Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Still here

Workouts ---

Sunday: rest day

Monday: Spinning with Jen, 1 hr class, nice and hard. It was a steady state workout, but I pushed it because I was in the mood for a good hard workout.

Tuesday: Spinning with Miguel, 1 hr class, amusing! Miguel has the largest collection of very very bad 60s and 70s covers that I have ever heard. They were so bad that they made me laugh. His class was also rather, um, interesting. He liked to spin very, very, very fast (i.e. he was going at probably 110rpm much of the class) in very low gears. Either that, or max the gear out climbing. I aimed for somewhere in between and actually got a great workout. He was a pretty funny guy, and I think he's the regular sub for spinning at the gym. People seemed to know him, at least.

Today: Spinning with Jen, 90 min class, but I got there 5 min late and the class was more like 85 min, so it wasn't quite that long. She had us do a good steady-state workout; the main set was 7 minute chunks divided into hard climb at 60-70 rpm and flat road at 100 rpm with 10-sec accelerations every minute on the flat road. The first one was 1 min climb, 6 min flat road; then 2 min climb, 5 min flat road - etc. until 7 min climb, then 7 min flat road. I tried to keep my heart rate low to mid 140s for the workout, like I would racewalking on an easy day. That worked out well.


Mood and other things: I'm definitely moderately depressed again. Sigh. It's not too awful, but it's certainly not the best. As a result, I'm continuing to struggle with my food intake, and am just feeling really tired all the time. The exercise is probably the only thing keeping me from feeling worse. I know I have a bit of seasonal affective disorder, so I got out my light again and am giving that a go. It's probably only natural to feel a bit down, as 1) it's winter (and has been bitterly cold the past couple days, setting off my Raynaud's phenomenon), 2) my toe still hurts and I still can't racewalk (though actually the toe is gradually improving - still hurts to put on socks, but not as much; still hurts to walk, but not as much), 3) work has been busy and family has been busy, making me more tired than usual.

Thankfully, I will have a 4-day weekend and will not have to come in to work at all, which I sorely need right now. In addition, the family obligations have tapered off. I'm glad, because I feel I just need to be at home reading and sleeping and just trying to recuperate.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tailspin? (OR) Not. Giving. Up.

I'm not sure what to call this post.

Option A:


I've had a bad couple of days in the food department, despite my resolution earlier in the week. The scale is ugly right now. Really ugly. I feel like I'm going to spinning class in vain. I can't out-exercise my fork...and I know this to be true...and I feel like giving up.

So hard. Have been working several hours a day even though it's "vacation" because a grad student who went out of town unintentionally dumped a LOT of work on me. Said grad student honestly didn't realize how much work it was going to be to continue the project. But I am stuck with it, and for the first time in memory, I had to work on Christmas Day for a rather lengthy period of time. I know it could be worse; doctors, nurses, police, etc. work lots more on holidays. But I usually don't.

Lots of family in town, which is fun but also more work. I have been doing lots and lots of cooking, cleaning, etc. I'm pretty tired, which lowers my food resistance. Add in the fact that there is a LOT LOT LOT of junk food around the house and it's just a nightmare. This too shall pass, but I need to get out alive. Feel like I'm in a tailspin.

Option B:

Not. Giving. Up.

What is my alternative? If I'd given up earlier in the month, this would be even worse and the scale would have an even higher number. Seems impossible, but must be true. Seriously, if I hadn't been trying to keep the weight and the appetite at bay (which I have...believe it or not!), I bet I could have gained 20 pounds in one month. It's ridiculous.

If I give up now, I know I will just be completely miserable. I don't ever want to go back to the way I used to live before I lost the weight. I'm not that person any more, but I also still have plenty of issues. It's confusing.


I went spinning this morning. It was a great class, with Jen. I'm motivated to reset the food intake, and today is more relaxing, as everyone but me and Calvin is out skiing. I can't ski (broken toe) and don't want to unless it's cross-country, but of course they are downhill skiing. However, I have to go to work (again........whee.........), and we are all going out to dinner tonight, which presents its own fun set of challenges. I'm mentally prepared now, but by evening my willpower is usually depleted a bit. A nap might help. Relaxing WILL help. Calvin and I plan to chill and shop for books, and hang out and play games a bit. I am looking forward to a day with my boy :). (Wow, this paragraph is really disjointed stream-of-consciousness!). The point is that I really am NOT. GIVING. UP.

Today is a new day. Get ready. Reset. Go.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Spinning with Jen; rest day; Merry Christmas!

Wednesday: Spinning with Jen; the usual tough 90-min class.

For those new to spinning, I'll tell you a bit more about it. Basically, you ride a special stationary bike in the dark/dim light with music (preferably somewhat loud :)!) and an instructor. The room we use at our gym has space enough for probably 30 bikes, though the biggest class tends to be maybe 20-25 people. The spinning bikes are not your ordinary stationary bike. They have special pedals that you can clip in your cycling shoes, or on the flip side straps to snug your regular sneakers. The handlebars allow for multiple positions of your arms, to resemble a tri-bike or road bike. They also come with gears - you can move a lever to increase the resistance level on your bike to simulate hill climbs. In addition, our bikes have a small computer that tells you RPM, power output in watts/kcal burned (alternating on display), heart rate (if you have a compatible monitor; mine isn't so I just put my watch on the bike handlebars), and distance traveled. The key number really is watts (how hard you are working). The instructor has a microphone so she can be heard over the music, which she usually controls through an iPod or iPhone or other mp3 player. One more thing about a spin bike - you have to keep pedaling continuously - you can't coast like on a road bike, and they do not stop immediately like a regular stationary bike.

The thing I like about spinning is that it really pushes you to work much harder than you'd work on the elliptical or stationary bike. It's a great interval workout, and I am trying to stay in good shape while I'm out of racewalking, so it's perfect for that. Burns lots of calories, too :).

Yesterday's workout was typical. We warmed up for about 5 min just riding "flat road" which means lower resistance, and higher rpm - usually 90 to 100, depending on the instructor. Then we did some drills for left leg and right leg - basically using just the one leg to pedal. You can push down on a spin bike but you can also pull up, so you use glutes and hamstrings equally if you are paying attention. The instructors often do drills for that as well, though we didn't yesterday. However, they DO remind you to "push and pull" frequently.

After we warmed up, we did a little more flat road, and then started a 20 minute hill climb, gradually adding more and more resistance until we were struggling mightily to keep our RPM above 60. Some of the climb was in the saddle, and some out of the saddle (i.e. standing). That's another thing you can do on a spin bike that you don't do on an ordinary stationary bike - standing rather than sitting for climbing or just at lower resistance for "running" or "jogging". It simulates standing on a road bike for an extra push, and it's a bit tougher and usually ups your heart rate quite a bit more. After our climb, we recovered briefly and then did five 40sec/20sec intervals of flat road/very fast RPM (110 or more). That will also get your heart rate up in a hurry! After a brief recovery, we repeated the climb, this time with a bit more work out of the saddle for extra challenge (by this point our legs are toast!!!) and then did the 40/20s again. Did I mention that Jen's class is really tough? It was good though. After the last set of 40/20s, we cooled down on a flat road for a while, and then stretched on the bike (arms, upper body) and off the bike (legs).

Garmin data here. 

Today: Merry Christmas! The gym is closed, and so no workout for me today. I might take the dog for a walk in the neighborhood, slowly, and not very far. My toe is still quite painful if I walk too much or stand a long time. Also, we got fresh snow last night! It's beautiful outside, but maybe not conducive to lots of walking.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spinning; new x-ray

Today: Spinning with Jeannie. We did a modified 12 days of Christmas workout with 30 sec for each thing, and with each of the 11 people in the class picking one exercise. It was actually a quite challenging workout, surprisingly. At least it was only an hour...tomorrow is the 90-min spinning class with Jen, always sure to turn my legs to Jell-O.

Worked all day and then had a 4:15 pm appointment for an x-ray of my toe. The new x-ray shows that it is healing nicely on the medial side, with not much healing visible yet on the lateral side. But the P.A. thought it looked fine and that it should be feeling much better in 4 weeks or so. I told her it was still quite painful and she said that toes are like that - very painful. They can take a long time (several months or more) to stop hurting. That's a bit discouraging since it's been just one month today; however, she did think that it's entirely possible that mine could be feeling better in another month and that I might be up for racewalking then. I hope so.

Meanwhile, spinning...and more spinning.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Friday: 12 Days of Christmas class. Great workout. Pretty tough, as it's a 90-min class, but I tried to keep it not as intense and focus a bit more on endurance. Ave HR 141, so good for an endurance ride. Garmin data here.  Calvin was the "elf" for our class and passed out door prizes - really fun. He a had a good time trying out the spin bike too. Set on the lowest seat height, he could reach the pedals and he discovered he could even read a Garfield comic book while spinning :). He wore a Santa hat, and it was pretty cute. I forgot to take his picture, though, sorry.

Saturday & Sunday: 30 min elliptical each day. On Saturday I took the dog for a brisk walk, trying a bit to racewalk. Yeah, right. Still too painful, and I'm still limping. My toe does feel better, but I'm not ready for that yet. Putting on socks isn't as hard as it was, and it's a bit less painful to walk, though I'm not going to convince anyone that I'm not limping, if they are looking closely. Saturday was a bit of a food disaster, followed by remorse on Sunday, and very good eating behavior. I am renewed in my determination to fight this and not to sit by and passively allow more weight gain. I know this is a hard time to watch my weight, but I've done it before, and I can do it again.

Monday: Spinning with Jen; interval workout. It was a good hard one. Seriously - HR up in the upper 150s-low 160s for a good bit. Kept telling myself I'm training to keep my cardiovascular system strong, so that when I can racewalk again it won't be so dismal getting fit again. I know it'll still be hard as I'll lose most of my racewalking-specific fitness, but I'm trying not to think about that. Just staying as fit as possible while I wait to heal. Garmin data here. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Today: Spinning - Jeannie's class. It was decent. I took it a bit easy after yesterday's tough class with Jen, and before tomorrow's 12 Days of Christmas class with Kit.

Mood: not been good. Stupid seasonal affective thing bothering me? Or just the seasonal busyness? Been a bit anxious/depressed. Some situational stuff may be contributing; i.e. not being able to RW, some other personal stuff. I've been worse, but I've been better too. Maybe time to drag out the blue light again. Also need to eat better. Keep saying that but hard to do right now for some reason. I know I need to, though, for my mood. A bit of a conundrum.

Toe: still sore.

Garmin data here. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

catching up again

Sorry...'tis the season. I'm trying NOT to be too busy, but it's catching up to me anyway.

Sunday: rest day.

Monday: woke up late but still managed 30 min elliptical.

Tuesday: 1 hr spin class with Kit; good endurance ride.

Wednesday: 90 min spin class with Jen; pushed *really* hard. Tough climb with at least 10 min of HR>160. Garmin data here.  Though I pushed very hard, and my legs were tired later, there was no weird soreness. As for fatigue, yeah, I have that, but I suspect most of it is seasonal doing-too-much rather than the mystery illness.

Tomorrow: I plan to go spinning again but not push too hard.

Friday: Spinning is the 12 days of Christmas class, which I'm looking forward to a lot. Calvin has volunteered to be an "elf" for the class, handing out door prizes, etc. He will have to get up early to go with me (class starts at 5:30 am, since it's a 90 min class) but he's excited to do it.


Toe update: still hurts to put on socks and to walk. Hurts a lot if I'm on my feet too much, and then I have to ice it and take ibuprofen or naproxen. Wheeee. I'm getting another x-ray on Tuesday. I can't tell that it's improved at all.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Enjoyable day

Started out the day with a 7-8am spinning class, and got my HR about as high as I've ever seen it spinning. We did about a 30-min warm-up (haha...more like a 5 min warmup and 25 min workout!) and then a 20-min time trial. Ouch! The time trial is pretty tough. 5 min "flat road", 80-90rpm but with your power output reasonably high. I started with my HR about 150, because I figured that was a good place to start for a hard 20 min. Then, we had a 2 min "run" (standing, fast pedaling), which always gets my HR up, followed by a 2 min climb (increase resistance, sitting), and then a 1 min standing climb. Then, repeat the whole thing. On the last 1 min climb, my HR pegged at 168. Granted, it gets higher racewalking (I've seen it as high as 180 in a 5K, at the end of the race), but still...yeah...hard effort for cycling. Notes to self about the time trial: bike #26, ave rpm 79, ave power 211 watts, distance 7.8. Not sure I'll be able to get that same bike again, and they are quite different, but at least that is something. The instructor plans to do the time trial again in a month to see if we've improved. Oh yay!

After the spin class I went home for a quick shower and change, and then took Calvin with me to breakfast with my friend Kelly. She's leaving for California for a couple months before moving to Idaho for a job. I'll miss her a lot, so we had to do breakfast one last time. Of course, she got Eggs Benedict, her favorite :).

Then Calvin and I did a bit of shopping for ingredients for our holiday baking frenzy today. It was pretty fun --- and then we did our baking! We made a couple batches of caramels, which need to be chocolate dipped sometime soon (tomorrow???), and also some caramel nut popcorn. We are still going to make some peanut butter balls coated in chocolate ("buckhorns"), and some white chocolate espresso macadamia nut bark. We also played Monopoly for a little while, and Calvin totally killed me! He did really well; for a while it was neck-and-neck but then he pulled ahead. Good game. Finally, we had a couple from church over for dinner; she plays the cello, so after dinner she and I played some music together. After they left, I played my clarinet and the piano for a little to scratch the music itch a bit more.

It was a good day :).

My toe is quite sore after the baking frenzy, and I did ice it, but...well...yeah, probably shouldn't be on it so much. Oh well. It is still very tender to the touch, and putting on socks, pants, standing too long, and walking hurt. Mostly just annoying, but am trying not to think about how much longer it's going to be that I can't racewalk. On the flip side, I get more rest to hopefully make the mystery illness go away for good. Yesterday at Kelly's graduation I was sitting a lot (driving, the ceremony, more driving, then dinner) and it barely bothered me at all :).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday spinning

Today was spinning with Kit. We got a little preview of her "12 Days of Christmas" spinning class. Yes, you read that correctly. She does a class where each day is represented by a different spinning exercise: 30 sec fast cadence, 1 min job, 1 min of 5 sec jumps, etc. You repeat them just as in the song: 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1 etc. She's going to have door prizes and everything, coming next Friday. Should be fun!

Today was a good workout, and then I went to work briefly; got to leave early to attend my friend Kelly's graduation from physical therapy school.

Garmin data here. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wednesday spinning. Thursday spinning.

Wednesday: Spinning with Jen - 90 min class. It was hard, but I felt much better after the workout than I did last week. No weird soreness and other than being fatigued for part of the day, I was fine. I felt pretty recovered today and went spinning again.

Garmin data here. 

Today: Spinning with Jeannie - regular 60 min class. Only 2 people came, me and a guy named John, in his late 50s or early 60s? I didn't mind, as we chatted it up while we sweated (I did get a good workout, really!) and for my part I got to share a bit about neuroscience research and racewalking.

Garmin data here.


Toe update: Still sore. Still bruised a bit. Hurts to put on socks, walk (sometimes if I forget to limp and/or hit it wrong), and gets swollen after a day on my feet. Definitely not ready for racewalking yet, not that I expected it to be.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

more spinning

I felt a bit better today. I had less fatigue and not much muscle pain, and though spinning was a bit easier, it was still a great workout and could have made me tired, but didn't :). Seriously, spinning is good because it pushes me a bit more than just elliptical or riding stationary bike on my own, and yet feels easier because I'm just following the instructor's directions and there's peer pressure to do it and not quit if I feel tired. It's mentally easier, and physically harder, which is great. I was pleased to be able to do it today.

Tomorrow is Jen's killer 90-min spin class. It starts at 5:30am (gulp!). I'd better get to bed soon if I'm going to be on time. I was actually on time to Kit's class today - wow! That was nice. Jen's class is super crowded, so if I want a decent bike I do need to try to be on time... that's incentive anyway. We'll see if I make it.

In other news, yeah, my toe still hurts. No, I can't walk yet.

Garmin data here from today's class.

Monday, December 08, 2014


Went for a spin this morning. I thought I was doing well to get there at 6:03am, but I was the last person to show up (for the 6am class), and I grabbed a bike without straps for the left foot :(. I didn't want to go get another one, so I just dealt with it. The workout went fine anyway; it was Jen (the MW instructor), who gives a seriously kick-butt class. Average HR, including the cool-down and stretch and a few minutes after (forgot to turn off watch) was 141. Got my HR up to 160 on several intervals, and it was in upper 150s on a lot of the climbs.

The bad news is that I felt unusually fatigued after; some brain fog and lots of just plain tiredness. I'm not sure what's up with all that. I did nap a long time yesterday but felt like I slept OK last night anyway. I am worried it's a bit of the mystery illness. I don't have very sore muscles, but I haven't been sitting much this morning at work. I will sit a lot this afternoon, so we'll see how that is.

The thing that I really like about spinning is how I can just turn off my mind and just let my body work hard, and let the instructor push me rather than pushing myself. I don't know how to explain it, but it's therapeutic. Oddly, I don't get bored, between the music and the intervals. Plus, when you sweat that much you know you got a good workout. I needed it this morning.

My toe is still very tender. It still hurts to walk, and it hurts a lot if I touch or move it the wrong way. I was realizing today that it's only been two weeks since I broke it. Ugh. 6 more weeks, probably. Well, one day at a time.

Garmin data here. 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

one foot in front of the other

These days, it's just one foot in front of the other. Try to get some good exercise. Go to work. Limp around, because my toe is still painful for ordinary walking. Try not to dwell on that misfortune. Focus on eating as well as I can given the circumstances, reminding myself that self-care is a good gift that will pay dividends. Then, forgetting. Overindulging, and re-remembering.

Along the way, some good insights happen. This was a really musical week; I spent a lot of time arranging a piece for SATB quartet with a friend from church, and then rehearsing and performing it. In addition, there was working on other choir pieces, giving piano lessons to the kids, practicing my clarinet for next week's choir piece, and today after church, kids' and adult choir rehearsal (with me and my broken toe squeezed into small organ shoes, sight-reading a nifty seasonal arrangement), and finally women's ensemble. Oh, and Friday night Loren and my mom and I went to the symphony to hear Beethoven's Ninth, which was very well done. I'm loving the music, which is my insight of the week, along with the need for some silent time, encouraged by our pastor in today's sermon.

I'm also trying to do a little reading while I cross-train. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I only managed about 30 min elliptical each day, as my body was fatigued. I'm not sure if it's the mystery illness, as I've had some leg soreness that seems akin to the weird soreness (especially after Wednesday's killer 90-min spin session), or maybe the seasonal busyness, but I crashed and needed a nap and some alone time today. That brings me back to the reading. I'm reading a book of short stories (fiction), a book about introversion (non-fiction), and a couple other things. I'm one to read as many books as possible at the same time.

And, I am thinking to take a break from most social media for a bit; the holiday season is really busy, and I want to pare down so that I can enjoy the things that matter most. I'll keep blogging, as it's more for me than for anyone else. Who knew that I would ever think writing is therapeutic (I generally dislike writing and avoid it whenever possible; part of the reason I'm in molecular biology is that I wanted a career in which writing wasn't necessary)? But a little blogging seems good for the soul, or something like that.

This week: spin class tomorrow, I think. Then, whatever my body allows. It's a balancing act, learning all over to care for myself, my family, and do my work. As seasons in life change, I must adapt, and figure out how to cope with the curve balls I've been thrown, whether it's a mystery illness, a broken toe, or something much more difficult.

My apologies for the rambling. It's good to get things out and explore them in writing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

spinning spinning spinning

The hardest spinning class at the gym is Wednesday mornings, 5:30-7. Yup, 90 minutes of intense spinning with the most challenging instructor. I did get out of bed early and made it to the gym by about 5:35 (oops...a bit late) for this morning's insanity. And I made it through the whole class, without toe pain. Whew. Spinning seems to agree with the toe. By the time I was done, my shirt was soaking wet with sweat, so at least I know I was working hard; that, and my HR monitor showed 160 for a good portion of the "hill" climbing that we did. 

Garmin data here. Nice interval workout.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

lots of cross-training ahead

So, I finally got my toe x-rayed. I just wanted to be sure that there wasn't anything else going on in the joint, and also wanted to know that there wasn't any displacement or other problems. And while it IS broken, and quite thoroughly, it's going to heal just fine in 6-10 weeks, or so they say.

Meanwhile, I'm cross-training a lot. I did elliptical yesterday and today I got daring and tried a spinning class for the first time since I broke it. That actually went fine, and I was able to do pretty much everything pain-free. So I'll be making good friends with the spin bike and the elliptical for the next few weeks.

I plan to use some of the extra time I'll have to do a bit more music stuff. I've been arranging a carol for small ensemble for church for Advent, and also am thinking to get my clarinet out and dust it off for a couple things for church and maybe for playing with a string quartet.