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Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done in a while… I cooked. And it felt really good. The kitchen in my mini home isn’t ideal, but it’s still functional I guess. I really believe in spaces having certain kinds of energy, and before yesterday being downstairs in general wasn’t my favorite thing to do. Since it has been getting chilly outside, I thought making some stew would be the best thing to experiment with. That way I could also eat off of it for the next few days to save a little extra money. I am a pretty instinctual chef (and I use the word chef loosely), as I never measure anything or follow a specific recipe. I decided to go with a meatless stew, so it would keep even longer in my refrigerator. Here is the laundry list of ingredients that I threw in a pot together: water, canned crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, red onions, chicken bouillon cubes, pinto beans, potatoes, frozen mix of veggies (squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots), Brussels sprouts, baby portabellas, and finally some quinoa for texture. It turned out delicious, and warmed my soul. As it was cooking on the stove, the smells started to fill my house and it made me happy. I turned on every light that I had downstairs which made it feel more alive. Since there aren’t as many windows down there, it is much darker in general. I think if I start spending more time cooking and keeping it well-lit then I might start to enjoy it more.
I am starting to feel the Halloween pressure to find a good costume. I absolutely have to get a plan together this week before it’s too late! There are soooooo many fun parties this year that I might die of excitement. My costume debut always happens at The Rocky Horror Picture Show screening at the Alabama Theatre, which usually falls on the Friday of Halloween weekend. We get there early and watch the two costume contests (last year several of us were actually in it) and dance to DJ Stevo, then stay for about half of the movie before heading on to the next party. One of my favorite ones from last year was at the Avondale Castle which included a full on costume themed drag show. Soooo much fun. Saturday night is the annual Peaches and Scream in the arts district on 2nd Avenue North, plus my friend Phillip’s big party just a block away on 1st. I still haven’t made it out to the haunted houses, so next weekend that is a must. While Sloss Fright Furnace may not be that scary… it is super fun and a tradition that I don’t want to stop.
Last night while watching football with a group of people, I started to miss participating in sports. I especially miss the adrenaline rush you get before and after a race, the sense of accomplishment of achieving something really hard to do. With that being said though, I have lost a little bit of interest in the training needed to complete those things successfully. I think hurting my knee earlier in the year really did a number on my confidence. I was so heart-broken when I didn’t finish the marathon, and then on top of that having my Half Ironman compromised in a big way. I realized that I am not unbreakable, that our bodies are indeed fragile. That scares me for some reason. That pain of disappointment was the utter worst. But you know, maybe it just means that when I am able to do those things with success, especially the marathon, it’s going to be that much more special. I have been keeping my running up lately with relative ease. Maybe today I will go for my first long run and see what happens. This is the exact time I would need to start training for the Mercedes Marathon anyway, and I think I’m going to give it a go… but this time around I am going to keep my expectations in check and not push myself as hard.
Weigh-In Wednesday #75 – 150.6
Today, once again, I am doing a public speaking engagement… and I am all in knots about it. The more I speak in public the better I get, but my nerves have yet to start taking a chill pill. I know I will do fine, blah blah blah… it’s just the unknown factor that always gets me. I really envy people who are naturals at it, and luckily my partner today is just that. I am sure her confidence will carry us both through. Be thinking about me around lunchtime today!
September has brought a lot of major decisions along with it right off the bat. I am still working on the creative project that I mentioned a few days ago, and we should be able to talk more about it soon. We have to get a few big things figured out first, but it is well underway. I know I am being super vague about it, but sometimes that’s the way creative things have to be until it takes on a life of its own. It is definitely still growing its wings. The thing I love most is that it’s a short-term project (as far as working on it goes)… so once November gets here we should be able to coast.
I have decided that my new place is really, really small. :) I am beginning to run out of things to occupy my time. The easy thing to do would be to get cable TV (which I currently only have 5 stations upstairs), but I would like to avoid doing that. It is easy for me to watch too much television in general. Instead, it would be nice to start cooking more and to maybe have a little garden outside. I also have little window planters that could hold flowers or herbs. AND, I still have the art materials to start doing watercolors when I feel so inspired. Sounds like I have plenty to do if I really want to! I am also looking forward to training again for the marathon and Half Ironman starting next month. That will take up a little bit more of my free time as well. It’s been nice to have a short break from exercise though. It will just make it that much more fun when I start back up!
It was so warm & muggy on my run this morning with Vero that I mistakenly thought raindrops were falling from the sky onto my forearms, but instead it was sweat from my face. Until today I haven’t been on a run with Vero since before her & Brandi’s two-week trip to Europe, and tomorrow all three of us will finally be back together again (along with Nathan, our token male).
I’ve given my road bike to my sister for 2 weeks so she can get used to clipping in and out of the pedals before she buys her own. If you’ve never “clipped in” before, it just means that you wear specialized bike shoes that attach to the pedals so you use your muscles more efficiently. It takes some getting used to, b/c that also means that you have to “clip out” relatively fast… especially if you are falling over. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll never go back.
While my sister has my bike, I am going to focus more on my running, swimming and cardiovascular endurance. I’ll probably go to a few spin classes each week too to keep my legs fresh. After my sister’s triathlon on July 29, I’ll get my bike back and start riding on the road again in preparation for the Augusta Half Ironman in late September.
I got the key to my new place this morning! This weekend my goal is to paint the walls & fix up the upstairs bathroom. Early next week I’ll get the carpets cleaned & lay down the linoleum in the kitchen, then next weekend I’ll start moving some things over. It’s all happening so fast!
No update on our missing kitty, Sammy Jo. Mike and I had four cats together – Sammy Jo, Baby Kitty, Kitten, and Captain Kitty. Captain Kitty came with our house and is in very poor health, so she probably won’t make it to the move. Mike was going to take Sammy Jo (because she adores him), and I was going to take Baby Kitty & Kitten since they are the dynamic duo. I have a very strong feeling that Sammy Jo is going to come back in the next few days, but if she doesn’t, then we may need to think about our cat custody again. Splitting up the “babies” has been one of the hardest things to figure out for us since we both love each one so much.
Sunday is half way over, and it feels like I’ve already done a day’s worth of activities. I started it off with an 8.5 mile run with Vero & Brandi, then I went straight to my personal training session for the week with Susan at the JCC (and I bench pressed 85 pounds for the first time). My a** is grass at the moment!! I had an early lunch, ran some errands, and now it’s about time for a reeeeally long nap. I feel accomplished and proud for getting everything done early.
Last night I watched Love and Other Drugs by myself, and enjoyed every second of the solitude. I had spent most of the day volunteering at the Salsa Showdown and knew that I wasn’t going to be worth much in the evening. It was a great movie, though it made me cry at the end. Enough with the tears already!!!
I have a few options for the rest of the day, but I’m not making any decisions until I wake up from my snooze. It seems like no matter what I do, seeing The Hangover 2 is in my future b/c it’s been a part of every invitation so far. That’s fine with me because I’m fairly certain it won’t make me cry. I do have to say though, movies are a great distraction from the real world when I just need to get out of my head space.
I’ve officially reached my goal of running 32 miles this week! I will hopefully talk to my running coach today or tomorrow to figure out this week’s schedule. Tomorrow I plan to do a timed 5k to figure out my official speed for training purposes. Looking forward to it!
What. A. Fabulous. Weekend. Thanks to all of my friends who made it happen in a big way. I am trying to think of a highlight to share, but there are so many to choose from. :) I can tell you a low point though – watching Bridesmaids last night. Maybe it was because I was too tired to appreciate it, but it was terrible to sit through. And I don’t think it was just me… the whole audience didn’t seem to laugh very much. It was a little awkward turtle.
This morning I kicked off the week by doing 5.5 miles with Vero, Brandi & our newest running partner – Nathan. I needed that jolt to come back to the real world. :) I accomplished my goal of running 30 miles last week (along with other supplemental workouts), so this week I am bumping it up to 32. And after that pizza by the pool yesterday, The Jen West Quest needs to burn a few extra calories over the next day or two. ;)
As for my book project, I am going to treat writing it like I would training for a Half Ironman, by breaking it down into small steps with an end goal in mind. And while I don’t ever think I will win medals or achieve great accolades from my sports career, my writing career is a whole different story. You know how you just have an instinct sometimes when you are really good at something… when it just comes naturally? That’s how my confidence is when it comes to anything creative. The sky is the limit.
This week & the next I am going to build my outline & flesh it out as much as I can, while also constructing a reasonable time structure for each writing phase. This evening is dedicated to sitting in a coffee shop doing just that.
Weigh-In Wednesday #58 – 147.4
BIG NEWS – My energy is back!!!!!! I have been battling fatigue for the past 5-6 days… and I finally snapped out of it this morning. From what I’ve read, when your body starts to feel tired & worn down you should cut back on your exercise or stop all together. I didn’t go as far as to stop, but I did cut back by at least 40% and I’ve also been getting lots of extra rest. I think that made a big difference. I don’t blame the exhaustion I experienced on my volume of workouts, though I’m sure it didn’t help. It is just a combination of several things going on in my life right now. All that matters is that today I feel good.
I’ve been doing something funny lately that really works when I need to stop and focus on my well-being. I wear a LiveStrong bracelet everyday (with very few exceptions) on my right wrist. It is there to symbolize how important my body is and how much I take care of it. However, when the “waters get rough”, I swap the bracelet to the left wrist until I’m back in the safe zone. Due to my recent fatigue, I swapped my bracelet over to the ”danger” hand last night until I have a solid week of good energy. Taking care of myself is always the #1 priority.
For those of you who care, I have successfully eased back into my running program and am almost back where I was before my injury (inner meniscus tear in my left knee). There are several things I am doing to ensure that I don’t hurt myself again: 1. I am listening to my body. 2. I do not push through pain. 3. I have increased my foot turnover, so my strides are shorter as to not overextend my knees. 4. I am extra careful going downhill, where you compromise your legs the most. 5. No more squats below 90 degrees. Ever. 6. I vary my workouts so I am not running every single day. I find that the Arc Machine is a good replacement that’s much easier on my joints and burns the same amount of calories. This week I am also adding back in a little swimming and biking just for kicks. I don’t have to start training for anything again until mid next month, so it’s all about doing what I enjoy for a little while.
Happy May 1st!
Do you ever have days where you feel like you could just sleep all day long? That’s today for me. I’m not sure what I did to myself this week, but I’m wiped. I had several last-minute invitations to do some fun things last night, but instead I stayed home & babysat Lily while watching cheesy movies like The Notebook. It was fabulous.
It’s kind of nice to not be on a training schedule at the moment, so I can do whatever I want in any amounts just because I love doing it. My next race is the Half Ironman in Augusta on September 25, so I won’t start training for that until late May/early June. Today I have a personal training session at noon followed by some cardio work on the Arc Trainer (obsessed) and a little bit of running. Starting tomorrow I join in full-time with my running buddies for the early morning runs. My knee has been doing great with no signs of stress or soreness. I’ll continue to be extra cautious as it fully heals. I’ve also been continuing my hip stabilization exercises which help relieve some of the pressure off of that area.
I have seen some of the most beautiful flowers in bloom over the past few days. Such beauty to contrast the devastation that the tornadoes left behind in our area just a few days ago. The most gorgeous of them all are peonies, my absolute favorite flower. They are just so big & round with an interesting texture on the inside. And they smell like heaven.
Weigh-In Wednesday #55 – 147.4
I think the weekend is finally catching up with me, as I’m feeling very fatigued and run down today. I am pretty sure I was riding a high from being out-of-town and completing the Half Ironman, but now I’ve been dropped flat on my butt. I think I could sleep all day, but unfortunately that’s not an option. I am really grateful to have nothing too major going on this weekend so I can relax and catch up on my rest.
I was going to make the announcement today about my new running coaches, but they’d like for me to wait until next week when their website is complete. They are in the middle of launching an exciting new company, and I will be one of the first customers. I am very, very excited to start working with them.
I got a lot of solid leads & feedback yesterday on all sorts of things from sponsorships to coaching for the bike & swim. People are really eager to help and are showing their support & enthusiasm in lots of ways. I see myself in September with several sponsors on my jersey while kicking some a** & taking names!!!
I’ve been struggling lately with my creativity at work. I cherish my job as an artist, even if it is in a corporate environment. I have been given a challenge to break out of the box, and to “color outside of the lines.” This is a hard thing to do since a lot of my tasks come with predetermined guidelines. I got two different pep-talks yesterday about how I should explore my wild ideas first, then put them within the structure that they inevitably have to have. It’s a great challenge, and one that I’m excited to take on. I’ve come a long way in my professional career to build confidence in my work and myself… so it’s time to apply all of that and create the art that I know I can do.
Tonight after work, I plan to hit the gym for a bit then buckle down afterwards somewhere to really work on my book. I am making a commitment to dedicate at least an hour a day to it. I’m also craving some solitude, so this might be a good opportunity to get some of that as well. While it is really great to be staying with my folks temporarily, I am looking forward to having my own place again with my own things. All in due time!!
I’m having a hard time controlling my excitement for this weekend, so you guys are going to have to bear with me for the next 7 days. I am already stalking the weather, and as of today it looks like the high for New Orleans on Sunday is going to be 75 degrees & sunny. WOW. If it stays like that, then it will be perfect racing temps. This is also about the time where I pat myself on the back for getting a full body wetsuit, as it will be in the 60′s that morning and I’m sure Lake Pontchartrain is reeeeeeeeeeeally cold.
As some of you may have already seen on Facebook, my run yesterday went as well as could be expected. As long as I stay around a 12 minute mile, my leg is fine and pain-free. If I try to go faster than that, I experience some popping in the cartilage… which is not good. It will be hard to go at that pace since I’m used to 9 minute miles, but slow & steady wins the race this time around. I was talking to my future brother-in-law yesterday evening, who happens to be a physical therapist, and he said it is just a matter of conditioning and time before I can get back to my normal speed. However, that is not likely to happen before Sunday. Since I will have just gotten done with a 2 1/2-3 hour bike before hitting the road that day, I doubt I want to go much faster than a 12 minute mile anyway! And, if necessary, the option to walk is always there. The race cap-off time is around 7 hours and 40 minutes if I remember correctly, so as long as I cross before then I will get an official finisher’s medal. But in the worst case scenario and I can’t finish, then I will be happy & content with what I could accomplish that day. It’s just a matter of what I can & can’t do.
We had an amazing family dinner last night of short ribs, broccoli salad, wheat berry salad and cucumbers with greek yogurt. Honestly, I could have only eaten the ”sides” only and had a well-rounded meal… but since my dad slaved over his “egg” for hours I did have a small piece of short rib (and it was faaabulous). I never cook, but since I have a strange obsession with broccoli these days I was more than happy to chip in. I mixed toasted sesame seeds & cashews, EV sesame seed oil, garlic, yellow raisins, and salt & pepper along with the raw broccoli for a bowl full of YUM. I got the recipe off of MyRecipes.com (where Mike happens to edit the online videos for). I’m so lucky to have such a health-conscious family who cares about what they put in their bodies. I have learned by example, no doubt.
I woke up extremely exhausted today. I guess being in the sun & heat after such a long time really wiped me out! Yesterday reached 89 degrees with high humidity… felt like one of our first days of summer! I came home after my workout and took a nap, but I don’t think it was enough to refuel. I am seriously considering going back to bed after writing this post!
*Just added: How did I forget to talk about my first wetsuit experience??? Man, that thing is hard to get into and hard to get out of… and extremely HOT. No wonder they require the water temperature to be cooler because it would be easy to overheat in one of those suckers. Once I was in the water though, it was amazing to see how much buoyancy it provided. It actually boosted my swimming confidence a great deal b/c I didn’t have to worry about my lower body sinking as much. Two thumbs up!*
Last night I went to a duel birthday party (for my friends John & Brandi) with an african food theme. The party hosts literally spent hours in the kitchen preparing a large variety of dishes. It was all so delicious and a huge treat to be a part of! I wish I had taken photos of the dish names, but unfortunately I forgot. I also realize that Africa is pretty huge, and I don’t remember the exact region that inspired the party. I know… I’m lots of help here. All I know is that the food was fantastic and the company great. Happy Birthday John & Brandi!!!
There are lots of fun things on the docket for today. First and foremost, I HAVE to get a good cardio session in. I’m also going to try my hand at running on the road for the first time since the Mercedes Marathon. I’m pretty nervous about it, but I’ve got to give it a shot at some point. There is the risk of facing the unwanted reality that it may not go so well… or maybe it will and I’ll feel more confident about next week. Either way, I’m about to find out soon enough!! After a good workout, I may go hang out at a friend’s pool for some little rest & relaxation. Then tonight my parents are having everyone over for a big dinner. Sounds like a plan to me!!