Friday, 30 March 2012

The End of the Gluten-free Experiment...

...and the interesting results. Those of you who actually read this blog will remember that I started a gluten-free cleansing in late January, following this restricted diet very scrupulously for eight weeks, searching for answers to mild-to-moderate digestive upset. After a nasty detox period, I started feeling pretty darned good, then slowly worsening again. Up and down, up and down, etc. Anyway, the goal was to completely cleanse my body then re-introduce gluten to see if it was the culprit. Apparently, it wasn't. Re-introduced gluten this past week with no (worse than usual) ill-effects. Although I didn't find the diet particularly difficult to follow (being a vegan, I'm already used to working with a restrictive diet), going back to gluten is fine as I don't have to be as worried eating out, etc. I am glad that I did the test, though, as at least I know gluten is not the problem. Right now, I'm thinking it's just good old-fashioned aging and the wonderful changes that occur going through menopuase. I passed all of my medical tests with flying colours (in fact, my doctor and his nurse were surprised at them, and asked if I've been training - truth be told, I was wearing one of my marathon shirts at the time, LOL!, but you can't argue with a BP of 100/65, which I was told is where athletes' BP rests!). My blood work still needs to come back. I know now that some of my digestive isues are due to iron supplements prescribed for perimenopause issues. Ah, well. If this is the worst it gets, I'm doing just fine, ladies and gentlemen; just fine, indeed.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tweaking the Training Chart

Coming up to the end of the first 4-microcycle period of my Intensification Phase and have found the need to tweak the chart I developed for use. I needed a bit more room to write anecdotal notes about the workouts, as well as some other improvements, so I made a new chart for each 4-microcycle period rather than having both of them on the same page. I am finding the program I worked out itself quite good and have been keeping on track. The 10-day microcycle was a brainstorm: it has flexibility with its two back-to-back easy days (so I can flip a hard and easy day if need be, depending on what day of the week things fall on), and it gives me the ability to fit all the different types of workouts I want into one timeframe. Here is the new chart, followed by some brief comments on the changes I made:

-there is a place at the top near the title for date and duration of phase
-small blue boxes in each cell for day of the week (that really helps with keeping track)
-small black boxes in each cell for daily mileage
-gray boxes in the date column for projected weekly LSD distance
-description in the mileage column to outline weekly mileage goal and the actual mileage
-a brief description on the hard days of the type of workout (this can change as time goes on)

A lot of these improvements aid in planning the upcoming microcycle (particularly mileage and intensity), but mostly, as I said before, this gives me more room to write.

I also have largish printouts of my actual timed workouts (intervals, Yasso 800s, incline) that I hang by my treadmill. They need to be large so I can actually see them when on the treddie (aging eyes, you know)! These I can tweak on the computer as time goes on and need arises, but I also keep all of the older ones as they are helpful at the beginning of a training phase. Needless to say, I don't have a programmable treddie, and I find the programs that came with it woefully inadequate, so this regulated manual approach works for me.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Marathon Walking dilemna....

A member of my favourite walking forum, The Walking Site, posted today about the results of the "walking division" of a half marathon seeming far too fast for walkers, and he's right. The times listed would put you just about ready for the Olympics! The problem? "Walkers" actually running part of the race. It's  a perennial problem for races offering separate divisions for walkers. Some races (like Columbus) have you wear a separate back bib stating you are a competitive walker so you are watched (supposedly) by race officials here and there along the route (as well as by other racers, presumably). Because of this vigilance, they do give out awards for walking divisions. It must mean having a lot of extra personnel around, though. Most races with walking divisions just put you on the honour system, and we all know what happens with that - the truly honourable get the short end of the stick. As a result, they don't give out awards, but might post results separately, which still doesn't help us truly know how we are doing against other walkers (as some of the finishers in the "Walking" division didn't walk the whole thing). Other events simply "welcome walkers", which means our results get lumped in with the runners. This is okay if you're simply competing against yourself. However, with a huge upswing of dedicated walkers taking to the racing field these days, something's gotta give. I don't know what the answer is, aside from  walkers-only marathons and half marathons where ANYONE running is DQ'd. There are currently some events of this type, but they're certainly not as prevalent as running events. There must be a way to integrate walkers and runners fairly. If you have any suggestions to offer race directors let me know!     

Upcoming Racewalking Clinic!

There are very few racewalking events in my neck of the woods (the Windsor area of Ontario, Canada). However, I lucked into finding Pegasus Walkers AC just over the border in a suburb of Detroit ( I attended one of their (free!) racewalk clinics last year and found it very helpful and the people friendly and welcoming. A very positive experience! Well, they just posted part of this year's schedule and there are some more clinics coming up in April.

These events are a godsend to people like me who have no local coaches. I'm signed up for the April 7th one, just in time to tweak my technique before my 10K and half marathon!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hammock test hang

Thought I'd try out the camping hammock today as the weather was gorgeous. Took me a while to find a couple of appropriate trees in my yard that weren't surrounded by water or a quagmire of mud (we had some big storms last night), so it isn't ideal, but I wanted to practice.
I made my own set of "snake skins". These are long tubes that the hammock, canopy and everything roll up into so they're super easy to set up. Here's what the package looks like next to my size 37 Birkie:

Now I can get the package a lot smaller and it fits very nicely into the outside mesh pocket of my backpack, but this is how I bunched it up last night after putting on the snake skins.

The trees, as I said, were not ideal, so I had to hang the hammock fairly low. That's okay for a test run. Here it is tied up loosely to balance. You can see how the snake skins keep everything nice and neat and your hammock never gets dirty!
Around the trees themselves you use straps called "tree huggers" which are wide woven straps to protect the tree bark. Hammock camping is very much about LNT (Leave No Trace). All you have to do now is tighten up the ridgeline and tie the lashing/knot that keeps the whole thing from crashing down. Then you slide back the two snakeskins (they meet in the middle) and VOILA:

Stake out the lines on the canopy, get in and Ahhhhhh!

The top half of the hammock itself is mosquito mesh. There are hooks and a gear bag attached to the ridgeline on the inside. The hammock can be folded back to be used as a chair as well! The canopy can be removed if you just want to look up at the stars all night. Of course, this one is hanging way too low. When I got in, my butt almost touched the ground. It WAS very comfortable, though! I'll report back once I've actually used it!

If you are in an area with no trees, there are still many ingenious ways to use these, from setting them up in a kayak to using walking sticks to set it up as a bivy.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Thought I'd pop in with a few bits and pieces that have no relationship to each other at all (kind of how my brain works...random ).

 Cartoon_brain : Running Brain Cartoon Character

First, food stuff:

For those of you who love roasted garlic but are strapped for time, here's an amazing tip I found in a dusty corner of cyberspace somewhere: you can microwave it! And it only takes one to one and a half minutes as opposed to over an hour in the oven. It's true! I've been doing it this way for a while now. Now obviously you can't use foil if you're going to nuke it. I use my old tried and true garlic roaster:

Here's the lovely garlic before. Trim off the top and discard any loose papery skin. I also add a bit of olive oil and fresh ground pepper before covering it and zapping it. It comes out like this:

Yummy, no? While not quite as carmelized as those done in the oven, the cloves are "sweet" and soft. I not only put them on bread and crackers, but add the whole roasted cloves to my stirfries, etc.


The next tip is a gadget I bought a while ago and just started to use today. It's a little pump spray bottle for oil so you don't have to buy those nasty aerosol ones:

I got mine from my Avon Lady. You can add any kind of oil to it. Pump the top, remove and spray. Nifty!

And for my final word from the kitchen today, here is a pic of sweet chocolatey healthy goodness: PL Mocha Macaroons:

These are just too good.....

Next time from the kitchen I just might be persuaded to share an amazing vegan and gluten-free waffle recipe. Simply the best waffle of any kind I have come across!

And Now in Other News:

Check this out: instead of subscribing to Women's Adventure Magazine for $20 plus shipping for 4 issues, get it free online here:
Create a free account, read the recent issue and all of the past issues! Amendment: It actually appears that you don't need an account to read the online issues. Just access them at the addy above. The ads and articles are clickable, so you don't have to dog-ear your mag to look up things later! I'm thinking that's how they can offer the mag in this format, because the ads are right there and usable. Advertising rules the publishing world, after all. I just finished reading two issues and will get on to the others soon. 

Our Hennessy Hammock came in this week, but it's been too darned cold and windy to go out and set it up. I'm really excited to try it out, and will post when we finally get around to it. Related to this, we've started planning our annual August New Mexico backpacking adventure (helps get us through the winter doldrums), and are hoping that these hammocks will lighten our load in the backcountry. Also looking into the Steripen for water purification. In New Mexico, you need a fair bit of water while hiking, and I carry a large Camelbak reservoir while Mike goes for bottles and collapsible containers. Still, on really long hikes and overnights you will need to use water sources out there if available. We've been using a very powerful filter, but I'm still kind of paranoid since water quality continues to deteriorate the more people and critters are out there in the bush. The Steripen uses UV to get rid of everything the filter does (giardia, crypto, some bacteria, etc.) plus bacteria and viruses. Although viruses aren't really a huge issue in the water here in North America (they are in other countries), I still go by the "better safe than sorry" mantra. That's me - suspenders AND a belt.