P90E Week 6: Oof

Monday: I have a confession to make: I’m a compulsive Groupon shopper.  I don’t buy them indiscriminately, but I do have a hard time passing up Groupons or LivingSocial coupons for body work.  I’ve bought a handful this year, all for $40 and under, and have used them judiciously, most for race recovery.  I find massages tremendously restorative, but I have a hard time justifying the full cost, making me an ideal candidate for Groupon purchases.  Anyway.  Monday was particularly stressful, so I was very thankful that I had a massage scheduled, and also took that as an excuse to not do Core Synergistics.  Instead, I walked to work, then walked to my appointment, then fell asleep in the midst of a particularly vigorous Thai massage.  I guess I needed it.

Tuesday: Core Synergistics.  I admit it: I’m coming to love Core Synergistics.  Maybe it’s just that I love making fun of Tony.  Either way, I brought it.

Wednesday: A lot of walking.  I walked downtown and worked at a coffeeshop before a morning meeting (1.5 miles).  I walked back to my office from that meeting (.6 miles).  I walked home from work (2 miles).  And then, at 8pm, I went on a walk with Shane that turned into a jog (2.3 miles).

Thursday: I meant to do Legs & Back, but my right shoulder has been hurting since Tuesday night – so instead, I did a quick 3 miles while Shane lifted, then we met friends for dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, where I destroyed a salad.

Friday: My shoulder was still iffy, but I brought it to Chest, Shoulders & Triceps.  Shane can vouch for this, as he saw me collapse during at least two of the push-up sequences (even doing them on my knees!) and had to rescue me when I got stuck with a weight behind my head when I hit max reps.

Saturday: We both ran the Can Do Road & Trail Run in Kalamazoo.  Shane did an amazing job – it was his first race, and only his second run this year.  He stuck to his pace and while he was purple in the face when he hit the finish line, he finished strong.  I am SO PROUD of him.  Please note that I am not talking about MY run, however.  I did well for the first 1.5 miles, and then just hit wall after wall after wall.  When I looked at my Garmin data after the race, it showed that I hit 90% of my max heart rate (however that is calculated) at the half mile mark, and just kept going up, hitting 106% of max in the last half mile.  No wonder I felt so terrible.  Oh well – I finished in 45:56, less than a minute off from where I wanted to be, even though I felt terrible and had to walk a couple of 15-30 second stretches.

Sunday: Legs & Back.  Because yesterday’s run wasn’t punishment enough. No taking it easy. Just push push push through the three sets of 15 slow, 10 fast calf raises and the four different forms of pull-downs (since I can’t do pull-ups).  And then think hard about post-workout nutrition while slamming a delicious mushroom and Swiss brat we brought back from New Glarus.

Week 6: In the bag.  One more week and then I get a break.

Madison Eats, part 1

Madison has a lot going for it, that’s for sure. In addition to the zoo, you have the State Capitol, site of massive protests earlier in the year and ongoing protests by what appears to be a group of homeless men who have nothing to do other than yell RE-CALL-WALK-ER as loudly as possible at passers-by. There’s the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin system, complete with 42,000+ students who had not quite returned to campus when we were there.

Sandwiched between these two institutions is State Street, a pedestrian mall, hippie haven, and pretty much the coolest place I could possibly imagine when I was 18. Two Himalayan/Nepali restaurants on one block – and Afghani, South African, and Turkish restaurants a few blocks away. Half a dozen bookstores, including one that formerly had a Canterbury Tales-themed bed and breakfast. A fabulous farmers’ market surrounding the Capitol on Saturday mornings. The fantastically crunchy Community Pharmacy. At least half a dozen little boutiques selling anything a hippie or hipster girl might want.

We were lucky enough to find an airbnb spot right on State Street – inconvenient for parking, but pretty much perfect for everything else – especially eating. I’m realizing as I write this that I have more food memories and photos than I really should put in just one post. Stay tuned for the rest – I promise you won’t have to wait long.

Dinner, day 1: Coopers Tavern

The Coopers Tavern

Photo by Josh Puetz

Excellent beer list, decent food. Our server was new and overly enthusiastic about taking our drink order before we’d even picked up our menus. I really enjoyed the Irish Cobb salad – house-cured corned beef, oven-dried tomatoes, asparagus, hard-boiled egg, Dubliner, and scallion-mustard dressing – but we were disappointed in the beer cheese pretzels, as the “dip” was more like soup. If we lived in Madison, we’d definitely give this place another shot.

Drinks, day 1: Great Dane Pub

Chocolate and Beer

Pretty underwhelming, though I did have a delicious beer and chocolate pairing.

After dinner and drinks, we walked down to Monona Terrace and looked at the water for a while. Good views make for good digestion, I think.

Monona Terrace

Photo by Aine D

Day 6: A Trip to the Zoo

I grew up an hour from Madison, and have many fond memories of Saturday daytrips there with my family.  We’d go to a children’s play at the Civic Center and get lunch at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry.  We’d pick up wee cinnamon rolls at Ovens of Brittany or bagels from Bagels Forever.  We’d have lunch at Ella’s Deli and go to the zoo.

Let me tell you: it’s really hard to conceive of paying for a zoo after living in close proximity to the National Zoo in DC and after growing up an hour away from a perfectly lovely – if small – zoo in Madison.  I went there with my friends after prom instead of going to Great America like the rest of our class. Shane and I went there together in the first few months we were dating. It’s a special place for me.

You know what’s even better than going to the zoo? Going to the zoo with a very excited toddler, especially one who happens to be quite cute and also related to you. Jenn and Bill met us at the zoo between thunderstorms – our timing was impeccable! – and we had a great time catching up and watching Max point and squeal.



There he is!

Uncle Shane didn’t want to be upstaged when silly photos were involved.

Grumpy Bear

Highly Suspicious Chicken

Cheer up, Uncle Shane!

Happy Penguin!

A great morning, followed by a great lunch at Chautara and a totally indulgent, absolutely diet-busting trip to Campus Candy, where you can get delicious frozen yogurt topped with ANYTHING IN THE STORE.  Kids in the candy store indeed.

Ten on Tuesday: Great Snacks to take to the Beach

So I may have mentioned that we’re not good at relaxing – particularly relaxing on the beach. We’re just not. So you’ll forgive me when I admit to speculation on this list, as the only snacks we’ve actually taken to the beach are sodas and ice cream.

  1. Ice cream, though I’d suggest buying it at a concession stand rather than bringing it from home.
  2. On a related note, pick up some delicious fried foods: cheese curds, green beans, etc.
  3. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
  4. Doritos. Do you really need a reason to eat Doritos?
  5. Jelly beans – small and unlikely to get coated in sand.
  6. Sandwiches, preferably carefully wrapped so as to avoid the sand issue
  7. It probably makes sense to eat things that come from the beach, right? Like fish, grilled by the beach?
  8. At all costs, avoid foods that might taste like they contain sand or otherwise have a sand-like texture. I like pears, but not on the beach.
  9. Also avoid sticky foods that will require hand-washing and/or attract bugs.
  10. A cooler full of ice. Granted, this isn’t technically a snack, but it is pretty essential for snack enjoyment.

Ten on Tuesday is a listserv-driven meme thingamagig.

Day 5: One More Hike

I have an unparalleled passion for walking, as you may recall.  Shane’s passion for walking ranks somewhere between his feelings for running and Hello Kitty: tolerable mostly because he loves me.  You’d think that by now, Shane would’ve learned that we have different opinions on what construes a reasonable walking distance.  I have – more than once – accidentally taken family and friends on several mile walks when they were expecting a stroll around the neighborhood.

As a result of this, I try to be very clear about the actual distance we are going to be traveling. Five blocks to a restaurant.  A mile and a half to the coffeeshop.  A parking spot literally around the corner.  Or, in the case, of this morning’s hike, about five miles.

We’d had breakfast and a morning campfire. We’d packed up our campsite. We had nothing between us and Madison except hours and hours of beautiful daylight. Why not go for a long hike?


Morning Fire

Oh yeah, the hills. Or rather: the East Bluffs. Lots of uphill climbing. Lots of sweating and also rock formations that looked like an elephant’s butt.

Elephant Cave

Elephant Rock

Then a tough descent down the Potholes trail:


We emerged on the south side of the lake with only, you know, half a lake left to circumnavigate. We had already agreed not to take on West Bluffs, but we still had the south side boardwalk and Tumbled Rocks ahead of us. I’m pretty sure that Shane was ruing the day he agreed to go on vacation with me. I didn’t point out that our distance was less than half of the distance I’ve ran in two races this year. That would NOT have been helpful. I did, however, encourage him to carry on with the possibility of ice cream, beer, and fried green beans when we returned to the north shore.

Hard-Earned Lunch

This is the face of a man who has earned his lunch. Thanks for the good times, Devil’s Lake. We can’t wait to come back.

Total moving time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Total elapsed time: 2 hours, 17 minutes

Average moving pace: 22:23 minutes per mile

Elevation gain: 612 feet

Elevation loss: 613 feet

Maximum elevation: 1,468 feet

Minimum elevation: 957 feet

Day 4: An Evening of Leisure

I’ll just come right out and say it: we’re not good at relaxing. We’re good at doing nothing. We’re good at procrastinating. But we’re not good at relaxing. We went to the beach a couple of years ago and managed 15 minutes of sitting by the ocean before we got bored and reverted to walking around and eating boardwalk food.

All of this is to say that I wasn’t expecting to spend an afternoon on the beach after our morning of hiking. We had lunch. We splashed around in the lake. We laid on the beach and read. We went back in the lake. We laid on the beach until our suits dried out. I finished an entire issue of Vanity Fair. Shane finished The Corrections, which he’s been working on since the fall. We laid on the beach for the entire afternoon.

Before heading back to the campsite, we walked the Tumbled Rocks trail. While we walked, a woman swam across the lake.

Purple Quartzite

Not so much hiking as walking

Devil's Lake

Dinner at the campsite: New Glarus Belgian Red, picked up at the Ice Age Campground store, and local kielbasa with Brussels sprouts – a good German dinner.

Belgian Red

Honest Wisconsin Dinner

Not content to turn in, we left the park for a round of miniature golf at an only marginally maintained course nearby. Seriously, it was basically the worst course ever. I’m certain that’s the reason I spent so much time in the rough.

Teeing up

P90E Week 5.5: Brought

Monday: I knocked out CORE SYNERGISTICS like it ain’t no thing.  Only minimal groaning, but plenty of making fun of the way Tony talks about Core Synergistics and swoons over Dreya.  Shane was reorganizing the basement while I worked out, and he was so annoyed by Tony that I don’t think he’s going to finish P90X.  He’s also been reading The 4-Hour Body, and I think all the talk of minimum effective dosage and also becoming superhuman has him questioning whether or not he wants to follow the P90X model.  Me? I’m sticking with it.  While I haven’t seen much change in inches, I can definitely tell that I’ve gained core and upper body strength – and that, my friends, is CORE SYNERGISTICS at work.

Tuesday: 2.25 miles in my new shoes, picked up for $45 this weekend at Elite Feet thanks to a Groupon and Groupon credit. Before they fitted me for shoes, they had me run on the treadmill, then had me try running with a metronome in order to shorten my stride, increase my cadence, and generally force me to run further forward on my feet.  I tried to do all of these things in my old shoes on my run home from work.  It wasn’t a fast run, but I certainly felt like I was working very hard and was very sweaty when I got home.

Wednesday: Legs & Back kicked my butt, especially the brutal sequence of 15 slow, 10 fast calf raises in 3 positions: feet wide, feet parallel, feet pigeon-toed.  I upped my weight, though, and am really liking pull-downs with increasing weight as a replacement for the bands.

Thursday: Woke up, ate breakfast, felt weird, and went straight back to bed with miserable abdominal stuff.  By the end of the absolutely gorgeous day, I was feeling stir-crazy but definitely not good enough to run, so I walked downtown and back to do an errand.  Better than nothing, and better than pushing myself when I was already not feeling good.

Friday: Still not feeling 100%, so I worked from the comfort and privacy of my bed, then BROUGHT IT to Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.  Upped my weights on almost every exercise, and only fell on my face once.  That’s right: I fell on my face.  I was feeling cocky and tried a one-arm push-up and then…splat.  I guess the tip of the day from Shoulders and Arms also applies: don’t break your face.

Saturday: Second cheat day since we started on the slow carb diet.  My parents came for the weekend, so we spent most of the day walking around the Henry Ford and generally indulging in things like pistachio-rosewater ice cream at Shatila Bakery and a South Pacific pizza at Jolly Pumpkin.  We took a break from familial togetherness in the afternoon, and I put in a surprisingly fast run: 3.2 miles in 29 minutes flat.  Three years ago, I ran my first 5K in 31:28.  I’m delighted by how far I’ve come.

Sunday: Between the family visit and general crampiness, I didn’t get a long run done this weekend.  That’s OK.  I was going to take today off entirely, but I didn’t feel like I could really enjoy snack dinner – wine, salami, flackers, cheese from Fromagination, and Bittman’s roasted chickpeas – if I hadn’t exercised.  For 2.5 quick miles, I focused on a quick cadence – and am now comfy on the couch, watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

P90E Do Over Week 5: BROUGHT

Day 4: A Long Hike to the Top

Balanced Rock — A difficult, steep, climbing trail with stone steps on the south face of the East Bluff. Spectacular views of Devil’s Lake with the Balanced Rock formation off to the south of the trail. We met a couple from Illinois who were hiking without their five children.  I marveled at how fit the mom was after all those kids.  When we said we were librarians, they asked us about our favorite books.  (.3 mile, approximate hiking time 1 hour)

Hiking Shane



Devil's Lake

East Bluff – A medium effort trail that is asphalt with stone steps as it winds back and forth between the edge of the bluff and the adjacent woods. We walked the portion between Devil’s Doorway and CCC, enjoying the hell out of the flat and also our snack bars.

East Bluff

Devil’s Doorway — This is an easy, level asphalt trail along the edge of the top of the East Bluff to views of Devil’s Lake with drop-offs along the way. There is a notable side trail with stone steps to the Devil’s Doorway rock formation.  We talked to three people from my hometown, one of which was having difficulty with the descent due to spatial perception issues from previous brain surgery.  They watched and cheered while Shane squeezed through the rock into the doorway itself. (.5 mile, approximate hiking time .25 hour)

Devil's Doorway

Step 2

Step 3

CCC – A difficult, steep, climbing trail with stone steps on the south face of the East Bluff with many scenic views. We walked through a narrow passage between two large smooth walls of stone, as did an Asian family whose small son was wearing a Michigan hat. (.6 mile, approximate hiking time 1 hour)

Field of Rocks

Grottos — A wide, easy going, compacted travel path along the base of the south end of the East Bluff connecting Balanced Rock Trail, Potholes Trail, and the CCC Trails. (.7 mile, approximate hiking time 1.25 hours). We walked the portion between CCC and the south shore, holding hands and eager for ice cream.

So green

Total moving time: 53 minutes

Total elapsed time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Average moving pace: 25:51 minutes per mile

Elevation gain: 522 feet

Elevation loss: 507 feet

Maximum elevation: 1,473 feet

Minimum elevation: 965 feet

All trail descriptions from DevilsLakeWisconsin.com. Our data was carefully tracked by my Garmin Forerunner – thanks again, Shane!

Ten on Tuesday: Ways to Deal with an Overabundance of Produce

Answers vary depending on what you’ve got, but I like to do the following:

  1. Slow roast tomatoes in a 200 degree oven overnight.  Wash and halve the tomatoes (or leave them whole if they’re really small).  Line a baking tray with parchment paper or tinfoil.  Place the tomatoes on the tray skin-side down, then top with salt and pepper, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake overnight, or until your house smells like tomato candy and the tomatoes are tiny and dry.  Eat by the handful, or freeze in a tightly sealed container.
  2. Make a frittata!  Seriously, you can put anything in a frittata, especially excess greens.
  3. Or, for that matter, a quiche.  I like apples, onions, and cheddar.
  4. There no rule that says that pesto has to contain basil, pine nuts, and parmesan.  I like to make cilantro pesto with cashews.  Bzzz up your greens, nuts, oil, seasoning, and cheese (if you’d like), then freeze what you don’t anticipate eating in the next few days.
  5. I have friends who swear by green smoothies, but I’ve never partaken.  I’d advise against including apricot kernels, however, as they contain trace amounts of cyanide.  Yes, that cyanide.
  6. Root vegetables that have gone soft can be used to make stock, which can then be used in soup, risotto, or a variety of other things – or frozen.  Just don’t freeze it in a glass jar.  Trust me.
  7. Most firm vegetables can be pickled, especially cucumbers, zucchini, and beans.
  8. Wash and quickly blanch vegetables in boiling water, then freeze on a baking tray in a single layer.  Once frozen, transfer to freezer containers.  The texture won’t be as good as fresh, but you can conceal that in a risotto or vegetable puree.
  9. There are few things that aren’t delicious when baked with oil and seasoning or fried.  Think kale chips, sweet potato fries, fried green beans, homefries, fried green tomatoes.
  10. Similarly, there are few things that aren’t delicious when grilled.  You can grill far more things than you’d imagine – including peaches and romaine lettuce.  I might grill both of those things tonight, in fact.


Ten on Tuesday is a listserv-driven meme thingamagig.