place to sit outside and enjoy a beer and the clear blue skies.  After driving by all of our favorite outdoor seating venues, where apparently everyone else had the same idea we did, we stumbled across one down the road from a Tijuana Flats that evidently closed.  We decided to try it.  Something new, right?  After ordering our beers and glancing over the menu (evidently my reading skills were not up to par yesterday) I ordered what I thought were mozzarella sticks.  We both enjoy these and eat them about once a year, so it seemed fitting for the occasion.  After a bit of a wait, our food arrived.

What is that, you ask?  Upon closer examination, it appeared to be a deep fried grilled cheese sandwich.  What we couldn't figure out then and what is still a bit confusing to us now was the funnel-cake like breading.  Served with marinara, it was pretty tasty.  We went on from there to a dinner and dessert combo.

In other news, the Gate River Run was this past weekend and I didn't run it.  Thursday night I went for a quick run to see how my knee felt.  I made it all of a mile and a half.  E's suggestion (and no matter how stubborn I am, he's pretty much always right about these things) is to rest for a few weeks, and not to put a lot of pressure on the joint.  From my mad self-diagnosing googling skills, I believe I either have runner's knee or jumper's knee.  I'm going a little bonkers, since it seems like all I can do is rest, at least for the short term.  And swim.  But I'm not very excited about that.  I'm going to try cycling this weekend, or maybe a quick spin at the gym.  And I"m  thinking maybe yoga, if I modify for my knees.
Photo Source

This has led me to believe a couple of things:

1) I need to work on my run form.
2) I need to strengthen my glutes, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors and
3) I am seriously addicted to cardio.

In other news, I ordered a Grab Bag swimsuit from Swimmer's Choice, which should come today.   The one I currently have is hideous so I'm thinking (knock on wood) that whatever comes in the grab bag won't be as bad.  Or you know, at least comparable.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Holy New Gym Batman!

This post should really be about the first swim of the season, which I did this morning.  Instead of renewing my membership at the UNF pool, which is what I used last year, I decided to give the local Y a try.  They open earlier, plus I could take advantage of the location within walking distance of my office, and another location with a pool near my work, plus spin classes, weights, etc.

I figured I would use the Brooks Y as my home base, and fan out to the others as needed.  So about two weeks ago, I went to tour the Brooks Y.  Back in the day, I belonged to a YMCA near my old apartment that  I used all of two times.  Since then, I belonged to another gym near work (but one without a pool or a lot of conveniences) and the pool at UNF.  None of these places were especially fancy. In fact, swimming at UNF and getting ready for work there, in a word, sucked.  I wouldn't have minded the locker room facilities if I was just going home afterward, or just changing to run errands or something.  It was definitely a school locker room though - somewhat slimy floors, dim, yellowish lighting, old metal lockers, narrow benches in between and scuzzy shower stalls.  No big deal, but kind of a pain, especially if I had meetings or something that day.

So if I may, let me wax poetic about the facilities at the Y.  I never knew the Y could be so nice.  Outside of the mostly brand-new equipment of every shape and kind and a great class schedule, the locker room is just...amazing.  A sauna!  A whirlpool, towel service, electronic lockers, hairdryers, private showers with shampoo and conditioner, changing rooms, rows and rows of vanities with good lighting and tissues for putting on makeup.  A lounge area.  Oh, and don't forget about the cafe on the way out that serves all organic food straight from Whole Foods.  Today was my first official day there, so I didn't want to weird anyone by taking pictures of the amenities for the blog,  I never thought I would be someone who would really care about nice locker room facilties all that much, but it turns out when it means getting ready for work in the morning there, I do.  And I didn't feel out of place with my work clothes and makeup bag and hair care products!  At UNF, only college girls and older women used the pool, so I always felt weird hauling my eyeliner and FrizzEase  and high heels in there.  Here I had less stuff than some of these girls.

Now that I'm done gushing, let's talk swim.  The pool there is a junior olympic size pool.  So I think if I did 15 laps, that's about 375 yards.  It wasn't too bad.  I feel more fatigued than I expected, and my arms are pretty sore.  But after several laps, I felt like I found my "stride" a  bit.  Thank you for all your suggestions on the swim!  I think it is going to come down more open water swims (perhaps in rougher weather) and just putting in a lot of time in the water.  Maybe a swim class or two.  Overall, just building confidence will go a long way too.  I think about that with my run, and how much more confident I am now, post-marathon, than I was this time last year.      

So happy swimming everyone and good luck to all the Gate runners this weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jumping on the ABC Bandwagon

This just seems like fun.

Age: 26

ed size: Queen 

Chore you hate: Laundry.  It feels unending.

Dogs: Someday.  

Essential start you day item: Red Bull/Coffee/Caffeine.  It's essential to in order for  me to become  a polite and functioning member of society.  

Favorite color: Blue, I suppose.

Gold or silver: Silver 

Height: 5'4" 

Instruments: Piano, took a stab at guitar but never had the patience to build calluses.  Always wanted to learn the violin.  Just seems so classy... 

Job title: Website and Electronic Communications Coordinator.  Longest title ever.

Kids: Nope

Live: Jacksonville

Mom's name: Mary

Nicknames: Jess, Rickie

Overnight hospital stay: Nothing yet

Pet peeve: Lateness, poor grammar.

Quote from a movie: How about quote from a book?
 “If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood
and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for
the endless immensity of the sea.”
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Right or left handed: Right

Siblings: Only the lonely 

Time you wake up: Typically around 6:15 a.m., but around 5 a.m. if I'm getting in a pre-work workout.

Underwear: Yes 

Vegetable you dislike: Beats. Brussells Sprouts.

What makes you late: Very little.  I'm typically obnoxiously early.

X-rays you've had done: My arm, twice, and my teeth.

Yummy food you make: I love to bake...I make a mean pumpkin beer bread, chocolate chip cookie and key lime pie, to name a few.

Zoo animal favorite: Hmm....penguin, probably.

Monday, March 7, 2011


As I've mentioned before, one of my goals for the year is to eat healthier, fresher and less processed food.  In that direction, one of my very favorite things to make is pesto.  It's super easy to make, so I thought I would share.  We use it on homemade pizza, mixed into turkey burgers, and obviously, with a variety of pasta dishes.
1/4 cup pine nuts
2-3 cloves of garlic
4 cups fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1.  Process the pine nuts and garlic in the food processor.
2.  Add basil leaves, olive oil, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper.  Blend well.
3.  Add parmesan, blend and enjoy!

Check my 1980s food

This recipe is originally from Cooking Light.  I've adapted in so far as I hardly measure any of the ingredients anymore and it only takes a sec to throw together, so I make it about once a week.  This is also the impetus behind the basil plant that we planted last year but which we probably should have waited to plant until we were going into spring, not winter.  Will be replanting soon.

In other news, I'm experiencing a tweaky knee.  It's my right one, rather in the front, in between my knee cap and IT band.  It hurts when I run, or go up and down stairs.  It twinges if I turn my leg at odd angles.  I'm not sure what this is, as I don't generally experience knee problems.  Runners knee?  Meniscus issues?  Either way, I'm hoping it subsides before Saturday's Gate River Run.  I'm resting and icing it.  I ran on it Saturday for a 5 mile interval run, and it was letting me know it wasn't happy.  Ice, ice, baby.