In the morning, in the evening, ain’t we got pills

My bathroom sink is beginning to resemble a geriatric’s. But it’s not quite as bad as the one foot square, multi-compartmented “pill pallet” an HIV-positive friend once showed me.

In the morning, I take: 4000 mg (or “four grams” — stupid Americans) of vitamin D and 400 mg magnesium citrate.

In the evening is when the real party happens:

  • Another 400 mg magnesium citrate
  • 27 mg Ferrochel* (iron) — 1.5x this twice a week (on whatever are my heaviest training days)
  • 1000 mg vitamin C
  • 500 mg omega 3
  • Birth control pill
  • Allergy pill
  • Half a 3 mg Lunesta (rarely and only as needed)

Whatever. They’re all working.

* This comes with, as a bonus:
– 60 mg vitamin C
– 200 mcg folic acid
– 60 mcg vitamin B-12
– 48 mg calcium (I’ve not idea why, since calcium impedes iron absorption)

Adventures in spam filtering

Most of the spam I get on this site is predictable and mundane. But this morning’s batch was entertaining indeed! Before I hit delete, I just have to share one snippet:

“The photo dimensions average pixels and contain about British women.Every episode contains satin linen, so the bottom line of having a blast.A site that this site check out the pictures or large pictures.The just plain models are prettier than seeing a parade of permanently blown-out bungholes inside this site.”

Does this site feature “a parade of permanently blown-out bungholes”? Really? Does the spammer expect me to simply accept that kind of criticism? And what exactly is “satin linen”?

Summer Basebuilding: Week 4

sum09-base-03This week was yet another improvement over the last. Whether it’s the iron kicking in, recovery at work, or some combination, I was feeling good last week. The mileage got bumped up by a little over a third, going from 40 to 55.

The running was all time-based again (distances shown are estimates based on past runs), and with rare exception I didn’t wear the Garmin and HRM. The one day that I did wear gadgetry for good reason, my HRM stopped functioning normally. This was unfortunate since I’d wanted to run another fast mile or two to get some pace vs. HR% data. But, alas, it was not to be. My new 310xt is backordered, with an estimated ship date of 7/31 (Friday).

This has been the week for device failure. The HRM died on Friday. Our scale has started giving wildly erratic readings, so we made the decision to replace that as well. Then, this morning, our treadmill ceased to work after 5 minutes. That’s going to be a big one to fix.

So, for the time being I’m somewhat rudderless when it comes to the data measurement aspect of training. The heat and humidity are at full blast here in NY now and I’d hoped to do some running inside on the worst days. That’s not going to happen now. Nor will a new pace/HR% test until I can get a new watch. I suppose I could borrow Jonathan’s, but I’m beginning to believe that this sudden breakdown of most of my running and fitness-related devices is some sort of cosmic message: Stop worrying so much about numbers; pay attention to how you feel and take all your cues from that.

Last week had another couple of “wow, I feel great” runs. Despite horrible humidity on Thursday morning I felt great on my run. Friday morning was a bit drier and that was the day I wanted to motor. It was so frustrating when the watch didn’t want to go along with my plans. But I ran faster for a bit anyway just to feel the pleasure of running fast again.

I worked up to a two hour run yesterday and despite dreadful weather nevertheless managed an (estimated) 10:30 pace. This morning under similar conditions it was sub-10:00. So I’m definitely feeling better, and running faster, on these recovery runs than I was a few weeks ago.

The other activity I added back in was some weight work twice a week. I have a routine that takes an hour to an hour+20 depending on how many sets I do. The focus is on the upper body (arms, shoulders, back, abdomen), but with some squats and balance-related work for the quads, hamstrings and stabilizing muscles in the hips, ankles and feet. I may drop this work once I move into training in the fall, but for now I’m enjoying doing it again.

Aside from a one hour nap yesterday, my chronic need to nap seems to be behind me. The insomnia that replaced the excessive sleepiness was a bit less pronounced this past week too. I’m hoping it ebbs away completely soon.

I have no plan yet for this week, aside from doing more of the same and continuing to let the iron and rest do their stuff.

NYCRunningRaces.com

Robert (Cowboy Hazel) has just launched a brand new resource for NYC area racers:

http://www.nycrunningraces.com/

The site provides a monthly calendar of races in NYC and environs. You can follow updates on Twitter and even submit a race for inclusion. I’m hoping he’ll add Connecticut, given how extensive its racing scene is year round.

In an age of complex web sites, this one just does one thing and it does it well. Thanks, Robert!

The only good Garmin 305…

…is a dead Garmin 305!

My watch didn’t exactly die this morning, but it was acting oddly and rendered all data useless. First it took 15 minutes to find satellites (this is an ongoing problem). Then, midway through the run, the HRM started telling me I was running at 25% max heart rate. Just for fun, I ran really fast to see what it would do. At 6:15 pace, it said I was running at 50% effort. I wish.

This watch has given me trouble from the get go. Its worst sin was dropping GPS signals during two of my five marathons, but it often gives me grief during races and training runs, but rarely on the days when I’m just running easy. Unforgivable!

So it’s getting kicked to the curb. I have a new 310xt shipping out to me on Monday. Despite my particular watch’s issues, I like the Garmin products. So I’m hoping the new model will not only be a better watch product, but a better individual watch too.

Review to come.

A weighty issue

Elite runner Cristin Wurth-Thomas has been on a roll over the past few months. Earlier this month she broke 4:00 in the 1500m in Rome. During the broadcast of that race, one of the commentators noted that her coach had told her that she needed to drop 10 lbs., which she did. While her performance gains over the past few months can’t necessarily all be attributed to her having lost weight, shedding some poundage obviously hasn’t hurt in this case.

Here’s a photo of her looking particularly porky last year (sarcasm!).

When this was mentioned on air, referring to a woman who is sporting a body fat percentage in, maybe, the 18% range (I’m just guessing), it gave me pause. Is it really a good idea to draw attention to the “need to drop 10 lbs.” in a sport already rife with athletes suffering from eating disorders? I had mixed feelings about it. True, it’s helpful to have this kind of insight into why an athlete’s performance may have been boosted. On the other hand, since it’s impossible to know with certainty if weight loss was a factor, it seems…I don’t know…more prudent to just not bother mentioning it.

What do you think? Does the informational value of learning that an athlete (either male or female) has dropped some weight trump the potential harm that such information might cause?

Bronx River Pathway: The Audio Tour

Friends of Westchester Parks has put together a downloadable audio tour of the entire Bronx River Pathway. This is the path I’ve been running on for 10 years…and now I can learn about what I’m looking at every day. Bonus: it’s narrated by Dan Rather! Learn more

Summer Basebuilding: Week 3

sum09-base-02Note: There was no week 2 in this basebuilding effort. I took the entire week off in an attempt to hasten recovery.

I’m somewhat reluctant to honor this week with the label of “basebuilding” lest I tempt fate. But, what the hey. I’ll be an optimist.

Basebuilding? No, not really. More like continued recovery from whatever ails me. But it was a good week from that perspective. I’ve not run “by time” (as opposed to “by miles”) since my first foray into jogging 10 years ago. And, like back then, I ran with no gadgetry to quantify the effort.

Monday through Saturday I ran with a plain vanilla watch and when I hit the halfway point of the prescribed time, turned around and headed home. I’ve noted approximate distances anyway because, well, I’m anal retentive and can’t stop myself from doing so. I’ve run my route a few thousand times, so those guesstimates are good within a few meters. But I didn’t pay attention to distance while actually running, which is what was important.

Running without constant feedback on HR, pace and distance was a challenge to get used to. But after the first run I found it liberating. I will probably go gadgetless for most of next week as well.

The two days of note were Friday and today (Sunday). Friday was notable because despite high humidity, I felt really good on my run. Good as in “I haven’t felt this good since April” good. It occured to me that this feeling is what I should have experienced during my taper, but didn’t. I’m trying not to read too much into it. I know I’m still crawling out of whatever mysterious performance hole I’ve fallen into. So I won’t get overly enthused. I am trying to remain patient, which is not my strong point.

Today’s run featured a bout of faster running, but only for the purposes of gathering some data to help give clues as to how my recovery is coming along (and to use as a comparison in the coming weeks). For a mile I ran varying paces, most of them in the 8:30 range, but I tacked on some fast running for the last .2 just to see what I could get myself down to. I managed to hit 5:46 for a few seconds. This is good news, as I struggled to get down to 6:30 during a race warmup a couple weeks back.

Whatever the issue is — overtraining, iron deficiency, vitamin deficiency, or simply the lack of a proper recovery — it’s abating slowly but surely. This makes me happy. It also helps me remain patient. Progress is exciting to see, but it’s also a reminder that I trashed myself before and it would be easy to do so again in short order, while I’m still groping my way along during this nascent state of training readiness.

On another encouraging note, the compulsive napping dropped off early in the week. Unfortunately, mild insomnia has moved into its place. But my gut tells me that it’s temporary.

So patient I will be. Next week looks a lot like this one: all running for time, 99% of it recovery pace, with a little faster running thrown in to have some data to look at. We’re building up the mileage again, probably by about 25% or so. But that’s discretionary; if I feel tired or otherwise overstretched, I’ll back off.

Google search oddities

Yesterday I got a hit from a search on:

“men like girl feet”

I’m really, really tempted to rename my blog to http://menlikegirlfeet.com now.

Recipe: Chicken Livers and Bacon

In my quest to become as iron saturated as quickly as possible, I’ve been reading up on foods for the iron depleted. Chicken liver is tops in my book. Not only is it easy to find, but it’s also suprisingly low in calories (around 150 for four ounces raw; not that you’d actually eat it raw) and high in protein. But wait — there’s more. It’s off the charts in Vitamin A and offers a good natural source of Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 (the latter is useful for building up red blood cell count). Chicken liver is also dirt cheap, at least where I live: $1.99 a pound.

Some caveats: It’s very high in cholesterol, so you probably shouldn’t eat it more than once or twice a week. It’s also not safe to feed children and infants large amounts of liver as it can overdose them with Vitamin A. For the same reason, pregnant women should avoid it. Finally, the phosphorus in liver can impede calcium absorbtion, so time those liver meals carefully, or take a calcium supplement.

If you think of liver as resembling the rubbery remains of a shredded Michelin tire, then you haven’t had liver that’s been prepared properly. With the exception of pork liver (which I’ve never actually seen for sale anywhere), you can cook liver to the level of doneness you’d prefer in any other meat. In my house, that means rare-to-medium-rare. The result is a tender meat, slightly pink inside. For an extra shot of iron, cook liver in a cast iron skillet.

Here’s how I like to prepare chicken liver:

Chicken Livers and Bacon

Serves 4 restrained eaters, 3 hungry ones.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. raw chicken livers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 8 oz. raw mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • half cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. light cream
  • 1 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
  • half tsp. ground ginger

To prepare:

  1. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Mix the two spices with raw chicken livers.
  3. Cut the bacon crosswise into half inch wide strips. Cook until chewy but not crispy. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Drain off all but 1 Tbsp. of bacon fat.
  5. Cook mushrooms for a couple of minutes, just before they start to “sweat.”
  6. Add chicken livers to pan and cook until they are mostly brown on outside, not pink.
  7. Add chicken broth and turn heat up to medium high. Add bacon pieces back to skillet.
  8. Check “doneness” by slicing into a piece of liver.
  9. When done, turn off heat and stir in cream.
  10. Serve immediately. It goes nicely over some brown rice, but it’s also fine by itself.
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