On Cleansing

May is all about getting my shit in order after six months of chaos. Between job hunting, moving, moving, teaching, job hunting, leaving my job, moving, moving, starting a new job, and other things that I will talk about eventually, my day-to-day life has lost all sense of order. An important part of fixing this is getting my diet in order – and getting my ass back in the kitchen after months and months and months of not cooking.

The Whole Living Action Plan seemed like a good way to kill a few birds with one stone: get my food stuff under control, eliminate foods that might be causing me trouble anyway, and help my body bounce back from a few months of abuse. I started on Monday, and will continue with it for two more weeks.

Biscuits & Gravy
Everything in this photo is forbidden. Including the silverware.

Week One (right now): no dairy, eggs, meat, seafood, animal fats, beans, soy, grains, gluten, processed food or beverages, or added sugar. I’m also not supposed to be having caffeine or alcohol, oops, so I’m enjoying the latter in moderation, and the former at the normal rate of consumption.
Week Two: add back seafood, beans, lentils and soy.
Week Three: eggs and gluten-free grains, yum.

Some observations thus far:

  • Juicing is fun! And noisy! And messy! This week’s breakfasts are all about juice, and I’m very thankful for Steph‘s loan of her beast of a juicer. I’ve had carrot-grapefruit, beet-carrot-apple, and carrot-grapefruit-ginger. Tomorrow’s juice might involve mangoes.
  • Monday night I was so grumpy and hungry that I nearly started crying at Home Depot while trying to find the right bolts to mount my new Illinois license plates.
  • Man, I really don’t like drinking water. And I really need to drink a lot of water or else I get headachey and dizzy and my contacts start behaving weirdly.
  • The monstrous headaches from Tuesday and Wednesday have finally subsided – only to be replaced by terrible abdominal cramping, which may be due to the cleanse, or may be due to the questionable avocado I ate Wednesday night after walking my bike 3 miles home after getting a flat on my first ride out of my neighborhood.
  • When I weighed myself yesterday morning, the scale claimed that I’d lost 7 pounds since Sunday. That isn’t actually physically possible, and is a good lesson in why you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day. Today showed a much more reasonable 4 pounds, most of which is probably water weight from pre and post-race carbs.
  • If you eat a lot of beets, your pee might turn pink. Apparently this is less common than I realized.
  • I appreciate that the meals were built around produce that is readily available in the winter – citrus, root veg, and dark greens – though I think the menu would be more fun in the summer.
  • I feel like a giant pain whenever I try to order something at a restaurant. Next week should be easier.
  • Running has been OK but not great. I had to walk a little on Wednesday, but was fine this morning. I couldn’t do this while training, which is another reason it’s perfect for May.

Foods I have been craving like nobody’s business:

  • Ice cream, but that’s pretty normal.
  • Cheeseburgers.
  • Pizza, especially after reading this post.

Five days (almost) down, sixteen to go. And then maybe I need to see a man about one of those burgers at Kuma’s Corner.

Total IUD Fail

Or rather, IUD insertion fail. The IUD is probably fine, as it never came anywhere close to my body.

A few months ago, I started thinking about getting an IUD as part of an overall shift away from medication. I have a family history of breast cancer, and getting off hormonal birth control is a high priority. I’m better about remembering pills than I used to be, but it’s still a hassle. And I’m pretty tolerant of pain, so though they recommend IUDs for women who have had birth because of the insertion process, I thought I could probably handle it, especially after the pelvic marathons that were my experience with gyne instruction.

1|365:January 6th, 2010: If you could talk..
Photo by +mara

Here are some things I learned about IUDs:

  1. They’re about the size of a toothpick, and shaped like a T (see above).
  2. They’re typically recommended for women who have had children, in part because the insertion process is easier if you’ve had a vaginal birth.
  3. They don’t provide any protection against disease or infection (duh).
  4. Getting pregnant while you have one is very dangerous.
  5. There are strings that dangle down into the vagina, but they’re only minimally noticeable during sex.
  6. During the insertion process, it’s possible for the IUD to perforate the wall of the uterus, in which case you’ll have to go to the hospital and get stitched up.

Mirena:

  1. Many women experience minimal-to-no periods, which works by delivering a localized low dose of progesterone.
  2. Break-through bleeding and spotting and PMS-like symptoms occur in the first 1-2 months, but typically drop off after that.
  3. It’s good for 5 years. The nurse helpfully reminded me of that, and suggested I put the Mirena info packet in my lingerie drawer so that I’d remember to have it removed in 2017.

Paraguard:

  1. There are no hormones; instead, the copper does something to prevent pregnancy.
  2. Since there are no hormones, women who have been on hormonal birth control often experience heavier and more painful periods, as the hormones were previously controlling some of the normal period side effects.
  3. You can’t use it if you’re allergic to copper.
  4. It’s good for 10 years

So, prepared with my research, I went to the doctor for the initial consult. She told me all of the above, and did a swab test so that they could check for disease or infection (none, thank you very much). I was told to come back at the end of my next period. Done.

I went in today for the actual insertion which, as you might be suspecting, didn’t go as planned. First, they took my vitals, and I confirmed that I am 5’10” rather than 5’10.75″, as I was in high school. They had me pee in a cup, though I have no idea why. I was moved to a room with an ultrasound machine, and told to undress from the waist down. I filled out some paperwork, and talked to the doctor about the procedure.

My gyne instruction experience prepared me for the cold stirrups (cute kneesocks!) and for proper placement of my butt off the end of the table. The doctor performed a gentle pelvic exam in order to determine the size (a kiwi!) and orientation (slightly anteverted) of my uterus. She inserted the speculum, and then used something that looked like hot dog tongs to GRAB my cervix.

Here’s where it got awful. I’ll spare you too many of the details, but my cervix wasn’t open enough to allow the doctor to insert the device that would direct the IUD into place. She tried, and I tried to breathe through it, and we both stopped. She tried a series of frightening instruments, each of which were more painful than the last, as I bit my thumbs and took deep breaths and tried to continue talking. She stopped, explained what was happening, and asked if I wanted to try again. She tried one more time, and I yelled out in pain.

The cervix is like a valve or a cylinder, and mine apparently is too narrow or too constricted on the uterine end to allow the device to be inserted. So instead of getting an IUD, I got all the cramping and none of the pregnancy prevention! I’m frustrated and disappointed, but ultimately, I have to listen to what my body is telling me. My body can do many wonderful and amazing things. It just can’t currently permit a device the size of a drinking straw to pass into my uterus. And I don’t have much choice other than to be OK with that.

I want to tell you about Spa World

No, let me back up. I want to tell you about how I’m feeling about my body right now. In doing so, I will also tell you about Spa World.

Or perhaps I should just start with Spa World.

So, my friends and I went to Spa World on Saturday. For the uninitiated, Spa World is a Korean day spa, which is a substantially different thing than our typical western conception of a spa. How is it different? There is a whole lot of nudity. And the nudity is not a big deal. Rather, it’s only a big deal if you make it a big deal – which is strongly discouraged.

When you enter the single-gender locker rooms, you immediately confront a whole lot of naked. After the initial “OMG we’re seeing each other naked” moment with my friends, we embraced it and headed into the bade pool, where jets of water bathed every part of our bodies – and the bodies of other women of all shapes and sizes and colors and degrees of hirsuteness. There were young girls and old grandmas. There were athletic builds and the loose skin of recent pregnancies. There were butts and breasts and bellies. And they were all beautifully normal.

Girls and women in this culture are presented with such a fucked up set of ideas of what normal looks like or feels like. I’m sure it’s the same for men, but I feel like it’s more pronounced for women, as we’re consistently told that we should have flat bellies and large breasts. We’re encouraged to buy shapewear to suppress – or enhance – our curves. The “beautiful baby bump” is celebrated, but not the soft skin and stretch marks that remain after birth. I couldn’t get over how empowering it was to encounter all that normal – to be reminded that a healthy body comes in a variety of shapes, including mine.

There are many other things that can be said about Spa World, but this was the most important part of my experience, and directly relates to a second observation about how I’m feeling about my body these days.

A week ago, I stayed out til late at a club we used to occasionally frequent in Champaign. I was all dolled up in my pseudo costume: a perfectly fitted vintage cocktail dress, big hair, and fabulous makeup. The backless gold dress required better posture than usual, and perhaps that’s why an old acquaintance told me that I looked “confidenter” than he remembered.

This was repeated, albeit entirely differently, on the dance floor at the Black Cat this weekend. Maybe it was the residual Spa World glow. Maybe it was the drinks. Maybe it was the company of my favorite chav. Maybe it was the music. Probably it was a bit of all of these that resulted in feeling fucking radiant – a feeling that apparently did not go unnoticed, judging by Jackie’s concern for my well-being (and mine for hers, as she also looked amazing!).

In short: I feel amazing right now. I have accomplished things this year that I never dreamed of doing – and have done so through a lot of hard work and discipline. I would like to see different numbers on the scale, and I would like to be able to push more weight (including mine allllllll the way to the pull up bar). I would like to be faster and stronger and slimmer – but right now I’m really happy with where I am, with my flavor of normal, with what my body is and can do. And I want to remember this.

The Half in Full

By 6:15, we were parked in Detroit, listening to music in the car rather than waiting around in the cold. My anxiety was at an all time high when Tina texted me to wish me a good race – this being the first long one I’ve done without her! We braved the cold and headed to the starting line. Shane picked up a coffee and did his best hype man impression, then gave me a huge hug before I headed off to join my wave.

Waiting for the Race

Ready to Go!

As my wave approached the starting line, I put on my music, closed my eyes, and tried to center myself. I said a brief prayer of thanks for that moment, for the months of training that put me there, for the blessing of good health. It’s totally cheesy, but I nearly cried when I heard Lose Yourself as we crossed the starting line.

Mile 0-1: The streets of Detroit are peaceful and quiet. We run west on Fort towards the Ambassador Bridge, twinkling in the half light. My favorite sign read something along the lines of “TIGERS LIONS MARATHONERS DON’T QUIT”. The deep flow of Stacey Pullen‘s Essential Mix was the right choice – Detroit techno on the streets of Detroit.

Mile 2: Around and around we go up to the bridge. I drop my $2 hat and gloves from Target – they’re almost too cute to let go, but too warm to carry with me. I start passing people, the hill training finally paying off as we make the climb.

Running up to the Ambassador Bridge

Mile 3: It’s windy on the bridge. I lost my headband, so my bangs are all up in my grill. There’s no sun to speak of, but that doesn’t diminish the views of Detroit and Windsor. I wave at a passing trucker, who plays an elaborate jingle on his horn.

Mile 4: Canada!

Mile 5: The Windsor waterfront is lovely. I take an espresso gel and pass up the water station. The streets are lined with cheering spectators despite the rain. One family has a table set up in their front yard with water and orange wedges on offer.

Mile 6: I am passed by a cyclist with no legs pedaling one of those lying down bikes. I immediately choke up. We wave at spectators in the riverfront hotels. My energy is starting to flag a bit, and I take my first water.

Mile 7: The tunnel! The tunnel is fast. The tunnel is loud. The tunnel is warm. The tunnel is fun. Our GPS watches lose signal as we race underwater. I make my one really stupid race decision and decide that I want to touch the international border placard – and then spin myself out because I didn’t slow down enough. Fortunately I avoid falling and actually hurting myself – and I pick up the pace to join the 9:44 pace group.

Mile 8: A member of the Canadian Border Patrol doles out high-fives as we exit the tunnel. Another cyclist struggles to hand-pedal up the hill, and I shout out encouragement as I pass him. All smiles through the gates at the border crossing.

Mile 9: It’s cold. It’s raining. We loop past Joe Louis Arena, and I pull up my hood to try to keep some of the rain off my face. No luck. Only 4 miles to go, though, and I’m right where I want to be – or at least I think I am, as I don’t remember seeing a mile marker for a while. I spot our car as we head down Lafayette.

Mile 10: Finally, a sign! I take water when offered, and am delighted to accept a handful of M&Ms from a spirit group. Who needs gels when there are M&Ms?! The road is flat and wide and I’m feeling good as we head up 18th. I pull out the cameraphone to take a picture of Michigan Central Station, but my pocket has changed a setting, so I quickly put it back. The mariachi band just before the next mile marker makes me smile.

Mile 11: The end is feeling near – but still far. We run through Corktown, where folks are sitting on their porches cheering us on. I stick right with the 9:44 pacer. A guy in a pink monster suit shows up from I have no idea where and runs with us for at least two miles. I’ve run out of Stacey Pullen, and switch over to Faithless for the duration of the run.

Mile 12: They’re starting to count it down for those of us finishing the half. I take two cups of water, but miss the Oreos on offer. I pull away from the 9:44 pacer, feeling reserves of energy I didn’t realize I had. My Garmin shows my fastest pace of the race yet as we near the cutaway point and mile 13.

Mile 13: I feel amazing. I feel strong. I feel tired but like I’ve just punched the go button that will get me across the finish line. I spot Shane right where I lined up to join my wave – he yells and cheers and snaps a couple of blurry photos as I run by.

Wave and Whoosh

Mile 13.1: Done in 2:05:50! I feel amazing and exhausted and oh so thankful for the space blanket and the medal and the food and water. I have beat my previous time by 13 minutes, and my goal by 4 minutes.

13.1! Space Blanket! Medal!

I slam a bottle of water, a banana, and half a pumpkin muffin. I get my picture taken with my medal and my space blanket. I slam another banana and a carton of chocolate milk while waiting for Shane to make his way out of the crowds. We hug and kiss and I don’t cry but feel like I want to. I grab another chocolate milk and a muffin for us to share in the car on the way home.

Happy and Relieved

Final stats:
Chip time: 2:05:50
Overall Place: 2538 / 8489
Gender Place: 1067 / 5311
Division Place: 217 / 883
Pace 9:37

Detroit half marathon: TOTALLY BROUGHT.

Prelude to the Half

Since I’m not getting much done in the way of course prep tonight, let me instead tell you about yesterday’s race.

Back in May, before I ran my first half, I was convinced to register for Detroit by a coworker who enthusiastically told me that the Detroit half is his favorite race. Running to Canada and back! Crossing the Ambassador Bridge as the sun comes up over Detroit and Windsor! Racing through the Detroit Windsor tunnel! Sign me up!

And so I spent the summer running home from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every weekend started with a long run, often followed by breakfast at Afternoon Delight.

Saturday Morning

Midwest Runner Girl

Veggie Delight and letter-writing

I was under the weather this last week, and as the race approached, my anxiety grew. I read about the course. I read about nutrition. I tapered my runs. I changed my diet to make sure I was properly fueled. I looked at elevation maps. And then on Saturday, we drove to Detroit so that I could pick up my race packet.

Countdown

We shared a back seat picnic and spent the afternoon at the DIA. We had cappuccinos at Astro and read the race materials again. I made polenta for dinner and we went to bed early.

Detroit Industry

Race Prep

And then the moment of truth. The alarm went off at 4:30, and by 4:45 I had eaten a bagel, fed the cats, and dressed for success.

Ready to run 13.1

P90E Week 9: Pbbbbbbth

Monday: Much needed rest after the previous night’s debauchery, plus a middle-of-the-night collision with a poorly placed piece of hotel furniture. Instead, we cleaned the house, ran errands, did laundry, and all of that other domesticky stuff.

Tuesday: 3 miles, 27:17. I’m really digging these fast post-work runs. Another week, another class taught in my nasty workout duds.

Wednesday: Non-stop rain resulted in non-stop depression. The evening was thrown off by a post-work appointment. I graded instead of exercising. Oops.

Thursday: Chest & Back almost redeemed this week. It was my first time doing this workout, and the 52 minutes went by in no time flat! That said, I did actually fall on my face at one point, and the different flavors of pushups resulted in hilariously bruised knees. This workout is primarily body weight exercises, which may be why I liked it and also why it was so tough. Looking forward to this one coming around in the rotation again.

Friday: A quick 2 miles home from work before hitting the road to Rockford for the birthday weekend.

Saturday: I didn’t wanna do it. I didn’t wanna get out of bed. I didn’t wanna put my shoes on. I just wanted to sit around and eat all the food, but before doing so, I needed to get in 8 miles – which I did on the Perryville bike path. This was my first time running out there, and I’ll definitely be doing more of it when we’re in Rockford. There’s a bit of a roll to the path, and the lights are at convenient intervals for water breaks. I exchanged smiles and greetings with many other runners and cyclists out enjoying the beautiful day. And then I ate all the pizza and watched the football game with my family and soaked up the love and the post-run endorphins.

Sunday: More good intentions, this time of doing Legs & Back after driving home. Instead, we returned to a freezer left ajar, and I dealt with the mess while Shane got in his belated workout. I did get in a short walk with Mom, Jenn, and Max, but nothing really worth counting.

This week was supposed to be the last phase of P90E. Instead, I think it’s going to be the first phase of the rest of my fitness year – for a few reasons. I had started thinking in this direction after signing up for a kettlebells class through the campus rec center. I ended up dropping it because it was going to be a logistical nightmare and because I will at minimum miss 3 classes because of travel and the half. I was also concerned that this phase of P90X Lean doesn’t include a leg workout, which I need.

The Detroit half is five weeks away. In the next five weeks, my aim is to do three days of strength training (upper, lower, core), two short runs, and one long run. If I have to cut workouts, I’ll cut a short run first, then the core workout. The long run is non-negotiable. I’m going to rotate through the P90 upper body workouts plus Core Synergistics and Legs & Back. I’m going to keep adding my miles. I’m going to kick the half marathon’s butt, and then I’m going to follow that up six days later by running a 5K with my siblings.

I can do this thing. Or, as Tony would say, I can BRING IT. I probably won’t blog it, though, but I will let you know what I’m doing next, or if I have a fantastic run, or when – not ‘if’, ‘when’ – I successfully do a REAL pushup. It’s coming. I can feel it.