November 25, 2015

Soup #2, and healing

Soup #2 turned out pretty darn well, despite the fact that I actually burnt some of it and still need to scrub like crazy on my pot to get it back into a functional state.

Carrot leek garlic onion soup leftovers, just as good the next day.

1 leek, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped (I had 'em lying around, I figured why not)
1 shallot, chopped
3 garden chiles, minced

1 bag baby carrots
6 cups water
3 cubes boullion

1/2 cup white vinegar
2-3 T lemon juice
garlic salt
black pepper

1. Sautee first group of ingredients until the onions, leeks, and shallots are translucent
2. Add carrots, quickly sautee and then add water and boullion, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so and adding water (don't get on a conference call and forget to add water for 15+ minutes or you will burn the bottom layer of the soup).
3. Turn off the heat when the carrots are tender enough to easily break with a spoon.  Puree with a stick blender.  Taste.  Add spices from the last group of ingredients to taste.

In other news, I worked in the garden today to start taking down plants (since it's California, they are still green, just greedily sucking nutrients from the soil even though they are no longer producing much fruit due to short days and cold).

Lo, the final harvest of the year:

In running news, I can walk without pain.  I did end up with some purple bruising below the outside of my ankle, but with the daily icing and elevation it's been getting better.  I've been adding a mile a day and drawing the alphabet with my toes (still sore, but not terribly so).  Today, I've got one more walking mile to hit 4+ and tomorrow, for thanksgiving, I'm going to try some jog/walking.  Wish me luck. 

November 21, 2015

Runner, Interrupted

Yesterday, I accidentally put on a show for Market street.  I'd just left our hotel and was headed out towards the Embarcadero for a quick 3 mile run.  I'd successfully dodged people by zig-zagging between them for about 400 meters or so.

And then, that sickening quick crackle and pop of my ankle turning over -- this one hurt quite a bit, and my leg immediately buckled to get the weight off the foot.  I, of course, still had forward momentum, and stumbled to get my other leg under me, but it was not enough.

I careened forward, and before I really knew what was happening, some very old instincts kicked in.  My hands hit the pavement, but I had already started to roll so they just absorbed some of the impact before I rolled diagonally over my shoulders and back to arrive seated, in a pike position, facing forward.  I was actually a bit stunned -- that part of my brain is fairly deeply buried and hasn't been accessed in a while.  Even so, thanks to 10 years of falling in gymnastics, somehow my body knew how to bail out without scraping any skin despite how much my ankle hurt.

My first non-self-related thought was that I had definitely heard gasping.  I looked around to see a bunch of people stopped and staring.  One guy looked at me inquisitively, hands in a pre-clap as if to say "Are you okay and would you be offended if I clapped?"

Next day swelling, no bruising -- not too bad, but it's definitely a real sprain.
An adorable woman knelt down next to me and started talking to me.  "Did you roll it?  Oh, man, it looks like you are in pain.  Here, let me help you up.  I'm a runner.  I do this all the time.  I mean, not all the time, but I've rolled my ankle, I know how you feel.  Here, let me help you up.  Where are you going?  I'm not in a hurry, I'll support your side while you walk there.  You know, sometimes, these seem bad when they happen but they heal very quickly.  Can you take the time to ice and elevate today?"

What an angel.  She was so kind and concerned and supportive and she escorted me away from the gawkers quickly and efficiently.  I never even got her name.  I thank you and looked her in her sweet face as she said goodbye, wishing me a quick recovery.

So, yeah.  My plans are going to have to change a bit.

I'd been headed in the right direction, increasing my mileage, and I even made it to the track group on Wednesday for the first time in almost 3 months.

But, currently, it hurts to walk, and I can't go down stairs leaving my left leg on the step - so no running until that goes away.  There's no way I can balance on the one foot, so no yoga this week.  I'd started a 4 week tabata challenge, and I don't think I need to drop out, but I am going to have to avoid the lower body options and modify the core and upper body ones to avoid jumping or anything ankle-mobility related (no burpees for sure).

Since gymnastics instincts treated me so well on the fall, I'm going to take another page from that book.  Turns out, gymnasts are *always* injuring something.  So, whenever we'd get injured, my club coach would say, okay, you broke your [INSERT BROKEN STUFF], but this means you can spend the next 3-8 weeks focusing on [UNBROKEN STUFF].  What's a skill you've been wanting to master or something you can accomplish that relies on [UNBROKEN STUFF]?

Well, I can still make soup, so the soup challenge is still on.  I can also do most core work, pushups, dips, boxing moves, handstands, and other yoga arm balancing poses.  I can stretch, which is definitely something I've been neglecting.  I can clean and organize the house.  And I can probably work in the garden in a few days.  I should be able to figure out a way to do at least an hour of this stuff every day to replace the running until I can start running again.

So that's the new plan.

November 16, 2015

Baby Steps (and Soup #1)

It's soup season and leftovers mean tomorrow night's dinner is done!
Last week's mileage?  20.02.  Woo Hoo.  Back Over 20.

Portion ran (no matter how slowly)?  46%

Portion sub 9 min/mile?  9%

Other fitness efforts?  I made it back to the yoga studio after 13 weeks away.


Not so much *during* class, but afterwards, I was sore in places I'd forgotten I have muscles for at least 3 days.

So, the hope is to average one visit to the studio a week for the next 5 weeks since I've got very little travel lined up.  Wish me luck.

In running goals, I've got a trail run coming up in 2 weeks with some local running ladies.  The stated goal is 8 miles, but frankly, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to pull that off.  I'll just rebuild fitness as best I can and go join to enjoy the activity as much as possible.  In terms of actual race events, I've got a few potential trail runs on the calendar in 2015, but the only thing I'm registered for is the SF Chocolate 15K in January.  Most likely, I'll use that as a springboard to prep for Kaiser, and then Oakland. 

Other random fitness goal?  Soup. One of my favorite things about fall is soup.

So, I'd like to make a healthy soup from scratch at least once per week for the next 5 weeks.  The first offering?  Tofu, Bok Choy, Mushroom soup.

It was good, if a bit spicier than expected due to some extra-hot peppers from the garden.

2 T cooking oil (I used saffola)
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ginger powder (didn't have any root in the fridge)
2 insanely hot garden chiles  (next time, I'll likely taste each chile)
1 cup carrot match-sticks

soy sauce 1-2 T
mirin 1 T
rice wine vinegar 1-2 T
sesame oil 2 T
4-6 cups water

1 bunch bok choy (adult), chopped
1-2 cup(s) sliced mushrooms
1 package firm tofu, cubed


1. Sautee first group of ingredients together until the onions are translucent.
2. Add second group of ingredients to the sauteed veggies and bring to a boil.
3. Add third group of ingredients, stir, lower to a simmer, add a pinch of salt.  Come back in 5 minutes and taste broth, add more salt if appropriate. 
4. Turn off heat after the tofu, bok choy, and mushrooms have been simmering for 10 minutes.

(Serves 4 -- or dinner for 2 nights for 2)

Enjoy!  (And if you have a favorite soup, please recommend it!)

November 10, 2015

Starting from (essentially) Scratch

Thanks to some poor toe management decisions coupled with tons of travel, work (and if I'm honest, general laziness) I've had the mellowest several weeks of fitness effort in years.

While I've generally averaged ~20 miles/week for the last decade or so, the last 5 weeks totaled 58 miles.  Less than 12 miles/week.  Most of it walking, often as a tourist (so stopping and gawking and not getting much in the way of cardio).

Yes, I've experimented with some alternative fitness options, but truly, fitness has been low on my priority list.  So, I'm looking forward to getting back to my regularly scheduled 20 miles per week, while cringing at how annoying it is to rebuild fitness when you've lost it.

You know what?  When you've been light on mileage, even after years of regular effort, it's actually hard to get moving again.

Last week, I totaled 11.46 miles, running 1 mile by myself and another 3 miler with E and doing the rest walking.  I was so sore after the 3 miler (and lazy with being at home after so much travel) that I scrapped my Sunday run and slept in before brunch with the inlaws.

Because, of course, E's parents visited, and there was much food and wine debauchery, which contributed to my laziness.

A beautiful day in San Francisco with E's parents.  Couldn't ask for better weather. 
After perfect weather in SF, we retreated home to a pub dinner on Saturday while watching college ball (Alabama won, so E's dad was happy. Cal lost, so I was sad).

Sunday, we shared a stereotypical "we are actually home" weekend treat of farmer's market, ramen, a lazy unplanned afternoon including a visit to the De Saisset Museum followed by winetasting at Pichetti and finally a light vegetarian dinner of farmer's market bounty with an oldie-but-goody from the wine cellar.

First Raid of the Wine Cellar.  
Monday, E's parents enjoyed the rainy day while we worked before we met up at a local steakhouse for our final meal together, complete with the second wine-cellar raid, a *delicious* 1999 Tignanello (the inlaws ordered the A. Rafanelli when it ran out, which was also awesome).

2nd Raid of the Wine Cellar. Plus Ice Cream Pie with Whipped Cream. Heaven.
And now, it's the middle of the week.  I've yet to run.  But I have plans for several easy "just get 'em done" miles this week and I've purchased a new 12 class card at the local yoga studio and signed up for a class on Friday.  I've also committed to a local trail run with friends in a few weeks, a 15K in January, and a half marathon in March.  I'm hoping I can fit in a few 7 minute workouts.  And, I'm even looking at the track and weekend run schedule for my local running group with an eye towards when I can get back in the habit.  So there's some momentum.  It's building.  So let's hope I can move back towards (and past) my 20 mile per week average sooner rather than later.

Happy running and fitness to all!

November 2, 2015

Japan: Navel Gazing

Travel to a particularly foreign place is one of my favorite things.  It's so educational.  Not just about the place (which of course it is), but also about yourself.  It's also very hard.

This trip to Japan, I kept finding myself amazed at just how *wrong* I got everything.  I felt as if I just couldn't fuck shit up more if I tried.

No idea what people were saying and wrong most of the time I thought I did know?  Check.

Walking on the wrong side around a hallway corner and straight into someone on the *correct* (left, in Tokyo) side?  Check.

Can't read most of the signs? Check.

Getting lost?  Going the wrong way?  Every. Damn. Day. Check.

Incomprehensibly wrong metro ticket and exasperated service agent who just waives your gaijin ass through the special gate because clearly you can't be taught?  Check.

And then, there's the signage in English (ostensibly). 1500Y Eye Blow.  Super Million Hair. Etc. I have no idea what any of these things are, and yet they proclaim their existence in words I supposedly understand.  Talk about feeling completely and totally foreign -- even my own language doesn't work the way I think it should...

And yet.  I can't help but be appreciative of being forced to think so very much.

Every day is so difficult because all of my assumptions are wrong.   I must start from first principles (which I fail to do again and again) and try to learn, appreciate, and exist.

After meeting my goal of being able to read Hirigana, I arrived to learn that Katakana would have been much more useful (typical).  And yet, I did get lost once or twice where (thankfully) the train station information was in Hirigana, which saved me, and got me off the train and onto the correct route.  So there's that.

Overall, we had a wonderful trip.  We absolutely love this country.  The language is fascinating and fun (I squeaked by my study goals re: being able to read Hirigana with 44 Japanesepod lessons, 100 hirigana flashcards, and half my Japanese 1 workbook -- overall, I did get quite a bit of language acquisition in compared to last trip, and it was relatively helpful in cabs, restaurants, and while in transit, so I was happy.  But, of course, I wish I had done more.).

The food is unparalleled.

The people are, in general wonderful (except for the one asshole taxi dispatcher in Hakone who flat our refused to send us a taxi over the phone -- not pretending to misunderstand, just straight up refusing, likely due to my busted ass Japanese and the fact that we were staying at a Hyatt, which is know for foreigners.  Refusal in Japan is like "Fuck You" and we'd been there long enough that I was actually a bit shocked at his blatant "IIE!"  Thankfully, I called the hotel and they sent a very perky female cab driver to pick us up and bring us back.).

Plus, if you are me, the fact that it is *so* quiet (no cell phone talking public, only texting, *how civilized*!), with ambient calm music and tons of areas for quiet meditative walks, is one of many things you just inherently love and feel comfortable with -- YAY! QUIET!  All the while feeling uncomfortable with everything you don't understand and are doing incorrectly, which is most of it.

E and I are in agreement.  We had a wonderful time.  I'll keep studying the language and we'll go back some day for a proper train-heavy tour of the entire country.  Until then... 

October 31, 2015

Japan: The Culinary Trip Report

So, one of my favorite games is to maximize travel points.  It's like gambling to me.  This trip, we stayed 4 nights in hotels on Hyatt points.  The first 2 nights were at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which has  such amazing views.

Because of my travel reward obsession, one of the perks we get at the Hyatt is free breakfast.  Which, at the Park Hyatt on the first morning was all of this:

Japanese breakfast!

My favorite thing about japanese breakfast?  Pickles!
Thanks to the gigantic Japanese breakfast, we actually didn't gorge ourselves at the Robata that night, which was a first.
Robata with friends.

To date, the ramen bowl count is 2.  Once as a shared late afternoon snack in the work hotel basement.  And once for me with a friend in Shinatatsu (aka Shinagawa Ramen Alley).  I wish I could have had more ramen, but then I would have had to have less other stuff...

Of course we had sashimi and sushi -- often just a small course in a meal.  There was a very fancy sashimi and sushi business dinner at a historic restaurant in Roppongi, which was awesome.  The next night, we went with friends to the local kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) and stuffed ourselves silly for less than $10 per person -- I'm probably a bad cultural appreciator, but I think I preferred the chaos, craziness, and fun of the conveyor belt experience to the traditional one (where the sushi was, of course, better, but it's not like the kaiten sushi was bad).  One day, I treated myself to basement chirashi as a study break from work.
If only chirashi was this reasonably priced at home (less than $10)

Japan is a great country for snacks, but we didn't really snack very much this trip.  The one snack we did enjoy was sugar crystal coated rice heart crackers, a gift from my childhood Japanese exchange student (eaten on the Romance Car train from Tokyo to Hakone).

Perhaps one of the most memorable meals of the trip was Friday night's izakaya splurge.  E & I were both done with work for the week, so we headed out for a night of drinking and dining in the local style.

Pickled Vegetables & Tako Wasabi.

The ordering system and seared tako (E has a tako problem).

Mushroom skewer.

Miso Eggplant.

Horse sashimi and sake.  Yes. Horse.

"Chinese" dumplings.

A fitting caption for the end of the night with the empties.
There were also 2 other very memorable meals.  The first one is very special to me because I had a reunion with my junior high foreign exchange student after 27+ years.

She took me out to a very traditional fancy kaiseki meal on the top of a tower with 360 degree views of Yokohama.  When it came time to argue over the check, she stopped me cold with, "This is my parent's card.  They insist."  I got a little teary eyed over that one.  Her parents, whom I've never met, insisted on treating me to lunch -- so touching.  Totally something my dad would have done, too.
The beautiful meal I enjoyed with my exchange student.  Delicious!
Our final memorable meal of the trip was Halloween night.  After another free Japanese breakfast (with pickles!) at another Hyatt, we spent the day sightseeing in Hakone.

For the afternoon, we braved the cultural craziness of a local public onsen to access a private bath we'd reserved.  2 hours of nothing but naked relaxation in hot running mineral water (and a couple of vending machine Asahi beers).  We left the building more relaxed than we'd both been in a long time.  The exit of the onsen caused you to walk through a local shrine, which was a perfect way to end the long soak.

Unexpected shrine.

For dinner, our hotel had made us reservations at a local teppanyaki joint.  Teppanyaki is one of E's favorite styles of food, so we were looking forward to this (and hungry from our day's adventures).

We arrived and were very surprised to learn that the local teppanyaki joint was actually ITOH Dining by NOBU.

Edamame with Truffle oil?  Hell yes.

So, E decided to take advantage of the situation and actually ordered the Kobe beef (a first for both of us).  I stuck with Wagyu so that we could compare.  Guess what?  I like Wagyu better than Kobe!  Win for me.

Wagyu on the left, Kobe on the right.
The entire meal was sublime.  Definitely the best Nobu experience we've ever had (compared to San Diego and Las Vegas).  The steak was seared simply in small cubes with salt and pepper, served with a different sauce for each steak and roasted garlic chips on top. 

In addition to the set menu, they spoiled us with a few amuse bouches (including the truffle edamame), and some bonus courses of a sweet potato soup with a purple sauce garnish, and fois gras.  The fois gras wasn't served with any acid, and I was apprehensive, but I shouldn't have been.  It was at the right point in the meal where our palates were perfectly primed for it, and it was the best melt-in-your mouth fois gras I've ever eaten.  We loved our chef.  He was friendly and so precise with each of his movements.  He presented us with his card at the end of the meal, so we gave him our cards and told him we'd take him out to dinner if he ever came to the bay area.

And with that, after today's free hotel breakfast, we're starting the long trip home where we'll just eat whatever the travel gods (and possibly vending machines) throw our way.  Just a shuttle bus, a shinkansen, the Narita express, a trans-pacific flight, clearing customs and immigration, a 4 hour layover, and a local flight 'til home...

October 27, 2015

Running Game? Back On!

Yesterday, I'd tried to stake out a potential running route on the Meguro River Path.  Previous ridiculousness every day in Japan had warned me.  I was guaranteed to get lost and mess up a bunch of stuff.  So I figured I'd spend one day getting there, walking as much of it has I had time to do to scope it out, and then head back today to actually run.

A view of the Meguro River
It's a long boring story involving confusing metro issues, construction, traffic lights, and a reminder that what passes for "running" facilities in Asia often is not what we'd consider to be the same thing in the U.S. (or western Europe).  So, after almost 45 minutes to arrive at the path (that should have taken 10 minutes) and 1 mile of walking in about 25 minutes due to obstacles, I had to turn back to meet a friend for lunch.  Verdict?  I would not be running the Meguro path.  And, since it was ranked as the number one outdoor running route in the local area (at least in English), I would not be running outside in Shinagawa.  Period.  

Why yes.  Those *ARE* Hello Kitty construction markers.
(Shinjuku, not Meguro River Path)
Despite not running anything more than 1 mile in the last 3 weeks (YIKES!), I had done some fitness work on my feet.  I'd done several 7-14 minute HIIT 30/10 workouts, a good hike in Alaska, some walking at home, and in Japan I'd been fitting in a decent amount of sight-seeing walking.  Finally, my toe seemed to be healing (the hole is still discolored, but flush with the rest of skin now, and not sensitive at all).  After it held up better than the balls of my feet on an 8-mile day of tourist walking, I decided it was time to pull the trigger.

In preparation for my first big run back, I've been carb-loading with Ramen.

And amazingly cheap and delicious Kaiten Sushi.
Our 4-top did *amazingly* well.  We stuffed ourselves for 3600Yen total (minus beer).

I am egregiously happy to report that I'm finally able to run.  After asking a million people where I could find a gym (our hotel didn't have one), figuring out how to get there, and paying the fee at the local Tennis & Golf club (that thankfully had treadmills), I was greeted by an adorable older man finishing up his calisthenics -- Konnichiwa!  He smiled and bowed to greet me, very happy that he would not be the only person in what apparently is the dregs of the racket and golf club.  I was very happy to greet him back with an enthusiastic Konnichiwa and bow (after several days, they are kind of automatic now) -- it made for a very fun official feeling welcome to my running comeback. 

And with that, I finished more than 5K on the treadmill at 0.5% incline, including a 1.7 Km at 9 km/hr (10:42 mile pace) warm-up; and 4 X 2 min intervals with walking recovery at 10.5 (9:12/mile), 10.6 (9:07/mile), 10.7 (9:02/mile) and 10.8 (8:56) Km/hr. 

This was the best running infrastructure I could find, in a *baffling* private Japanese Racket/Golf complex.

Yes, it's a super easy workout, and less than 2 miles total running.  But I sweated.  I worked hard.  I got my heart rate into the 170s a few times.  AND I GOT A MAD RUNNER'S HIGH.

I'm quite glad I couldn't see the paces in miles on the 'mill.  I was so pleased with the workout that I bounced the whole walk back to my hotel and didn't bother to do the conversion 'til long after the high wore off.  I'm sure there's some lesson about running by effort and being pleased in the moment buried in that experience, but I can't take the time to figure it out right now.

Right now, I need to go get some delicious Japanese lunch.

October 24, 2015


After all my studies, I can read Hirigana as it scrolls on digital signs.

But seriously, Hirigana is useless in day-to-day interactions...

October 19, 2015

Warning: Toe Update

If you are squeamish, this may not be for you.

It's not terrible.

But the cut did devolve into an actual hole into my toe, which is what I was trying to avoid.

Oh well.

No running.  And even more core and body weight intervals, here I come.

October 18, 2015

So Quick To Zero

This week, I can honestly say I only did 2 verifiable miles on my feet.  1 mile walking.  1 mile running (and confirming that the toe injury was legit).

2 miles for a week.  Seriously.  When my average over the last 10 years has been 20+.

I did fit in and push myself through several other interval workouts with a focus on core and upper body like I haven't since I was a proper athlete on a team with competitions to compete in.  It's been ages since the push-yourself-with arms & chest and back and core focus happened like it did this week.  Probably more than a decade.  So that was a positive.

And I've got at least another week of this to come.

While I'm surprised or even shocked at how quickly it can change, my life is more than happy to fill the time that used to be taken by hours running (or even walking).  Work expands.  Washing machines die.  Laundry still has to be done.  Emotional demands to my family and friends and E expand.  AND I DON'T EVEN HAVE KIDS.

Life, it turns out, will take up all of the open spaces in your life.

Today, the second weekend day in a row where I had a minimal todo list and otherwise spent the  day physically relaxing, reading, studying foreign languages, and not demanding anything of my body, I couldn't help but feel decadent.  I couldn't help but wonder if I may never go back to the other side.  Perhaps I'll just dedicate myself to reading and thinking and working and feeling.

A little voice in my head kept pointing out that there's truly no need to schedule and struggle through physically demanding things just because...

Except. of course, that's crazy pants talk.  I know I need physical engagement to stay sane.  There's a reason why in the face of this silly toe, I've pushed myself more on interval training and fasting (aka "other physical planes") than ever before in the last 10 years.

I know I am one who likes some cadre imposed discipline, even if I am actually the leader of the cadre.

So, keep me in your thoughts while I try to find some balance while doing myself some semblance of good as the hole in my toe heals.

October 15, 2015

Intermittent Fasting: A Toe In the Water

Forgive me with the title, but I couldn't resist. As my last post showed in the last photo, I have an unexpected toe injury.

It's healing, but I've restricted my physical activity this week in an effort to heal as much as possible (in hopes that I can do the trail 10K I'm already registered for this weekend).

In non-toe-news, I've been thinking of trying a 24-hour water fast for a while now.  I've studied enough Buddhism to find fasting a very fascinating discipline.  Of course, I've toyed with the idea of trying it over the years, but I'd never done so.

However, you may have noticed that intermittent fasting is all over the nutrition/health news these days.

Intrigued by the recent hype, I'd looked a little deeper, and the science around intermittent fasting looked relatively solid (to my oh-so-brief-scan-of-the-most-recent-published-study-abstracts). At a minimum, I figured that it if it turned out water fasting wasn't a huge burden, then it might benefit me, or worst case, it would just give me the same benefits of an equal decrease in calories on a constant calorically restricted diet.  Either way, I knew a short mid-week fast wouldn't hurt me.

Based on everything I'd read and heard about fasting over the years, I knew I didn't want my first attempt to be during any sort of heavy physical activity.

So, enter the busted toe.  Clearly, I needed to take advantage of the situation and try one of the intermittent fast options and see how it treated me.

Bonus: E and I needed to detox from our Alaska trip (surprisingly, despite a diet full of fried things, the cold shivering metabolic demands were such that we were both shocked to arrive home without either of us gaining weight -- Clearly this is a miracle, as we were there for less than a week and I alone consumed many things I wouldn't ordinarily including a cheesesteak, brunch with hollandaise, mac and cheese, fried mozzarella sticks, nachos a few times, chili, and more.)

Did I mention E and I needed to detox?  So, when we arrived home Tuesday evening, I made a vegetable soup of puréed roast cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic, broth and some spices.  (Of course we added cheese.)  It was delicious, but also light and healthy.

Wednesday, still on good behavior, we both ate light lunches and the remainder of the soup for dinner, followed by bed with herbal tea and reading.  My last bite of soup was at 8:20 PM and thanks to the inactivity required by my toe, I decided it was a good time to attempt a 24-hour water (tea/coffee/lemon) fast.

I don't eat breakfast, so I regularly hit 15-16 hours between calories (hence, one of the reasons I've been intrigued by the intermittent fast trend -- it's in sync with the eating patterns I've found work best for me).

Cut to last night -- I was committed to 24 hours, but frankly, I was a little scared. Mainly, my concerns were around how I tend to get HANGRY.

Turns out, for me, a 24-hour water fast was relatively easy (sort of).  I sincerely enjoyed it on a few levels.

For the last several weeks, I've been trying to work in at least 1-2 sets of 7 minutes+ of 30 seconds on/ 10 second off high intensity intervals of body-weight strength work.  Since the toe injury, this is one of the only work-outs I can do, other than stretching.  So, Wednesday, I did the HIIT 2X7 minutes, showered, ate dinner and started the fast.

I slept relatively well.  I woke this AM, had my coffee, and before I knew it I was already 12-hours in (50% done!) I worked, edited documents, took calls, and didn't really even think about hunger 'til my Junior Attorney brought back spare chips and salsa for me from her lunch run since she saw that it looked like I was skipping lunch (so kind, and yet... so cruel). 

At this point, I'll admit, I started keeping score.  12:20 was 16 hours.  1:30 was 17+.  3 PM was almost 19 hours and time for another coffee.  Leaving the last client's office at 5:25 was less than 3 hours to go and I knew I had it in the bag.  (With 2 hours to go, I fit in a 2X7 min HIIT workout followed by 30 minutes of easy yoga stretching, knowing it would kill my appetite from experience.)

I never got lightheaded, a headache, pains or anything debilitating.  A few times I got mild hunger pains but coffee, herbal tea, water, and life seemed to make those disappear relatively easily.

Overall, while the break-fast meal was ready to go and I took my first bite at 8:21 on the dot, I was surprised at how easy this was for me.

In fact, I ate much less for dinner than I expected.  I made myself a huge bowl of miso soup with an entire box of silken tofu and tons of seaweed, chili oil, and more.  I fully expected to eat the whole pot.  Instead, I had a nice big bowl, a glass of wine, and I was satiated.

The reason I say it was (sort of) easy for me is that a funny thing happened this morning.  I woke up.  I made my coffee.  I poured myself some sparkling water with lemon.  And then I opened the pickle jar.  I remember thinking, "I can drink pickle juice, it doesn't have calories.  In fact, it's got electrolytes that I probably need since I'll be diluting all day with water and diuretics like tea and coffee."

Except somewhere in that analysis my brain shut off.  And I ate a pickle out of the jar.  When I finished the pickle, I closed the jar, looking for a kitchen towel for my hands before realizing I'd blown my 24 hour fast about 12.5 hours in.  I laughed.

I realized I probably eat a pickle every AM without realizing it.  I tell myself I don't eat breakfast, but truly, my breakfast is actually usually made up of coffee (with sugar and milk/cream if we have it), sparkling water (with lemon) and a pickle.

And that, my friends, may be the biggest most important take home from my 24-hour water fast.  If nothing else, if you do one, you will realize things about your eating patterns and hunger patterns and relationship to food and those around you that you've never considered.

So for that reason (regardless of the other benefits you may accrue) I recommend it.  Given that it wasn't as difficult as I expected, I suspect I may deploy it more frequently over the coming months (or years/decades, as some studies cite it as a useful tool vs. menopause) as a compensatory measure whenever I find I need to detox from some serious gorging or when I'm in a situation where I'm unable to workout as much as I like.  

October 13, 2015


Last week, we headed up to Fairbanks, Alaska so I could do a visiting lecture at the University and we could hang out with friends, try to see the Aurora, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Alaskan Interior.

Running was, predictably due to the travel, quite light.  Mileage for the week totaled 19.83 including several hiking miles and about 2 hours of snow-hiking (which is no cardiovascular joke!).

We got *very* lucky, and on our first full night, we saw a beautiful Aurora display.  We'd planned our visit specifically with the goal of seeing the Aurora, so we were very pleased.  This trip reminded me every single day that a camera phone is nowhere near as great as a real camera, and I'm hopeful I'll take this lesson and actually do something about it soon...

Work for both of us was a bit more hectic than we'd hoped, so we didn't get Friday or Monday off entirely, but Saturday and Sunday were glorious days off, on Alaskan time, which is much slower than SV time, with deliberate space for weather calamities, unplanned social interactions with small-town friends, hours between cell service, etc.

Just out for a drive along the Alaska Range

Seriously.  How gorgeous is this?

The Alaska Pipeline.

The view from one of the turnouts -- breathtaking and not a car in sight.

The four of us: me, E, D, and Arvay

One of many gorgeous photo ops from the drive.
Sunday, we drove out to Chena Hot Springs and hiked to the summit of one of the trails before soaking and dinner with D & Arvay.  It was a perfect way to spend the day.

See the hot springs steam behind us?

I'd never done true snow-hiking before.  Cardio!

The Summit!
The only real downside was that I cut my big toe in the hot springs while trying to clamber out of the hot water.  The algae on the rocks was quite slippery, and the edges were sharp.  The first time I needed a break from the heat, I surprised myself by using my residual upper body strength and bouldering out with shoulders and back and finger strength and direct foot force against the slippery algae.  There might have been a discussion of mu and force diagrams...  (4 engineers get in a hot spring...)

Emboldened by my initial success, I thought I could do it again after 30+ minutes of hot spring water relaxing my muscles... Wrong.  I angled slightly, the algae did, in fact, have a very low mu value, and my foot slid right over the oh-so-sharp edge of the rock I was trying to climb.

This is a nice clean slice, but fairly deep, unfortunately. 

Thankfully, between the mineral spring water and antibiotic cream, I seem to have avoided an infection.  So now, I'm focused on workouts for the remainder of the week that don't aggravate my toe.  I'd hoped to do a trail 10K on Saturday, but I'm skeptical that it's a good idea at this point.  The plan is to do non-running toe-friction-free cardio 'til Friday and then tape it up and go for a test run.  If it holds up, I'll shoot for the 10K.  If it seems remotely likely to rip open, I'll likely play it safe.  Wish me luck...

October 10, 2015

Last Week -- A nerdy date night & day

Last week's mileage totaled a mellow 23.76 including much walking/hiking and not much running.

Work was crazy.  Much to my surprise, despite a week working remotely from LA, I closed out September with the highest billable month I've done since I started my firm, invoicing 19 clients (which in terms of clients isn't too far off the average) but the hours for a few of them were crazy, pushing the total into somewhat ridiculous territory.  Honestly, it's a bit overwhelming.

Good, business and career-wise.

Not so good in terms of being committed to any sort of work-out regime.

Last weekend, E & I took a date night in SF at one of our favorite restaurants.  They brought us dessert to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our first true date.

After dinner we met up with SoCal friends at an Inner Sunset wine bar.  It was so great to see them and catch up.  I wish they lived closer.

The next morning, we did a truly nerdy thing -- we visited the Marin Headlands Nike Missile Site.  Every 1st Saturday of the month, the local vets come and give tours, so we were there for that, but we arrived early, dodging all the cyclists and tourists to hike a nice loop around the Marin Headlands Rodeo Lagoon from the visitor's center and with a few detours on the beach and bluffs for a decent 3+ mile hike before the fun.

View of Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo beach from the Nike Missile site.

If you are a cold-war history nerd or into missiles, the Nike Site is not to be missed.  This is the only site in the US that is allowed to keep its machinery in good enough shape to raise the (decommissioned) missiles.  Very educational and interesting.

They pushed the missiles into place on these rails by hand.

Raised above ground, ready to be set to launch.

Almost at launch attack angle.

Ready for launch.  The 19 year old boys who worked these sites would sit in a concrete bunker and wait for instructions after they were armed.  Insane, really.
And with that, I'm caught up through last week.  This week, I worked my butt off and came to Alaska.  Turns out, infrastructure is a bit more complicated in Alaska than at home.  So, I'll update when I can, but in the meantime trust that if there's one thing Alaska has taught me, it's that California does not offer enough fried things on menus.