Monthly Archives: May 2012

A day in the life of a ball buster

Have I mentioned that we haven’t had a properly functioning refrigerator/freezer for the last three weeks?

(Today is actually a good day for the fridge. Usually it’s around 40-45.  I’ve never seen the freezer go below 40.)

Obviously this is cold enough to chill beer (thank goodness) but not sufficient for storage of meat, dairy, produce, or anything else I’d like to eat on a daily basis.

To say this is annoying is an understatement.

Fortunately, we have a home warranty covers refrigerator repairs. Unfortunately, the repairmen have visited three times so far and each time, I’ve been told to give it a few hours to cool down and it should be fine. LIES! All lies. They’re coming out tomorrow for a fourth try. And if that freezer isn’t shooting out magical sparkly ice cubes by the time I’m ready for a happy hour cocktail on Friday, someone’s head is going to roll.

That is, I’ll enter the final and unpleasant stage of Dealing With Contractor Bullshit, the one stage that I haven’t yet had to enter with any of the numerous other entities that have been charged with fixing our roof and doors and walls and windows and bathtub and switch box. The YELLING stage.

Those other stages, for the record, go something like this:

1. Inquiring Politely (I’d like you to fix this, if you could, please?)

2. Demanding Politely (I’m sorry, but it’s not okay if you reschedule our appointment for next week. Your technician arrived at 11 AM for a 12-6 appointment window, and while it’s unfortunate that I missed him, that’s not my fault. I blocked off my afternoon to deal with this and I expect it to be done today. Thank you.)

3. Begging. (I’m not sure if you realize this, but we have been without a refrigerator for three weeks now. That’s awful, right? Is there any way you can rush deliver that part?)

4. YELLING.

I don’t usually enjoy yelling at people. I’m not exactly a doormat, but I don’t consider myself to be an overly aggressive person either. Back when I was in consulting, I dealt with a lot of litigators. Those were aggressive people. Much more so than me.

It’s funny, though: I think playing the role of General Contractor for the last few weeks must be bringing my more assertive side out.

“You remind me of my daughter,” the landscaping guy told me. I’d just finished describing exactly what I wanted done to our horribly overgrown yard, ticking down a mental bullet-point list that I’d been over several times with other bidders for the project.

“Oh? What does your daughter do?” I asked.

“She works for a senator in DC, busting balls all day,” he said.

I wasn’t sure whether to thank him or tell him to fuck off.

Of course, on one hand, it’s totally unfair that when a woman is direct and assertive about what she wants, she’s seen as being a ball-buster or a bitch. I’m sure this is particularly prevalent in the world of construction/landscaping/etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone give me an estimate for something and tell me that I should “tell my husband XYZ” or “have my husband take a look at ABC.”

Hello: just because I am a petite female does not mean I cannot unclog a drain or patch up paint or whatever. That is what ladders are for.

On the other hand, though, I will bust balls all day if it means getting a fair price for landscaping or finally getting the damn refrigerator fixed. The terminology may be sexist, but there’s nothing wrong with being the type of person who isn’t afraid to do a little YELLING now and then. And I’m not going to lie: the guy’s comment made me feel like kind of a badass.

Anyway. It sucks not having a functioning refrigerator, especially when you’re trying to clean up your diet. Pizza for dinner, again:

(We finally tried the famous Antico and it was indeed excellent.)

Unhealthy food just means being a little extra careful about portion size. I guess I’ve managed to do okay so far because I lost a pound last week!

And I’ve been good about sticking to my summer workout plan, with ~20 MPW mixed in with a couple of hard weight sessions and twice weekly yoga:

It still feels weird not to run every day, but I have to admit it’s kind of nice to just go to the gym, spend an hour there, and be done. No chasing mileage targets or worrying about training paces. As for the weight lifting stuff…well, it’s still not my favorite activity but I’m getting used to it. Having a partner definitely helps.

Time to go…just got a call that yet another contractor is on his way. Let’s hope that Inquiring Politely is good enough for today.

The impenetrable cereal box fortress

I care about my cats quite a bit. They are indoor cats, they eat overpriced grain-free cat food, they are theoretically calmed by an expensive electrical diffuser that imitates kitty pheromones, and yadda yadda yadda.

When we moved into our new house, with its multiple direct-outdoor-access doors, I dug out these collars that I’d frivolously bought them a couple of years ago when we lived in New York. Designer collars from this cute pet shop in the West Village, complete with custom tags engraved with their names and my phone number.  Collars that were completely unnecessary, at the time, for a pair of apartment-dwelling felines. Collars that ended up in a box under the sink, because the clink-clanking of the bells and tags was obnoxious in our tiny apartment.

But now? Even though I would never intentionally let them outside, it eases my mind to have them carry identification. Just in case, you know. Especially since we’ve had countless contractors in and out of the house lately.

This weekend, there was a weird and scary moment where my husband and I both realized that we hadn’t seen either of the cats all day.

“Did you feed them this morning?” I asked.

“No, I thought you did,” he replied.

And we both looked down at a pair of empty, crusty food bowls. A situation that would have, under normal circumstances, inspired a feline uprising.

“Shit,” I said, and we each headed to opposite ends of the house in search. As I bounded up the stairs, worst-case scenarios swam through my mind: a roofer had left a door open, a curious kitty had wandered outside and into the adjoining yard of our neighbor – the owner of an ill-trained Rottweiler who growls menacingly at me every time I leave the house….

I heard my husband’s laugh before I heard him call to me that he’d found them.

So: our bedroom is currently kind of a mess. Truthfully, we’re 31 years old and have never owned an actual bed; so I ordered a simple metal model from CB2 a couple of weeks ago. It was attractive and reasonably priced, but apparently the downside is that it’s a bitch to assemble. So this half-functional bed frame, along with the enormous box that it came in, currently presides over our bedroom.

On top of it, in it, on it, around it…it appears that this box is the best thing that has ever happened to our cats.

It’s kind of hilarious. Although our two kitties have always gotten along, they have never exhibited BFF behavior…until now. I’ll peel up the corner of the box top and see both of them sitting in there…almost conspiratorially. I immediately feel as if I’ve interrupted an important meeting, and leave them to their conferences, gently replacing the box’s lid so as not to scare either one in to thinking they’re in trouble.

So the inevitable question becomes: what am I going to do when we finally figure out how to put the bed together? And then it’s time to get rid of these boxes? It will break their furry little hearts.

Of course, there’s no reason to feel sorry for an animal living in this household. Our cats are as doted upon as a cat can be. But it still makes me shake my head when I think of the money I’ve spent on pheromone diffusers and catnip toys and all sorts of other implements to keep them calm and happy during this transition….

Really, all they needed was a big ass box.

In other news, I ran 8 miles this morning. That is as far as I’ve gone since the Gansett Marathon, which was over a month ago. It was slow for me (around 9:00 pace), but I felt okay. I think my legs are still recovering from last Thursday’s hard weight session. They felt heavy and sluggish. Meh.

Bed time for me…I’ll be back tomorrow with a weigh in and weekly workout recap, among other things. Hope y’all had a good weekend!

Musings

One. Every so often, I have these moments where I see something that makes me inexplicably happy to be back in a big city again. Yesterday, I saw this guy casually cycling up Peachtree through the heart of Midtown wearing a leopard print unitard and…wings?

I can never articulate exactly why, but things like this always make me smile. Thank you, Flying Leopard Man.

Two. I really don’t get the big deal about Publix. It’s just a grocery store, and an average one at that. What am I missing here?

Three. At track this week, I had one goal, and that was to finish the workout faster than I started it. Bam:

I’m still a little frustrated at my inability to crank out 80-something-second 400s at the moment, but at least I was able to duck under the 90-second mark for a few at the end.

Also, half a mile of cool down is probably not enough. But our workouts don’t start until 7 PM, and by the time we finish it’s all dusky and buggy and I’m ready to go home. Oh well.

Four. I have been so good this week. SO GOOD. NO WEEKNIGHT BEERS. (Or wine.)

But Thursday is practically the weekend (at least it was in college…), and my husband and I have a playdate at a bar with some friends-of-friends tonight, so you can bet I’ll be enjoying a beer or two. As a reward. Or a means or not being an awkward mess when meeting new people. Or something.

Five. Speaking of messes. This has been happening on our roof all week.

I am so thankful that we don’t need a whole new roof. We do, however, need part of a new roof and it’s quite the ordeal, apparently. The roofers should be finished tomorrow, and then I get to finally execute on my portion of Project Roof Deck, which is the selection of patio furniture. I have a hard life, I know.

Six. My gym scam is bust. I finally joined yesterday. And celebrated this morning with a 6 AM workout date with Gesina, during which she introduced me to something called a one-legged squat. I’m going to go ahead and blame her in advance for my inability to handle stairs tomorrow.

Seven. At the grocery store the other day, this women grabbed my arm, pointed at a package of fresh lasagna sheets in my cart, placed her face uncomfortably close to mine, and yelled: WHAT ARE THOSE?

I explained what they were, and she gasped audibly and – still clutching my arm – told me that this was the best idea she’d ever heard of.

(Necessary for Sausage and Butternut Squash Lasagna, always a favorite!)

For a moment, I considered taking credit for the invention of lasagna sheets – hell, perhaps the entire concept of fresh pasta generally. This woman was obviously drunk or high or insane, she probably would’ve bought it. But instead I just pointed her toward the appropriate aisle, extracted myself from her grasp, and moved on.

Ah yes, city life. Crazy, but fun.

Pretty sure that’s not what they mean when they say Free Weights

For the last two weeks, I’ve been unintentionally scamming the LA Fitness down the street from me. I keep trying to give them my money, and they keep refusing to take it.

As as example: today marked the sixth occasion on which I’ve been a visitor. So like a good honest citizen, I strolled in this morning with my credit card in hand, ready to settle up.

“I’ve been coming here on a visitor’s pass and I’d like to go ahead and join,” I said, tapping the card on the Lysol-scented counter. This wasn’t the first time I’d tried to get my application processed. Let’s keep this simple, I thought.

“Okay, what’s your membership number?” said the girl behind the counter.

UM.

“I don’t have one yet. I’m hoping you can give me one,” I smiled hopefully.

At which point the attendant began to tap extensively on her computer’s keyboard and frown at its screen, as if she were trying to rebook my missed connection to Timbuktu, or perhaps transcribe the IRS code in to Russian.

After several minutes of this, she stopped abruptly and informed me that her computer wasn’t working, and that I could go ahead and work out and we’d deal with it next time I came in.

Okaaaaaay. I tucked my method of payment back into my purse and proceeded toward the locker room. Is it just me, or have I entered some sort of bizarro LA Fitness Super Opposite Backwards World? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones harassing me about membership?

Anyway.

I had a good workout this morning, and maximized the value of the time I hadn’t paid for by spending a whole 75 minutes at the gym, with most of it in the weight room.

All of this strength training is sure paying off…

Gah. But I know. These things don’t happen overnight.

Here’s what last week’s workouts looked like:

Around 20 miles of running (some of it pretty slow, because I’m kinda sore from all of this other crap), two lifting sessions, and two yoga classes.

And one good beer:

Okay, I had more than one of these. Probably why that scale isn’t moving.

This beer was a worthy expenditure of junk calories, though! Sweetwater’s spring seasonal, the Road Trip Pilsner, runs right over (ha) the notion that the Pils is a boring style of beer. A nice bready backbone leads the way, then turns it over to more nuanced flavors (a touch of bitter lime? fresh cut grass?) before giving you a nicely carbonated finish. An excellent example of a quenching, warm-weather beer that isn’t totally watered down or wheated out. 5.2% ABV.

Bottom line: I’ll definitely be stocking this as long as it’s around! (Purchased at Target, $10/6)

Time to go make a healthy dinner (boring) and drink water (double boring).

Eight is enough

My feet were wrinkled and prune-like when I finally kicked off my running shoes after tonight’s track workout.

Welcome to the soggy summer running season here in the south. If the sweat doesn’t soak you, the humidity will, and if you’re lucky there will be an intermittent sun-filtered storm to drench you while you’re at it. Tonight we had all three.

I haven’t even attempted to untangle my hair yet. That’s a project for bedtime.

Ugh. Anyway.

Tonight’s assignment was a classic: 12 X 400M. Oh hey: it’s my favorite track workout! I’ll give you the spoiler and say that it wasn’t such a favorite tonight. But that wasn’t the workout’s fault. It was my first speed session in five weeks, and my legs were pretty torn up from a reintroduction to squats and deadlifts yesterday.

(You see? This is why I hate weight lifting. It makes me sore and slow. I know, I know: it’s good for me in the long run. And dedicating this summer to achieving better overall fitness might mean sacrificing quality running sometimes. But I’ll still pout about it.)

After a stiff 2+ mile warm-up, I coaxed my reluctant legs into finding something approximating a six-minute pace, as a 90-second 400 is sort of my benchmark for this workout.

I did the first one in 92.

From there it went: 93, 91, 93, 94, 95, 94, 93.

These were not fun intervals. They hurt. Every time, I’d start out and think I felt okay and then come through 200 meters and feel like I’d been hit by a truck.

My friend Gesina was along tonight for her first track workout since high school, and so naturally I was acting like some big expert on the whole subject, explaining things to her as we went along. (Not that she needed it – she did great!)

After the fifth repeat, I mentioned that it would be totally reasonable if she wanted to do eight. Because 12 X 400 is a lot to tackle your first time.

After the sixth, I realized that I needed to take my own advice. Eight was going to be enough for me today.

So as another round of chunky raindrops thudded on the track, we both aborted the assigned workout and started our cool down laps. I think it was the right call. For whatever reason, my legs were toast.

As if to confirm our decision, as we shuffled along the backstretch a gorgeous rainbow appeared, hugging the steamy track and its sweaty occupants through the haze of sunshine and dark clouds.

I know I’ll get back to a place where I can do loads of 400s in the 80-something-second range. I’m not there right now. And that’s ok. I’m going to be throwing a lot of different challenges at my body for the next few weeks, so of course I’m going to be sore and fatigued. That’s the whole point.

For now, it’s time to tackle the stairs up to bed. Ouch.

But that’s nothing on the pain I’m going to feel when I try to get a brush through this sweat-dredded mop on my head. Ouch indeed.

This starts today

The last carload of crap has been hauled. The boxes have been unpacked. The major furniture items and appliances have been selected and purchased.

It’s been 23 days since the marathon.

I’m running out of excuses to miss workouts. And the long, physically laborious days of moving and unpacking where I simply must put up my feet and sip on a glass (or three) of Sauv Blanc at sundown…well, those are pretty much over at this point too.

So: this starts today.

I’m not sure what this is, but as I mentioned last week, I do know that I need to take my running mileage down for a few months. Aside from a short break in December, I’ve been in marathon training mode since last August, gunning for high mileage (successfully last fall; not so much this spring) and not really doing much in the way of strength training or cross training.

And that was great. It worked just like it was supposed to. It got me the PR and BQ that had eluded me for a decade.

It also got me a beer gut.

There is a reason why miles make champions. It’s because running lots of miles makes your body really efficient at running lots of miles. And that’s exactly what you want if you’re trying to be a competitive distance runner.

The downside is that most of us who run what I’d call “ambitious hobbyjogger” mileage (say, 40 or 50 miles a week) on a consistent basis spend a lot of time exercising and probably burn relatively few calories for our efforts.

Probably. I’m just conjecturing based on my experience over the years. Factor in the inevitable metabolic slowdown that comes with getting older and I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that distance running may not be the best way for me to stay in shape.*

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it, obviously. Because that’s not my primary motivation. But in the “off season,” I figure it can’t hurt to focus my efforts elsewhere for a few months and try to get a little leaner for the next training cycle.

So…this, whatever it is, starts today.

No more weeknight beers. (Most of the time.)

No more fried food. (Unless it’s something really good.)

Some running, obviously, but more like 20 MPW.

Track workouts.

Boot camp.

Weights.

F*cking yoga.

And regular check-ins with this thing:

As of today, it tells me that I weigh 133.6 pounds and am composed of 23.8% fat and 37.8% muscle. (The other 38% is probably Dos Equis and tortilla chips, based on my weekend activities.)

[Edited to add: I’m 5’3″, so while that’s a perfectly healthy weight for me, I do have room to lose a few pounds and still be at a healthy weight.]

I don’t really have a goal, I just want the numbers to move in a direction that indicates less of the squishy stuff and more of the firm stuff.

And I am definitely not going to turn this in to an OMG WEIGHT LOSS blog and then crow about how inspirational I am because I lost ten vanity pounds. (Although if it could get me a book deal? I totally would.)

But assuming it’s not horribly offensive to you guys, I’ll share my progress (or spectacular failure and lack thereof) as it happens.

Anyway. I have a yoga class to get to. So I’ll leave you with what may end up being the final tragic photo of Emmy, on the cusp of her demise:

I could not come up with a worse place to nap if I tried. Unless your goal is to get squished by someone coming down the stairs who doesn’t see you because you are snoozing cluelessly under the first step.

*I’m sure there’s an inflection point somewhere. If I were able to consistently log 80 MPW instead of 40 MPW, I’d probably lean out. And obviously, the vast majority of elite and accomplished distance runners don’t have spare tires…they probably also have more willpower than I do when it comes to their diets. And better genetics. I realize that I’m oversimplifying and there are a lot of factors that affect one’s body composition, but it’s my blog and I’ll make sweeping generalizations if I want to.

Greetings from the…

…land of no internets.

Since I’m still trying to figure out the best internet solution for the new house, I’ll be coming to you live from the Starbucks down the road for the time being. I think it’ll work out well, because I haven’t unearthed the coffee maker yet anyway.

Thanks so much for all of your congrats on our anniversary! It was a great little getaway. We stayed at the H2 Hotel in Healdsburg – the newer, more eco-focused sibling of the venerable Healdsburg Hotel down the street – and I can’t say enough good things about it. (And they’re not even paying me, imagine that!) A few of the highlights:

  • Free bikes for guest use. I had actually looked in to booking one of those wine tours/limo thingies because I knew we wanted to visit several wineries and not have to deal with driving – I’m so glad I didn’t! Doing our own thing on bikes was much more fun (and FREE).
  • Most ridiculously comfortable bed ever. My husband stayed at the Healdsburg Hotel several years ago on a business trip and always talked about how it was the most comfortable bed he’d ever encountered. I don’t know if H2 uses the same beds, but it certainly didn’t disappoint.
  • FREE COLD WATER. I’m sure this was part of their eco schtick, but instead of having bottles of water in the mini fridge, there was a glass jug filled with chilled water and a note that invited us to refill at our convenience from the ice-cold filtered tap in the hallway. I am sure I annoyed my husband by remarking several times a day that this was the BEST THING EVER. Seriously: why can’t every hotel do this?  I always get dehydrated when I travel because I’m too cheap to pay for the $6 bottle of Aquafina and I hate drinking lukewarm tap water from a skeevy coffee mug.
  • Amazing free breakfast. I wanted to fill my suitcase with Rosemary-Pine Nut Scones.
  • Location and price. Froufy little wine country towns like Healdsburg aren’t cheap, obviously, but compared to the other “upscale” options in the area, it was quite reasonable.

Anyway. Enough about that. On to the running…or lack thereof. This was last week:

And the month of April:

That’s officially my lowest monthly mileage number in two years. Even last June/July/August, as I was cursing my way through my first Southern summer, I managed 120+. Ouch.

But oh well. I think that’s just how it’s gonna be for the next few months. I don’t want to curse my way though this summer; I want to hit the fall feeling refreshed and strong and ready to tackle high mileage. In order to get there, I need to get my strength up and body fat down and that means working hard at other things for a little while.

Speaking of which…next week, Gesina and I are starting this monthlong bootcamp that she found on Livingsocial. Should be a good time for my glutes and pecs, which haven’t seen a squat or a pushup in months.

Well, my coffee cup is empty; time to get on with my day. Thanks for bearing with me and my sporadic posting during all of this transition and travel!