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Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!
We slept in a little before heading to the very under-attended Thanksgiving Day race, a 5-miler that's usually packed with people. Yesterday's 35F weather at 8:30 definitely turned people away: Ive never seen so few lines at the race. I'm writing about the race separately, but it's my favorite way to start the holiday, and I enjoyed seeing many friends out there (despite the cold, which meant no one stayed at the after-party very long).
Heading to the race. I took the jacket off, but I ran in hat, gloves, tights, and long-sleeved shirt! 
As soon as we got home, I got cooking: I wasn't making much, but because of my arm braces, everything takes me forever so I needed plenty of time. I attempted to roll out pie crust and completely failed (the rolling movement is way too close to a paddling movement and totally aggravating to my injury!), so I ended up making a press-in-the-pan crust instead.
Here's what I brought:

Kale salad: Lots of kale, rice vinegar, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, garlic, a little soy sauce. Wilted and massaged a little. Not my favorite salad, but it holds up well for hours of buffet time.

Bruleed whisky-sweet potato pie: Now this one is conglomerate of several recipes I read online, or heard on a public radio bit. I made a crust (making sure it was more of a salty than sweet crust since the filling is very sweet - no cookie crusts), then filled it:

1 large sweet potato, boiled, peeled.
About 3/4 stick of butter, softened
Mash together well, then whisk in:
2 eggs
1 C sugar (scant)
1/2 C milk
1/2 C whisky
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon
 Bake for an hour; let cool.
Sprinkle 1/4 C superfine sugar on top (I put granulated sugar in the coffee grinder for a few seconds). Stick under the broiler for a minute or two until top forms a bruleed crust.

If I do say so myself - delicious. And I feel like a very accomplished Yankee for making sweet potato pie.

We spent the rest of the day with David's family, and I snuck my braces off so I wouldn't have to compare injuries with all his elderly aunts. These two poorly-taken pictures are meant to show my perfectly autumnal outfit: wine-colored waxed jeans, dark brown sweater, gold scarf.
Picture from way below

Picture from way above. David insisted on taking pictures in the only warm spot in the house, the stairs!

And my awesome Salvation Army shoes (yes, my toes were cold. Worth it, cutest shoes ever).

We finished the night with a glass of wine and a pretty exciting football game, and now I'm in a line of 7000 people waiting to buy useless crap. Kidding. I'm drinking coffee and getting ready to go to work! Hope everyone working today has an easy day and those who are off enjoy the extended weekend!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to do wine country for cheap

I'm super cheap, in case you hadn't noticed (typed the girl who buys clothes at the Salvation Army, but only on Wednesdays when they're half-price, then resells them on Ebay). So, even though I treat myself when I'm on vacation, I don't like to waste money. So here are my money-saving tips for Sonoma.

1. Rent a car. It is far more expensive to get a taxi all the way from SFO to Sonoma, and a car service or shuttle from vineyard to vineyard isn't necessary. If you're just tasting, not drinking, you won't get tipsy - especially if you take your time and enjoy the scenery after each tasting.
2. Stay centrally. Cut down on gas and costs by staying in an inexpensive hotel in Santa Rosa. You won't be in it for more than sleeping, and it's a short drive to most areas.
3. Do your homework. I picked out 4 - 5 tasting rooms that offered free tastings for each day. We usually didn't make it to all of them, but it gave us options. I see no reason to pay for tastings: small, quality vineyards want you to taste their product, and will tell you all about it. Larger, commercial productions charge $10 to $20 a person and aren't as personal (and really, who wants to taste Coppola wines? You can buy them at the grocery store).
4. Bring a big, nylon check-bag. Bring it empty, and stuff it in a carry-on for the ride up. Some tasting rooms charge $10 a taste - waived with a purchase. Use this as a reason to buy wine for yourself and as gifts - whenever there's a waivable charge, buy a bottle. Then ask a restaurant or grocery store for an empty wine box and paper and pack it up with all your bottles before zipping it into your luggage. You save the tasting fee, and rack up on all different types of wine. Keep the tasting going!
5. See the outdoors. Absolutely hike in Armstrong Redwood Park and absolutely spend time at several of the Pacific beaches. Breathtaking beauty at both places and of course, free. Pack a picnic!
6. Bring a book to Preston winery. Taste the wine, then have the fee waived when you buy a bottle of sauvignon blanc. Their bakery makes great sourdough bread and their farm produces fresh produce - you can buy a whole lunch for two (with leftovers!) including the wine for under $40. Then sit outside for your picnic and read the afternoon away, sipping wine.
7. Plan to visit some tasting rooms that are open late. There isn't a lot going on at night in Sonoma most of the time, and if you've been tasting wine all night you might not want to spend the evening in a bar getting another drink. But you're left with a lot of time in the evening: if the tasting rooms close at 4 or 5, you tend to find a restaurant and eat early - then you have an empty night in your cheap Santa Rosa hotel room. Instead we tasted wine at some Healdsburg locations downtown - there are some open until 6 or 7, and then we'd walk the square a little before a 7:30 dinner. If you go to the Williamson Winery tasting room, you can enjoy tastings paired with food!

Monday, November 25, 2013

No news is good news?

Let's back things up a few weeks to my last doctor's appointment. I went in hoping to hear something, but instead I news.
I felt pretty much the same as before. My doctor not-so-politely told me that I was probably just a wimp, that my leg was no doubt fine, and that my bone probably always looked like that - some kind of structural anomaly (not true, I have x-rays from a few months ago). He was out of options.
He told me go see an endocrinologist, a spine guy, and a surgeon. He dropped the oncologist recommendation since I pointed out that I already had all that labwork done and nope, no cancer.

So, I really didn't know what to do. But about this time I emailed Camille Herron and her reply was incredibly helpful. Basically she told me - femur fractures can take a long time to heal, especially if you re-injure them! She also recommended I work with my PT to determine why a healthy person like myself would experience these fractures.

So I made a tentative plan:
- Rest until bone pain goes away.
- Determine problem areas
- Once pain free, work on problem areas (week hips, tight adductors).
- Gradually introduce running when feeling stronger.
- Go slow! Ten minutes running to start; work up a few minutes at a time.

In the meantime, take calcium and vitamin D and all that and do core work and upper body to keep from going crazy.
All the rooms in my house but two have beautiful hardwood floors. I always take pictures in the other two.

So that's what I did. Or rather, what I'm doing, since I'm still in the "go slow" part. Total rest (plus calcitonin) healed up my bone; in fact, it felt better in just a few days of rest. I used those days to test muscle strength and try to learn my body better. Next I found exercises and stretches to fix problems I suspected, and only then did I try to run.
I had several good days of ten-minute runs, but I had set-backs, too: one day I felt pain at the femur site again, and rested it for 4 days break. Now I'm still just gradually working back. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet: I feel like I definitely have a tendency to injure the same area again. So I have to be incredibly careful. As far as I can tell, my problems stem from some muscle or tendon issue that causes it to tug on the bone... but I still don't know how I went from totally healthy to acute injury to chronic pain in one year! Crazy!
But I'm doing my best to heal up, so wish me luck, and share all the advice you have!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving letters and family closeness

My grandmother on my dad's side has written me a Thanksgiving letter for the past several years. Actually, she remembers every holiday, and often sends cards for Memorial Day or Easter! Very sweet. Her cards are the only contact I have with her, and the correspondence we've established is the only way I know her at all.
Pages of tiny writing!

See, apparently my dad was not close to his mother at all (maybe his father, too, I don't know - his father died before my parents married and I've never heard a word spoken about the man). We visited my dad's family only a handful of times ever growing up - perhaps three or four times. I only remember three visits, but there may have been others before I was born or when I was an infant. This lack of contact was the norm in our house - we didn't exactly see my mom's family much either, and she was really terrible about staying in touch (once my grandparents found out my mom was pregnant after the baby was born!).

My parents are just really bad about communicating with family. And that taught their kids, by example, to think family was unimportant. We never sacrificed to help a family member. We never let a family member offer help, or bear our burdens, or do us a favor. We never put family first. It never happened then, so it really doesn't happen much now. It's sad that none of my grandparents have ever met their youngest grandchild, and it's sad that my parents never call their children (or their parents!) on Christmas.

So I'm trying to coax the family out of that mold. I go out of my way to be the sibling who calls everyone else, who sends Christmas cards, who visits. I ask the other kids, "Have you heard from so-and-so?" to remind them to call their brothers. I gave up on trying to involve my parents, who are quite crazy and a lost cause, but I don't want all of their kids to continue the pattern. My childhood was bizarre in a lot of ways, so I always told myself growing up, "You can't change how you were raised, but you can change how you let it shape you." I don't let the unusual family communications affect me, and I'm happy my grandmother and I have been able to establish a relationship, even though it really began when she was in her 80's and I sent her a wedding invitation!

How about you? Is your family close? Who are you seeing or calling for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Life hands-free

I'm going on day four of hunt-and-peck typing, steroid jitters, inability to grasp a pen, cooking with ziplocs over my hands, and automatic staplers (thank goodness I had one at work already, since I couldn't use a claw stapler now if you paid me).
Naturally, Friday was the day that everyone decided they absolutely MUST get their flu shot, and no one was interested in walking the ONE BLOCK to the next Walgreens to receive it. So I gloved over my splints and gave them the worst shot ever. Because these braces have metal panels on top and bottom the entire length, I simply cannot maneuver anything once it's in my thumb and forefinger, The other fingers can't curl over, either, so it's not like I have a fabulous grip on anything, your syringe included. Oh well. I tried to explain my limitations, but I ended up giving 12 vaccines Friday anyway!

As for exercise, good thing I'm going slow now anyway. I skipped a day, but then I realized I could run without braces, since "running arms" is basically the only way to hold my arms that doesn't hurt. However, I can't do yoga (which I've been adding in) or most stretches (which I've been religious about), so I've been running even less and taking time to do modified stretching and foam-rolling (yeah, can't even foam roll right now).
David's been cutely taking care of me. It took him 10 minutes to put my hair in a ponytail for a run, so after that we went with messily placed barrette instead. And he's been a doll about cutting up my food and doing little things I can't lock the door!
Just a few more days of 'round-the-clock wear, and I can start weaning off. Hurray! And the good news is that the crepitus has stopped (finally), and pain is much better. I'll be back to normal soon. Can't wait!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I love this: Antique-store chair

My husband and I wandered into an antique store in Bay St. Louis mostly for amusement. The antique stores in Mississippi tend to be more along the lines of, "Here's an old Coca-Cola sign to hang on your barn!" than "It's believed to have belonged to Anne of Cleves." This one is particularly entertaining because
1. It is approximately 4 miles long. You go into a tiny building and walk until your legs fall off, and you're still in the middle of old crocheted lace, depression glass, and a pile of extremely creepy 1800's glass and wire spectacles. It never ends. There are somewhere close to 40 rooms in this building.
2. It contains almost entirely junk.

Yet this time I was drawn straight to this fascinating little chair, a celluloid and leather throne if you will, and when I saw the $49 price tag we snatched it up! Really, it's a steal. It looks fabulous in our living room, it's comfortable, and it's unique. I love it!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pardon my typing.

I expect this (and subsequent posts) to be full of errors because I'm typing in bilateral heavy-duty wrist immobilization braces. My post-kayak pain never went away - in fact it worsened. I started losing mobility, the swelling was horrific, and moving my wrists resulted in a loud creaking!
Amazingly, the stars aligned for me to see a qualified doctor: I had a pharmacist in training who could cover my store, and a hand surgeon just so happened to have clinic - and have an opening - this morning at the hospital where I work!
He quickly diagnosed my with severe intersection syndrome - tendon rubbing against muscle. Since I kept using the affected tendons, they didn't heal, and I narrowly avoided tendon rupture! The doctor is pretty confident I can avoid surgery by resting the tendons: so braces stay on 24 hours a day for a week, then I can begin weaning off over the next week. I'm also starting steroids to stop the really out-of-control swelling. I'm anti-steroid, but I have no choice: my wrists are as big as my ankles right now.

Tomorrow I'll see if I can actually work this way (I can't open bottles or type with any speed ...) and I may actually have to take short term disability.
Can't believe it.
So glad I caught it though!
And beware the kayak, people. It's a dangerous toy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Favorite race pictures

While sneaking back into running (slooowly), I've realized that thinking back over races and runs I enjoyed really cheers me. I remember a miserably cold 20-miler which I ran sick, and feeling SO successful and happy when it was over. I remember killer track workouts (or workout. I don't really kill the track much). And I think back over great races - ones that actually went as planned, or were a PR, or were even so terrible they were good (Like the unbelievable Mississippi Gulf Coast marathon when everything went wrong - too hot, too windy, no watch, ugh. But I won!). And thanks to this blog, when I think of old races, I can look at old race pictures, too.

Everyone has race pictures that they hate. But I think we all have some that we love, too. I'm lucky to have many great memories from races thanks to David: before he got into running and racing himself, he was my faithful photographer!

Going through these is a trip down memory lane...
One of my first races, the Crescent City Classic 10k in full-on cowgirl
My first marathon, feeling like DEATH.
Cowgirl again at the Jazz half - ran a 1:51 I think? I was astonished at my time. I never thought I'd run that fast.
Beautiful Harrisburg, my first BQ
French quarter

Blowing kisses - first marathon to break 3:30
Hot, humid, miserable Mississippi Gulf Coast marathon
AFTER realizing I ran an extra mile in the marathon at Baton Rouge Beach!
Best race photo of all time.
My favorite finish pic!
My second favorite finish pic know... I don't see that tape very often!
A crowd at Publix....
My only "hard core" race picture with no silly grin or funny face! 

Boston. Mostly someone else's picture, but I love that this shows the brutality of the heat that day - and my bum knee.
Stride for stride with this dude at the Crescent City Classic 10k

There it is. My racing life in pictures! Kind of makes me feel like I might be back someday, racing again..
Do you have any race pictures you love? Links please! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First steps

Last week I was allowed to slowly return to running. Last I talked to you about running, I was in so much pain that I was on a total rest  - for two entire weeks. Nothing lower body. Just rest! Then, I did some test miles.
I mean, minutes.
Because I only ran ten minutes the first time! I wanted to go really slowly, so after my first week I can proudly boast of three and a half miles total. But it's worth it to stay healthy.
I wore my Hotter than Hell Marathon shirt! Love it! It fits me so well - long enough, sleeves the right length, etc. 

I got some really, really good advice from elite Camille Herron, who not only personally emailed me (she's the nicest runner basically ever), but also has a detailed blog post about stress fractures here. One thing that stood out to me was that she allows herself complete rest, and doesn't do much cross training while she heals. Why? So her aerobic capacity isn't out of balance with her muscle strength. My pool-running last time I tried to comeback had kept me in shape - and I quickly felt comfortable running 3 miles, then 5 miles, then 10, then 26...BAM, re-injured. My muscles and bones weren't as strong as my lungs and I was hurt again. But this time, after my weeks of complete rest, I couldn't have run more than ten minutes, anyway (I mean, after a short break I'm sure I could have kept going, but at ten minutes I definitely wanted to stop and walk).

How do I feel? Well. Not perfect. Muscles are weak. There's some soft-tissue pain. I have some issues still going on. Osteitis Pubis is flaring like crazy, like every time I return to running. But no bone pain - and I'm doing all I can to prevent a return. More on that later. For now, I'm celebrating my 3-mile week!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kayaking on the Bayou

Just another beautiful day in New Orleans, enjoying Bayou St. John in a tandem kayak.

We paddled around amid pelicans, cranes, turtles, and fish. There was a cool breeze, but the sun was warm until it set in splendid color.
I'm definitely buying a kayak now. Once I can use my hands again, that is. Apparently there is a muscle at the top of your wrist that you use to flex your hand. I discovered it after two hours paddling, and now I can't brush my teeth.
Swollen, red wrist! 

But once I can reach into my wallet to pull out my credit card, I'm buying a kayak and spending every weekend on the bayou!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

More Meb: Read Cassidy's post

Head on over to for vitriol-filled message boards and a Mike Cassidy's write up on finishing the NewYork City Marathon with Meb!

PS - Mike Cassidy's lifted foot toes-in, just like mine. Does this mean that I'll finish a race with a pro someday?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finally fall!

What's going on, Louisiana?! Suddenly we get fall leaves? I've never seen this kind of color in New Orleans before!
Leaves picked up on my street

Along with fall leaves, gusty winds, and humidity under 70% some days, the pharmacists' license renewals are showing up in the mail (They're due each December).
That means I have to finish up my continuing education units and fork over the money. My employer doesn't pay for my license, but it's just $100 so I can deal. Luckily, I never have to pay for CEs, since nearly all pharmacy CEs are free (and sometimes come with dinner!).
Meanwhile, my husband's legal CEs are expensive - sometimes hundreds of dollars! Clearly this is because lawyers are rats.

Do you have license renewals or CE for your job, and who pays? You or your employer?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Running from Phillip's Bar

Every Thursday, Varsity Sports does a group run that ends at a bar or restaurant for some drinks and socializing. I finally got my request granted, and we met at Philip's bar!
This is my favorite bar, because it's a block away. We're friends with the owners, who've been our neighbors for 12 years - as long as our landlords and longer than anyone else in our transient, college neighborhood.
Me (in blue) wearing running clothes even though I'm a walker now.
David and I made it out to this run, although I was miserably walking. Boo. We don't make all the Thursday runs - if they're too far away, I can't make it time with my work schedule. But just down the street? I can handle that!
The night was perfect - high 60's - and we sat on the lovely patio for drink specials and sliders. It was a fabulous way to unwind with friends. I miss socializing with these guys when I'm out injured!

Monday, November 4, 2013

NYC marathon!

ESPN2 had great coverage of yesterday's marathon, so I wrapped up in a bathrobe, got a cup of tea, and watched the two-hour highlights program.
Ugh, WHY do marathons tug at my emotions so?!
Images like this make me cry.
I had mascara on (for church, got to look pretty for God) and I kept tearing up. I know what it's like to be in a city recovering from a devastating flood, and I just wanted to hug everyone. And run the marathon. I mean, I really did. The footage of the streets of New York and the finish in Central Park made me want to line up in the freezing cold with all those people and run 26 miles.
Speaking of freezing cold, New Orleans suddenly registered that it was November, and I got to break out the first sweater of the year. Chilly bliss!
Blurry sweater selfie
David's winter clothes are still packed, so he shivered in a windbreaker and scarf all day.

There are lots of great stories from NYCM, but my favorite is Meb's. Meb has had a rough year, just getting off injury, but he showed class today. Watch the video of his short interview.

So anyway. This marathon thing. I have a suspicion that I WILL run a marathon again. In fact, maybe fast. Who knows? But I might put NYC on my list. I know it's expensive, it's a huge ordeal, it's held during a busy time of year (work-wise) for me. Nevertheless, I want to run it, but it might not be soon. For one thing, there's the issue of getting into the race. I could do lottery, but I want to qualify. Right now the qualifying times aren't horrifyingly stringent, so I could do it. Just not any time soon. Anyone run New York and care to share thoughts? Loved it? Too crowded? Inspiring?
And what was your favorite moment or story from the race?

Friday, November 1, 2013

One last Halloween picture

I think black lipstick and a skull scarf is teetering on the brink of the dress code.