Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: A Huge Disappointment

I went into 2014 thinking this was the year I'd finally have another breakthrough in the marathon, that I would smash all of my PRs, that I would be injury free. Little did I know at the time, 2014 had something else In store for me.

I started the year out strong. Running outside when I could- which wasn't very much do to the extreme cold polar vortex shit that descended upon Chicago.

I was happy to see the pancake ice again swaying in the lake.

I ran long runs on the treadmill before work nearly every week that I was training for Knoxville. Yay for waking up at 3am to run 20 miles before work on a Thursday. Yay.

All that work paid off when I ran my 2nd fastest marathon ever on a hilly beast of a course. I was nearly all smiles for 26.2, which was exactly what I needed after I blew up at Fox Valley in 2013 due to fu$king hormones.

I took some time off running post Knoxville. I thought- maybe I could run another late spring marathon and BQ!

I went for a run one night while it was kinda stormy at the end of April. It was gorgeous. I remember speeding up the last 4 miles to out kick the fast approaching storm and get some burgers from 5 Guys.
The last photo I took before my cankle returned.

The next morning I ran on the treadmill and a familiar pain started in my calf/ankle. I was devastated. I knew that the Tendinosis of the peroneal tendon had returned.

I took some time off, and it started feeling better so I ran the inaugural Original 5k put on by fleet feet. But I knew that I had a long couple of months before I would be able to run again.

I started going to PT, something which lasted 4 months. I started lap swimming in a pool.

I even got to the point where I thought doing a triathlon would be a good idea. Because so much of the race would be activities which wouldn't hurt my ankle.

I knew my old blue specialized bike would be up to the challenge.

I even bought a wet suit so I could practice some open water swims, because I was "all in" for the TRI.

The triathlon was a blast and I was so happy to finally give a multisport race a chance.

After 4 months of PT, including 4 weeks of absolutely NO RUNNING, I graduated and started running little by little again. Of course now it was cold out and not my favorite time of year to run. I love sweating my balls off during the summer. Layering up and freezing to death just sucks for me.
But I was happy to be able to run in hot weather for a week in Brasil. It was springtime there after all.

So 2014 was a huge disappointment for running (once again). I didn't get a single PR and got injured again. I only ran 3 races, only one of which I actually "raced."

The interesting thing is that I feel 2014 was one of the best years athletically for me. I ran a decent marathon, learned how to swim (beyond the dog paddle), completed a triathlon, and most important- took care of myself by going to PT.

In May, right after the tendinosis returned, I contemplated giving up running entirely. I've been plagued with injuries for as long as I've been running- 15+ years and felt it was no longer worth it to continue on with these injury cycles and damage my tendons further. But before giving up entirely, I gave PT a shot. Best. Decision. Ever.

After more consistent running including long runs and fast paced runs recently, I finally feel the tendinosis won't return. With 3 days left in December, I will surpass my 2013 December running mileage.

So while 2014 was a huge disappointment for my running, It ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me because I finally got the help I needed to sort out the imbalances and weak hips which were causing chronic issues for me.

So here's to a much better 2015. It can only get better from here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Shoes and running,and clarinets and making beer...

Ive been lacking motivation to run. Summer is my favorite time to run- i love the heat, and the chance to wear as little clothes as possible. Winter = dark, icy, and cold. None of which are conditions I like to run in. I trip a lot, I dont want to injure myself on ice, and the cold makes my hands feel as if my hands have been smashed with a hammer. Sitting on my comfy stationary bike has been my workout of choice lately...
It's pathetic for me to not even break 20 running miles a week and i've only done that 2 times in the past 6+ months. But, PT and my long term vision for ending my injury cycles have been #1. Now that i'm overcoming my anxiety of running more miles, I want to have goals. I want 2015 to be the year of the PRs!

Black friday, cyber monday whatever. I bought 2 new pairs of running shoes- Nike Zoom Fly and Mizuno Wave Hitogami. Both are extremely light (because those extra ounces add up, yo!) and feel pretty good- they have different heel to toe drops, but I am always about variety.  Different shoes for different workouts and all that jazz. Gotta keep the muscles engaged and on their toes.
Saturday was on the warmish side, so I took CB for a run. He saw some Canadian geese and had a great time running 5.5 miles with me.
Post run I made beer. Not any of that extract/syrup shit, but legit all grain brewing.  We have a one gallon set up which is perfect for our apartment.The "standard" home brewer would make 5 gallon batches. I cannot fathom making that much beer. I made an extremely hoppy IPA and if all goes well, in 2-3 weeks I'll have a delicious beer to drink.

The various stages of brewing- the "mash" process where the grains are soaked in hot water to get their flavor and sugars into the water. The OMG delicious smelling hop pellets for "the boil." And our fermentation vessel.
After the mash in, I had 2.5 lbs of spent grain left over. I could have tossed it out, but there was a precious pup who insisted I make biscuits.
With the spent grain I added flour, peanut butter and eggs to make the dough. *No hops are in the spent grain. Those are poisonous to dogs.
The pup supervised me and made sure all the ingredients were perfect.
The pup was drooling while "supervising" me. CB and one of 11 dough balls.
I used my new bear cookie cutter to make 74 bear cookies for CB and his BFF Tomoe. My oven was filled with spent grain biscuits!!! And I still have half the dough left in my freezer! I even taste tested a leg of one of the bears- and it was ok. Not overly sweet or flavorful. But CB approved. Spent grain can also be used to make bread.
To back track a little, On Friday evening I restored all my clarinets. I cleaned their wood bodies, I oiled them, I waxed the outside and cleaned their corks. For the first time in almost 4 years they saw the light of day. It was oddly relaxing to do this- something I had not done since I lived in Mexico and played professionally in an orchestra. It has been a struggle for me to enjoy classical music since leaving Mexico since it brings up so many mixed emotions. A story for another day...
I did all of this because I want to play again. It's taken me 4+ years to actually want to play them again  and before I could do that, I needed to perform the necessary maintenance on them. I would hate for them to crack because I didn't oil their wood. Thankfully they were all in great condition. I've played a few times now- only the Bb clarinet and plan to play the bass, my favorite, soon.
My Clarinets: Eb, Bb, A, and my favorite: Bass Clarinet.

Sunday I went for another run outside. It was cold and windy. I had originally planned to run 8-10 miles, but after going into the freezing headwind for 3 miles, I called it at 6. I just cannot handle the cold. I did another 2.5 on the treadmill once I returned.
The waves were crashing on the sea wall which, despite the cold, was so mesmerizing to me.
I am excited to build a good base going into 2015 and start chasing the goals I had to put on hold during 2014.
I just need to figure out what those goals will be...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sao Paulo: the rest of the trip- aka I found CB's cousin & went to my 1st Brasilian BBQ!

After FINDING GODOFREDO and going to the Parque Ibirapuera, and eating delicious things, and seeing friends and family, we woke up to go back to the park to run again.
Just like the previous days, there were loads of vultures.
And we took more selfies in the park.
And then, heading towards us, was a RED BORDER COLLIE! I ran over to it and started petting her. We told her human, that we had a CB at home and I got a photo with this beautiful gal- her name is Nala. She was the polar opposite of CB- really outgoing and friendly.
Then we got breakfast at the park again. Below is sugar cane which they grind up to make "caldo de cana" sugar cane juice.
Reason 1489273546  that I love this park- asides from the fresh coconut water vendors, there are a few open air restaurants in the park.
While waiting for our food and juice, I realized a bird had shit on me. Good luck, right?
Breakfast of champions: Sugarcane juice, coffee and french bread with ooey gooey cheese.
Post breakfast, we walked to the other side of the park to meet our friends who were taking turns doing laps/ letting their dog play in the "dog area."
On our way to meet them, we had another GODOFREDO sighting!!
There he is strutting his stuff in the middle of the photo.
Then we made it to the dog area and saw our friends, and their spunky dog, Logan.
Later that day was time for my 1st Brasilian BBQ!!!

In the USA, at condos or apartment buildings there is sometimes a common space, a rec room you can rent out for parties, in Brasil there are outdoor BBQ spaces to rent at the condos.
The party was a celebration of the conference that my husband and his friends organize each year. They had a lot of booze left over from the con, and decided to use it up at this party.

I am not a huge meat eater. I rarely cook meat at home, and when I go out to eat, I generally prefer vegetarian dishes. BUT, since I was in Brasil at a legit Brasilian BBQ with a chef hired to cook for us, I ate some meat. It tasted far superior to anything I have eaten in the United States- outside of the Brasilian steak houses... All you need is salt to season the meat, not a load of crappy preservative laden spices to kill the true flavor.
It was at this party, that I really solidified my Portuguese. Seeing some more friends, and their baby for the first time was amazing, even more so, was that I could speak to them in Portuguese and understand what they were saying. To be able to connect with these friends was so wonderful.
L playing with baby M melted my heart.
The cool thing I noticed about a Brasilian BBQ is the adults are getting hammered while the kids run around and play. It's the perfect mix. And so much fun! There is no specific formal time to sit down and eat, but instead the chef keeps cooking and you grab delicious food as you want.

'Grammin all of our beers and posting them on Untappd.

We had so much fun seeing everyone. I will never forget my first legit Brasilian BBQ.

And then the party was over.

Post BBQ we went back to our friend's place (the hosts of the BBQ) and I made a new friend. Shhhhhhhhsh, dont tell CB!
When we left to go home in a cab I noticed we had missed the turn for our hotel, and when the cab stopped there were a lot of Christmas lights up on the building. All i could think in my drunken stupor was "this doesn't look like the hotel."
Turns out we were at Joakin's- famous for their smiley fries. At 2am, it was a busy place. I didn't feel too good, so all I ate were a few smiley fries. After playing with some...
The next morning, and my last in Brasil, we went back to the Parque Ibirapuera. I was pretty bummed it would be my last time there for this trip.
We were short on time, and hungover so we only did one lap in the park. I tried out one of my new running skirts from Track and Field and made L take a photo of me running in it.
And we took one last selfie before heading to breakfast.
On the way to breakfast, we saw some more cool graffiti.
And then we landed at St. Etienne- where I got my favorite sandwich- "Natural no. 5" again. I miss the cheese, banana and cinnamon....
Post breakfast we got packed and went to Mae and Pai's house.

We met them, dropped off our bags and went to O Compadre, a buffet with food from the state of Minas Gerias. I had a passion fruit caipirinha. The food was plentiful and diverse- with salad, and meats, and seafood dishes. All were really good.
L's parents walking through the shopping center post lunch. :)
And full of food, we took one last selfie. We spent some time with Mae and Pai before I had to leave.

Then it was time for me to head to the airport GRU, and go home. L went with me and hung out for a while before I went through security and immigration. The airport has changed a lot since my last visit. A new international terminal was added which is beautiful and way more organized than the old terminal.
I was sad to leave L and go home. This trip was even better than the first- being able to speak/understand Portuguese definitely enriched my experience. To see all of our friends and family, to go to Rio, and enjoy all of our favorite foods and places in Sao Paulo was awesome. I am humbled by the generosity of our Brasilian friends who treated me like they have known  me forever. I miss Brasil tremendously and hope to return again soon.
The flight was long and uneventful. I was in business class for the return trip- just like the trip south. I did not sleep much because I felt very nauseous for the duration of the flight- I'll go ahead and say it- You know you've had an awesome vacation when you wake up hungover EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I'm sure all the beverage consumption, coupled with eating more dairy in one week than I have all year did not help either. I also had selected a rear facing seat which I won't do again- I felt like my center of gravity was off the entire time- probably amplified by feeling nauseous. I was bummed to not take full advantage of being in business class. All I had for breakfast was ginger ale. Womp.

I landed in Chicago at 5am and used TSA Pre to go through customs and immigration in 2 minutes. Then I found myself on the hour long EL ride home surrounded by a group of Brasilian students who were way too perky and chatty for such an early hour after such a long flight- But it made me smile because I could pick out their accents (to determine if they were from Rio or SP- they had Sao Paulo accents) and could understand what they were saying.

I got home and went to work. It was weird not seeing CB at home. When I picked him up from boarding after work, he was super happy to see me. We walked back home in the light snow and called it a night a 7pm. We were both exhausted from our adventures.
Almost 3 weeks have gone by since I was in Brasil, and there's not one day that goes by that I don't think about our family and friends, and the food, and the warm Parque Ibirapuera.

Until next time, Brasil.