Sunday, April 28, 2013

mighty hill conqueror

The Mississippi River and Duck Creek are both down off of my bike paths!  HOORAY!  I've had a couple of great rides this weekend.  Link for Friday is here and for Saturday is here, if you like this sort of thing (I share them because they are both rides I haven't mapped here yet.  I love that the report splits my speed for each mile, and that it puts elevation and speed on the same graph down at the bottom, and that it tells number of calories burned.  It really is a fun little app.  

The Davenport path, near my house, has had a section closed for a bit, where the water company is doing some construction.  There is a proposed detour sign.  I've looked at it a lot of times, but never dared to try it, because it takes one up a massive Davenport hill, and it is on the streets.  Yesterday, I felt adventurous.  So I followed the detour, which took me up a one-way street (driving the wrong direction, but presumably if the sign says do it, it's okay, and the street is very quiet) called Oneida.  Oh, that hill!  It is deceptive for this reason:  at the bottom, you look up and it looks so huge your knees knock (or mine did, anyway).  And then when you get partway up, you realize that what you THOUGHT was the just a curve.  You're only half-ish way up!  Ohhhhh golly.  Thank you Jesus and hallelujah for the many gears on sweet, sweet Wilma, my wonderbike.  I shifted and shifted and definitely finished all the way down in first gear.  I huffed and puffed and sincerely thought I was going to hurl.  It is soooo much bigger and harder than Main Street hill.  

But I was feeling like a badass, so I just kept pedaling, despite the burn in my lungs and my leg muscles, despite the rawness of my throat as I sucked air, despite certainty that it just wasn't possible to pedal a butt this size all the way up that far.  

The detour takes a right turn at 12th street.  I hoped and prayed that 12th street would be flat, or better yet, downhill.  Eventually it was.  But first, it was a slight upgrade.  Not enough to bother a person who's been riding on flat ground.  But enough to make me actually wail in complaint ALOUD as I turned onto it.  LOL  

Still, in the end, I did the whole darn thing without stopping even once or hurling either.  I felt like a rock star.  I had the biggest, goofiest grin EVER on my face as I glided back downhill at the end of the detour.  Just.  So.  AWESOME. 

Before I learned to love exercise, a physical challenge was not a joy or fun to me.  It was something to either avoid or overcome.  It didn't make me excited, didn't make me want to be a badass, didn't make me grin like a little kid on the rare occasion that I completed it.  To me, this is one of the ways that I know that this journey of letting God teach me to love my body has made real and permanent changes in me.  

I just love it. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

a run uphill in the rain

My plan this morning was to run the bridge.  I didn't work out Monday or yesterday, both due to being up very late the nights before and just not ready to get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning.  So there was lost momentum.  So today, I planned to run the bridge, and then tomorrow try out my new kettlebell (a gift from a friend - YAY!) and then Friday, when I had some momentum back, I would run Brady Street hill.  

But then when I was lacing up my shoes, I noticed:  wind gusts slamming into the side of my building.  Oh.  Wind is brutal on the exposed openness of the bridge.  Then thunder rumbled in the distance and that settled it.  Not putting myself out there in lightning's way.  I would run the hill.  

I overdressed badly this morning.  Shouldn't have worn the running tights under my pants (I wanted the compression, but these are rated for very cold and 45 is not very cold.)  For a shirt, I only wore my long-sleeved UnderArmour, but then I had my raincoat on over it.  My raincoat is not that lightweight running sort.  It's long and bulky and heavy.  I was very hot for most of my run this morning, which was exacerbated by the fact that I had to keep putting my hood up every time the rain accelerated to "coming down in sheets" mode.

So between the lack of momentum and the overheatedness, it felt like this was my slowest run up the hill ever - I really thought I was gonna hurl this time.  Nonetheless, I never broke down to a walk.  Brady Street hill, I have defeated you again!  YAY!!!  

My run report is here (gotta post it once, just cuz it's a different route than the ones I've already put up).  I'm feeling pretty good about my pace, considering the route.  I thought the "elevation" part of the report would be awesome, but it turns out it's hard to capture the giantness of the hill on a line graph.  Darn it. 

In other news, the neti bottle continues to be a wonder.  Just can't believe how easy it is to respond, when I notice the tickles and drainage starting again.  This is so much better than meds. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

bikey bikey bike

Had a nice bike ride today.  (Looks like I'm gonna keep posting my Map My Run reports until I've done every route at least once - hope that doesn't get old for you!)  

I rode a slow, easy pace today.  Here is the interesting thing:  yesterday's "pushing myself pretty hard in the wind" speed was just under 6 minutes per mile.  Today's "riding at a mellow speed in the wind" speed was just under 7 minutes per mile.  That just seems like not much a difference in actual speed, for such a difference in fatigue effect.  

That said, even though I went nice and easy, I'm wiped out tonight  (due at least in part, no doubt, to the fact that I started out still a little fatigued from yesterday's ride...definitely some conditioning to catch back up on, after the long winter of very little biking.)  I'm awfully grateful for my EasySeat - the butt is in pain, but at least it's only the butt.

I'm awfully glad bike weather is with us again! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

go gadget go

I have to admit I'm enjoying the new-to-me gadget of my "Map My Run" app.  Had a nice bike ride today.  It was 20 miles and if you've hung around long, you know I tend to consider that a reasonably short ride sometimes.  But today, I pushed myself hard.  I often don't do that.  I often just roll along for at least part of the ride, coasting and enjoying the view and thinking deep thoughts or maybe no thoughts at all.  Today, I was breathing hard the whole ride (and working against a pretty decent head-wind, for parts of it.)  So today 20 miles felt LONG.  But super, super fun.  My legs loved the workout.  

The fun of the gadget was getting to hear the voice tell me my average pace at each mile mark.  That made me ride harder than I would have, without it.  If you want to check out my ride (and there's no reason to assume you'll be as weirdly fascinated by it as I am, but anyway...) the link is here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

more precise measure of my running, and continued neti success

I finally got my "Map My Run" app going.  First, I had misunderstood the directions when I checked it out, and thought the phone couldn't work without "seeing" (in other words, thought it wouldn't work in my pocket.)  This was not true.  Then, poking around blindly at buttons without my glasses while trying it the first time, I messed up the settings.  I denied it permission to use mapping.  Umm.  Duh.  And though it kept telling me I had done so, my attempts to find the spot to fix that setting failed a lot of times (we all know Karen cannot think in the mornings).  But this morning, I was clearer mentally than usual and - voila! - I got that fixed.  

So I'm not going to sync it to my social media all of the time, or even here, for that matter.  But it is fun to look and see what it tracked; if you want to see, it is here.  The good news is the route is slightly longer than my calculations had told me - I thought it was just under 2.5 miles, but it's actually precisely 2.78 miles.  A 5K is 3.11 miles.  So I'm closer to that than I thought.  

I'm still as slow as ever, staying between 17 and 18 minutes per mile.  I'm sure there are walkers who beat that pace.  Good thing I'm only competing with myself!  The main thing I want to use this app for is to get back to the business of pushing myself to be a bit faster.  Not "race winning" faster - but just  steady improvement in time that will indicate I am getting fitter, eh?

A fun element is that it tracks elevation.  So I need to do a Brady Street hill run with it soon.  Can't wait to see the graph on THAT (and I'm sure I'll be sharing it here.)  

In other news, the neti experience continues to be a positive one.  I did it 2 mornings in a row and then have been leaving it alone.  No meds.  Still putting locally grown honey in my tea daily, to rebuild the immunities I got and then gave up.  I'm having almost no allergy symptoms at all - just the occasional itchy nose, ears, throat and eyes, but no river of drainage drowning and choking me, and no constant sneezing.  Hallelujah.  I'm a believer! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

neti outcome

Okay, color me impressed. 

I had no allergy symptoms at all yesterday.  That encouraged me enough that I skipped the Zyrtec when it was time and decided to just see how the night would go. 

Bear in mind that I have been waking nightly, coughing and gagging with the only relief being to sit up straight for several hours (oh, the fun of sleeping while sitting up straight.)  So this was a big test, skipping the Zyrtec and just relying on the results of yesterday's neti adventure. 


Not a single cough all night.  No gagging.  No drainage issue whatsoever.  Just....WOW.  I'm now a believer in this crazy idea of washing out your sinuses! 

I did experience several rounds of extreme nose itchiness in the night, which I think just means the pollen is still running rampant.  So just to be safe, I did the neti thing again this morning.  Don't want to let the pollen get ahead of me.  

But I'll happily endorse this product.  :-)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

the neti adventurrrrrrrrrrrrre......

"Veni, vidi, vici."  (I came, I saw, I conquered.)
~Julius Caesar

I came, I snorted water, I did not drown.
~Karen Swank


First of all, a big THANK YOU to my fellow Latin-loving old college friend who sent me handy tips after reading yesterday's blog re: my impending neti pot adventures.  Her very helpful advice included:
  • Get the squeezie bottle kind, instead of the teapot kind - it's easier to use.
  • Don't use it within 2 hours of bedtime, as the water can go into the ear tubing and cause ear infection.
  • Be sure to boil the water first, so as not to get "nasty micro-organisms in your sinuses" (EEK!)
  • Use the water warm, to avoid feeling like you got water up your nose in a swimming pool
I took all of that absolutely to heart.  When I got home with the kit, I noticed that the instructions included a directive to sterilize the bottle in the microwave.  Problem:  my microwave is out of order.  For a bit, I thought I might have to wait many more days to try this thing.  But then I remembered - hey, I'm an old school lady.  I boiled my babies' bottles with the best of 'em.  Boiling is AT LEAST as good a tactic as microwaving, probably better.  

I saved the process for this morning, as I've been a lifelong ear infections risk and don't need to
240 ML = 8 OUNCES of water to go up the nose!
heighten that.  So this morning I got out the bottle and sterilized it (as well as the funnel I'd be using to fill it) while I boiled water to fill it up.  

It took FOREVER for the water to cool down to an acceptable, non-nose burning temperature, which made breakfast late.  How so?  I didn't want to eat before doing this.  After all, putting in my own earrings (my ears have been pierced since I was 8) makes me nauseous and sometimes even dizzy - no sense in eating a nice breakfast, only to potentially toss it right back up, eh?  

There is a little saline solution packet thingy you add to the bottle when it's go time.  The box and the internet both warn that if you just use straight water without that salt, your nasal passages will burn like no other.  I also saw an "all natural" kit I could have bought that had eucalyptus and other like things in it, that promised my nasal passages would feel "invigorated" afterward.  Umm.  NO.  There are areas of me that I'd like to feel invigorated.  My nasal passages are most decidedly NOT on that list.  This one would have to be good enough, with its promise of not having preservatives.  

I'm awfully glad I watched a bunch of YouTube videos of people doing this for the first time.  Because of what I saw, I knew not to freak out when I kept pushing more and more water up my nose and nothing was coming out the other side.  Apparently there is quite a little reservoir of space in one's nasal cavities.  

There was no drowning sensation.  You just tilt your head forward over the sink and do it with your mouth open, breathing normally.  It's good that the mouth is open, because not all the solution comes just out the other side of your nose, when it finally comes.  Some if it comes out your mouth.  Yeah.  Kind of a cross concept but it just tasted salty, so it was find.  Spit and drive on.  

You put about 2-4 ounces up the one side, gently blow your nose, and then do the same with the other side.  The 2nd side flowed freely much more quickly than the first side.  I guess that was because stuff was cleared out of the way?  (Ew, don't meditate on that, Karen.  Gross.)

Final result:  I did not die.  It did not hurt.  All I can say thus far is my nasal passages feel shockingly clean, but not like I got water up my nose in the pool.  So far, so good.

Now, let's see if tonight is like the last few nights, with the middle of the night choke  on drainage and ensuing cough that forces me to sit up straight in order to get any sleep at all.  That's where the rubber meets the road.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

bye bye to another phobia

I find this morning that I am unexpectedly ready to move past a very strong fear - a phobia, really - and it is so unexpected.

Back up a bit.  The deal is, my allergies are still being a major pain.  Even with the meds, even with the hot water, even with the honey.  They are about 90% manageable.  The unmanageable part is:  in the middle of the night, after I haven't been drinking any fluids for several hours. all of a sudden all the gunk accumulates and I am choking, coughing, yucko ptooey.  The way I solve it is to prop myself up with pillows and sleep sitting straight up - this lets the drainage run in a way that doesn't choke and cause that coughing that gets so strong it is almost upchuck time.  

But enough about that.  I am BEYOND tired of talking about my allergies! 

There is another solution, absolutely doctor-recommended, that gets a ton of positive review in these cases:  the neti pot.  If you never heard of them before (and if you never did...HOW?!), it's like a little teapot.  You fill it with warm salt water and then pour that water in one side of your nose, letting it run out the other side.  It washes out your nasal passages, which I guess helps remove the pollens and stuff that are stuck in there causing the misery.

I have been very, very adamant:  I would NEVER try that.  After all, water up the nose equals drowning.  We all know that!!  Why would I drown myself?!  And no amount of reasonably pointing out that people use them all the time without drowning could touch my extreme neti pot phobia.

But all of a sudden this weekend...the fear seems to be gone.  I didn't ask God to remove it.  I didn't do any mental exercises to change my mind - wasn't even thinking about neti pots at all.  

And then all of a sudden I WAS thinking about them, and it wasn't making me afraid.  So strange.  Apparently God's been lifting another phobia off me without me even having the faith or ambition to ask.  

So probably today I'll buy one on the way home from work, and probably tonight I'll try it, and it doesn't even give me butterflies in my stomach to imagine that. 

Weird, weird, weird.  

Be sure of this:  I'll let you know how it goes.  :-)

Friday, April 5, 2013

moving beyond symptom management into getting FILLED UP

I'm fighting allergies right now, having neglected my habit of daily consumption of locally grown honey for a few months.  So I'm back to the honey and meanwhile living in a generic Zyrtec haze to help combat the worst of it.  

In the midst, I continue to discover new things in my relationship with this body that I no longer hate.  

First of all,, I discover that I am able to hear my body in ways I never could before.  I never used to be able to sort out questions like is it a cold, or is it allergies.  That's because I didn't know how to ask my body questions and listen for its answers.  All I did was:  
  • suppress the noticing of symptoms until those symptoms were screaming so loud they could not be ignored
  • notice symptoms and assume the symptom was the problem
  • go stand in the pharmacy, reading backs of boxes and bottles until I found the right combination of symptoms, and buy that one
  • take the meds, hope it helped, and make no other changes other than maybe slowing down in activity
  • wait for it to get better
 Now I've learned to ask, to tune in, to listen for answers, to pay close attention to all things.  In doing so this time around I noticed:  itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat, itchy ears, itchy skin on my face, even to the point of almost a rash.  And my body frantically producing drainage to try and help.  ALLERGIES. 

Secondly, I'm not just about stopping symptoms anymore.  Symptoms are just symptoms!  Indicators of the problem.  Measurements.  Not the target.  So, back to the honey. 

But also, I noticed (by accident) the difference that water makes.  I've been drinking (mostly hot) water - as much as I can - in a pretty aggressive fashion.  What I noticed:  when I'm in glug-glug-glug mode, all that drainage stuff stays clear and thin and just does its job.  Sure, it makes me cough as it runs, but hey - I didn't even used to be able to feel that the cough was related to drainage, so this is progress!  

On the other hand, when I slow down on drinking water, bad stuff happens.  That drainage stuff is no longer clear or thin and very quickly I'm all plugged up, I'm choking and I can't breathe.  But when I noticed it was trending that way, I went back to massive water consumption and - voila! - back to manageable within less than an hour.

Maybe you've noticed this all your life and are asking why I'm writing so many words about it tonight.  All I can say is, this stuff is still pretty new to me, this noticing of what my body is telling me, and it just blows my mind, how clearly it can tell me what's going on. 

I can't help but notice this is consistent with what I've been learning in the "learning to love my body" journey.  If I fill up on insanely healthy food, I feel better, I don't crave junk, and I lose weight.  If I flood my body with water, it drives out the things that want to collect and cause problems.  

And in my spiritual life, if I fill up on God - consume His word as voraciously as I used to consume a bag of Sterzing's potato chips or a Snicker's bar - linger as long at prayer as I used to linger in front of TV and movies - turn my idle thoughts toward Him in as obsessed a manner as I used to have when I turned my mind to darker things - something good happens.  I fill up on Him, and I lose my appetite for those lesser things.  I flood my mind with Him, and He drives out even the muckiest muck from the foulest corners of my mind.  

FILL UP.  GET FLOODED.  With GOOD things.  Then there is not room for all the old imposters, all the old devices used against us, all the lesser things that seek to derail us.  FILL UP.  I'm loving that strategy.

For now...excuse me, please.  I gotta get another big mug of hot water with lemon and honey.  :-)