Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Fickle Luck

Luck, at least as it pertains to me, is an incredibly fickle beast. Usually, it works hard and makes all the major things in my life go very right, but when it comes to small day-to-day things, my luck can often be found sleeping on the job. As a result, I frequently experience a series of minor crises between major victories. Let me give you some examples.

In high school, I was lucky enough to graduate co-valedictorian of my class and get into my dream college, but I had a series of horrible suite mates while I was there, my Crohn's disease flared repeatedly due to stress, and I found out the hard way that the Podunk high school I graduated from didn't really prepare me academically for life at an Ivy League school. I graduated from my dream school and decided to take a year off before applying to law school, but I got a nasty infection while I was studying for the LSATs, wound up in the hospital for a week, never fully recovered, and needed a series of three surgeries.

Do you see what I mean by a series of minor crises between major victories? Graduating from my first choice college was a major victory, but nothing in those four years went quite according to plan. Surviving Apocalypse Crohn's was a major victory, but I spent an entire year so sick that I and everyone around me thought I would die. I am lucky to be alive, but the experience left me aged and haunted. It's like the universe wants me to have the things that are most important to me, but always, always, always there is a price.


Given my history with terrible day to day luck, I should have expected a few minor disasters on the road to my first marathon. Up to this point, I have dealt with knee issues, run some painfully slow miles, had stomach issues, and taken a nasty spill, but today's run was the worst disaster of all. I was planning to run 14 miles this afternoon. The weather was picture perfect and I felt great for the first couple of miles. I was almost to the greenway when I lost my footing on an uneven patch of sidewalk and rolled my ankle.


After taking a few steps to assess the damage, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to finish my run. A few more steps and I was pretty sure I was going to have trouble walking home. Every time I put weight on my foot a spot just below my ankle hurt. And of course, I left the house without money or a credit card so a cab was out of the question. I couldn't decide what to do so I called home. My mom told me to just call an ambulance, but I hated to do that since I really wanted to try ice and rest before I panicked and went to the emergency room. One of my aunts wound up calling a cousin who was in town for the day and she was able to drop me off at my building. I was really glad she was able to come get me because it would have taken me a really long time to hobble back home otherwise.

It has been several hours now and I'm fairly certain I'm not imagining the pain. I know it's hard to see in the picture, but I think the top of my foot is a little swollen. Plus, I had so much trouble putting weight on my foot after dinner that I cut up an old pair of stockings to make a makeshift compression wrap. Wrapping my foot helped a little, but I'll be getting it X-rayed tomorrow just to be safe. Maybe they'll tell me nothing serious is wrong. If I'm lucky, I'll have a functioning ankle just in time to have a major life victory and finish a marathon.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Two Ingredient Pizza Crust

Today, I spent 50 minutes at the gym and ate stuff. Okay, so I also started watching the last season of Skins (UK version) on Netflix. As a brief aside, if you haven't watched Skins, you are missing out big time. The show follows British teenagers during their last years in high school as they deal with everything from eating disorders to teenage pregnancy to death. After the first two seasons, you are introduced to a whole new cast of characters, and there is a new set of characters for seasons five and six as well. Most episodes focus on one character and by the end of each season, you have gotten to know each of the characters individually as well as together as part of the group. The series ends with a 7th season that revisits a few of the characters you fell in love with in the first 6 seasons. I've never seen another show quite like it (although there is a watered down American remake of the series that is nowhere near as good as the original.) 

After spending my morning lounging around, I made a quick one pot (or one rice cooker as it were) meal for lunch.


One of my aunts re-introduced me to quinoa while I was at home for Christmas and I've made it twice since I got back to Tennessee. This time, I added quinoa, black beans, shredded carrots, dried cranberries, red onion, and sliced chicken sausage to my rice cooker with various spices and enough water to cook the quinoa. When it was done, I was left with a hearty, healthy lunch and enough leftovers to last for a couple of days. I was tempted to have some of the leftovers for dinner too, but I kind of had a craving for pizza.


Yesterday I found a recipe for two ingredient pizza crust and today I left my warm apartment and went out into the cold wet universe to buy the necessary supplies. For the pizza crust you need plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat) and self-rising flour. I wanted to make a whole wheat version, but didn't see a self-rising whole wheat flour. Instead, I planned to add baking powder and salt to the flour when I mixed up the dough because according to the internet, that is how you make homemade self-rising flour. 

In true Ashley fashion, I forgot to add the baking powder and salt to the dough, but it didn't matter because I liked the end result anyway. I'm sure the dough would have puffed up and been prettier if I had remembered, but I was happy to know that the recipe works with or without self-rising flour. I flattened out the dough and pre-cooked it on my pizza stone for about 10 minutes in a 500 degree oven before adding fat free pizza sauce, light mozzarella, fresh basil, and turkey pepperoni and returning it to the oven for another 10 minutes. It was good. The Greek yogurt gave the crust a bit of a tangy flavor that went well with the pizza sauce and other toppings. I think the next time I make it I will add dried Italian herb seasoning to the dough and bake the crust a little bit longer, but other than that it was amazing.

In terms of quantities for the Greek yogurt and flour, my recommendation is this: start with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (I used one of those single serving Fage yogurts) and 1/2 a cup of whole wheat flour. Mix until well combined, then keep adding whole wheat flour a tablespoon or two at a time until you have a dough that holds together but is not sticky. From there, roll out your dough (or flatten it with your hands like I did) and pre-cook it for 5-10 minutes before adding your toppings. I know those measurements aren't very precise, but I followed a recipe that had me using way more flour than necessary and the next time I make this dough (and believe me, there will be a next time), I will be following this method instead of using their measurements.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Plague and Diva Cup Winner Announced

So, I kind of took an impromptu break from blogging. Whoops. Since the last time I posted there have been miles, calories, time with family, presents, more calories, and lots of binge television watching in between. Let's recap a little.


In the days before I headed home for Christmas, I spent a lot of time at the gym and walking. My knee has been acting up and I wanted to give it a break. I did get in a few short runs, but I skipped a 14 mile long run. I've decided to cut my running days down to 3 per week for the time being in the hopes that my knee will behave itself.


I'm also planning to do most of my longer runs on the flattest terrain I can find. My usual running spots have quite a bit of elevation gain and loss. Hills are great in terms of getting my heart rate up, but not so great in terms of keeping my knees healthy. I'm hoping that between cutting my mileage down, running on flatter streets, and cross training more I can stay pain free until after the marathon.


I went home the day before Christmas to spend some time with the family. As much as I love seeing them, that house is like a diet death trap. By the time I got home, my mom had baked a few hundred cookies and left a box of those peanut butter no-bakes within easy reach. There is never any truly healthy food around so the best I could do was turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread with mustard, apples, and egg whites. And no-bake cookies. And bourbon truffles. And other things I really wish I had not eaten.


I don't really think I'm a binge eater or anything like that, but there are definitely a lot of foods that I struggle with. I would never buy my problem foods, but they are ever present when I go home. It makes things hard. On top of that, I don't have easy access to gym equipment at home and there are no good places to walk or run. It was a recipe for disaster all around. I was incredibly thankful to leave and get back in the gym and back on track with my eating.


I woke up this morning and even though my stomach was hurting, I ate breakfast and headed out for an 8 mile run. As you can see from the photo above, it did not go as planned. It was cold out, but I was wearing enough layers to keep me comfortable and the new pair of mittens I got for Christmas were even keeping my hands warm. My knees felt pretty good and I thought I could knock out the eight miles easily right up until mile two when the nausea started. I've been living with Crohn's Disease since I was in high school and I can handle stomach pain pretty well. Nausea, on the other hand, I am not so good with. 


I managed to get through 4 of the 8 miles I had planned to run, but my stomach felt gross the whole time. I just kept thinking that the faster I moved, the faster I could get home and take some Pepto Bismol. I'm pretty sure I've caught whatever stomach virus is currently making the rounds, but hopefully it will only be a 24 hour thing. 

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Without further ado, the winner of the Diva Cup giveaway is:


Congratulations Abby! You have 48 hours to email me at downsizingashleyblog@gmail.com or a new winner will be chosen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Quiet Day

Yesterday I managed to dawdle most of the day and finally decided to go for a run in the evening. It was equal parts wonderful and awful.


My right knee has been bothering me again, but the pain wasn't horrible so I decided to wear a brace and run slow. The run was awful because my knee hurt just enough to annoy me for the whole run. It was wonderful because the weather was unseasonably pleasant. Tennessee went from icy patches on the street cold one week to mid-50s and practically warm for December the next. As much as I enjoyed the return to fall temperatures this week, I kind of wish the weather would make up its mind. My throat is ever so slightly sore now and I have a feeling the abrupt change in temperature has something to do with it.


Before I started running I changed my Garmin so that I couldn't see my average pace. I thought this would help me run slower, but apparently not seeing my average pace is actually the key to speeding up. Oops. As much as I loved seeing those faster splits, it wasn't good for my knee and it was bothering me again this morning. Instead of running, I went to the gym and spent some quality time with my favorite elliptical.


We've been spending more and more time together since my knee has been bothering me. I thought the polite thing would be to introduce everyone. His name is Toby. He spends all his time at the fitness center so I guess you could say he's a gym rat. He's reliable and always lets me pick what we do, but he has a nasty habit of asking me what I weigh whenever we hang out. Rude.

I was craving salmon so I bought some when I went to Trader Joe's this morning. I wound up baking it for dinner.


I was feeling lazy so I just coated the fish in Trader Joe's Sweet Chili Sauce instead of trying to think of something creative to do with it. I served it with brown basmati rice cooked in vegetable broth and a side of veggies. It wasn't my most exciting meal, but at least it was nutritious and healthy.

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If you haven't done so already, there is still time to enter my Diva Cup giveaway, which you can find here. The giveaway stays open until December 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM Central. Diva Cup is a great product for all you ladies who work out!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Diva Cup Review and Giveaway (CLOSED)

I think most women remember having the period talk. You know the one. You probably had the period talk with your mom or some older woman in your life somewhere around middle school. They probably sat you down and told you your body was changing and that you were becoming a woman. You probably felt awkward and uncomfortable and couldn't wait to get out of there so you could vent to your friends about how your mom took it to defcon crazy and it was mortifying. Well ladies, it's time to get a little awkward because today we are revisiting the period talk.

WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CUP?
In the early years of my period, my mom bought me Always pads and junior size tampons and I thought those were my only options. It wasn't until recently that I learned about a pad/tampon alternative called menstrual cups. Several companies sell them, but this review is about a specific brand called the Diva Cup

If, like me, you had never heard of a menstrual cup, I will give you a brief overview. When I first came across the Diva Cup website, I thought it was a revolutionary new thing, but according to Wikipedia, the first patent for a menstrual cup appeared in the 1930s.  Menstrual cups can be made of various materials, but the thing I liked about the Diva Cup is that it is made of silicone. Some cups are disposable, but the Diva Cup is reusable, meaning that if you take care of it, your Diva Cup might last you for years. 


The Diva Cup is shaped sort of like an upside down bell. The silicone is pliable and you insert it in the vagina by folding it to approximately the size of a tampon and sliding it in, being careful to angle it towards your tailbone. Once inserted, the cup pops open and forms a seal in your vagina allowing the cup to catch your menstrual fluid. Later, you carefully remove the cup by pinching the bottom of it to break the seal it has formed inside your body and you empty the fluid into the toilet. You then wash the cup and reinsert it. You repeat this process until the end of your period. Your body doesn't produce nearly as much menstrual fluid as you might think, and most women find that they can go up to 10-12 hours at a time without emptying their cup. At the end of your cycle, you wash the cup again and store it in the little drawstring bag that comes with the cup. If you want, you can boil the cup in a big pot of water to really sterilize if before you store it. If you're looking for more information, I suggest checking out Diva Cup's question and answers page, beginning with Your First Questions and How It Works. They also have an Educate and Empower page full of information about how your vagina and menstrual cycle works.

MY EXPERIENCE

Inserting the Cup
The Diva Cup is a really good alternative to tampons and pads, but there is a learning curve in terms of folding and inserting the cup properly. The Diva Cup website has some pictures and written instructions for how this works, but I was still confused. The thing that most helped me was watching youtube videos. This video shows you some ways to fold the cup. This video uses a glass tube to show you how to insert the cup. 

Inserting a menstrual cup is a little different from inserting a tampon because the diva cup has to be inserted at a different angle. Your vagina doesn't go straight up and down, but rather is tilted at an angle. You have to insert the Diva Cup at the same angle as your vagina to get a proper seal. The glass tube video does a really good job of explaining that part, though. Finally, I recommend watching this video because at around 1:50 she starts talking about how to get a tight seal and the information is very helpful. It involves flexing your muscles down there when you insert the cup, but she is far better at explaining it than I am.

Yeah, but is it gross?
Using the cup was actually less disgusting than using tampons. I always got blood on my hands when I changed my tampon, but since the Diva Cup forms a seal inside your body and catches the blood, nothing gets on your hands unless you tilt the cup too far when removing it. I also found that there is less of an odor when using the Diva Cup. Their website said this is because menstrual fluid only smells when air hits it and the seal formed by the Diva Cup keeps air out until you remove the cup. So, no smell. Thank you, Diva Cup.



Sports
One of the reasons I like the Diva Cup is because it is perfect for women who work out. The cup moves with your body so it is great for runners or people who do yoga, or swim, or hike or insert activity here. This is going to be some serious TMI, but I hate wearing underwear when I run or workout. Using the diva cup means that I can keep going commando even when I'm on my period and I don't have to worry about anything getting on my clothes. On another note, I found that once the cup is inserted properly, I don't really notice or feel it. I was worried that it would be uncomfortable to run with it in, but it wasn't. 

Washing the Cup
Diva Cup has really detailed care and cleaning instructions on their website. I know they sell their own soap for cleaning the cup called Diva Wash, but I didn't try that. Their instructions said you are supposed to wash it with unscented oil-free soap so I just washed mine with Ivory bar soap and haven't noticed any problems. Read their instructions and use your best judgment, though. If you are emptying the cup in a public bathroom you can always just bring a bottle of water in the stall and rinse it over the toilet. 

Sizing
Diva Cups come in two different sizes and they explain how to pick the right size for you on their website. Basically, there is a pre-childbirth model and a post-child birth/women over 30 model. I was a little bit confused about the over 30 part (since I'm relatively close to 30) so I did a little outside research. A lot of factors can go into what size menstrual cup you need like elasticity of the vagina, whether you have given birth vaginally, how heavy your flow is, etc. I saw one website say that women who aren't sure which size they need should consider buying the bigger cup first. That way, if it is too big (meaning it is uncomfortable), you can buy the smaller cup to use now and save the larger one for after you have kids. I know that might mean spending more money, but the logic made sense to me so I thought I would share it. 


Cost
On Amazon, the Diva Cup seems to sell for around $25. The cup comes with a little storage bag for when the cup is not in use. I know $25 is more than a package of pads or tampons, but keep in mind that the Diva Cup is reusable and can easily last you for years. Initially it will cost more than that $5 package of pads or tampons, but think about it this way: if you buy one box of tampons or one pack of pads at $5 a pop every month, you spend around $60 a year on menstrual products. If, on the other hand, you invest $25 in a Diva Cup, you will still save money even if you only use it for 6 months. Plus, you get the added benefit of knowing you are making the environmentally conscious choice since your dirty pads and tampons will no longer be cluttering up a landfill somewhere. Yes everone, I did, in fact, just go there.

Overall Experience
Once I got over the initial hurdle of learning to insert the cup, I had an overwhelmingly positive experience and I think I'll be a cup user for life. I found that when properly inserted, I didn't have leaks with the Diva Cup the way I always did with tampons. You can pee and stuff with the cup in and I only had to remove the cup twice a day to empty and wash it. When I was using tampons I had to change them at least ever three hours on heavy days and since they always leaked I had to wear a pad too. After years of putting up with pads and tampons, the Diva Cup was kind of a revelation.

One Last Note
If you have concerns, medical or otherwise, about whether the Diva Cup is right or safe for your body, you should totally discuss it with your doctor.

GIVEAWAY
Diva Cup is offering one lucky Downsizing reader a chance to win one of their menstrual cups. You can get one entry for each of the following things (6 entries possible):

1) Leave a comment on this post telling me whether you had ever heard of menstrual cups.
2) Follow @DownsizingBlog on Twitter and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.
3) Like Downsizing on Facebook and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.
4) Like Diva Cup on Facebook and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.
5) Follow @DivaCup on Twitter and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.
6) Follow me on Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin' and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.

You have until December 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM central to enter. You must leave a comment for each separate entry. Example: if you follow me and Diva Cup on Twitter, you have to leave two separate comments to get credit for both entries. At the end of the giveaway period, each comment will be assigned a number and I will use a random number generator to pick a winner. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me at downsizingashleyblog@gmail.com or a new winner will be chosen.

Disclaimer: Diva Cup was nice enough to send me one of their menstrual cups for free for the purposes of this review. I did not receive any additional compensation. As always, the opinions offered here are my own.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exploring

If there is one thing that Tennessee does really right, it's parks. There are a few parks that I already love and frequent, but I sometimes like to go on excursions to check out new greenways and trails. There is one park in particular that I've been meaning to take a walk in for a while, but I got so busy this semester that I didn't get a chance to go until this week. I wish I had gone sooner!


The Pisces in me is always drawn to water even though I can't swim and generally hate beaches. This park was great because it had a lake and a river. I wish I had brought some bread for the ducks, but I imagine plenty of people feed them since they appeared plump and pretty content about it.


It took me a while to figure it out, but there are additional multi-use trails not far from the lake. I spent some time wandering down by the river and snapping pictures as I went.


My legs are still pretty sore from Sunday's 18 miler, so I took it easy yesterday and today. The temperature got into the 50s this afternoon so it was a perfect day for a lazy walk with a good audiobook.


I started listening to the first book in the Vampire Academy series yesterday since the movie is coming out soon. I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I still read some books from the young adult section. Actually, that's not true. I have zero shame. I mean, did you really expect me to skip The Hunger Games just because it didn't come out until I was in college? 


I think Vampire Academy will be light and fun, which is exactly what I needed after a rough semester. I have always read as a form of escapism so it shouldn't come as a surprise that my favorite books are set in worlds where fantastical creatures like vampires exist. 


Every now and then I read a book that delves into real world social issues, but mostly I want to avoid harsh reality in literature since it is so unavoidable in life.

Apart from my afternoon spent exploring, I had a relatively boring day. I went to Trader Joe's this morning to buy a jug of their unsweetened tea and made the mistake of stopping at the sample table. They had mini hot dogs wrapped in some sort of pastry and smeared with mustard. I should have known there was a problem when the scent of mustard made me salivate because who salivates over mustard anway? Before I had even finished chewing I found myself heading towards the meat aisle to see if the had any hot dogs and buns that would not destroy my diet. I wound up buying some whole wheat buns and some chicken hot dogs. 


I have never really been a hot dog person, but these chicken ones were pretty good. I ate them with Sweet and Hot mustard and less guilt than expected. It wound up being a really good day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The 18-miler

I usually do my long runs on Saturdays, but due to inclement weather this week's long run was yesterday. Since this will be my first marathon, my weekly long runs are frequently my longest run ever. When I ran 14 miles a few weeks ago, for instance, that was my longest run up to that point. When I looked at the training schedule and saw 18 miles for this week, though, that was a truly terrifying distance. 

I think the problem was that 18 is much closer to marathon distance than any of my long runs have been so far. Fourteen miles is only a little further than a half marathon, but 18? That is dangerously close to 26.2 and if I can't make it through 18 miles, how am I ever going to make it through a marathon? I desperately needed to survive this run without any major catastrophes. My A) goal was to move at a 15 minute mile or faster pace and my B) goal was just to keep moving.


I had planned my route to take me through two local parks that I like. The first park has a nice 3+ mile multi-use path. Do y'all remember this park? The picture is from last spring. The path is still there even though the flowers aren't :)


I planned to stay in the first park until I was at least 10 miles into my run and then head towards the second park for a while before turning towards home. The picture below is from a recent walk in the second park. 


Sorry for the repeat park porn, everyone. I would have taken new pictures yesterday, but I couldn't bring myself to take my gloves off for that long. Anyway, I wound up doing two loops in park one before heading to the second park. It was a fairly hilly route, but I thought the miles would go by faster if I had a nice place to run. 


Even though my fingers were ridiculously cold, I had to use two port-o-potties along the way, and I got a blister on my little toe during mile 16, I am counting this run as a success. For the most part I was able to stick to my pace goal, and on top of that I had a chance to try out the fruit wraps I found at Trader Joe's the other day.


Up to this point I have been reticent about discussing my fueling strategy for the marathon, mainly because up to this point I haven't had an official fueling strategy for the marathon. After this run, I think I might have it together. I brought enough fruit wraps (think fruit roll-ups but smaller) to eat one every hour. It worked out really well. The fruit wraps are thin and light which means they are easy to carry in a belt. They are a little harder to get out of the wrapper than I would like, but once you get them open they are pretty easy to eat on the go. I didn't have any stomach issues at all and at 50 calories per wrap they gave me just enough energy to keep going mile after mile without making me feel full. I think I might experiment with taking them every 45 minutes during one of my shorter long runs just to see if I like that better. 

When I finally got done, I was tired and sore. I kept wondering how ultra marathoners do it if 18 miles is this hard. I ultimately decided that they were either superhuman or crazy. I'm leaning towards crazy. Cult-joining, manifesto-writing, crazy kool-aid-drinking crazy. All I know is that I will be really excited when taper begins.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Today's Accomplishments


I'm not entirely sure where my day went. I mean, I did stuff, but the hours went by kind of fast. It started this morning when I decided to get in 8 miles before lunch. It was 16 degrees out. Sometimes I have terrible ideas. I was wearing cold weather running tights and a matching hoodie with another long sleeve shirt on top. My body was warm enough, but my fingers were freezing even though I was wearing two pairs of gloves.

I started listening to a new audiobook yesterday during my walk, but didn't get very far in the book or the walk before my phone died. 


The book is called Blood Work by Michael Connelly. I'm still at the beginning of the recording, but I think I'm going to like. The general gist is that Terrell McCaleb is a retired FBI agent who recently received a heart transplant. One day, a woman shows up on the house boat where he lives and asks for his help. The woman has never met McCaleb, but they are already connected because McCaleb received her sister's heart. Her sister's death was not some tragic accident--it was a murder and there will be no retribution if McCaleb doesn't use his skills as an investigator to bring the killer to justice.

I decided to go audiobook over music today because I always move slower when I'm listening to a book. Since my knees were bothering me last week I want to take all of my runs this week super slow and easy. I need to get the miles in, but I also want to avoid injury. Slow and steady it is.


After I got home and regained feeling in my extremities, I decided to mark grocery shopping off my to-do list. There's a reason you shouldn't go shopping when you're hungry. As I was wandering through Trader Joe's I kept thinking of things that I "needed." I "needed" some chocolate almond butter to go in my oatmeal and I "needed" some  reduced fat cheese puffs just in case. I "needed" to try the free sample of fingerling potatoes with hollandaise even though I don't like potato skins. I also decided to try a jug of unsweetened kettle brewed black tea and these things called fruit wraps.


I originally wandered over to that aisle because I thought I "needed" gummy bears of some sort. I didn't see gummy bears, but I saw these guys and thought I would give them a shot. I've been using fruit purees as fuel during my long runs, but they are kind of bulky and I don't think I'll want to carry them during the marathon. I tried one of the fruit wraps today and it was delicious. It reminded me of Fruit Rollups and assuming that they agree with my stomach, I think these might be my marathon fuel of choice. They are lightweight, should fit into a belt easily, and they taste good. Win, win, win.

I spent the rest of my day Huluing. Shut up spell check. It is too a word. I watched the most recent episode of Once Upon a Time and decided to see what the deal is with The Sing Off. A Capella was a really big deal at my college, and I probably went to dozens of performances during my four years in New Haven. It's not half bad. There are some shows that I watch and pay close attention to (Scandal, The Blacklist, etc.) and there are some shows that I like to have playing in the background while I do other stuff. The Sing Off is definitely a background noise kind of show. 

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Is anyone else really excited about all the movies coming out lately? I really loved the Hunger Games books and I finally got to go see Catching Fire after my last exam on Monday. So, so good. From what I remember they stayed pretty true to the books, and they really did it justice. In other movies based on books news, The Hobbit is coming out tomorrow and Divergent is coming out in the next few months. Some movies I am okay with waiting for the DVD, but some movies are so big that they have to be seen in theatre. Movies based on books? Those usually have to be seen in the theatre. I'm thinking The Hobbit will be happening soon.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Exam Carnage

Much like the aftermath of a battle, all that is left after exam period is carnage. I finished my last exam on Monday afternoon and I came home to a train wreck of an apartment. I neglected to load the dishwasher during exam period and was out of clean bowls. The trash can was full. I won't tell you how big the laundry pile was (is) but I couldn't seem to find any clean underwear. There was hardly any food in the apartment that did not come from a can, and the bathroom. Well, we won't talk about the bathroom.

So far, I have done one load of laundry, and one load of dishes. And I cooked stuff, but that really only got more dishes dirty so depending on how you look at it that was completely counterproductive. But at least there was tortilla soup with homemade croutons.


And then there was No Guilt Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream for dessert.


Have you guys ever made banana ice cream? It's super easy. You put frozen sliced bananas in a food processor (I used the my Ninja food prep bowl) and process until creamy and smooth. That's it. One ingredient and if you blend it long enough, it turns into something like soft serve ice cream. If you like a little decadence in your life you can add things like PB2 powdered peanut butter, and/or a spoonful of brownie mix because yum.


I also did a little baking because I had all the ingredients for an old Weight Watchers favorite on hand. For this one, all you need is a can of pumpkin and a cake mix (I used a yellow cake mix, but spice cake and white cake mix would also work well). Instead of following the instructions on the cake mix, you preheat the oven to 350, blend the can of pumpkin into the cake mix (it will be really thick), spray mini loaf pans with cooking spray, spoon the mix into the pans (or cupcake pans, or a cake pan), and bake until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Mine took 40ish minutes, but cooking times will vary so I would check it every 10-15 minutes. It's a really moist cake to begin with, so it's hard to truly overcook it.

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I am disappointed to say that I had to abandon the Runner's World Running Streak. I wanted to make it to the end really bad, but I started having a lot of knee pain and I had to take last week off. I still got in as many miles as I could on the elliptical at the gym, but I skipped my 17 mile long run on Saturday as well as a 4 mile run I had planned to do on Sunday. 

It was really hard for me to take time away from marathon training, but I know better than anyone that knees are fragile things. I have dealt with Runner's Knee since I started running. Normally my left knee is the one that causes the problems, but last week my right knee started hurting. The thing that really convinced me that I needed to take a week off was that my knee wasn't just hurting when I was running. It started hurting when I stood up or sat down and when I was walking up and down stairs as well. I knew it would just get worse if I kept pushing so I decided to stop for a while and see how my knees were feeling after I took a break.

After about three days I was able to walk without the nagging pain and standing and sitting was more comfortable. After the full week everything was back to normal, so I went back to running yesterday.


It was only four miles, but I felt pretty good before during and after. I took it really easy and just enjoyed being outside. I've always preferred fall and winter to the heat of the spring and summer so it's no surprise that I emerge into the great outdoors this time of year as most southerners start to stay in. I didn't really mind the cold. The only problem I had during this run was that the ground was a little hazardous.


Normally we don't get much snow in Tennessee, but last week it got pretty cold and there were patches of ice and snow on the running path and sidewalk. I had to slow to a walk during some of my running intervals to avoid falling sliding to an icy death on the mean streets of Tennessee. Here are my splits: 


Today I decided to take it easy and not run. Instead, I went for a few short walks. After breakfast, I walked a couple of miles to a grocery store near where I live instead of driving to Trader Joe's. After lunch I went to the park.


The good thing about being done for the semester is that I have lots of free time. The bad thing about being done for the semester is that I have lots of free time. I'm used to being so busy I barely have time to breathe, but for the next few weeks I can slow down and it feels bizarre. So far I've occupied myself cooking, getting in my miles, and binge watching old seasons of the Amazing Race on Hulu. For some reason it never occurred to me to check out this show even though I love to travel, but better late than never. The travel component may have made it my favorite reality/competition type show, narrowly beating out Survivor and Big Brother for the win. Maybe I'll apply to be on the show at some point. Anyone want to be my teammate? 

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Plague of Water

I was sitting in my apartment this afternoon trying to decide when I would reach a good stopping point in my Criminal Procedure review when I heard water running in my apartment. I hadn't left the water running in the bathroom so I got up to see what was happening. Imagine my horror when I walked towards my bathroom and saw this:


That, ladies and gentleman is exactly what it looks like. That is water and it is pouring out of a light fixture in my ceiling. I stared in horror for a minute because it was brown and nasty and it it was getting all over my floor and splattering up the walls. I hoped I was having a bad dream for a second, but no, it was just my life.

I finally pulled it together enough to go to the management office and tell them I had a maintenance emergency and I needed someone to come fix it immediately. I should have known nothing in my life could possibly be that easy. Mine was not the only apartment having this problem. There were at least twenty apartments in various states of crisis and not enough maintenance men to go around. They told me they would get to me in the order they received the maintenance requests. Great. Meanwhile, back in my apartment:


There was foul water all over my floor and splashing up my walls. At this point I tried to get to my bathroom only to discover that there was gross water dripping out of the bathroom ceiling too. I got an umbrella out of my purse and put on rain boots so that I could get to my toilet without any of that water getting on me. I really wish I was kidding, but I'm not.

I had planned to head out just before dinner to run a mile, but the sun set while I was waiting for maintenance to come and make my apartment habitable again. When they finally showed up, I learned that the fire department had decided to flush a fire hydrant and the epic mess in my apartment was all their doing. The management office assured me that it was rust, not sewage making the water that color, but I'm not entirely sure I cared at that point. Foul brown water is foul brown water, especially when it is pouring out of my ceiling onto the floor of my apartment and creeping ever closer to the carpet in my bedroom and living room. 

It was dark by the time maintenance drained the lighting fixture and mopped my floor. I was completely stressed and furious by then and I almost skipped the mile I had planned to run in order to keep my running streak going even though Mondays are normally rest days. I made myself go run just to calm down.


My Criminal Procedure exam is on Wednesday and instead of spending my afternoon going over my notes or making a flow chart, I was busy wondering if having water coming through a light fixture was dangerous and whether I should be concerned about all the germs in that water since the Humira I take for my Crohn's Disease suppresses my immune system. I felt a little less irritated when I finished my mile, but not much. Between this debacle and the incident in October with my refrigerator, I am none too happy with my apartment building right now...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Runner's World Holiday Running Streak Day 4


I've gotten into the habit of doing a short, slow run on the day after my long run. I don't remember when I started doing that during this training cycle or why, but for some reason it has worked well for my body. Even when my long run goes horribly and my legs feel wrecked when I wake up the next day, getting in a few miles makes them feel better. That was definitely true of today's run.


My legs were bothering me when I got up this morning. I got new shoes not too long ago and the running store I go to didn't have my usual Brooks Adrenaline in stock. I needed new shoes immediately so I got a pair of Asics that are supposedly similar. The Asics have gel in them which I didn't really like, but I decided to give them a shot and see if I liked them once I broke them in. 


I've been wearing them since late October. As of today, I've put approximately 149 miles on them. I can honestly say at this point that me no likey. I had occasional problems with my knees when I was wearing the Brooks Adrenalines, but I've had frequent problems with my knees while wearing these Asics. I'm going to keep using them until I wear them out in another 150 miles or so, but I'll be going back to my trusty Adrenalines after that. 

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I've been experiencing pup envy a lot lately. My law school recently had a cutest pet contest and I was a little jealous of my classmates' cute fur babies. Plus I run in local parks a lot and I see people out walking or running with their dogs and it always makes me want to get one too. 

Confession time: I occasionally troll local animal shelter adoption pages and pick out which dog I would adopt if I had my life together enough to do that kind of thing. I also frequently google things like "best dog breeds for running"and I have a mental checklist of criteria my ideal dog would have. So far, I want a rescue dog that is around 1 or 2 years old, already knows basic commands and is housebroken, is active enough to go for short to mid distance runs with me, but not so active that s/he will tear up my apartment on non-running days. I don't want a tiny dog or a huge dog, something in between, and a relatively calm demeanor would be a plus. I don't know why I bother since I'm in no position to adopt a dog, but somehow I keep finding myself coming back to this territory.

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I will apologize in advance in case my posting gets a little infrequent over the next two weeks. It's exam period around these parts and until I'm done for the semester, I'm about that law student life. Y'all know what I mean.


I'll be spending most of my time with my boyfriend Emanuel, pictured above and we'll be binge drinking Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea because coffee and my stomach are not friends.


I'm probably a little late in sharing this, but have y'all seen the Whole Foods Parking Lot music video yet? I've maybe watched this multiple times today.


Enjoy!