Friday, May 30, 2014

Physical Therapy - Weeks 3 & 4

Most of my PT sessions are scheduled with Stephanie, but she was out of town twice over these last two weeks, so I've had "subs."
Now, I'm not saying that I'm comfortable with Stephanie, because the second I say that, she's going to add a new, excruciating exercise to my routine. But at the same time, I'm glad things got shaken up before I did start getting too comfortable.
So last week, I also worked with Heidi, who is also a fellow runner (both she and Stephanie were in a triathlon a few weekends ago) as well as a pilates instructor. If I so much as tried to use a different muscle group during my exercises, she swooped down and made sure I was behaving.
And then she strapped me to the table.
Seriously. I was, for the first time in my life, forcibly attached to a horizontal surface by means of an extra long seat belt.
And all I had to do was pay a $10 copay.
Since the hip is a large joint, the seat belt was necessitated so that I could stay in "position" for Heidi to work on my hip in order to help alleviate the impingement that's happening. Plus I could stop doing clams and just lay there (insert TWSS joke).
This week, Bryan also got to torture me, continuing to work on the impingement before allowing me to do my own exercises.
Between the impingement work and the fact that Stephanie gave me some new exercises AND added weights to a few existing ones, I'm tired today.
Seriously, adding a single pound weight to two exercises and then doing squats at the end of everything left me wanting to lay myself spread eagle on the floor to pass out.
And did I mention that I'm doing V-sits? Because those are truly the worst. By the end of each once (I have to do 3 for 30 seconds each), my entire body is shaking.
Yes, it's good - I'm getting some great ab work in, but oh my goodness, it's so dang hard!
Physical therapy is humbling if nothing else.
I'm trying to be good and do my exercises every night, but over the long weekend, it just didn't happen. I finally had the opportunity to get into the kitchen and make a lot of things, but since that meant I was on my feet most of the weekend, by the evenings, when I usually get to do my exercises, I was toast.
That being said, being on my feet for the majority of three days certainly left my legs tired enough as it is, although I know it's no excuse for following orders.
This weekend, I'll step up. I'm missing running and cycling but also know I must be patient in order to avoid injury like this in the future. For now, we're shooting for me being at 80%.
I've never so badly wanted to have a B.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Horchata Ice Cream with Mocha Mallow Swirl for Ice Cream Tuesday: Marshmallow Madness

The first time I had horchata, I was teaching at one of the Catholic schools in downtown Phoenix. My students couldn't believe that I'd lived in Arizona for so many years without having had it, although my previous life in Washington gave me a pass for my first 18 years of life. So one morning, a student braved a uniform summons to bring me freshly made horchata.
It was one of those life-changing moments.
Since then, I had rarely found a place that had GOOD horchata.
It's amazing how one, life-changing experience can make an Anglo so picky about a Latin American drink, really.
So you can imagine my delight when, upon arrival to our OKMH weekend in Houston, Jeanne's Husband, The Complete Package (TCP), had made horchata to go along with the Mexican feast that we devoured.
Even though there were seven of us, we tried to drink it sparingly to make it last.
Then, Sunday morning, I couldn't stand it anymore.
"I'm putting horchata in my coffee."
And that was that.
Horchata has been constantly on my mind ever since I got back from Houston. There are certainly places here that make good horchata, but whenever we go out, I usually stay in my "safe" zone (read: iced tea and/or beer) for choice beverages.
And since it's getting hot, a milk-based drink doesn't always sound the most refreshing.
But you know what does?
Ice cream.
The OKMH girls and I have enjoyed doing our theme weeks, and an Ice Cream Week was on deck for….some day.  I'm not sure how the discussion began, but we latched on to the idea of having marshmallows in our ice cream and bringing Jenni from Pastry Chef Online, who is not only a magician when it comes to sweet treats but has also recently begun a weekly ice cream posting on her blog.
Kirsten promptly took the idea to Jenni, who thought it was a whiz bang idea. She brought in many more friends who love ice cream and marshmallows, and voilĂ  - here we are.

Now, since horchata goes so well with coffee, it was clear that a coffee marshmallow creme was the perfect pairing for this Ice Cream Tuesday.
I'll be honest with you, though. This recipe nearly didn't happen. The date snuck up on me, as I'm wrapping up my school year with my own students and only recently submitted my own final exams.  Then there were the Mallow Disasters. DisasterS - as in more than one. Disaster One was a marshmallow creme that fell. Disaster Two was a batch of marshmallows that…I don't even know how to describe the utter failure of it, really. But for the record, marshmallows can separate, and it's neither pretty nor tasty.
Thankfully, Kirsten saved the day (again). She reminded me that she has a marshmallow creme recipe and that I need to actually refrigerate homemade mallow creme so it doesn't fall apart, so Attempt Number Three went According to Plan.

Between Disaster Two and Attempt Three, I decided that the color was going to be a bit lacking, as the ice cream and mallows/mallow creme were basically the same tan color, so I found a homemade chocolate syrup recipe to which I added coffee.

The end result was perfect. While the horchata is sweet, it's not overly sweet, so the addition of the mallow creme and mocha syrup adds just enough sweetness to make it toothsome without making it also tooth-decaying.

Horchata Ice Cream with Mocha Mallow Swirl
modified from Jenni Field's Maple Buttermilk Pecan Ice Cream

For the Ice Cream:

  • 1 quart plus 2 cold cups of TCP's horchata, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I use Real Salt)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Coffee marshmallow creme (see below)
  • Mocha syrup (see below)

For the Mocha Syrup:
I used this recipe from Kitchen Treaty for chocolate syrup but used dark cocoa powder (Hershey's makes a Special Dark that I like) and two packets of Starbucks Via instant coffee powder (French roast) in my measurement for the cocoa powder. You can make this in advance and stir it into just about everything you can imagine, but make sure you leave some for the ice cream.

For the Ice Cream:
Note - horchata takes some time to prepare, so if you want to have this ice cream ready for Saturday evening, start the horchata process Wednesday or Thursday, and make the ice cream base Friday. It's a long wait but not very time consuming (lots of "chill overnight" steps), but it's so worth it.
In large pot, combine 1 quart horchata, salt, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
*If you would prefer a sweeter end result, you could add 1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar, but really, I don't think it's necessary once everything is put together
Boil for ten seconds, and then immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.
Add the remaining 2 cups horchata, which you can just bring right out of the fridge when you need it. Whisk to combine completely.
Cool over an ice bath (I use a larger bowl filled with ice water), and then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight. If you don't have a ton of horizontal room in your fridge for the bowl, use two quart jars.
Once completely cooled, add to your ice cream maker and churn according to directions.
**Horchata is made with different kinds of milk, so this ice cream won't be as thick and creamy as other ice creams that are made with half and half or heavy cream (although that's not to say that it's not at all creamy). If you plan to make it only for ice cream purposes, you may want to use half and half instead of the whole milk in TCP's recipe, but I'm not sure I want to drink it that way; it's thick enough as a beverage. You could also use half-horchata, half cream for the custard mixture, although that would make the horchata flavor a bit more subtle (which I guess would be OK). Since it will have a lower fat content than most ice creams, it will freeze a little harder. That's not a big deal here in Arizona, but you may want to take some measures to ensure a more scoopable texture in your area.

For the Marshmallow Creme:
I used Kirsten's marshmallow creme recipe, adding one packet of the Starbucks Via instant coffee powder to the egg whites.
I highly recommend making this while the ice cream is churning, as you'll have plenty of time, and you can begin to assemble immediately after the creme is finished.

To Assemble:
Once the ice cream is at a soft serve consistency, drizzle a few tablespoons of the mocha syrup onto the bottom of a freezer-safe container. Add a few dollops of the mallow creme (I suppose you could use a piping bag, but I'd already made enough of a mess). Cover with ice cream. Repeat the process until you've used up all the ice cream. Press down plastic wrap onto the ice cream, cover with the lid, and freeze for at least 6 hours.

To Serve:
Now, you could sneak a few spoonfuls of this ice cream straight from the freezer (What? Like that's NEVER occurred to you….), and that would be delicious.

But to combat the heat of summer, which is already upon us here in Arizona, I highly recommend that you scoop it into a bowl, ladle a little more mocha syrup, and then slap a big ol' spoonful (or two) of mallow creme on top before calling it a dessert.

Now, like I said, Jenni enlisted several friends to participate in today's Ice Cream Tuesday, so if you like to choose your ice cream from those places that have more than 30 flavors, take some time to peruse all of the recipes we have to offer before you start churning on your own:
Summer and its hot days filled with cold ice cream are nearly upon us - so tell me: what flavor are you craving?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Yesterday was Zooey's sixth birthday.
Surely she didn't care about presents and fanfare, but HRH did, so after I picked her up from school, she convinced me to stop at the store to get party hats, candles, and a balloon.
Considering the day I'd had, I was only too happy to get my dog a birthday balloon if it brought joy to my little girl.
So, things I've learned:

  1. Holding a phone, dog treats, and a party hat while trying to put a balloon around a dog's leg is not the smartest or easiest feat ever.
  2. Coonhounds have no fear of eating a lit candle when said candle has been plunked into an easily accessible pupcake

Narrowly averting disasters makes any birthday party more exciting.
Thankfully, I did get Zooey and HRH to take a few cute (albeit fuzzy because kid and dog) snaps to commemorate the big 0-6 before letting Zooey dig in to her treat while HRH enjoyed a chocolate-sweet potato muffin.
Happy birthday, sweet Zooey. You're my running buddy and constant companion. I hope you live forever, because I can't imagine my life without you.

Her birthday present - the Kong Wobbler

"Give me the entire treat bag for this."

The birthday girl and her party planner

"Take the damn picture - I want my pupcake!"

Gone. Who needs to chew? Or breathe, really.
Do you have birthday parties for your furry family members?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 2

This week, I've been "promoted" to the next level in one of my core exercises and one of my glute exercises. I guess that's a good thing, but boy, are my abs killing me.
The one thing that hasn't changed since Day 1 is the Astym® treatment. The purpose of the treatment is to help regenerate tissue that may have gotten scarred from injury or overuse. Since scar tissue can end up restricting movement, the breakdown of scar tissue can hopefully improve the movement in my glutes, which will hopefully "cure" the gluteal amnesia, which in turn will make it hurt less to run, regardless of the femoral acetabular impingement or the sacroiliitis or bursitis or whatever it really is that's making me want to live with a heating pad on my hip (while the ortho TOLD me it's FAI, that wasn't on the PT prescription; bursitis was, so we'll have a little mystery on our hands when I go in for a follow-up).

BOSU, my arch-nemesis. I've named him Moriarty.
If you've never heard of Astym® treatment, imagine this: a foam roller, but instead of foam, it's made of acrylic. And smaller than even a travel foam roller - like a hand held device. And instead of rolling smoothly over the muscles, which anyone who's ever used a foam roller knows can be OMGHURTSSOGOOD in itself, the Astym® instrument of torture is run along those same muscles, but said instrument actually will make the muscles crunch underneath them. That's the scar tissue being…dismantled.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I wanted to run, screaming, out the door the first time I heard that sound. It's horrifying.
Then you bruise. Because bruising is your body's way of healing itself. #sixthgradescience
Since I only can go two days a week, I've made sure that I schedule my sessions with enough time between sessions to allow Stephanie to give me the Atsym® treatment each time.
The treatment is Like, how can something that makes your muscles go crunch be "fun." But, like the foam roller and a deep tissue massage, I'm always glad that it's done, when it's done. And I can tell that it's working; the bruising isn't as deep as it was two weeks ago, and it doesn't hurt so much as cause extreme discomfort.
I get the Astym® treatment at the beginning of my PT session, and then I am guided through my table and floor exercises, some of which are getting better, and some of which make me want to cry.

Hello, Band. Wanna go for a walk?
I admit; I haven't done my exercises at home every day. Like every other busy mom out there, some nights I am so tired that I'm lucky *I* make it to HRH's bedtime. Last night was one of those nights. I was just exhausted, and I fell into bed with my heating pad before falling asleep almost immediately (Husband knows to come upstairs and turn off my heating pad because I fall asleep so easily). But for the most part, I've been almost religious about following a daily routine. I desperately want to run and cycle again, even with the heat of the Arizona summer looming. I mean, walking is great and all, and I love yoga, but the feeling I have when I'm able to hit the road for a run or a ride is irreplaceable.
It's so funny - for years after I graduated high school, I swore up and down that running was The Worst and that I hated it. Even in high school, I was a sprinter and a jumper, so it was rare for me to do anything much farther than a (very slow) 800 meters, and I regularly did whatever I could to do as little "distance" running as possible. And now, I can't even run to the neighbor's house, and I'm just aching that I can't.
So….away I go, to make mysterious and concerning grunting noises as I contort and stretch in the hopes of heading back down the canal, this time with a booty like Bey.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reverb 14 · May Post · Spring Cleaning

#reverb14 is an opportunity for participants to reflect throughout 2014. Each month, the Reverb team will post a new prompt. Join and write, or simply join and read.

May Prompt: How are you cleaning out your life and cleaning out your writing in preparation for a new season?  Reflect.  Photograph.  Think.

May is my "month off" between the end of my spring semester courses and the course I'm taking in summer school. Not that I actually have a vacation; my own classes don't have their finals for another week, and then I have End Of School Year Stuff. By the time I'm actually on vacation, my summer course will have begun.

Basically, before I submitted my last exam, my schedule looked like this: work, school, HRH school, HRH ballet, HRH swim, try to keep the house from looking like it should be condemned.

Currently, my schedule looks like this: work, HRH school, HRH ballet, HRH swim, try to keep the house from looking like it should be condemned.

And this summer, my schedule will look like this: school, HRH school (she'll continue through the summer at her daycare/preschool before Kindergarten starts in the fall), HRH ballet, HRH ballet camp, HRH swim, HRH swim camp, HRH cowgirl camp (hopefully), try to keep the house from looking like it should be condemned.

(I don't even want to make that list for the fall when "school" means kindergarten and all the things that go along with kindergarten; I've had to create a new calendar group just for HRH's stuff)

If the state of my house is any clue, I'm not good at cleaning out ANYTHING, including my life or my writing.

I mean, really - how does this even happen?
This is what I'm thinking about every day this week.

It's not that I want my house to be dirty. And to clarify - my house isn't dirty; it's just messy. So it's not that I want my house to be messy. I'm just not the tidiest person; I never have been. I'd like to be, but…leopards and spots and such. To compound that, there are only so many hours in the day. And not washing the dishes every night is the choice I've made.

It's the choice I've made because we (Husband and I) have made the decision to sacrifice some other things, including our time. I'm going back to school, and he's taken a position as an instructor at one of the community colleges here. So he's not only working all day, but then he's either gone at night teaching a class or grading/prepping for his class. I can't remember the last time I read something of substance that wasn't for an assignment, and I've spent more time in front of a computer screen than not.  There IS an up side, though. Once I get my masters, other, more flexible doors, can open for me, so I can ensure that I'm able to get HRH to the activities she pursues. Husband's instructor pay is both paying for my tuition and going into HRH's college account.

But because we've opted to make those time sacrifices, the time we do have with HRH during the week is not going to be spent with her having to amuse herself after I've worked all day because I need to wash a pan or vacuum a rug. So I read to her, and have her read to me (last night I read her The Cheese; she read me Llama Llama Home With Mama); we learn about the plant cycle on her newest science app; we have tea parties with fake tea but real sugar. And since Husband generally has Fridays off, they have a standing date for lunch (usually it's at Chick-Fil-A) and some sort of "field trip" while I'm working. This week I think they might go to the Science Center; she's interested in outer space again.

We rarely clean pans together.

So this weekend, I plan to actually clean - that pan and the rest of the house - and hope that "this time," I'll be able to keep a handle on it over the summer.

OK, maybe next weekend. HRH has something going on this weekend.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 1

Technically, it's Week 1.5. I was only able to go once last week because HRH was sick, but I made it, and as of today, I've been three times.
So, let's recap a bit first, shall we?
When I was finally able to make it in to the ortho, he took a look at my X-rays and said that I have extra bone at the top of my femur - femoral acetabular impingement (FAI). So the bone kind of smooshes (technical word) the cartilage in the joint, which causes the pain.
Bad news dispensed with, he proceeded to explain that while surgery is sometimes necessary, he was hopeful that some physical therapy can alleviate the pain.
I was extremely relieved to hear a positive mindset and that the doctor didn't want to immediately go worst case scenario to get me on a surgery table. And if PT doesn't relieve me, there are also shots that can work to reduce inflammation and improve my mobility.
Of course, shots are The Worst (just ask HRH), so I'd prefer to make enough progress in PT.

Fast forward to my insurance-sanctioned torture sessions.
Ideally, I'd go three times a week, but our family schedule just doesn't allow for that, so I've compromised on two times a week. The ortho had suggested a check back in six weeks, but I'll extend that a little bit if I need to because of the reduced schedule.
My physical therapist, Stephanie, determined that I have a bit of a hip drop and that I have gluteal amnesia, a not uncommon condition among runners in which the gluteus "forget" to fire, and other, smaller muscles have to compensate in order for the body to move forward.
The exercises she's having me do, then, are designed to help awaken the glute's memory and strengthen those muscles. Additionally, I'm doing some core strengthening exercises because it's always good to do core strengthening. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I've kind of let those exercises slide.
Each day, Stephanie's added at least one more exercise that works either the core or the glute/hip area, and I've been charged with stretching every day, as Stephanie said that yes, I am not a "bendy" person, but my upper leg muscles are OMGSOTIGHTHOWDOYOUEVENWALKBRO.
Many of my exercises are the same as what I've done before in my pilates videos, although they aren't as advanced because I've done a crappy job keeping up my leg strength. And doing these exercises, which in one way seem like baby steps, has been both fascinating and humbling.
I mean, it only takes ten clams for me to beg for mercy, and I have to do thirty of them.
It should come as no surprise that I am constantly going to my happy place, which may or may not involve images of ice cream.
Even though I'm in PT twice a week, Stephanie wants me doing these exercises every day. Additionally, she's allowing me to walk, but I am not allowed to run or bike until she gives me the green light. I may even hike, if I am so inclined, but only on "light" trails.
Between the stretching and the exercises, then, I'm making a lot of use of my ice packs, which tends to be the highlight of my day.
I am going a bit stir crazy not being able to run or bike, but I'm behaving so that I can get back to both before long. The good news is that these exercises are absolutely exhausting, even if I'm only able to move my leg 1/2 inch sometimes (which is what it feels like sometimes), so I'm not sure I'd have the energy to get in two miles even if I had been given the OK.
My hope is that weekly recaps will allow me to see my own progress in terms of strength, as well as to keep me accountable for actually doing the work when I'm not under Stephanie's watchful eye. Tune in next week - I may be able to do TWELVE clams before offering to give up government secrets!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Little Try-Athlete

HRH has been going to weekly swim lessons for almost three year now. Swimming is, obviously, a skill that Arizona kids need to have; there are so many pools here that it's really not a luxury.  While Husband was a simmer in high school, I'm not much of a swimmer; I get panicked when my face is in the water, but I'm trying very hard not to project that irrational fear to her.
Thankfully, she doesn't seem to have picked up on my proclivity for non-water-related activities and has come a long way from sitting at the edge of the pool crying for the entire 30 minutes. Right now she's in the "Star" level and is becoming proficient in both the crawl stroke and the backstroke. She's loving every second of it.
Last weekend, the swim school hosted a "try-athlon." I signed HRH up for it the second I heard about it, and I've been playing up the excitement ever since.
Of course, it wasn't a regular triathlon; to make sure the kids stayed interested, the swim and run legs were obstacle courses; the cycling leg was deemed tricky enough, since several kids, HRH included, are less proficient on those training wheels-encumbered bikes than their swim strokes.
For the swim, the kids jumped in the pool inside a giant floaty (probably not the technical term, but we've established that I'm not hip to the pool lingo) and swam to almost the halfway point. Then they had to go over one lane marker and under another before they swam to the other end, where they had to toss a basketball into a hoop.
HRH struggled once she got out of the floaty; 25 meters is farther than she's ever swum. But the coaches were great; there were always enough coaches in the pool (and more on the deck) to make sure all the kids made it safely regardless of their ability level.

Blurry action shot - HRH is the one still in the air.

This was right as I tried not to panic when her face went under water.
Deep breaths, Momma.
Now I know how Michael Phelps's mom feels (sort of).

Her transition time needs some work; she didn't really cooperate with me as I put her socks on (she insisted on socks because she wears socks with her running shoes), but once her shoes were on, she was off to the bike.
I've actually been suggesting that she get a little bike for a while, and she's resisted, saying that she's happy with her tricycle. So it was no surprise that she was hesitant. Once again, the coach came through and helped her the entire way (a giant loop on one side of the blocked off parking lot), even though it seemed like HRH pedaled less than half the time.

Finally, the running. This was the longest distance, although not terribly far in HRH's estimation, and there were five obstacles. The first I honestly can't remember - I think it involved jumping, but I was trying to get close for a snap and missed it. Then she had to jump rope four times, hula hoop five times, crawl through a big pipe, and run through a "human car wash" before crossing the finish line.

And at the finish, water and orange slices as runners accepted their participant medals.

She just loved it. She's already game for another triathlon and has decided that she does actually want a bike after all.
Of course, I'm ridiculously proud of HRH. While she has swum, biked (OK, triked), and run before, the longer distance in the pool and the obstacles that were put into place could have thrown her off. But she kept her cool, especially when she began to struggle in the pool (it took all of my energy NOT to panic) and asked the nearest coach to help her. Being able to speak up when she really needed it and continue with an activity even if some parts (the biking) were a little scary is a quality I want her to have, and now that she knows the exhilaration of success, I think that the event really cemented that lesson.
And now it's time for me to get healthy so we can do a race together someday.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pat's Run 2014 Recap

I'm not sure that it was wise, but I convinced the ortho to give me clearance to participate in Pat's Run when I went in for my post-x-ray consult for the sacroiliitis.  He said that as long as I took it easy and walked if I had to, I should be OK.
(My physical therapist was not as thrilled to hear that and has since put the kibosh on running, but more of that in another post)
So, on a lovely and unseasonably cool April morning, I met up with about 32,000 of my closest friends for the 10th Pat's Run.
It was ten years ago that Pat Tillman, a former ASU Sun Devil and Arizona Cardinal, was killed in a still-controversial incident in Afghanistan. In the decade since, the Pat Tillman Foundation has helped support military scholars across the country.
This year, Husband stayed home with HRH, and I met up with a few of my girlfriends for the race and post-run breakfast and cocktails.
I'd signed up for the event before I got injured, so I estimated the time based on my performance the past couple of years with an allowance for my recent shin splints episode. However, when I was told by the ortho to slow down, I opted to start in a later corral with the girls and see how things went. All I knew was that once I hit the stadium, I'd be running even if I had to walk the entire way up to that point.
Thankfully (for my sanity), I was able to run most of the way. We walked the first half of the Mill Ave. bridge, all the way up Curry, and over all of the Rural bridge. I suggested that I may walk up the incline into the stadium, but I didn't. I was too excited/happy to be there at that point, and I took off without even telling my friends that I was going to do so.
But then we found each other quickly, and all was right in the world.

Of course, then it was time for pictures.

Devin (56) and Evan Goodman, both OLs

Getting this close to a mascot - even my beloved Sparky - was a HUGE deal for me.

I loved this year's shirt - it actually fit like a technical shirt should.

Official time: 51:35
Place (overall): 14,598
Place (women's): 6164

Looking at my splits, my first mile was the fastest, but all of them were significantly slower than what I was used to running. However, I was glad to finish in under an hour; I felt like that was something of a victory in itself.
I'm not sure when my next race will be; nothing is going on the calendar until I get a clear green light to run again AND the pain has abated. But despite the achy hip the next day, Pat's Run, as always, was a wonderful - and extremely well organized - event that was worth the aches and pains to honor a fallen hero and support our military scholars. Here's to hoping I'll be healthy enough to run next year.