Monthly Archives: January 2012

1/31/12 Building a Better Burger

Tuesday. Really? Already? Tuesday? How did that happen. I’m still working on items from my Sunday to-do list. Ah well, scratch them out and start a new list. That’s why they make erasers and loose leaf paper.

Saturday was my first decent run in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, it was still slow and I still did a run walk, but I didn’t have to stop and I didn’t have any muscle pain. Lately it seems it has been either too cold or I’m coming off a workout where my quads are still hurting and my runs have been mostly walks. But Saturday the weather was nice and I had no workout on Friday and I had a good run. I actually enjoyed it. It was only 7 miles (which is not a lot compared to what most people are running) but to finish something while sticking to a plan is a good feeling. A couple of times I wanted to run longer than my interval but I didn’t because I wanted to finish running. I was pleased. I have a LONG way to go but little steps, Kaizen, little steps.

Played some fun tennis yesterday. Had my regular session with Marlie tennis. We decided that I play a little better when I’m tired because I don’t over think. My biggest challenge remains letting the game come to me. I’m always four chess moves ahead and I’ve lost the point before I even got to move number two. Think less, move more. My biggest compliment is when Marlie said I was making her go for harder shots because I was hanging in there longer. Let’s just say I have more of a Sprint mentality than an Ultra mentality when it comes to Tennis. But I’m sticking it out for the longer battles which is a sign I’m regaining some endurance.

Then I had a blast subbing for a group of older women. Their fourth didn’t show up so the club called me and pleaded their case. I hadn’t changed yet so I said fine. 2 hours of recreational doubles was not going to wipe me out. In fact it was fun. They were so excited to get me to play with them they really made me feel like royalty. I gave them a few pointers here and there and when the pointers worked they got all excited. It was fun for me to see them taking it and applying it. But at the same time I also had a chance to really practice softening my shots. I couldn’t serve my regular serve to them so I had to make it easier but still control it. It’s hard for me to “soft-pedal” sometimes but I stuck to a slice and resisted all temptation to blast it. We all had so much fun and I realized how much I missed helping people learn to build their game in tennis. It felt good to be appreciated.

No shooting this week. Taking a week off while I wait for my gun. OH and she has a name. My friend (who is always right) suggested “XTina.” Brilliant. XTina is a common nickname for Christina. XT from the brand name (Citori XT). Tina as a homage to my race bike. So it’s like Tina’s cousin XTina. Or would that be more like an Alter Ego? I pick her up a week from Friday at 10 and I have a session with my coach Bruce at 1. It better not rain. Of course now I’m shopping for all the accoutrement that goes with it. Much like triathlon, Trap Shooting has a lot of extra gear to get. I need a case. I need a shooting vest (of course I had to get a Browning shooting vest to match my gun.) I have to buy ammo. I have to buy stuff to clean my gun. I already have invested in ear sound mufflers and shooting glasses. Oh yeah and I have to pay for my gun to be fitted…. Ugh…
But she is so pretty.

I can’t wait to have one gun that I just work on getting to understand. It’s like riding a different bike every time you go to ride. You spend so much time making little adjustments next thing you know your time is up.

Last thing I wanted to record today was my most awesome recipe. I’m actually mad at myself for not doing this sooner. It was SOOOO easy. I made my own veggie burgers for lunch today. I got the recipe/idea from Mark Bittman. I’m still kind of wowed by how easy and delicious they turned out. 100% better than frozen veggie burgers which I don’t really love but they are convenient. These were delicious. My recipe was as follows (based on video of Mark Bittman below). Into a food processor I threw, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, half a large onion and two heads of garlic because those were items I had in my fridge. Pulsed until tiny. Rinsed and drained one can of black beans. Threw it in there. Threw in 1/2 cup of rolled oats (not cooked, not instant, just old-fashioned quaker oats right out of the box). 2 tsp of Egg Replacer powder (made as instructed on box). Pulsed a couple of times until it was mixed. Added a little more oats until the texture was firm. Molded into patties and threw into my cast iron skillet with a little oil (I know now I really didn’t need the oil but it made them crispy.) Spices were chili powder, salt and pepper. Using the food processor it took approximately 2 minutes to make the burger batter and another 2 minutes on each side to make the burgers crispy. They looked great. They tasted great. And cheap!! I have enough for two more meals. I have ideas already on a hundred different variations. (Mushrooms in there would have been awesome). I put it on a bed of lettuce with some avocado and sliced red onion. So much easier that other recipes I have tried using brown rice and falling apart.

Hope you try this recipe either my version or Mark Bittman’s below.


Click here for Mark Bittman Veggie Burger

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1/26/12 Pulling The Trigger

Thursday. Well, I have a new baby. No, it’s not a bike, it’s a Browning! Yep, I “pulled the trigger” on purchasing my first shotgun! I say first because a dozen people have told me that once I buy one I’ll become addicted. I laugh, “Me? Addicted?” ha ha, don’t be silly. I’ve been shooting once a week and instead of getting better I feel like I’m getting worse and I know one of the reasons is I’m using a different gun every week. The good part of that is I have tried a ton of guns. Bad part is I need to get one that fits me.

So after many visits to several gun shops and talking to one expert after another I decided on the Browning Citori XT trap gun. Only problem, everyone was out of stock and waiting for a shipment. Apparently as soon as these guns get in stock they get sold. I was really close to nabbing one in Monroe but some gun pro in Fairfield beat me to it. Finally found one at Hoffman Gun center in Newington (“Guns for the Good Guys” is their motto). The story goes when I called someone in the store was looking at it. I told the guy in the store I would give him my credit card over the phone to buy it now. He claims he walked over and took it out of the guys hands saying “if you want to buy it has to be now otherwise it’s sold.” The store guy’s name is Darren and he is my new best friend.

In CT you have to wait two weeks from purchase before you can get your gun. In NY you have to wait 3 months before you get your license. So this gun will have to stay in CT for several months but that’s okay as I’ll be shooting mostly in Hartford for now.

There are a lot of similarities to buying a bike. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. And, your gun may not fit you right out of the box. Apparently I am a tough fit for several of the shotguns and I will have to bring my new baby to a gun fitter. I feel I’ve been adopted by some old salty sorts who are happy to have more women in the game so they have introduced me to a gun fitter in CT. As soon as I get ____ in hand we’ll be off to the gun fitter for a fitting….

So that’s the story. I need a name…. Brown Eyed Sue? Cinnamon Girl? Eh, I don’t know. I need some help. Gotta think of a name that I’ll want to be calling her when I’m shooting. C’mon ______…….


Okay here is a video with a description of my new shotgun. Please ignore the profanity. I think it kind of goes with the new territory.
Browning Citori XT trap

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1/21/12 Iron woman

Saturday. I seriously have been meaning to update my blog but time has been elusive. Lots going on taking care of my Dad (who is now enrolled in Hospice and I’m hoping the added care will ultimately lighten a lot of our loads.) The doctors all say these are the final days, but I think they really underestimate how tenacious and strong my Dad is. I think he is going to be around for awhile, at least while there is still ice cream in the fridge.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the man he once was, how similar I am to him and how I really don’t want my 90’s to be the same. I know I’m only in my fifties (ha! only!) but time really does go quickly and I feel like old age is just a hop, skip and a jump away. (And I meant a literal hop, skip and a jump as I have been doing a lot of those lately).

My workouts have been, well, not exactly according to plan but not exactly not either. I’ve been doing a little of everything. Playing tennis once a week, shooting once a week, climbing stairs once or twice a week, running twice a week, biking twice a week, swimming once or twice a week, core workout once or twice a week (should be seven). We are usually assigned 3 runs a week but he has me doing strength work for one of them. But my workouts are not very long. I’m only swim/bike/running 45-60 minutes per session during the week and run or biking 90 minutes on the weekends. That would be plenty if I was just exercising for enjoyment but training for Ironman not so sure. I have decided to trust the process and trust my coach. If he says just run 45 minutes, that’s all I’m going to do. Frankly I don’t have a lot more in me…. We do have double workout days now but each workout is less than an hour and since I’m doing a lot on my own, I really don’t feel like they are that taxing. If I have run for speed I just go to the river. I’m home in 1 hour and 20 minutes. I do miss occasional workouts but I just go with it. I’m too old and tired to worry about expectations anymore. Wherever I end up, I end up. It’s all good.

On the good front, I am feeling, for the most part, good. I’m occasionally tired (like anyone) but it is usually due to having a taxing day not just because I simply woke up. My overall energy definitely seems to be building up. I don’t feel like I have ultra endurance yet but I also don’t feel Iron dips as much any more. I have discovered liquid Iron. This is my new best friend.

It seems to me that the effectiveness of supplements comes down to absorption. I’m speaking about Iron right now but the principle applies to all. Iron in pill form you have to take so much to get just a little rise in your Iron level. And those horse pills hurt (feels like little warriors throwing spears on your insides). But liquid Iron absorbs better. You don’t need to take as much. Example One Ferro-Sequal tab (aka horse pill) has 50 mg of Iron (as Ferrous Fumarate). I have to take two to feel anything. That’s 100 mg of Iron. And the first ingredient listed is lactose and the last ingredient is wax! Now pur Absorb, one packet as only 5 mg of Iron (as ferrous sulfate). And the only ingredient? Iron-rich natural spring water. It’s 100% natural, suitable for vegetarians and it works! Well it feels like it works, I don’t have actual blood tests to confirm. I’d rather take 5 mg and absorb it all than a lot and absorb a little.

I did one month of pur Absorb and I felt a difference. Just as good as Ferro-Sequel tabs without the spear chucking. (And, spear chucking makes you not want to take it, I had no problem taking the liquid everyday for a month). So now I’m exploring some other liquid iron forms. Right now I’m taking Floradix Iron & Herbs. Tastes like prunes (that is not a compliment). But it has 10 mg of Iron as Ferrous gluconate AND it gives me Vitamin C, B1, B2, B6 AND B12. (I discovered this fall that B12 is really essential for me.) This could be a real keeper if I could learn to love the prune juice flavor. I read several recommendations by athletes with Iron deficiency who swear by it. Floradix ingredients sound right out of a Harry Potter Book: Aqueous extract from: carrot, nettle wort, spinach, quitch roots, angelica roots, fennel, ocean kelp, African mallow blossom, orange peel. Then there are a bunch of juice extracts in there too including, yep, Prune Juice!

I continue to explore. I am experiencing joint pain in my right knee so I am now doing Glucosomine Chondroitin as well. Just started that two days ago. Hoping it will get rid of that scraping pain under my knee cap and ache in the joint. I used to take it and I think it used to work so hopefully that will kick in soon.

Today I have a team indoor spin workout and tomorrow an o solo mio run.


Eye Candy. I had to get new cycling shoes because instead of putting my cycling shoes in my cycling bag, I thought they would enjoy the ride to Ross Dock on the bumper of my car. How shocked was I to find that they jumped off somewhere along the ride. Lucky me got to do the stairs at Ross Dock instead of biking. Anywho, found a good deal on ebay and got these shoes for $60 (brand new). Only took me twenty minutes to figure out how to get them off…. But I like them otherwise… Tomorrow I’ll document my bike cleat experiments. How exciting.

My New Shoes

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1/5/12 The Rude Awakening

Thursday. Yikes my arms hurt. We had an indoor cross training workout yesterday morning. First group workout of the New Year and I kind of got my butt kicked. All the basic stuff, jumping jacks, leg lifts, kettle bells, weight ball, situps. You know all the stuff I don’t do the other 364 days of the year. It was a real eye opener to see exactly how much muscle I have lost. Video taping us while doing jumping jacks did not motivate me enough to keep going. At one point I think I was actually just standing on one leg, kicking the other one out and waiving my arms in the air. It was really sad….

We were doing leg lifts with those stupid pilates ring things. I hate those who ever came up with that idea is on my hit list. It’s hard enough to lift and lower your legs while straight never mind having that stupid ring thing around your calves. “Hold your legs straight!” Coach Hola is shouting at us. I bend mine quickly when he looks the other direction then back out straight again. He walks over to me, points at my left quad and pronounces “I see weakness! Straighten your leg.” I’ve been laughing about that for a solid 24 hours. Really? Right there? That one spot? That’s where you see weakness? News Flash, I have weakness all over the place. Not just in my left quad. From my toes to my nose, I have muscles that make jelly look tough.

And of course we had to end with my ultimate humiliation, push ups. No, say it ain’t so. “Give me 3 goods ones then 15 of your normal ones.” He yells. 15? Are you kidding me? How about 1 and I’ll take a child’s pose stretch in between? Of course he comes over as I’m stretching and says “that’s quite an interesting pushup.” I know, I’m pathetic. I’m mush. I go back into my old lady pushup and give him 3 more. I think I end up doing 20 in the worse form I’ve ever had. OMG, how did I let this happen? I was never good at the pushups but at least I could do a couple without embarrassing myself.

And then the promises started. I mentally promised myself 100 pushups every day for the rest of my life. 2,000 situps with kettle bells on my stomach, every day for the rest of my life. 5,000 jumping jacks, 10 billion squats. I will become a machine. The Tibetan Five, yeah, every day I’ll do those, wait, wait SUN SALUTATIONS, yeah, I don’t remember their name but there were some warriors who used to do 1,000 reps of sun salutation every day. As my mind raced through all of these promises to better myself, to make myself stronger to NEVER not be able to do a pushup again, time was up and we had to put our mats and weights away. I walked home in the bitter cold mumbling to myself that by March I would be a Machine!

This morning I woke up to really sore – arms and pouches of fat underneath my arm and down the side are now sore. Hmm, I think underneath that fat used to be my lats and they are hurting. Tried to lift my arms over my head. Ouch… Tried to touch my toes. Eeach… Okay Warrior, how many pushups are you going to try today? Hmmm… I think I’ll have some green tea and a couple of Aleve and… maybe a jacuzzi… Then I’ll become warrior.

Take the Stairs and Namaste
Clip from the best training movie EVER!

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1/2/12 Happy New Year

Monday. Happy New Year and all that. Just returned from my trip from Menla Mountain in the Catskills where I attended a New Year’s retreat.  Worth every penny and I’m so happy I went.  I had a wonderful, thoughtful and motivating experience.  I tried to get into Kripalu but I was too late.  Turned out to be a twist of good fortune.  The Catskills were not exactly in the right direction but it was a chance to study with Robert Thurman for the weekend so I took a bed in a shared room (gasp) and headed to the mountains.

Menla Mountain Retreat is a Buddhist center. It is owned by Tibet House and most of the people who come here come for Buddhist training, specifically Tibetan Buddhist training. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally maneuvered my way there to find a rustic, bucolic retreat nestled in the crook of several mountains.  (hint, when they say there is no phone access that probably means GPS is hard to find and it might be a good idea to print out driving directions before you get lost in the mountains.)

Menla has an interesting history of being founded on some land where a meteor landed a long time ago and was initially a retreat founded by a psychic.  She died, another organization tried to keep it going and failed.  Then it was donated to the Tibet House and for the last decade or so they have been hosting conferences there as they continue to build the retreat and Tibet medical therapy center.

First thing I noticed that was different between Menla and Kripalu (in Lenox, Ma.) is the layout. Kripalu is more like a college. Everything is one big building with dorms and classrooms in the same building — you walk up and down stairs and down long hallways to get to the different rooms. Menla is composed of several buildings spaced out over the property.  You walk along long paths and up a lot of hills to get between rooms.

The “Inn” is where the meals are served and the offices are. There are also a few rooms there. Otherwise you are assigned to one of five different houses. I’m in the biggest House called Hill House that has 12 bedrooms. Most of them single rooms but I was in a big quad suite. Very nice. Clean, spacious and comfortable. There were 3 of us staying here and everyone was more than nice.  My fears of bunking with strangers never materialized.  In fact, everyone I met the entire weekend was really nice.  Kripalu can accommodate over 650 overnight guests plus commuters.  And they were totally booked.  We had only 60 people at our retreat and I think they had 3 empty beds when I called.  Very different feel.   I felt like I was at a large family reunion meeting distant cousins for the first time.

The schedule is pretty jammed pack. Although I went to learn from Robert Thurman, apparently the co-hosting yoga instructors were a big draw as well. I never heard of them but apparently they are big kahunas in the Iyengar Yoga world. I arrived on Thursday afternoon, plopped my bags and the first thing on the schedule was a 2 hour yoga class. It wasn’t that bad, it was a restorative yoga class and they did a lot of talking and none of the poses were difficult — more stretchy and a really nice Savasana session. It just seemed long.  I kept looking at my watch.  Is this not over yet?  2 hours?  Seriously?  I was aware that I was very weak and shocked that climbing the little hill to get to class caused me to huff and puff.  All of my joints creaked and groaned.  Hi, nice to meet you, I’ll be doing an Ironman this year.

Meals are different from Kripalu too.  Instead of a long buffet with options for everyone, Menla is more like going to someone’s house for dinner. There is one menu and everyone has the same thing. They do have the “special needs’ room where you will find a very simple and plain meal for those with allergies.  Kripalu is catering to a larger group of people as they invite all walks of life. Menla  is more like “here’s what you should be eating so here you go.  I happened to love all the food very much. [sauteed watercress is amazing]   After two days, one of my roommates wanted to go to town to get a hamburger…  Ah, how the tables turned!

Thursday’s schedule, 2 hour yoga class, dinner, 2 hour lecture with Robert Thurman until 10 p.m. then to bed.  Felt like I had been there for days, not just an afternoon.

Friday up and out the door at 7:15. Breakfast (“Eat Lightly as you have a yoga class” we were all warned.) Off to 2 hour yoga class.  I am in the beginner yoga class. It is me and everyone who got kicked out of the advanced yoga class because they weren’t doing the asanas (poses) correctly.  Apparently no ego is allowed in the advanced class. We were learning the Iyengar yoga method. It is a little different from the yoga I’ve done at Kripalu and at my gym. Granted I haven’t been in a yoga class in a year but I do remember a few things from here and there.

Iyengar is the guy we get to thank for introducing us to props in yoga. He’s the one who brought blocks, belts, ropes and bolsters into the yoga practice. His idea is that it is better for someone to do the pose correctly assisted with props  than unassisted and incorrectly or missed altogether. They talked about why a lot of people are developing injuries from yoga and they really stress precision in doing the pose. We spend a good amount of time getting into the pose, holding the pose and then talking about how we got into the pose and what we were all doing wrong. And everyone is doing something wrong.

We were working a lot on knees and alignment and I got some really great tips on strengthening and stretching my knees. Caroline (the instructor) used to be some kind of world class cyclist. She retired from cycling and took up yoga and to study with Robert Therman. She’s very strict. Everyone is a little afraid of her. But she really knows her stuff and she teaches very well. Believe it or not I don’t say a word in class, that’s how intimidating she is! If anyone talks they get a full reprimand and they don’t do it again. God forbid you don’t align your feet together and “hold up the entire class because you didn’t bother to look down at your feet and now we all have to wait for you to catch up.” “Is your foot aligned over your middle toe? I don’t think so, look at your toe, stop looking at me, look at your toe and fix it!”  “Stop wasting time.” “That’s adorable but that is not a yoga pose.” Just some of her gems from one morning.

I didn’t go for the yoga but I have to admit I  learned a tremendous amount over the weekend.  So many tips on how I can use props to do poses that normally hurt my knees so much.  (Caroline says if I just keep doing these knee exercises I will have really strong knees.)  She spent a good five minutes working on my left knee in front of the entire class showing the whole class on how to get my femur down to the ground.  (“The Femur is the most popular bone in Iyengar” she says.) She spends just as much time explaining why we are doing something as much as how to do it. I really appreciate that.  I’ve never had a yoga teacher go into that much explanation about why we do poses in exactly one way.

Then we had another 2 hour lecture and meditation. It’s about 1:15 of lecture and then 45 minutes of guided meditation. It was very complex stuff.  I kept cheating and taking notes.  Nobody saw me because they were all meditating. I giggled to myself at the thought of getting kicked out of class for cheating at meditation.

Friday afternoon we had a 3 hour break, I went for a little walk through the woods. I got back in time for, yep, you guessed it another yoga class. 2 hours. Restorative yoga. Yeah, it was still hard.

Dinner then another 2 hour lecture same format lecture/guided mediation. By the time my head hit the pillow I was out like a light. 4 hours of lecture/meditation and 4 hours of yoga!! Whoa. That was a lot for me.  I’ve never done 4 hours of yoga in one day in my life.  Pretty sure 90 minutes has been the most.

Saturday morning. Breakfast and more…. Yep, yoga! 2 hours of bending poses. I was tired but I was learning so much I had to get to class to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  My butt hurt. My hamstrings were officially stretched. I was scared of some of the poses to come.  Tales of the advanced class were sweeping around the dining hall.

Right after yoga, directly into the meeting room for another two-hour lecture.  I will say this, having the yoga class right before the lecture enabled me to stay wide awake.  I didn’t doze off at all.  Very interesting.  So much to learn.  I know nothing!

Lunch. And Break. I’m was tired. A lot of people blew off the morning yoga. I didn’t  feel that was an option for me. How am I going to do Ironman when I am out of breath walking back and forth to the lecture hall and yoga studio? (Oh yeah, everyone there walks. It’s about an 8-10 minute walk to the lecture hall. My first instinct was to drive – there’s a driveway. My car is right there, the yoga studio is down the road. Would take 2 minutes to drive there. Nope nobody drives everyone walks…. back to the rooms, back to the lecture hall, back to the rooms back to the lecture hall. At night we walk in the dark with flashlights. Crazy. Friday I walked to and from there 4 times. Probably 2 miles of walking just to get to classes. And the literal pain in the ass part is the walk there is all uphill and I’m trying so hard not to sound out of breath as I’m talking with my fellow commuters. Seriously my gluteus hurt to the maximus on Saturday.

Saturday evening we had another…. Yoga class, then another lecture and then a New  Year’s eve gathering which was really lovely.  They had a big fire lit  in the main dining room fireplace.  They made special New Year’s eve treats and we toasted with hot apple cider or your choice of sparkling juices.  Everyone was in a very good mood and it was a lovely party.  As soon as we did the countdown I booked back to my room because I was wiped out.   I was determined to go to the morning yoga class just to prove to myself that I could do 12 hours of yoga in 4 days.

Sunday morning I woke up and felt amazing.  I felt stronger.  I felt more aligned.  I walked briskly to the yoga studio — even skipped up the hill, carrying both my yoga bag and my book bag.  No problem.  No huffing and puffing.  I was aware of my legs and how strong they felt.  Last yoga class.  More bends, more dogs (ups and downs).  I was shocked at how much better I was after only 3 days.  I was doing everything!!   I was even doing shoulder stands!    Highlight of my morning was when I was deep in Veerabhadra (powerful warrior pose), I was  focused and I felt for the first time ever that I was really doing it right because I really did feel powerful.  The instructor was walking around and telling everyone was they were doing wrong and adjusting this and that (are you pushing into your back heel? I don’t think so.  Bend that knee so there is a box! Left hip back, right hip forward! Wider stance!  Narrower stance!) You have to hold the pose as she walks around and fixes everyone.  You feel like screaming, “do the pose already so we can stand up.”  The teacher walks by me, nods her head and winks at me and, I couldn’t believe it, she smiled!!  I was so proud.  My little yoga moment. My own little glimpse at Nirvana.

I loved all the people here. The lectures were fascinating and complex. Robert Thurman is obviously brilliant and I will have a lot of studying to do to understand half of what he is saying. But, the overall message is one of love, peace and compassion and that’s not too hard to follow.  I am very happy I went.  My mind is opened.  Much to learn.

Now in CT to check on the folks.  Received my workouts for the month.  Looks like some fun stuff planned.  Lots of work to do. But I feel ready.

2012, let’s do this!

Happy New Year and

Some pictures of Menla or you can just look here at better ones :

Little Buddha on the mountain side

The main building
.View from my room.

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