Bend in the Morning

This was what I saw this morning when I went for a run.  Admittedly, this was the first morning I have exercised before going to work.  Normally I am up and at the boathouse by 6:20am, but the snooze button has looked so welcoming for the past two months.  After an accidental late day at the office yesterday (not working, just using the internet connection), I didn’t have time to go on the fun I had planned.  I did a quick core workout, but nothing substantial, and I knew I would be miserable today if all I did between 9am and 8am was be in the kitchen or asleep.

I am glad I got up this morning- the Deschutes is beautiful in the morning, and Bend is really peaceful.  I was surprised by how few people were up because this town is always active with something going on.  My run was much slower than I had hoped, and shorter as well.  I only did 2.37 miles in 27ish minutes, something like a 12 minute mile.  Oops.  I guess that’s what I get for only having run a handful of times.

My cross fit membership expired while I was in Baltimore, and I am debating whether to go back.  I only have two weeks left in Bend (this week and then the week after next), and I haven’t had as much time outdoors because I have felt obligated to go do a W.O.D.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE cross fit, but I want to take advantage of the bike I bought, and some of the trails around here that I haven’t had time to yet.  I also think I need to get in some more straight up cardio in the next couple of weeks.  I’ve been slack on eating and exercising this summer, and need to start to turn it around.

I’ve decided to go the Jean route for now and cut out sugar, even if only to make myself more aware of what I’m eating.  I’m back to recording my meals in an effort to try and learn what normal portions are.  During the school year I know I eat because I’m tired, because I feel like I need to, and because I’m stressed.  I don’t want to go down that route because I know my body can’t handle it and doesn’t have that kind of metabolism.  This summer my meals had been pretty good, but my snacking wasn’t, so I’ve decided to cut out what I know I can make myself do.  So far it’s been 2 days, but it isn’t too bad.  I often decided to eat because I was bored, or felt like I should, but knew I didn’t need to.  I need to go all or nothing, or else it won’t work.  So no sugar, lots of running and biking, and hopefully I will see a change.

I have lots of pictures and things to say about Baltimore, but I haven’t gotten around to organizing my thoughts yet.  More to come on that.

 

 

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Of Bike Riding, Power Cleans and Festivals

Of Bike Riding, Power Cleans and Festivals

Every time I turn around there seems to be another festival in Bend.  This past weekend was Summer Fest, the weekend before was 4th of July festivities and the weekend before that was Bite of Bend.  I think most Bendites flee on the weekends to escape the tourists and crowds that come in, but it can be enjoyable to go and people watch.  I didn’t spend much time at the Summer Fest due to helping one of my roommates  pack and get ready to drive back to Chicago before departing for the Marshall Islands.  Big move to say the least.  It’s also no fun to go to festivals by yourself.  You can get good food and enjoy some music, but it’s hard to be there for too long without people to hang out with.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog, namely the bike riding and power cleans.  I have been pretty busy between work and working out, which combined with a disappearing internet connection (what the illicit network in the front yard no longer works?) means I haven’t had much time to write.

I joined up with the beginners road ride that one of the local bike shops puts on every other week, and we went for a leisurely 35-mile ride.  Needless to say, it was awesome.  I would have liked to go much faster, but had to stay with the pack.  I did get some good tips from one of the employees who went on the ride, and I’m looking forward to doing some more.  I’m not quite sure when this will happen, but it will happen.  I am planning on getting into road riding in the next phase of my life, especially when rowing won’t consume 20 hours a week (though hopefully it will still consume some).  I did figure out why people wear bike shorts though.  I need to get myself some of those.

Despite my busy schedule, I’ve still been going to Cross Fit pretty faithfully, and even though I still feel extremely weak in comparison to a lot of the other people who work out there, I am noticing some substantial differences in my strength.  Also, Olympic lifting is really fun.  I’ve learned how to do (real) deadlifts, power cleans, overhead squats and some other nifty lifts.  I skipped cross fit on Monday in favor of an Ugly Betty marathon (everyone has their weak moments), but returned today for several lovely rounds of squats.   The good news is that they weren’t as difficult as the last time I had to do squats, but 200 is still a lot.  But strength building is fun.   I also deadlifted 200 lb, which I am very happy about.  I looked up strength standards, and that cleanly puts me in the intermediate category for women.

I’m still amazed by how little time I have to do everything I want to do.  I’ve been working tirelessly on my Marshall Scholarship personal statement, but it’s still not done, and there’s three other essays to write for that application alone.  I get to go to cross fit usually, but I can’t go for a bike ride as well, or also cook dinner, or come to my trusty tea house and use the internet.  One thing always has to take precedence.  I suppose it would be easier if I had internet at home, for example, but it is unfortunate that work leaves so little time for the rest of your life.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like my job, but I also like spending time outside in the sunshine, working out for several hours a day, trying new recipes, reading a book, taking pictures and getting my applications done.

Sometimes work can combine with some of these other things, like yesterday when I had to make a site visit up in a little town about 50 miles north of Bend called Madras.  Madras is a town of about 6,000 people with not much in it other than the fairgrounds.  But those fairgrounds are now getting a multi-use path, and that requires a transportation firm.  So I drove up to Madras yesterday afternoon and proceeded to measure the distance of signs from the edge striping and stop bars, and walked along the future path taking continual pictures as I went.  Most of those aren’t very exciting, but I brought my new toy, and took some of my own (I will post when I have internet and the memory card in the same place).

The rest of this week is preparations both at work and at home in anticipation of my trip to Baltimore.  I fly out Friday morning and return to Bend the following Saturday.  It should be a packed week of fun, work and exhaustion.  I might be able to row while I am in Baltimore though, which would be incredible.  I really miss rowing and kayaking does not suffice.  Too much arms, not enough power.  The plane rides should lend itself nicely to blog writing, so expect some more ramblings later in the week.

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The Advent of the 40 Hour Work Week

The nice thing about working long days is that I get out early on Fridays.  It’s still a 40-hour workweek, even if it means working 10 hours one day.  This week is particularly nice because my parents are in town!  The long weekend meant they both have Monday off work, so they came up to visit.

I’m not exactly sure what is on the ticket for the weekend, but it is likely to include hiking, kayaking, coffee and lots of delicious food.  Tonight was the First Friday Art Walk in Bend, which involves lots of open galleries and stores, as well as many bottles of wine open for the tasting.  It was great to show my parents around Bend, and to see it through some different eyes.

Dinner was great, at a restaurant called Zydeco.  Zydeco is apparently something to do with Louisiana and Creole food, but there were only hints here and there. The bread was probably the best part of the meal, though the blackened redfish I had was absolutely delicious.  Despite this, dinner was hardly the highlight meal of the day.

Because I was getting out of work early, I decided to stop by the food truck I had been to last weekend at the Bite of Bend.  Spork, as it is called, calls itself global street food.  I don’t know exactly what that means, but it doesn’t matter.  I had a simple rice and pork dish, but it was superb.  Melt in your mouth pork, with sweet soy sauce and a chilled cucumber spinach salad.  Hardly what would be expected out of a food truck.

I didn’t think to take a picture until it was half done!

I haven’t been able to go to cross fit as often as I would have liked this week.  The lunges were killer on Tuesday and I ended up not being able to go on Wednesday, but I tell myself the effect was lasting.  Thursday’s workout involved lots of jump rope.  The kind that you played with when you were eight. Needless to say, I haven’t jumproped since then.  It took awhile to get through the 7 rounds of 105 jumps.  I never realized how much of your body jump roping uses.  Hopefully I’ll get there again before Tuesday, but even so, I am anticipating at least a fair amount of walking and/or kayaking this weekend.

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A Packed Weekend in the Sun

I finally got outside this weekend and had a chance to enjoy the sun.  A little too much it may seem, because I ended up with some pink shoulders and legs.  I was too engrossed in a book to remember the sunscreen, but this was a hasty reminder to slip, slop and slap.  But the sun was out and beautiful, and enticed me out of my cave.

First though, I had to brave the world of standardized testing and take the GRE.  Very similar to the SAT, it is comprised of verbal, quantitative and writing sections, none of which seem to showcase any relevant skills besides the standardized test taking strategies that are touted by the designers of the exam.  My scores were relatively average (one advantage of the computerized test is instant feedback), but hopefully 3 years of good grades and extracurricular involvement matters more than 2.5 hours of standardized testing.

On Saturday, besides burning myself to a crisp and pandering to the will of profit-mongering standardized test creators, I borrowed my roommate’s road bike and  took it out for a spin.  It was incredible.  I never realized how different it would be to ride a road bike than a hybrid or mountain bike, but it was an incredible form of exercise.  You can go much faster, with a much higher cadence, and actually feel like you are getting a workout.  You can also ride much further to boot.  I only went for a short spin because I couldn’t get out until almost 7:30pm, but I decided it was something that needed to be done again. Unfortunately, I had already bought a bike for the summer.  After some research, I decided that buying a road bike would probably be out of the question because a decent one (even used) looked to cost upwards of $500, far more than my budget would allow.  But I resolved myself to check out some garage sales in the morning just to see if I could come across anything.  Alas, the garage sales work out, but I did stop by a used gear shop.

And as luck would have it, they had a road bike, in my size, and in my budget.  Most of the ones they had were upwards of $700 (even used), but I’m counting myself lucky.


My new bike!

I have to figure out what to do with my other bike; I really don’t need two, and I don’t necessarily enjoy mountain biking.  In the meantime I will probably end up posting it on Craigslist, and seeing what happens.  Hopefully I can recoup the cost of what I paid for it.  I am excited to start going for longer rides though, without carrying the extra weight the mountain bike brings.

This weekend was also the Bite of Bend.  This event shut down the streets in downtown for two days, and involved lots of delicious food, good music and several sporting events (this is still Bend, of course).  Downtown was packed.  If you stood upstream of the event, it looked like a wall of people.  All the restaurants  turned themselves into food trucks for the weekend, and touted everything from thai food to pies to fresh juice and frozen yogurt.  I discovered an amazing food truck that sets up shop mere blocks from my house, and watched the runners taking part in the Bend Beer Run (imagine a 3 mile run with 3 pit stops for beer) that I unfortunately couldn’t take part in.

This weekend also marked the first cross fit workout that didn’t bring an onslaught of soreness.  The acclimation to cross fit can be tough, but I highly recommend it as a training tool.  It is great to work out with other people and do exercises you may not be comfortable doing on your own.  It is also a great way to build strength quickly.  I’ve only been an official member for a week, but I can already tell that I am stronger.  I have goals for where I want to be in 6 weeks when I leave Bend, and what I want to be able to do on my own.  It is similar to rowing in the mental toughness it can take to get through a workout.  It has been really interesting to talk to some of the coaches about rowing, and to hear their opinions.  Erging is a key component of cross fit, but it isn’t something that is taught to the same extent as the other exercises.  I worked with some of the coaches at the gym yesterday on rowing technique, and it is nice to be the expert on something when I have often struggled with some of the workouts they give.  Considering the lack of rowing coaching they have had, they all had decent technique, but we went over the basics again and worked on specific areas to improve efficiency.  With erging, cross fit is all about short distances (250s and 500s), so being efficient is particularly important.

Although Sunday’s workout didn’t leave me unable to get out of bed, I have a feeling today’s workout may have done the trick.  A typical warm up and 3 x 5 shoulder presses were just fine, but the main part of the workout was 400m of walking lunges.  With weight.  You quickly learn in cross fit that the workouts that look short and easy are the most difficult (and often take the longest).  400 m is a lot of lunges.  I did them with 10 lbs in each hand, and doing 5 push presses after every 10 lunges.  And it only took 29:09.  The scaled up workout was the 400m of lunges with 5 push ups every 5 lunges.  Some of the guys were doing it with 45 lbs overhead, and tricep pushups.  That was truly impressive.  Needless to say, I doubt many people will be able to walk very well tomorrow.  But that is the beauty of it all.  Soreness reminds you of how to work hard, and what your body can take.  I love the feeling.

After that workout though, I did feel the need to reward myself.  I stopped by Bend’s newest frozen yogurt shop, and had a delicious combination of chocolate, peanut butter and pomegranate yogurt.  However trendy frozen yogurt may be, you can’t deny its deliciousness and how well it hits the spot.  And of course, all the talk of probiotics and other health benefits almost make it feel like you are doing yourself a service.  I leave you with a photo of my after workout relaxation.  Froyo and a book?  I’ll take it anyday.


The perfect after workout refuler

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The summer is flying by and I haven’t really enjoyed it yet.  The sun has been out for a couple of weeks now, but working inside an office all day obviates the effect.  I took a stand this morning and extended my morning bike ride a little further to get breakfast at a bakery one of my coworkers had told me about.  This bakery was amazing.  I only had a bagel and a latte, but they were among the best I’ve ever had.  I’m excited to visit again and try some of their other baked goods, sandwiches and anything else they may put in front of me.

The bakery itself is very unassuming.  It is in an industrial part of town, near a clay studio but not much else.  It is literally on the wrong side of the tracks, but really only a short bike ride from work.

                                                           

Riding my bike to breakfast and then to work means that I fulfilled my 3 day bike-to-work goal for the week.  It is especially important on days like today when I got out of work and knew I couldn’t handle going in for a workout.  I’m realizing that I need to make sure to transition comfortably into cross fit.  It is definitely an intense workout that can be a shock to the system.  I felt really good after yesterday’s break and 10k, but my body certainly needed a rest and some good sleep.

My next adventure in cross fit will unfortunately have to wait until Sunday because on the schedule is a morning filled with standardized testing.  It seems like I will never escape it, and I may not if I decide to going the P.E. route (professional engineer, for the non-techy folks).  From what I gather, a P.E. requires several more rounds of standardized testing and some various renewal processes I don’t fully understand.  But it also yields the power of the stamp.

Luckily my next decision in that process doesn’t have to happen until January.  So many months until then!  In the mean time, I will head off to bed to be well rested for my GRE morning.

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Conquering a Beast

 

So innocuous looking.  And it even says friendlier!

To put it lightly, I hate erging.  I like how I feel after I’ve done a good erg piece, but I cannot erg by myself.  I really shouldn’t be telling myself that because it is adding fuel to the fire, but it seems to be true.  I always seem to make deals with myself about how/why I can stop earlier than planned.  I’ve never been good at keeping myself on track and making it through an entire workout.  Today, however, I conquered the beast.  Yesterday after my cross fit workout I knew I had to take a day off from cross fit.  But I need to get into a good rhythm, so I decided that I would do a 10k erg piece.

Rowing is a big part of cross fit, but people don’t usually do more than 500m at one time.  But when I tell people at the gym that I am a rower, I get looks of adoration.  It’s a nice feeling.  I knew that doing a 10k would earn me some respect, even if I am slower on the rest of the cross fit stuff.  (I should give myself a break; I have been doing it, what? 5 days?)  I like surprising people and I like getting respect.  So I went in today after work and banged out a 10k.  Well, it was more like a slow swinging motion, but that’s besides the point.  It got done and it got done without 20 other people doing at the same time.  To say the least, I am very happy with myself.   Now just to see if I can do it again.

I know some people who are beasts at erging.  They love it and do it everyday.  I am unfortunately not one of those people.  But I can pretend that I strive to be.

 They look like this.  (Jane circa 2009)

Erging is an interesting endeavor.  People think you are crazy and don’t understand it.  It requires more equipment than a regular workout really should.  It causes that mental wall to go up and refuse to come down.  But I keep going back and back again.  I know I should be running more, especially with next semester and the lands of unknown workout spaces coming up, but I need to progress into running.  Because no matter how big the mental wall is that comes with erging, it’s always a bit taller and a sturdier with running.  But I will persevere.

My current workout plan involves cross fit during the week and running on the weekends.  I’m hoping that the sunshine and beautiful trails will entice me out of bed, and onto a run.  But this weekend’s events will all be on hold until the exam of the week is complete.  A couple of weeks ago I found myself on ETS’ website and deciding that 3 weeks was really enough time to prepare for the GRE.  So this Saturday I will be spending 4.5 hours inside a lovely concrete building instead of outside in the sunshine, enjoying Bite of Bend.  The things I do for academics.

 

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A Biking Adventure

I finally rode my bike to work again.  I really have no excuse.  It’s a mile and half door to door, and the weather has finally gotten out of freezing range.  I keep making excuses about needing to go to the grocery store (all on the peripheries) or something after work.  I think it is just that having a car makes me soft.  It’s so much easier to drag yourself out when you don’t have to put any effort into it, but I’m telling myself now that I will ride to work at least 3 days a week.  I’m also hoping to go on a longer ride this weekend.  Bend is such a beautiful place and I should really be taking advantage of it.


My bike!  Living the life indoors next to the GIANT tv.  That’s a story for another time.

I’m also lucky that my cross-fit gym is right on my way home (.4 miles from work!).  We’ll see how it feels after my workout tonight to hop on a bike, but I think a short easy ride will feel great.  I’ve tried getting on the erg after a work out to stretch out, but even that seemed to tax my body more than it was ready for.  Hopefully after a couple of weeks of cross fit, I’ll be more able to fit in some form of extended cardio on the days I do a WOD.

I’m also finally getting into the habit of bringing lunch and enough snacks to get me through the day.  While I’m rowing, I find myself constantly eating, which is a habit I really need to get out of.  I know part of it is because of my constant proximity to food at my living group, but also an idea I have in my head that I’m not getting enough.  Now that I’m working and controlling how much food I have with me, I’m trying to make sure I have enough to feel prepared for the day’s workout, but also have the right kind of foods.


I was pretty good today and brought leftovers from last night (chicken, black beans, green peppers and polenta), along with an apple (and of course my Nalgene).  For snacks I brought some yummy Trader Joe’s trail mix (I bought two kinds and mixed them together with golden raisins for a morning snack), and cottage cheese.  Those will probably be my go-tos for the next couple of weeks before I start to get bored of them.  Before cross fit, I often feel like I need something else too though.  I don’t know if this is my mind taking control, but I keep a stash of Clif bars around too if I feel like I need something more substantive.  Going to a WOD at 6:30pm seems too late to not having something besides cottage cheese after lunch.

Question: What do you usually do for food at the office? 

 

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