Monday, September 28, 2015

YMCA Stair Climb 2015

EVENT: YMCA Stair Climb
DATE: Friday, September 25, 2015
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 3:30 pm

I did this event two years ago and was super bummed last year when I had to sit it out due to being eight months pregnant.  Then, I switched employers earlier this year, so I thought I was pretty much done climbing stairs forever.

Later, I learned that my new company not only participates, but it also provides a large donation and needed someone to manage all that stuff... someone in Human Resources (gah!)... and it somehow landed in my lap.  Soon, I had budgets to manage and 52 children to guide through the team formation, registration, and packet pick-up process.  Let me tell you, it is WAY more fun to be a participant than a coordinator. ;)

Given that I am in no way as fit as I was two years ago when I did this (*ahem, pregnancy, surgical birth, and being chained to my baby*), I started incorporating stair-climbing into my weekly regimen.  Once a week starting mid-July or so, I'd go on the stair-mill for 20 minutes, where it would register 100+ floors.  No, I did not practice in the actual stairwell at work, though I probably should have but I didn't find time/the will to sweat in my work clothes.  Plus, let's face it -- it's pretty lonely and dull practicing alone, especially when stairs are not my friend normally.  It definitely felt easier as I continued to practice, though.

The day of the climb, I had to run around coordinating packets, the booth that we had set up, and a work deadline.  It had also been a rough night on the sleeping front, and I am pretty sure I woke up five times.  So by the time our climb time arrived, I was already pretty spent, in addition to the fact that we were in the middle of yet another heat wave... and stairwells are not exactly known to have good A/C.

I went in with my team (single-file), and I tried my best to keep a rapid, yet steady pace.  I think the "rapid" part of the plan died out around the 20th floor, so I just told myself that I had to keep moving and not take a break, lest I lose any momentum I had.  I remember how dry my throat was last time (to the point where I could taste blood), so I made sure to take water pretty much every time it was offered to me.  The heat didn't really bother me until the 50th floor or so, but by then, I knew the end was somewhat near (funny how relative things get).  My sweaty end-of-climb mugshot is above.

I didn't know of my time until I got back to work, and compared to the 17:46 I got last time, I wasn't too dissatisfied with my performance (a 29-second difference, if I can do math correctly).  That seems to be consistent with my 5K time back in July -- sort of good, just not as good as before, haha!  I'm pretty proud of the fact that I had a faster time than this guy at work who tried to intimidate us, though!

As for the aftermath, my back has been sore for a couple of days, so I'm sure the effort was more taxing than it seemed at the time.  I did have to rely on hanging onto the actual stair railing more this time than last, so I probably was dogging my posture -- not to mention, the first thing I did when I got to a clear area was to thoroughly wash my hands -- ugh!

Would I do this again?  I am not sure.  I much more enjoy running than stair-climbing, and if I have to coordinate this event again next year, I am not sure that I would also climb.  I know I can improve on my time, though, so maybe that motivation might be enough.

Because of all the festivities, Baby Tuesday had to spend an extra-long day at his grandparents', though I don't think he minded too much.  We more-or-less made it back in time for the bedtime.  He knew it was bathtime and crawled right onto the changing mat on the bathroom floor.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mind Over Matter

If there is ever a time in my life when I finally get to sleep like a normal person, let me look back on this time and draw strength from it.

Must stop obsessing over numbers -- total hours slept, consecutive hours slept, number of wake-ups, days/months/year (and a half, counting pregnancy) without the eight-hour standard...

I'm pretty sure life is pretty sunny and bright when you're not in a constant mental fog, driving sleepy, recurring headache, and summer-like temperatures all day, every day.

So the next time I'm on Mile 22, or Mile 12.1 or when it's a little to warm for my liking to run, I must look back.  There is worse.

I'd like to race again.  I'd like to donate blood again.  I'd like to not feel like I'm about to collapse by the time I get home from work everyday.  While I'm at it, the great plight of being a working mom is that just when you need a break/vacation the most, you don't have the hours, since maternity leave pretty much eats it all.  Add in being dumb and accepting a new job/starting over, and you've got an equation for a burnout like I've never experienced before.  Working full-time while obtaining a Ph.D. does not even compare.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have 1,664 steps to climb today.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: Extend Nutrition Anytime Bars

I had to laugh after I was asked to review these bars, as unlike many of the bars I've reviewed on here, these are more marketed toward diabetics.  I'm guessing this happened because I wrote a post on diabetes last month.

However, I love trying bars of all kinds, so down the hatch they went.  I mean, if non-diabetics find these palatable, that's the true tastiness test right there.  As a plus, these claim to be gluten-free.

Extend Nutrition sent me samples of their Anytime Bar.  Since I had a couple of each flavor, I decided to give some to my diabetic co-worker who normally supplies me with cookies to try.  I had to laugh again when we started chatting about bars, sugar-free things, and intestinal upset.  Thankfully, these did not cause that (your mileage may vary, though)!

Here is a brief review of some of the bars:

  • Cookies N Crème: Not bad, reminiscent of the flavor as other brands. 
  • Caramel: My co-worked really liked this one.
  • Yogurt Berry (pictured below): Nice yogurt exterior, not too sweet.
  • Mixed Berry: Rice puff texture, I prefer the Yogurt berry because I like having the creaminess.  This one is a bit more dry.

Overall, these are pretty tasty nutrition bars, and the main gripe that my co-worker and I have about them is they are a bit smaller than other bars.


FTC Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Extend Nutrition bars and was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


So forget what I said about being excited about September...

For one thing, it is still SO HOT around here.  I think I complain about the heat every year until November, so I should be used to this by now.  Yesterday, it stayed a warm 92 in the house until the AC cycled back on at 8 PM.  I'm not sure how saving some electricity is worth me sweating to death, but oh well.  I remember swimming at my parents' house over the weekend thinking that this could be *it* for swimming this year, but maybe summer just isn't over yet.

Also, while I'm not a fan of the whole pumpkin spice latte thing (Gingerbread is more of my taste), I did indulge on the first day it became available after a particularly fragmented night's sleep.  And... it was not good.  Pumpkin spice muffin the next day... not good.  I'm pretty sure I'm over my pumpkin obsession??

I've hit a slump and am not excited about working out these days, maybe because of fatigue.  I keep eyeing a half-marathon in December, but I can't bring myself to pull the trigger because I don't know if time or energy is in the cards... and paying X dollars against those chances sound terrible.

On another note, I used this cool aggregate website, ShoeKicker, to finally get a new pair of running shoes, the Saucony Stabil CS3.  The last record I have of getting new "distance" shoes on here was in 2011, though I checked my Amazon records, and my last purchase was actually in 2012.  Still, 3 years is a long time between shoes, so long that there is a new model from the CS2.

I wore these to literally run to the drug store, and I felt like I was running on CLOUDS.  And since it was close to mid-day and I was squeezing in an errand/exercise as possible, I think I pretty much felt like I was running too close to the sun a few times... but at least my feet and legs were supported.

Nathan Sports recently sent over some handheld running water bottles that probably would have helped had I not already had my hands full of my phone and vitamins.  I am using the Quickdraw Plus (right) to carry stuff in the little pouch.  The water is easily accessible, as well.  The Quickview (middle) is pretty nice because you can view your phone through it.  The Quickshot is good for racing when you just need a little to cover you between water stations.  In my mind, though, it almost looks like dad's bottle, mom's bottle, and baby's bottle!  These days, I tend to just carry a key and my phone while running, so without adding much more, I can have water, too!

Other than that, I know a lot of fun times are coming soon (Halloween, the holidays, Baby Tuesday's birthday), but it's hard to get revved up because I'm so beyond exhausted and anxious about things that I probably shouldn't be.  Pretty sure my outlook would be better with some more shut-eye. 

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of Nathan Sports handheld running bottles and was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive review.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Excited About September

How is it September already???!

August is usually sllllooooow for me because of the endless heat, lack of days off/holidays, and I'm usually not traveling anywhere.  Some people get seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter, but mine usually hits in the summer.

Still, when you've got this little guy crawling around everywhere, I can see how the days would go by so quickly.  I recently decided to get him a little self-feeder (this one is KidsMe) because he's taken interest in eating stuff that I eat, and he hasn't figured out the hand-to-mouth thing.  It buys me some extra minutes to wash bottles, clean, and prepare food.
As non-anonymous as I'm letting him be for now...

Speaking of preparing food, I can't WAIT until this heat dies down.  Especially because we're part of the air conditioning cycling program that shuts off the AC riiiiight when the heat is the worst.  I am pretty sure this counts as a sauna visit.

I really want to turn on the oven again.  I feel like most of the cooking I do involves an oven.

Recently, I decided to start eating lactation-promoting foods again.  My freezer stash is probably going to be gone soon, I'm only pumping about 75% of what I was during my first few months back at work, and Baby Tuesday is still pretty much drinking 100% of everything in spite of all the food he eats.  He recently had his 9-month checkup, and he's just under 20 pounds (50th percentile), 80th percentile in height (so we had to switch him to a convertible car seat).  He drinks a little formula, and I suspect that will need to go up a bit even though I feel like it's juussst a few months until he can have regular milk.  Hence, these balls.

I basically threw in two cups of oats, a cup of peanut butter, a cup of honey, a cup of ground flax, and half a cup of brewer's yeast, along with a chopped-up chocolate bar, a splash of vanilla, and some toasted coconut that fell to the bottom of a coconut cashew container. 

These are from Costco, but I could have sworn there is a better version of this in San Diego Costcos...

A little coconut oil and almond milk helped get it moist enough to roll into (many) balls.  Unfortunately, I really need to get debittered brewer's yeast, because it's a little rough-tasting using the regular kind.

Now, I can't really say whether these or the tea that I drink are helping, as some days turn out better than others for no known reason.  Since my pumping output is not great anyway, I'm in the process of trying to cut down a pump session at work (by shortening the length and then shifting the times), and just going longer twice a day in addition to the before-bed session.  I definitely want to be down to one session when Baby Tuesday is one and stop pumping during the day shortly afterward, so I'm giving myself plenty of time to adjust but still hoping to give him as much as I can.  Here's hoping my (second) pump doesn't die before then.

Ooops, that was too much breastfeeding talk!  As you can tell, it dominates my life.

In fitness news, I've been pretty good about working out 4-5 times a week, and more recently, I've been able to run 4 miles instead of 3.1 on the days that I run.  I usually finish it in about 37 minutes, though if I'm running around my neighborhood, it's a bit longer due to hills and traffic lights.  I want to work up to longer distances, but at this point, I'm not sure how far.  I registered a 10K in February but don't know if I will drop to the 5k (if I am pushing the stroller) or what.

I originally wanted to run my 30th half-marathon while I am still 30 years old, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen.  A lack of local races and the unpredictability of things makes it hard to commit to something.  It won't be the end of the world if I have to wait until 31 or something...

Also, my knees have started to give me a little trouble again, and I don't know if it's just because I'm "new" again or because I haven't taken my glucosamine supplements since I got pregnant.  Running + plyo (Insanity and Insanity Max 30... review is coming soon) is not a good combo.

On September 25th, I am doing the YMCA Stair Climb again.  I've been using the stair machine at the gym once a week for about 20 minutes at a time, so that the machine registers 100+ floors (the climb is 75 floors).  It will be interesting to see how I do since I didn't really train at all last time and was just more fit to begin with, and at least it's a low-impact activity.