Monthly Archives: May 2011

5/18/11 Relieved

Wednesday.  On Sunday I had a decent swim, I did some drills and swam 1 mile without stopping .  Felt okay.  No record.  But was comfortable.

Monday I pulled out the tennis racquets and played.  Yep, I actually hit some tennis balls.  I went to my friend, mentor and tennis pro Marlie and told her it’s been awhile (long enough that I was no longer a member at the club.)  I could look it up in the blog but something tells me June of last year.  I had a really good time.  It was a little stressful because the ball seemed to come over the net a heck of a lot faster than I had remembered (and that was with Marlie taking it easy on me.)  But I was hitting the ball and it was going over.  I was having some trouble breathing so we stopped every so often.  Marlie dubbed it Galloway tennis, instead of run/walk we did hit/talk.  LOL.  By the end I did feel my chest congestion breaking up a little.  She warned me that it was not unusual to come back onto the court after an absence and hit well.  The trick was the next couple of sessions when I will seem to crumble and have to get the groove back — I have to work through that stage.  I agreed, I have been there before.  I think it’s because when you come back after a long absence the ball seems so huge you have no choice but to focus and watch it.  I thought for a moment perhaps the answer was to just play once a year.  Just kidding, I hope to get a court on Thursday.

Great relief.  Went for my semi-annual check up with my surgeon yesterday. My endo reads my blood tests and adjusts my meds, my surgeon sticks cameras up my nose and down my throat.  He also read my ultrasound results to me.  I have more nodes identified than the previous study but final impression is normal examination and I don’t need another one for six more months. So that means I don’t have to see anyone for the rest of the summer and I don’t have to have any radiation this summer.  This is good.

I figured what better person to be visiting when you have a sore throat that won’t go away than a neck surgeon?  I’ll admit after what I felt were less than impressive blood results last month this sore throat that wouldn’t go away was starting to make me nervous.  Very nervous.  He sprayed the numbing spray in my nose and then has a thin wand with a camera that looks up my nose and down into my throat.  “You have an infection. I’ll prescribe a z pack and you’ll be better in a week.”  Seriously?  That’s it?  I was sick in bed for a week and for the second week I’ve had a sore, sore throat and congestion and it just felt like it was getting worse every day.  It’s just an infection?  I had gone to the walk-in clinic in CT and they tested me for strep and that came back negative, it’s some other kind of infection.   So not a cold virus like that nurse said!  (NOTE!!  CVS drop-in clinic is not substitution for going to the doctor — I could have been prescribed a z pack 2 weeks ago.)   The weight of the world lifted from my shoulders.  It’s just an infection.   Then I showed him the numbers from my blood tests and why I was worried, “bah, statistically inconclusive” he said.  “You’ll be fine.” he says.  “You mean  I’m cured?”  I said?  He looked at me sideways “You’ll be fine.”  Darn, he wouldn’t fall for it.  But nonetheless I walked about 2 inches off the ground as I skipped all the way down 10th avenue.  It’s just an infection, it’s just an infection.  My throat still hurts like the dickens but who cares?  It’s just an infection.

I did not go to Tai Chi Tuesday morning because it was raining really hard and I thought not a good idea.  I also didn’t run because my chest and throat were hurting and I thought I might give the z-pack a moment to actually work before further stress on it.  (Did I mention it’s just an infection?!?!)  But I did get on my pilates reformer for a stretch a thon and that was good.

Then yesterday I went to see my new nutritionist.  It was very interesting in a weird way.  It was more like a therapy session than a nutrition session.  I think she knows I know what to eat.  I know nutrition.  I just need someone to keep me on track and to help me make it easier.  Find a way to simplify, simplify, simplify. So we talked about goals and not once did she mention calorie counting or measuring.  Instead we talked about slowing down, eating at the table, planning for meals.  Then she whipped out a little bag of goodies for me.  Apparently every session she is going to give me products to try.  I got three things this week.  First are sprouted lentils.  As opposed to regular dry lentils these take only 5 minutes to cook and I can toss them into everything from salad to pasta.   Goal for the week is to try it once.  Make half the pack and have it in the fridge.

Next she gave me a couple of snacks.  First one was (I say “was” because I ate the whole bag last night) called SeaSnax.  It’s basically nori with a little olive oil and salt on it.  It is to replace my desire for potato chips as it gives me something with oil and salt and crunch.  The entire bag is two servings of 27 calories each.  And here’s the weird thing, only 25 mg of salt?  How do they do that?  Ingredients, Seaweed, olive oil, onion, sea salt.    I hate to admit it but it did really seem to satisfy the the desire for something crunch salty.    Here’s the product link SeaSnax. Then she gave me a package of Kale Chips with vegan cheese and spices. I’ll review those later as believe it or not the Seasnax did the trick and I didn’t need further treats….

So jury is still out on the nutrition lady but I’m giving her high marks for effort. Ultimately the work rests with you know who…. I have some goals we outlined, 3 week, 2 month and 3 month. Little steps.  I don’t see her again for 3 weeks (normally every 2 weeks but she is away for one.)

Final good thing that happened yesterday. I got an email from Escape from Alcatraz. They got my doctor’s note and they are deferring me to next year. BUT, get this, no charge!!! 100% deferral. They said I’m in and I don’t have to pay again and I could keep the email as record. I truly wasn’t expecting that.  That’s $400 saved from the toilet.  It made me really, really happy!!!

What a great day. I found out I only had an infection AND I got a deferral for Alcatraz.

Life is good. Swim at 11.


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5/15/10 Summer Line Up

Sunday.  Nice rainy morning. Since I am not registered for a race I am ditching the bike today and did a workout on my reformer.  Soon I’ll head to the pool and do a steam to try to work out this chest congestion.

Had my first complete run with the Galloway group yesterday.  (Last week I didn’t last a mile due to chest congestion).   Often we fail to appreciate the simple things in life, like oxygen.  We did 4 miles along the east river 81st north and back.  I was with the slowest group which will be home for awhile to come.  Basically because I don’t think they are that slow.  I was really working by mile 3 to keep going.  Had I been by myself I would have walked.  There were six of us in our group: 2 coaches, 2 alumni and 2 newbies — me and a gal named Steph.  She and I ran together even though I have a feeling next week she’ll move up to the next group.  The entire time we were running together she was talking away like it was nothing.  I had to wait for the walk breaks to be able to talk. I still feel congestion in my chest and having some difficulty breathing but I did take a shot off of my inhaler so I think that helped.  They believe in “no man left behind.”  So if someone falls off or back one of the coaches stays with that person.  You absolutely never run alone.  This is a foreign concept to me.

Our group had six, the front group had about six and the middle group had about 20 people a lot of coaches in that group too.  I recognize the runners in my group as those people I pass at the beginning of a race and then pass me about three quarters of the way through and finish strong.   They are just machines.  If I can learn to run with them I will be happy.  They kept asking me what I’m training for and I kept saying I don’t know yet.  I’ll know it when I see it but I have to be ready when I see it.

After the run they had a chiropractor there talking about exercises to strengthen and prevent running muscles. He was also there to tape people with a gait analysis. I knew most of the stuff already so I just listened awhile and went to meet friends for brunch. They also gave us really nice running shirts — nice ones. I think it is a good deal. You pay $159 for a training group from May through November. You get a copy of Galloway’s book (only new members) and you get a shirt. Granted you are not getting coaches like Trilife coaches but for the money I think it is a great deal. These coaches are more like just seasoned runners. I don’t think they have any particular credentials but I think they care and that’s good. What I need is a group that is going to make me continue to run every week and stop walking so much. Right now this group is at the 1/1 and shortly will be moving to 2/1 (Run/walk). I think I’m at the right place and with the right group.  I need to build consistency.

I bargained an old friend into playing tennis with me once a week starting in June.  She’s an A+ player.  I used to be able to play with her group but not now.  Now I’m just a tennis theorist.   As it turns out this gal needed some programming help and instead of charging her money I decided to make her play tennis with me.  I told her I’m back to square one and she swears she doesn’t mind. (We are all in our fifties now so I think we are all happy to take it a little easier).  So we are going to play on the red clay on Thursdays starting June 9th.  Just start with some hitting.  Keeping a slanted eye on the tournament board.  That gives me 4 weeks to get some strokes under my belt because even though I warned her I haven’t played in a long time, I can’t walk onto the court looking like a total chump.  It takes a lot of work to make it look easy….  So I booked a court with my pro Marlie tomorrow to get back in the “swing.”

I was also contemplating my navel and trying to think, what else do you want to do?  Want to go rowing? Nah, not really, not this year.  What about yoga, yeah okay a little yoga wouldn’t be bad but you know what would be even better?  Going back to Tai Chi!!  Yes I really, really liked those Tai Chi classes in Bryant Park but I joined so late in the season they were over before I got any good at it.  I checked the calendar Bryant Park Calendar and sure enough Tai Chi is back! Tuesday and Thursday mornings 7:30-8:30 — PERFECT! Of course this Tuesday it looks like rain but Tai Chi rain or shine so I’m going to go. I’m also supposed to run on Tuesday and Thursdays for Galloway and I thought how perfect would that be to get up and go to my Tai Chi and then for a little run?

So this is how I am hoping to make a typical week look for summer 2011 (intention is to shoot for 100% and if I land at 80% I will be happy):

Mondays — Tennis here or in CT — hitter or pro
Tuesday — Tai Chi morning, Run (maybe get some of the daytime TL gals to run with me?) be done early for work
Wednesday — Early morning coached bike with Adam, Lunch time swim with Jen
Thursday — Tai Chi morning, after work run to the tennis courts (just shy of 3 miles), play 1 hour with Katerina or John
Friday — Day off, rest, or gasp yoga with Tim.
Saturday — Galloway group Run
Sunday — Long bike in CT (swim if raining)

So although this may sound like a heavy workout schedule it’s really not.  It’s more about doing things I like to do. I think getting tennis back in my life will make me happy. Tai Chi is not an exhausting kind of workout. It is a kinder, gentler strength training.   I want to be flexible with this schedule.   I don’t have to do every single thing every day but I do want a routine.  Some things I just don’t miss.   But if one day it is raining feel flexible enough to substitute a swim for a bike or pilates for Tai Chi or just discover a new class at the gym.  The bigger goal is to make sure every day I bring movement and joy into my life.  Just as important as the workout is, the social aspect is important to me too.

Off to my swim.


Some pictures of Tai Chi in Bryant Park.  P.S.  — It’s FREEEeeee…..

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5/13/11 One Trick Mule

Friday the 13th.  Word of the day is friggatriskaidekaphobia which I heard on the morning news.  Means fear of Friday the 13th.  Doesn’t really apply to me but I thought it would be good fun  to try to say this word three times in a row.

The real reason for today’s update is that I went for my free consult with the nutritionist (which apparently is not the right term).  She is a health and nutrition counselor.   I don’t know, its different somehow.  Anyway it was a little different from the one other time I went to a nutritionist and she gave me a printed piece of paper with a canned diet on it and told me to eat broiled chicken.  I am now at the level where I can write you a canned diet.  I can also organize your closets, doesn’t mean I am going to do my own.

Anyway I’m strangely unsettled by this little wisp of a gal.  She seems really young — like I am 100% sure I have tennis shoes older than her.  She is really little and I felt huge in her office.  I actually thought she was smaller than the lunch I just ate.

We did an interview.  Lasted 45 minutes and that was free.  She went over my history.  She didn’t weigh me or take any of my vitals.   As a matter of fact there wasn’t a scale in the room — it looked like a massage therapist room.  We talked about my history with eating or rather dieting.  I told her my struggles with following any directives dieting or otherwise.

[Let’s be real, I don’t just rebel against diets, I rebel against everything.  It boils down to one simple statement – don’t tell me what to do.  As long as I can remember I’ve been that way.  You tell me to pick something up off the floor I’m going to tell you to go you know what.  You tell me I can’t do whatever?  I say watch how fast I do it.  I was very, VERY lucky in all of my jobs in having great bosses who stepped aside and just let me do my thing.  Time cards?  You gotta be kidding me.  Status reports?  Yeah right.  I don’t do documentation. 51 years old and I can’t take direction.  That’s not a really good thing.]

She nodded a lot and had some insight.  “So basically we have to learn how to get around your inner mule.  You are not unique, this is very common.”  What?  Not unique?  Oh chica, you ain’t seen nuttin yet…..  “We have to kind of sneak up on your inner mule.  There are ways to do that.”  Sneak up on my inner mule?  What the heck are you talking about?  Do I have to track points?  “No. Unless you want to.”  Do I have to eat meat?  “No.  Unless you want to.”   Ah, this is about portion control, right?  So do I need a food scale and measuring cups?  “No.  Unless you want to use them.”   What the phht?  What kind of diet is this?  How many calories a day will I be eating?  “You don’t have to count calories…..”  I know, I know… Unless I want to.  Okay this is just weird.

We talked a lot about my medications and one thing she pointed out that kind of took me by surprise.  “Synthroid” she mused.  “Do you get a lot of cramping and feeling muscularly tense?”  My chin dropped to the floor.  Well yes, as a matter of fact I do.  I told her about Ironman Canada where I was one huge cramp and I got thrown off my bike and how sometimes even now my hands lock up and my biceps will actually hurt after a day of feeling tense because I’ve been squeezing them all day (why can’t I squeeze  my underarms and do something useful with the tension?).  “That’s may be a magnesium deficiency.”  she says.  “Synthroid is known to block your absorbtion of Magnesium and if you don’t get enough magnesium you can be prone to tightness and muscle cramping.”   Really?  How come my endo didn’t know that?  When I told my endo about my cramping she said it had nothing to do with my medicine.   Andrea the “nutrition counselor” furiously scribbles stuff on the paper.

Then we talk about goals. Why I want to lose weight.  What are my health issues?  I don’t really have any health issues.  I just want to be able to run and bike again and fit back into my clothes.  And I don’t want to feel at war with food and diet.  I’m sick of fighting everything all the time.  I’m sick of the guilt. Help me break a ten minute mile, that’s what will motivate me.  Cancer schmancer — I don’t care about that because no matter what the blood tests say, I don’t think I have it.  So there.  I think my antibodies will go down on their own.  Just give them some time.  Meanwhile, how about a 17 minute bike loop in Central Park?  Now that’s something to hang your hat on.  Help me get light enough to race again.

After the free consult she goes through the plan — three months or six months.  If you commit to three months it is $295 a month if you commit to six months it is $265 a month.  Extra discount if you pay in full.  Each month you get two 50 minute sessions with her and unlimited emails.  After every session she sends you home with “stuff” to try.  I have no idea what that means.  Products?  Food?  Drugs?  I don’t know.  But I decided that if she has some ideas how to trick my inner mule I might as well give her a try.  I opted for the pay as you three month trial.  If it seems to be working I’ll go for another 3.

So we start on Tuesday.  Do I have homework?  Do I have something I should go buy and start with?  Shakes?  Powders?  Juices? Do you want me to go get extra protein?  What do you want me to do?  “No homework, just observe what you are eating until Tuesday.  Then we’ll meet again.  Don’t worry I’ll give you homework.”

We’ll see how this helps.  I’m still continuing with Weight Watchers, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Beck and Geneen Roth — my “team.”  But maybe Andrea will fit into the mix somehow as a an assistant coach.  But I don’t know, I don’t think I have an inner mule, I think I have a team of inner mules…..   I wonder if there is such a thing as a mule whisperer?


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5/9/11 Layering

Monday. Yes it’s been a week and a half no blog but that’s because I’ve been sick as a dog. I did a solo ride out to Piermont a week ago Saturday and then came to CT. Started to feel a sore throat and cough on Monday. By Tuesday I was really not able to do much and didn’t think I could drive home to NYC and stayed in bed.   By Wednesday I was still in bed and couldn’t move. I went to the local clinic in CT on Thursday just to make sure it wasn’t strep throat or something — they took culture and said it was just a cold virus and it just had to run its’ course.

And that cold pretty much sealed the deal for me. It is very hard for me to type these words. But here goes. I am officially withdrawing from the Escape from Alcatraz race. Let me pause and get a cup of coffee while those words linger on my fingertips.

The bottom line is I could probably go out to Alcatraz and finish. I could be once again one of the last people stumbling over the finish line and add another finisher’s medal to my pile. But the reality is I don’t want to go if I can’t give it my all. I want it to feel like St. Croix where I gave it everything I had and the course still chewed me up and spit me out but I still felt proud of my effort. This wouldn’t be like that. I would be mad about the extra weight I was carrying. I would be mad about my lack of biking. I would be mad about my lack of core strength. I would mad at myself.

It is funny how the universe sends you lots of little messages all the time if you are willing to listen to them. I had stumbled on a book I bought a long time ago (but never read)  by Byron Katie (a woman) called “Loving what is.”   In this book  she goes through this process of asking 4 questions about whatever it is that is bothering you. I have only finished chapter one so I won’t recap the entire methodology and ruin it for you should anyone want to read it themselves. But basically she asks the reader to question their beliefs upon which you make your decisions. One of the techniques she uses is turning questions around. I’m butchering this process but it did shed some light for me.

I was really hemming and hawing about Alcatraz and I finally realized it was because I would be embarrassed to pull out of the race. I was thinking everyone would think I was weak and I was a quitter. I couldn’t bear that. So Byron Katie would say “is that true? would everyone think you were weak and you were a quitter? Can you be 100% sure of that?”  That’s when I am supposed to go “no, I can’ be 100% sure” but in my heart of course I am sure that is true.

Then she asks you to flip the statement around. You replace the other person pronouns with a personal pronoun and restate it. So it becomes “I would think I was weak and I was a quitter.” Of course right then and there I realized that was the real truth. It really wasn’t what everyone else was thinking. I really didn’t care about that. I was just so sick of disappointing myself. And then I finally was able to say to myself. I don’t want to go out there and disappoint myself — again. I just can’t take that right now. I know I have a lot of work to do and going out there to get my butt kicked is not going to make me know that any more than I already do. And yes it may mean I’m weak right now but I’d rather not start than not finish.

On the upside, my endocrinologist does not want me to do it either so I got a note from her to pull out of the race. This means I will get 50% of my entry fee back. Which is better than just throwing yet another race entry fee to the wind.

I got a chance to see an old friend for a few minutes on Friday before heading back to the city. My friend DW and I will always compare our latest books on spiritual discovery as well as diets (which I think should be section at Barnes and Noble.)   We both like the yoga/holistic lifestyle (she’s a little more holistic than I am as I like my wine). I was sitting in her office and bemoaning how I just didn’t know which way to turn anymore. I’m back on Weight Watchers, I have Dr. Fuhrman, I have Geneen Roth, I have Dr. Beck’s diet solution and now I’m reading this Fireman diet and I also have Why are we Fat and The Four Hour Body. I think they are all right but I don’t know which one to pick and follow and while I don’t exactly follow anything, everything is crumbling. My path is not lit. Low carb/high protein, count calories, don’t count anything, meditate. I am juggling so many balls I keep dropping one at a time on my big toe and it’s beginning to hurt. “Well don’t you think that it’s not so much one over the other as much as it is Layering? You know one on top of the other?” I don’t know what happened it was like a little light bulb when off in my head. Yes that’s exactly it. I don’t know why I was thinking of it as either or — Geneen Roth or Weight Watchers. Dr. Furhman or Geneen Roth. They all work together. Layering. I like that. I thought about it all weekend.

On Saturday I headed out to my first run practice with the Galloway at Tavern on the Green. Didn’t go so well. I couldn’t breathe. I knew I was not up for running but we were only doing 3 miles (two lower loops of the park) and I figured I could do that. No. I just couldn’t get any air in and I was all clogged up. So I cut it short and just headed back home stopping at the start point just to tell one of the coaches I was sick and going home. (I did discover however, that I can basically run 1/4 of a mile holding my breath.)

It was a surprisingly large turnout for the Galloway group. I would guess there were thirty to forty people there? Probably will fizzle as the season goes on. Everyone really nice. Very laid back. I think I will like them.

Interesting thing happened when I got back to Tavern on the Green. I met the nutritionist who was there to give a talk. Apparently this nutritionist has worked with several of the Galloway runners and has been quite successful. I told her my doctor wanted me to find a nutritionist but I couldn’t afford the ones she sent me to but I also know everything. (Yes I said that, I said I know everything.) I said what I needed was someone to help me simplify. I can bring you a library of information. I have every book on every bit of nutrition and started rattling off everything from Brendan Frazier to Geneen Roth. I have so much information that I find it almost overwhelming and easier to just make toast. I also told her that I am a vegan and needed someone who understood and supported that decision.

She was pretty cool. She said she had a lot of vegetarian clients and a handful of vegan clients and that would not be a problem. She said that she found New Yorkers  bring a kind of expertise to the process, we are typically well read and educated. She said it is more about creating a routine that is easy to follow. I would be up for that but I don’t want a lot of cooking. Otherwise I’m just going to make toast. She laughed and said we were on the same page. I will go for a free 50 minute consult this week. Then, if I choose to sign up with her for 3 month program it is $265 a month with 2 meeting face to face and unlimited emails — even more than once a day if I want. Really? Email works great for me. I’m an emailer. I doubt my insurance will cover it, but it’s worth a look into.  If I go for a 6 month program it goes down to $235 a month. I figure I will start with 3 months and see how it goes. There was something about her I liked. One part was she had lost 50 pounds herself so she understood the struggle. Then one of the coaches was there and said that the nutritionist had helped her lose 50 pounds as well. I wasn’t that impressed because I’ve lost 50 pounds before. But when the coach said that was 5 years ago, then I was impressed. Losing is one thing, keeping it off another.

So I’m not committed to training for anything. Coach Adam and I are going to continue to work together on bike once a week. I want to get my biking skills back. I will continue to work out with Jen as long as she’ll have me so I’m going to keep up on my swimming. I have run Tuesdays and Thursdays for the Galloway program and then our long run is on Saturdays.  Sundays I will continue to do a long bike.  Fridays are our day off, the day before our long run.

I am making no committment to any race right now. I am training for a fall marathon but I am not signing up for anything yet. I have my eye on doing the Hartford half again in October. That would be great to do that race actually trained. So I’ll train for a marathon or triathlon and just see where life takes me.

Busy week. More doctor’s appointments (just routine stuff). Hopefully be able to run tomorrow.

Will be lots to report on in coming months. Let’s see how I do with no pressure of a race over my head.


I made this for my wall to remind me that it’s not one thing or another, it’s layering….

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