Sunday, April 30, 2017

Facing reality and knitting middles

I had a very nice run this morning on my 1.1-mile loop. It really is enjoyable to run at an easy pace. I mean, it probably looks to the neighbors like I’m standing still, but I’m starting to foresee a time when I will be able to actually go for some kind of respectable distance at some kind of respectable pace, and then it will be really fun.

Since April is nearly over and I’ve officially failed for 30 days to take care of it, it’s time to admit to myself that I am never going to work on this grant proposal thing. I still want to help the dyslexia tutor, but I really don’t feel at all qualified or equipped to do “grant research.” I think I’ll have to a) tell her I just can’t help with that, b) apologize for wasting her time, c) donate some of my own money to her effort, and d) have her hang onto my name in case she ever has a clear-cut writing or editing project I actually could help with.

The rest of my April resolutions went well, and I got my knitting project started just under the wire (i.e., this evening). Now it will be easy to chip away at it for a while. I would probably knit a lot more if I could just hire someone to knit the first inch for me. And take care of all the sewing and binding off at the end. Yes, I would really enjoy knitting a lot more if it were all buying yarn, looking at patterns, and knitting middles of things.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lemon, mint, and coffee

I finally got around to making more infused lemon water—this time without the sneaky, diuretic mint leaves. I drank some with and after dinner, since I am trying not to have tea in the evening. But then I had to get up to pee in the middle of the night and woke up really thirsty. Back to Dr. Google: lemon water diuretic? 

Well, of course it is. And no wonder the evening mint-AND-lemon water nearly killed me. But this is really good to know: The only acceptable drink for the evening is straight water—maybe even with a pinch of salt for a whatever-the-opposite-of-diuretic-is effect. I’m guessing that that will solve my getting-up-in-the-night problem and that I’ll sleep a lot better.

Speaking of mint, here’s a picture of my rock garden in the rain—I wanted to capture it while the tulips were blooming. The creeping green mass above the tulips is all mint, and I’m doing my darndest to keep it contained to where it is. Unfortunately, I’m just throwing it away now. I already have enough dried leaves to last me five years, and I can’t think of anything else to do with the fresh ones.

And speaking of beverages—and tossing in another life update—I’ve been reading about the health benefits of coffee and decided a few weeks ago that I would try to just get used to the taste, which I’ve always despised. I started with like an eighth of a cup (drunk while making a face) and gradually added a bit more each morning. But it really didn’t take that long to get used to, and lately I’ve been drinking a full cup blended with cacao powder, MCT oil, and grass-fed butter. (That’s Bulletproof-style coffee, if you have not heard of it.) I actually look forward to it now—it tastes pretty OK (the chocolate and butter help a lot), but it absolutely does make me feel amazing.

Since I’m always looking for ideas that can help Mik with his swimming, I’ve told him this little story and suggested that he join the coffee achievers, too. He’s not convinced, but geez. I would really like to see a 200 fly powered by this stuff.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Practical running

I have a million updates that I feel like I should blog about, but since I hate writing “updates”—and since one of my April resolutions was to write about running—I’ll give you just the running-related stuff for now.

So: My one and only run since the last post was in the airport on Monday. We went to Washington, D.C., last week to visit my sister and march in the March for Science, and our flight getting out was delayed so long that we very nearly missed our connection. I’d say it was, oh, a third of a mile, but much faster than my usual (I was worrying about getting to the gate, not breathing through my nose). And of course in Washington we also saw a bunch of museums and stuff and did a ton of walking, which was both lovely and all the exercise I really wanted.

If you’re appalled that I’ve let myself get to the point where hustling through the Minneapolis airport counts as not just a run but my hardest run to date—well, too bad. Running is not a priority for me, and I’m not going to be entering a race anytime soon, but stuff like this does show why it’s handy to have at least a little cardio endurance for real-life purposes.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

PSA about mint

Growing mint certainly keeps you on your toes. It’s an insidious weed that pokes its head up everywhere—but on the other hand it’s pretty, it’s useful, it smells good, and bees seem to love it. Overall I’m a fan. But then this happened:

I had a miserable night of sleep last night. I had to get up twice to go to the bathroom and was horribly thirsty (restlessly dreaming about my mouth being full of sand and stuff like that). Those are actually two problems I have a lot—and have been struggling to figure out for some time. They were so extreme last night that I gave some careful thought to everything I did yesterday that might have caused it.

The only thing I could come up with that was different was that I had drunk some lemon-mint infused water, made with the baby peppermint that’s started to come up (everywhere) in my rock garden. I had never heard of mint being a diuretic but decided to Google it. Guess what! Mint is a strong diuretic. I saw one forum where someone warned, “Whatever you do, don’t drink mint tea before bed!”

What a relief to have this information. I actually drink mint herbal tea at night all the time (because it doesn’t have caffeine), and that could be my whole problem! Sneaky little mint leaves.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring things

Nice day, and I did another run of maybe half a mile—notable, though, because I can now do that much breathing only through my nose. (I didn’t want to get too far from home because I was dealing with a deadline and wasn’t sure how much time I actually had before the client needed me again.) That is fully 1 percent of a respectable ultramarathon, so everything is going exactly according to plan. :)

I feel like even a little bit of running is helpful—especially if I’m going to swim every morning this summer and then walk or bike home. I don’t want to wimp out after two days of that (and my child is for sure going to laugh at how little I’m able to swim), so I had better get in some sort of shape.

I’ve been giving my yard and rock garden attention (per my resolution) and have been delighted and amused by these little purple beauties that were the first to come up. Delighted because they are smell really nice as I am hanging out among them weeding. Amused because back when I was buying plants and bulbs, I tried to color-coordinate, choosing all purples, whites, and blues. That was all well and good, except that it turns out NOTHING blooms at the same time as anything else, so it’s not like this garden was ever in danger of, like, clashing.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Selective rule-breaking

I woke up feeling great and did another 1.1-mile jog.

Yeah, I KNOW that that “.1” is a dead giveaway that I am sorta kinda breaking the rules, but hear me out. I had been finding it annoying to be making a million choices on every single run. Which way am I going to turn? Which way am I going to turn now? How fast should I go? Is it time to stop jogging? Is it time to start jogging again? Should I head home? I much prefer a good rut. And we all know about decision fatigue, right?

So for the past several runs I have walked out the front door and made a series of left turns until I’m back home again. (Of course I have my own permission to change it up in any way I like when I feel like it—maybe one of these days I’ll even do the same loop making all right turns.) But I decided that if I was going to do the same darned run every time, I might as well know how far it is. So I called up my dusty old MapMyRun account and measured it.

I really have no interest in getting obsessed about distance and mileage, but if I’m going to be blogging about my training again, it might be nice to have a little bit of objective information to share.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Barefooting it

Maybe it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I’ve been playing around with the idea of barefoot running again—or will it? Do you people know that I’m a full-on minimalist, naturalist, convention-rejecting, zero-waste, primal, hippie earth mother now? And a yoga fanatic? Also I cut my own hair? No?

Well, anyway, I don’t run with actual bare feet—it’s still pretty cold here, for one thing—but I have two pairs of water shoes that I do use. (One of them is 10 years old, and the other I bought for $1 at a thrift store, because I no longer buy anything new if I can possibly avoid it. See above.) They don’t have any support, but they do have a rubber sole that should protect me from the stray pointy rock or piece of broken glass.

I think yesterday was the third time I’ve run in them since enacting the secret ultramarathoning plan. The first two times I ran about 17 steps and even so my ankles were sore for days afterward. This third time I went a mile or so and feel pretty good the next day. I think that’s a (heh heh) STEP in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A hypothesis about insomnia

I haven’t been able to get the stars to align for another run, mostly because I haven’t been sleeping that well. “Insomnia” is probably too strong a word for what I have, though. Last night, for example, I slept from 10 to 4:30, woke up to go to the bathroom, and then tossed and turned until the alarm went off.

So that’s annoying, but it’s not like I’m suffering badly here on 6½ solid hours of sleep. I am wondering, though, why I just can’t get my brain to shut off when I would rather be unconscious. Of course I blame the political “landscape,” Twitter getting me even more riled up about it, and the underlying fear that the world has only about 30 years left even if we don’t blow ourselves up this month. But all that is also peppered with minor concerns about the kids…work…other people’s problems…an annoying thing someone did…an annoying thing someone said…. I hate that stuff like keeps me awake.

It made me think of a podcast I heard recently (“The Importance of Boredom”), which argued that our brains and bodies need downtime to deal with the things that happen to us. It wasn’t talking about sleeping specifically, but about the fact that we fill every spare moment with some sort of entertainment—Facebook, computer games, television, or, in my particular case, podcasts on my phone literally every time I’m doing any kind of housework or yardwork. The point was that all this robs us of the times of boredom/inactivity that we need to process our emotions and tend to our spiritual lives.

If that’s true, then lying in bed might be darn near the only downtime I ever give my brain—and no wonder it starts jumping around to every worry I ever had the minute it stops being occupied. I think I’m going to start being very deliberate for a while about not entertaining myself constantly—and maybe taking more quiet walks without the phone—to see if that helps.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Writing about running, as promised

So here’s where I am with running: Because my rules specify that I can run only when I feel well-rested and enthused about it, I’ve been going out only every three or four days, on average, up to this point. And because my rules also specify that I can breathe only through my nose, my running distances up to now have been measured in steps, not miles. (Except that I’m not actually measuring anything. That is also in the rules.)

But it does seem a little silly to get all dressed up for running and then be back in the house in 5 minutes—not to mention embarrassing if the neighbors are watching, and I’m not sure how I can even make any progress doing that. So today I decided to make it a run/walk and go a little farther—I’m guessing about a mile? I would just jog until it got challenging to breathe through my nose and then walk until I felt like jogging again.

I think a walk/run rhythm of some sort is the way to go, at least until/unless it gets easier to stay breathing through my nose.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Resolutions for April

Some fresh resolutions to celebrate the first full month of spring:
  • Work on finding grant money for a literacy project. Backstory: There’s a teacher in town who uses a very effective program to tutor kids with dyslexia—for free, on her own time. (One of my own kids saw her weekly for almost a year back in grade school.) A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted on Facebook that this woman had retired from the school district and was now tutoring full time, still for free, and was in need of volunteers. I met with her and determined that it might not be a great fit for me to tutor a kid myself, but we thought it might be a help to her if I were to research and write grants for the project. I’m a bit intimidated because I’ve never done anything like that, but it shouldn’t be so far outside my skill set, really. I have delayed getting started while I finished up other stuff, but the time has now come. (Advice and suggestions welcome.)
  • Write about running. I actually have been enacting my secret ultramarathoning plan—not that I think it will ever actually lead to an ultramarathon; I just like calling it that. I think it will be even more fun if I also write about my running efforts. On the blog, say. :)
  • Knit something—anything! I keep wanting to knit (and I keep buying good yarn when I encounter it at thrift stores and estate sales) but I never seem to make the time.
  • Work on the yard for a minimum of 15 minutes a day. I did this last year and managed to maintain everything, plus keep the weeds under control without chemicals, all summer long. It’s a good way to make sure I at least get outside every day while the sun is shining, too.