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my first half-marathon experience

Preface: I signed up for this race back in the spring when I was training regularly and saw no reason I couldn't get ready in 7 months. There was no reason I couldn't have been ready, but I let my head get in the way. I have basically not trained at all in the last few months. Which brings us to...Image by veganstraightedge via Flickr

4:30 a.m. this morning: the alarm goes off. We ate our bagels and were ready to go at 5 a.m. We parked and took the shuttle to the start line, where by 6:30 we were among thousands of people waiting to use the portapotty. Nissa and I were in our corral at the start time (7:30), but we didn't actually get to the start until an hour later. No big deal, I knew it would be this way.

I spent the first three miles trying to overcome my certainty that I could not do this, which Nissa really helped with, reminding me I get in my own way too much. Nick had told me yesterday this race would be a major psychological hurdle for me, and he was right.…

Diet update

Image via WikipediaThis weekend, Nick and I accomplished a feat I would never before have imagined: we ate no junk food. Come on, everyone knows that weekends are meant for ice cream, cheeseburgers, and hot wings and forgetting all the good diet deeds you did the previous week. That's certainly the way we usually treat them. But as I wrote last week, I'm working on lowering my triglycerides, eliminating all animal products except fish. And this weekend has been a feast of seafood.

Friday night we went out for Thai food, where I had some yummy shrimp thing. Then last night, Nick made a giant seafood paella, with shrimp, calamari, monkfish and mussels. Tonight I'm making salmon.

Besides the distinct lack of any other meat, cheese or eggs, we are also avoiding processed carbs and sugar. Yeah, seriously. None of those yummy things in the last 4 days. But this is not torture when you have hummus and avocados, olives and asparagus.

26 more days to go... don't count me …

French fries are vegan, right?

Image via WikipediaBefore this morning I had never thought about how hard it is to construct a breakfast without animal products or refined carbs. A list of my regular favorites were immediately excluded: eggs, toast with butter, cereal, yogurt, cheese, croissants. I ended up with grapes and plain oatmeal (no milk, butter or sugar, of course). OK, that was adequate, but I need to do some better planning for future breakfasts.

To clarify, I'm not your new Super-Vegan, out to save the world one salad at a time. This is part of a temporary experiment to see if I can go off all my prescription medications this year. I'm not going to discard those medications and go about business as usual. Instead, I'm taking one health issue at a time and replacing the medication with lifestyle changes that have been proven by research to improve the condition.

First on the chopping block is my triglyceride-lowering medication, Trilipix. Yes, I'm 33 and on medicine for my triglyceride…

the latest cure

Image via WikipediaI admit I'm continually renewing my outlandish health and fitness goals, from training for this half-marathon to endlessly trying to nail down the best nutrition program. I could see all these passing goals as a series of failures, but they are always, always informative. For example, I've learned in the last year that I feel healthiest when I exercise everyday and keep a food journal. I've learned that with just a little effort, I can see obvious fitness gains. And I need yoga everyday.

What's the latest grand scheme? I hesitate to even say, but too much of my recent readings have been pointing to it: vegetarianism. I always thought my legacy of animal husbandry automatically disqualified me from being a good vegetarian, but now I'm sick. Chronic illness demands loyalty only to getting better. But let me explain why I've been approaching this as a possible solution...

It started with a health book I bought and read over vacation: Quant…

wakeful

Image via WikipediaIt's now only 3.5 months until the half marathon and I have seriously backslid in my training. It feels like I am starting over, but the difference this time is I have more confidence than I did a year ago. I know if I will just put in the hours I can get to the point of going 13.1 miles without dying.

Nick and I will go to the park in the morning for some walk/run time. That could actually be appealing if I weren't typing this at 2 a.m. after trying to fall asleep for 2 hours. I guess I damaged myself by sleeping til noon today, but it was my last official day of summer. Yes, it's back to work on Monday, though the girls don't start back until Aug. 17. HOWEVER, we will leave next Thursday for our vacation, a week in Cape Cod with Nick's family. It's my first time to experience a New England beach, but for Nick it was a childhood annual event. They say the water is cold. Guess how great cold water sounds when you've endured a few m…

better

Image by bklyn down via FlickrMarkedly less depressive now that I was a few days ago! Man, I just have to keep control on my schedule and stop using caffeine in place of sleep. Insomnia has always triggered the crazies for me.

Barren

Image via WikipediaI've not treated myself so well these last few days, not sleeping enough, living on junk and caffeine and anxiety. It's an awful cycle to get jacked up on junk, not be able to sleep, need more caffeine to function, never sleep, take pills to sleep, get more tired but too anxious and still awake.

So these last few nights when I was finally too tired to brain my school work, but too tired to sleep, I've been caught in this nasty loop of contemplating my infertility. THUD <-- (the sound of people who suddenly stopped reading and closed this page.)

I guess it flared up a few days ago when I heard some asinine comment about gay people not having valid marriages because they can't reproduce. I take that personally because, obviously, the same logic invalidates my marriage, right? I don't think it's too uncommon for women with infertility to get their self-worth all wrapped up in not being able to perform this very very basic biological functio…

Adventures in Library School

Image by ¡Viva la Cynthia! via FlickrA bit of background: this summer I started my first semester toward a master's in library information science from the University of North Texas. The two classes I'm taking -- Intro to Information Professions and Intro to Information Organization -- start with several days of lecture, and the rest of the semester is totally online.

So I left for Denton (near Dallas) last Wednesday. I really had no idea what to expect, but I took a stack of magazines and books a foot high because I'd be reading a lot, right? Nope, didn't crack a single one. For five days, I was in lectures from 8 to 5. Then I was back at Image via Wikipediathe hotel trying to grasp the Everest of assignments I'm expected to do in the next month and a half.

It was like we were all dumped at the start line of a marathon, expected to sprint to the end and then, btw, you can train for all this after we're done. I spent first 10 miles going, omgwtf???? Why…

remember this

Image via Wikipediatwo upcoming themes for Somerset Studios: aubergine and Alice in Wonderland.

addiction

Image via WikipediaI am so addicted to food, I am panicking at the thought of not eating anything but fruit today! So far I've had juice, cherries, cantaloupe and apricots. It's making me grouchy, but I haven't cracked yet. Still, I'm wishing Nick would not be supportive of this challenge and would instead take me out for a steak and fries. mmm.

detoxify detoxify kick a hole right in the sky

Image by Carol Moshier via FlickrAfter two hell weeks at work and lots of junky food during the off hours, it's time to clean up my act. I thought it would be a good idea to start the summer with a 9-day detox. It starts tomorrow with all fruit for a day, then all fruits and vegetables for a day. Then the next seven days, only fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts and fish. Also, exercise and yoga everyday, plus some hydrotherapy and massage. I'll try to write about it the whole way through to keep on track.

Also, we are starting tonight and watching all of Lost straight through from the beginning.

We don't need no stinkin luck

Image via WikipediaRight now, Nick is 30 minutes into an all-day test, a major career-defining moment (no pressure, babe.) This stinking test, which is the brass ring at the near-end of a 6-year carousel ride, has eclipsed everything for months. When he doesn't have to study for hours a day, I might get to see what my husband's hobbies are.

That's why after it's over today, we are going to Austin to celebrate for a few days (celebrate the test being over and Nick's 32nd birthday.)

But now, I have to get ready for work.

Read

Image by Getty Images via DaylifeEarlier this year, I held a contest challenging students to read (and write about) books on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list. The sad truth is I've only read about 10 of these books myself. Today I was inspired to change that.

Does anyone else want to give it a try? I also want to read more from the nonfiction list.

This is also a fantastic list.

If anyone wants to informally read from these lists and talk about the books, I will create an online book club! But not where we pick one book and everyone has to read it. Totally informal, just reading what you feel like and talking about it.

Maybe a new era

Let me tell you about the last two 5ks I did before yesterday. They were in November 2008 and 2007, both at my husband's workplace, a gorgeous wooded compound not far from where we live. Both times I ached and hobbled all the way to the end with very little running.

Both times I had frequent moments of cursing myself for thinking I could do anything so fit or active. And at the heart of it I felt ashamed for being so weak. The physical pain and emotional insecurity made them unenjoyable, made me unable to even feel proud when they were over. I just felt frustrated that I couldn't do better.

I didn't know until yesterday's Race for the Cure was over how much better it would be. I wanted to run. And when it was over I wanted to run some more. (Not at that moment, but you know, in the future.)

That desire to run in the future will be important for that little ol' half-marathon in November, see? Right now my desire is to run twice a week and weight train four times…

Pump Me Up!

Image via WikipediaI visit my endocrinologist every three months. I got through all the labs (I have one vein that's gone pro from all the sticking), have my vitals updated and talk with the Doc about adjusting my wellness program.

I almost always approach these visits with great shame because I haven't lost weight (except that one awesome time I had lost weight!) This morning I almost skipped it, so frustrated with thinking I've done all the right things and have no results to show for it. Let this serve as a reminder that no matter how discouraged I get, my doctor always sets me back in the right frame of mind.

Today I unloaded on him about how I want to be an athlete! but this body is trying to kill me and it won't respond to anything. wah wah wah desperation HELP!!!!

But like a miracle, he always has another trick up his sleeve. Or a few tricks.

Weight training -- he wants me building muscle up to 5 days a week. Hells yeah! I love weight training! I thought I w…

Future Librarians Club

Image via WikipediaLast Fall was full of family worry and stress because my Grammaw was sick and then dying. Boy, what a way to start a post! The point is I put off applying to graduate school because it was just too much. And every time I've thought of it since the first of the year, my head just goes back to those worrisome months. It was a hurdle for me to get over to just be willing to think of applying, and the first step was checking the application deadline for Summer.

Once I did that yesterday, I started to feel the excitement again! Today I looked back over the course catalog and these are the classes I'm most excited about:

Economics of InformationDevelopment of Libraries, Publishing and CommunicationSerial PublicationsSpecial CollectionsPreservationRare BooksPublishingYeah! I could work in a museum library or something! Like at the McNay! I love going to the library at the McNay.

Being Ernest

So I decided on Thursday that a new kitten would cheer me out of this week-long funk I've been in. It wasn't a monumental decision because we have three cats and are always on the verge of getting a new one. Oh, it didn't hurt that I went to Adoption Basics class this week and had a lot of time to think about babies and the absence of my babies and the absence of anything sweet and tiny to cuddle.

Also, there was the whole mess of Solaris the Cat being dead and then undead last week. That got me started even thinking about a new cat for real.

Nick and I meant to meet at the Humane Society after work yesterday, but then I had a brain storm. We had just been to this bookstore we love called Nine Lives Books. It is a used bookstore (plus) and cat sanctuary (double plus plus). I called them to inquire about kitties. I know there are scores of perfectly lovable grown cats out there and I wish we could have them all, but I worry too much about them disrupting our purr-to-his…

Running?

Image via WikipediaI don't even know if I can call what I've done "running". For the few minutes I do it, it must look like a slow-motion version of someone who actually runs very slowly.

Regardless.

I can really see the future when it's more something I do than something I wish I could do. And I'm committed to getting there, however humiliating the interim is.

I may have mentioned I started a meetup.com group for beginner runners. We meet every Saturday, which I expect to keep me committed. The tough thing is that no one I the group so far is quite as "beginner" as I am. At yesterday's meetup, I was so embarassed about my inability. I just don't want people to think I'm lazy or dumb.

BUT! Yes, I know I have to tackle that fear on my own, and likely most people don't stop worrying about themselves long enough to judge me. It will just be an emotional process of adjustment for me, and I look forward to that as much as the physica…

Feeling strong!

Image via WikipediaJust to update on how I feel after one week of no refined sugar or carbs...

I have had no fits of raging-moody hunger, and these were daily occurances before.I had no trouble avoiding a buffet of lasagna, bread and sweets at work yesterday.Juice is so sweet it almost gags me and I have to dilute it with water.I have had no temptation for dessert, a daily craving before. No bread/carb cravings either.
Less need for snacks throughout the day.When Nick and I went out for a celebration dinner last night, I did eat several pieces of bread. It was the first time all week I felt so full my pants were busting. (I don't regret it though! That was good stuff. And I'm allowing that one special meal each week. But I might find I don't even want the bread at my special meal.)I'm excited about trying all manner of dried beans! We regularly eat red, black, lentil and black-eyed peas, but I want to try some less familiar ones. Picked up Christmas lima beans yes…

earthish

Image via WikipediaI would have been ashamed to admit this before today, but now that the situation is rectified, I can tell the truth.

We just joined our city recycling program. Yes, it took us more than 18 months to do it. And all it took was a phone call to request the bin. We wasted a year and a half worth of good recyclable stuff because we couldn't get around to making a phone call. I know, it's shameful.

But now we're in business and I don't see how one bin will hold all of our refuse. Lucky we have trash pickup twice a week.

Meditation

Image by Kounelli via FlickrAfter the final no there comes a yes,
And on that yes the future world depends.
----Wallace Stevens

No matter how many failures there have been in the past, there is always the possibility of success. Oh wow, that sounds a little like Tony Robbins.Whatever. I just wanted to make the point, to myself, that all my past failures at particular things don't predict infinite failure. There will at some point be a "yes" and it's just as likely to be today as any other day.

Farming

Image by 427 via FlickrI may have mentioned we joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) this month. Let me just explain what that means. There is an organic vegetable farm about an hour from here. Instead of selling their crops to a grocery store, they sell shares to regular people like me. You buy your share and for 12 weeks (the winter/spring growing season) you get a box of vegetables every week.

I love this setup for so many reasons. It's local, organic, personal, healthy, random. I'm ecstatic that we finally are doing this after talking about it for a long time.

I got an email today about working on the farm too! Spend an afternoon there and you get a voucher for free vegetables in the next growing season. Even without the voucher, I love the idea of getting our hands dirty and taking part in our food production.

My secret(public) dream is one day my family will be doing this on our farm in Alabama! It's not up to me in any fashion, but I dream of being t…

4 p.m. Dilemma

Re: Eating Healthy

I have always had this problem with controlling my junk food urges late in the afternoon. I can plan the perfect meals and snacks for the entire day, but around 4 p.m., I snap.

It goes like this: I start to get a little hungry and extremely thirsty around 3 p.m. This is also about the time I start to lose my patience at work. That last hour, my nerves are raw and I get snappish. I'm also usually too busy to stop for a snack or some water. Then at 4 p.m. I leave work, with only my little healthy snack to see me through until dinner at about 6.

And I start to think I deserve a treat. I will only be satisfied, if I fill up on sugar, salty snacks and soda. If I have any legitimate excuse to stop at a store, I will pick up a candy bar, chips or a diet soda, or all three. As I'm typing it now, it sounds so weak, but in that 4 p.m. period, I can not reason with myself. Once I've had my fix and gotten into that emotional space of needing to feel better, it…

Some basic tips I found while working on my exercise

How to Plot a Story
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Have a basic idea for a story, but don't know what to do now? There are a lot of articles telling you how to write once you have a plot, or how to expand your plot once you have the skeleton. But what do you do if you have nothing but the idea? This article will help you plot out a story from beginning to end, whether it be a children's picture book or a seven-part epic series.
Steps
Get an idea. If you have one lurking somewhere, great! If not, brainstorm, or mind map, or do one of the numerous other thought-generating exercises that can be found on the web. You don't need to make it a story just yet—but you do need a vague idea. It can start with anything: a phrase, a face, a character, or a situation, just so long as it's exciting and inspiring to you.
Turn your idea into an idea for a story. This is the high-level arc of the story. If you're familiar with the Snowflake Method, or other top-do…

I connected the dots.

In the last six months, I've gone from exercising sporadicly to exercising every day, but I am gaining weight.In the last year, I've gone from not paying much attention to what I eat to eating mostly natural foods, often organic, but I am gaining weight.In the last two years, my diabetes has been perfectly under control, with my other labs (hormones, cholesterol, blood pressure) improving greatly, but I am still gaining weight.Last year, I joined Weight Watchers, followed the plan, took 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds and then plateaued for the next 5 months.
I was thinking about these things today and wondering why it just doesn't work for me. Then the final dot came to mind, completing the picture:

(I'm so frustrated I couldn't find a scientific explanation for this, but still, it's been state again and again...) Insulin resistance causes weight gain.I was diagnosed with insulin resistance maybe a decade ago, a complication of PCOS. Then when I was diagnosed with …

Neat and ordered

From Jodi Picoult's book Keeping Faith, which I just started reading today: I do not like surprises. I live by lists.  In fact, I often imagine my life like a September loose-leaf binder -- neatly slotted and tabbed, with everything still in place.

Yahoo! News Story - Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address - Yahoo! News

Anna Beyer (annaleebeyer@yahoo.com) has sent you a news article.
(Email address has not been verified.)
------------------------------------------------------------
Personal message:Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address - Yahoo! Newshttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090120/ap_on_go_pr_wh/inauguration_obama_text============================================================
Yahoo! News
http://news.yahoo.com/

She's crafty

Today I am sewing art aprons for a preschool teacher. It's kind of a benchmark for me to be known well enough for my sewing that people ask me to make things for them. My mom always had that reputation, but I never expected I would. Now that I think about it, it's been that way for a while. And because I love doing it, it feels weird to charge people for it. But I do, man, I do.

I'm also "crafting" a fat pot of ham bean soup today! Isn't that country of me? I left a lot of meat on the bone from the ham I made Saturday. I stuck it in the crock pot with a variety of beans and barley, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, green pepper, carrots, black pepper, red chiles, celery seed, bullion, and love. I would make corn bread if I had any stupid corn meal, but instead I think we will have grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with the soup.

Notes from the beyond

I was just in my office, about to crack a new book on writing when i dug into my paper stash for a bookmark. What I came up with was a note card from my days working at Progressive Farmer magazine. Inside, is this message:

Anna,
Thank you so much for making this a great summer for me. I really enjoyed getting to know you. Thanks for sharing your poetry, beer, pizza and cigarettes with me. Thanks for being there to let me vent, and for opening up your life to me. In short, thanks for everything. Since we're both addicted to e-mail, it won't be hard to stay in touch. Take care of yourself and love without attachment.

--Jen

I can tell from the context this was one of the interns I supervised, but besides that I have no memory of this person.

It's astonishing to me. We must have at the time had some great connection, but all these years later I can't recall the slightest thing about who this "Jen" was. Why didn't we stay in touch?

Anxiety

I don't know if there are people who live without it. Anxiety, that is. Are there? I can't imagine that kind of life. For me it's like the kettle is always getting ready to blow unless someone rational pulls it off the burner.

I might fixate on a situation until I can't think about anything else and my heart is pounding and I'm sure I'm going to stress myself into a heart attack or a stroke and become an invalid so Nicholas is burdened with my vegetable-care and can never have a fulfilling life of his own. See? "Fixate" is a euphemism for "obsess." My favorite therapist used to say "I'm a little concerned about your tendency to obsess." She said it with extra calm and care as if using too-strong words might set me off. But it made me laugh.

I've been using one of her techniques to break my anxiety lately -- deep breath, hold it, count to five, release, repeat. It's a distraction if nothing else. Another thing I…

getting educated

I went through our community course catalog today and decided what I'll be taking this spring.

Adoption Basics -- I hope we will be well on our way to hustling a baby by the end of this year. Sooner than later, I hope to find a T-shirt that says "Ask me about my infertility."Introduction to Reiki -- I really don't even know what it is, but I love New Age holistic healing stuff. And I think I have some healing power in my hands.Drawing with pastels, charcoal, and colored pencils -- I'm pretty excited about this one because I'm also getting a little into art journaling.Speaking of art journaling, I bought this neat little thing at the bookstore last night:

I've gathered all of the creativity books I've been getting lately, and I may just lie down with them stacked all around me.