Friday, August 13, 2010
Well, I am back at work after staycation and my conference in Chicago. And whatever excellent progress I may have made while resting and staying home was obliterated in the four days I was in Chicago. Way too much food and free booze. However, I did do some things very well on my trip. I stuck to my guns and ran two out of the three mornings I was there. There was a 1/18 mile track in the fitness center and I was on it by 5:30 on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I made so many left turns I felt like a NASCAR driver! And yesterday, when I realized that I had a free period and a long break, I took a break from the air conditioning and walked the couple of blocks to Lake Michigan to look at boats and then walked around Grant Park for a while. It was horribly hot, and every particle of my being said to nap until my next session, but I needed to get out of the hotel. Best decision I made that day! Even though it left me drenched in sweat, it also left me refreshed and feeling like I actually did something other than sit in a conference room trying to learn about CAD or celebrating wins by our various teams.
Speaking of the Chicago heat, one of my co-workers ended up in the hospital on Tuesday night because he collapsed at a rooftop party we were having. Some people on our team thought it was too much to drink, but my instincts turned out to be right about that one. He came around while I was asking the bartender to call 911 and getting a cold damp cloth for him. While checking his pulse (I couldn't see my watch but his pulse was strong, slow and steady), I asked how much water he'd had to drink that day and the day before. He told me he'd had about 4-5 of the little cups they had in the break areas instead of water bottles. Which is not nearly enough, especially when you're drinking in the city in August. Three IVs later, the ER docs diagnosed heat stroke and dehydration. I'm so glad that the SP water habit and my "stainless steel security blanket" kept me well hydrated this week. I hope everyone is keeping up their water intake! It's been a hot summer and this was the second person I know who has ended up in the ER with heat stroke.
Needless to say, this also confirmed for me that sticking to the track instead of running around the lakefront was the right decision for me! I would have loved to run outside, but it never seemed cool enough.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Today, I woke up pretty early for a Saturday. I think "sleepcation" has finally normalized my need for sleep. I went to bed at about 12:30 AM and woke up at 7:00 on the dot, with no alarm. I've been getting a full eight hours a night since last Friday, which has been really nice, but I suspect it's more than I actually need. I've gotten a lot accomplished on my staycation. It's been more like a chorecation. But it's also been really relaxing. Kind of perfect, actually.
So, anyway, when I woke up, I checked out something on my computer and saw that the current temp was- allegedly- 55 degrees. Since I know that's the approximate temperature the half marathon start this year, I decided I needed to get outside and run right away. Of course, by the time I got out there, it was warmer. How much warmer, I have no idea, because I oh-so-smartly wore all black. Capris and a t-shirt. It was like I absorbed all of the sun and warmth in the entire town! When I got to the park, I found that the parking lot was a little more full than I would expect at 8:45. Then I saw several tents and people putting up signs and wearing matching t-shirts. "Oh, great," I thought. "Some kind of event going on. Hope it doesn't tie up the walking path." I asked one of the people what was going on, and he told me it was a fundraising walkathon and that the opening ceremony would be at 9:30. I decided to do as much of my run around the lake path before the opening ceremony and then switch to the more distant soccer path. The run was great! I kept reminding myself that Galloway says slower is better on the longer runs and the goal is to keep a consistent pace and stick with it for the distance. 3.51 miles later, I felt tired and sweaty, but absolutely awesome!
On the way back to my car, I decided to walk on the lake path past the event and see what it was all about. As is so often the case, the opening ceremony was a bit delayed and had just started when I got there, so I got to see the whole thing. The fundraiser is for a disease called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT). According to the informational brochure I picked up, HHT is:
"a dominant genetic multi-system blood vessel disorder affecting the lung and brain, which may result in stroke, hemorrhage and death."
It affects approximately 50,000-70,000 people in the US, but the number is hard to pin down. 9 out of 10 people affected by HHT are not yet diagnosed because of lack of knowledge of the condition by medical professionals. There are only ten HHT treatment centers in the US. So here's the bottom line- 1 in 5000 people have HHT, statistically 50% of their children will also have HHT, and there is no federal funding for this disease. I heard three families speak. The driving force behind our local fundraiser is married to a man with HHT. All three of her children have the disease. Same story with the second woman to speak. The third woman has HHT herself and her two remaining children have HHT. She lost her oldest to the disease when he developed Arterio-Venous Malformations (AVMS) in his brain at the age of 17. Twenty percent of HHT patients suffer death or lifetime disability. Despite this, the disease is highly treatable.
More than local fundraising, what the people affected by this disease need is more widespread information and above all, federal funding/recognition. Last year, the Senate passed a resolution making June National HHT Month. A similar resolution was introduced in the House. It needs 50 co-sponsors, but in over a year, only 31 have signed on. I had never heard of HHT before this morning. I suspect that most of the people who've made it this far in this blog entry haven't either. It was a little less than four months ago that I took part in the local Relay for Life in the exact same park. Thousands of people took part in that event. The entire lake was ringed with sponsor tents and our Relay raised over 800K. And that was just one Relay for Life location out of hundreds across the country. The HHT walkathon had about 150-200 participants and the HHT Foundation representative informed the crowd that it was the largest fundraising event in the history of the foundation. The contrast just amazes me. I felt compelled to write about it here. My heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by HHT. I hope the situation changes for the better very soon.
Monday, August 02, 2010
After pestering my boss, I was able to convince him that this week is the ideal time for me to take a last-minute, week-long vacation! I got the final confirmation on Friday afternoon. You know it's bad when you think of things you can do on vacation and number one on your list is "Alphabetize my CDs." I know there's good running music in my CD closet, I just need to get it into my iPod.
Anyway, so far, what I have done on my staycation is: sleep for eight hours; eat a big (but need-for-snack-eliminating) breakfast; watch a little TV; read; cuddle with my cat; color my hair. Next up: start the CD project; put together a new running music track; take that running track out for a run. Today, I will be moving from 2 min/1:30 min running intervals to 2/1 intervals. I think I never really needed the extra 30 seconds of recovery time, but I didn't want to push too much.
I had a great visit with my parents and my niece this past weekend. No excessive snacking and reasonable portions. We also took a three mile run on Saturday. Poor kid was nursing a side stitch for half the run, but she refused to quit. I actually felt really good after the run, not just physically, but mentally as well. It was raining the whole time, so I feel particularly intrepid running my longest distance so far!
Friday, July 30, 2010
I'm heading north to my parents' house for the weekend. Going to my parents' has always provided certain... challenges for me, diet and fitness-wise. After all, I learned the majority of my bad nutrition habits while living in their house. Things like "there has to be a starch in every dinner" and "splitting an eight serving box of pasta topped with a jar of sauce and well over a pound of ground beef among five people is perfectly reasonable." A couple of months ago my dad remarked how great it was that I was losing weight, then served me two fried eggs, four sausage links and four pancakes! But once I got that surprise out of the way, I was better able to ward it off and it hasn't happened since.
I also learned that family time is TV time from my parents. It's kind of ironic because our TV died when I was a kid and for at least a year, we didn't have one. So it wasn't always the focus of our lives. It just seemed to overwhelm us over the years.
My niece will still be up with my parents, so that may make the weekend more active. She's thirteen, loves swimming and is always up for a walk or a trip into town. If she brought running gear (she was briefly on the track team at her middle school), I may drag her into town to run around the local high school track with me. Regardless of whether she joins me or not, I'm running tomorrow morning. I have a three mile run due this weekend, and have packed accordingly.
Something else I packed- my lunch bag is full of baby carrots, grape tomatoes, strawberries, and banilla yogurt (for dipping the strawberries) to munch on on the drive north. It's about 250 miles of greasy, sugary gas station snacks and fast food restaurants. The more I fill up on the good stuff, the less likely I am to indulge in bad choices (although I confess to a craving for Sonic tots). The one thing my lunch bag doesn't have in it? Lunch!
I'm hoping to get approval from my boss to take next week as a last-minute vacation. I could really use a break. It would be more than staycation, it would be sleepcation!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I just realized that I'm having a craving for "birthday cake." And what I mean by that is cheap yellow cake mix cake and canned frosting. You know the kind of cake I'm talking about. The kind of cake that, if asked to identify the flavor, I would respond "vegetable oil." And the frosting flavor doesn't matter since it all tastes like sugar and can. It's fluffy, but more in a crumbly foam rubber way than delightfully light and tender. That's my (hopefully extremely short-lived) craving.
I should probably explain that I am a total baking snob, at least when it comes to cake. The only cake I don't bake from scratch is carrot. And as for that, give me time. I've got a recipe I'm dying to try out. My chocolate cake uses two kinds of unsweetened cocoa. My strawberry cake owes its flavor and color to crushed strawberries. I once made a cake from a bottle of Guinness, two cups of dried cherries and a boatload of Ghirardelli. I am all over cream cheese frosting, seven minute frosting, Swiss meringue buttercream and ganache. I love to bake. I don't really care about eating the results beyond sampling new experiments.
So here I am, limiting myself to a couple of Tootsie Rolls and a piece of good dark chocolate (every day on that one), and I'm craving crappy cake. Whatever, evil craving. I will defeat you with this surprisingly tart plum and a Kashi granola bar. If you persist in pestering me, I shall resort to sugar free mousse. Now, begone!
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