Wine WThursday!

I promised a Wine Wednesday this week and, true to form, I’m posting on Thursday! I apologize for my wine slacking.

A few weeks ago, I bought this cute cork holder at Target. We decided to start filling it with corks at the beginning of the year and see how long it takes us to get to the top (I vote July).

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The first cork came from a wine we won! Back in December, Dan and I attended a 90+ Cellars wine tasting, which was awesome. It was $10 to get in and they had at least 20 different wines to sample. If you ordered bottles to purchase, they applied your admission fee towards the cost. We dug a LOT of what we tried and had a hard time narrowing down out choices, but ultimately bought 6 bottles.

Apparently, if you bought 6 bottles or more, you were entered into a raffle to win a whole CASE of wine. A few days later, Dan received word that we WON THE CASE!  That’s 12 extra bottles. We are FIGURATIVELY swimming in wine right now.

The first bottle of Voitka Vino we popped open in 2016 was one of those winning bottles:

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Magic Door 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford in Napa. This is a region known for its Cab. I didn’t jot any notes but remember loving this one. Napa Cabs rock my world.

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The second and third additions to the cork blork come from pretty rad and unique blends. The Valeriano is Jacuzzi’s “Super Piemontese,” as they put it.  It’s almost like a Meritage or Bordeaux style blend (Cab S, Cab F, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot), but with some Barbera thrown in there.  The other wine shown is 90+ Cellars Gran Vino, a Spanish blend akin to a Super Tuscan, but featuring Tempranillo. These fun blends are really easy drinking if you like big, full bodied wines.

Finally, we bought this French blend at a tasting at Bee’s Knees:

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At the tasting I learned that the Cabardès region is a brand new French appellation that specializes in combining Atlantic climate grapes (such as Cabernet and Merlot) with Mediterranean climate grapes (like Syrah and Grenache). The results are awesome! This has great body and a balance of fruit and herb notes. It’s a great transition wine if you like Bordeaux and want to get into more of the southern Rhone or Languedoc regions, or vice versa. This 2013 Chateau Jouclary Cabardès was only $12, so it’s a budget friendly alternative to the more costly French regions.

And obviously, it’s best enjoyed while engaged in battle for village supremacy in medieval France.

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Fun fact: the Chateau Jouclary was named in 1530 for the consul of, you guessed it, Carcassonne!

I just started playing Carcassonne and LOVE IT, but Dan has beaten me 6-1 so I need to step up my game. Or drink more Cabardès.

Wine Links:

Loved Uncorked! If you liked Somm, definitely check it out.

More great tips from Wine Folly. I have such a hard time discerning specific notes in wine, so now I just focus on whether it’s fruity or herbaceous. Baby steps!

Understanding German Riesling by the label: I love dry Riesling so I usually keep an eye out for labels that say Kabinett. I’ll start looking for Trocken or Selection now, too!

Cheers!

Workouts January 24-30

Greetings! I am here with another boring weekly fitness update. I’m doing this primarily to track my progress with my hammy injury. This week, I didn’t make too many goals. For fitness, my only goal was to take 2 pole classes. For everything else I just stuck to my usual upper-run-lower “split.”

I also made a two-week goal to stick to my macro nutrients. It’s time to lose some of this injury fluff (a cutesy way of referring to body fat). I don’t like to follow any nutrition plan too strictly (because beer! wine!), but I am aiming to stay under my calorie expenditure and keep a 40-30-30 carbs-protein-fat ratio. I’m using my Fitbit to calculate my total daily burn.

Sunday: upper body day. I switched it up a little and did pushups and tried pull ups, but I think my muscles were a little tired from pole class and I had trouble with the pulls.

When I say pull-ups, I know I’m not using the correct terminology. I do a very narrow, neutral grip and don’t start from a full extension. Plus, I’m a shorty, so I stack a step with 2-3 risers under the grips. On this day I used 2 risers but couldn’t quite get to the top.

Before the strength work, I did a short interval session on the stationary bike. I know that I should do cardio after lifting if I’m going heavy, but I would blow off the bike if I left it to the end.

Nutrition-wise, I came nowhere NEAR my macros because I was watching the Pats game with friends and pulled pork nachos and Cinnamon Bun Oreos happened. I managed to stay under my calorie burn, but with all the beer it was a Carb City kind of day.

Monday: I did a quick leg session in the AM and took a pole class in the PM. At the gym, I was able to do some work in the squat rack, yay! I finally made it to the 45# bar for a few sets! I also did some of my hamstring strengthening PT moves.

The pole class was a little disjointed because we had a last minute sub. I did manage to do a split-second cradle spin though!

Macros were a little better today, but I’m still getting a handle on eating more protein.

Tuesday: upper body again. I wanted to run because it was over 50 degrees in Boston! But NO RUNNING AFTER LEG DAY.

I was a little late arriving to the gym and all the equipment I wanted to use was occupied. When I finally got to use a bench press, I FAILED for the first time ever. On my second set of 75#, I finished the fourth rep and couldn’t lift the fifth. I know that to bail, you’re supposed to tip the bar and let the plates slide off, but I was reluctant to make a noisy scene in the crowded gym. I managed to shimmy the bar to my waist and sit up quietly, which is so wrong. That was NOT fun.

At least I ate a lot of protein, right?

Wednesday: run! It was 40 DEGREES at 5 AM!!! I was so pumped to run outside without a hat or gloves. I decided to do an unbroken run again. I warmed up first and did a 2.59 mile loop in 27:19. It was a lot slower of a pace than what I used to run, but I wasn’t  discouraged because my leg felt FINE.

Fine.

And it continued to feel fine the rest of the day. I even walked to the grocery store and NOTHING. No pain.

That night I had one of my favorite beers to celebrate – Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp. It didn’t totally fit my macros but I was still under cals so fuck it.

Thursday: another leg day + pole. I think I found the ideal time to hit the gym: 8 AM. The before-work goers are gone but the sleep late people are still sleeping late! I got a squat rack all to myself and played with squats and RDLs for awhile. I even took video selfies to form check, but will not post them here because I look too real and everything on the internet needs to be posed and perfect and fake 🙂

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I only did 3 leg exercises because hammy was sending out signals. My ass pretty sore for the next few days!

At pole we played around with a lot of inversion prep moves. I managed to do two pole sit ups (one assisted, one UNASSISTED baby), which is a pretty scary move for a rookie. My climbing is getting better (read: my shins are becoming more desensitized to pain). Gotta stick with it.

Friday: I focused on upper body and abs. I decided to do a couple circuits to get my heart pumping. I finished with some dumbbell bench presses and wide-grip lat pull downs.

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Saturday: 3 mile run in 31:40. It was slow and steady, with plenty of warming up and cooling down. I am running a 5k on February 7, my first race since rehabbing the hammy. I am excited to do races again and trying VERY hard not to be discouraged about my speed. It’s stupid to want to go fast now. Or at least I have to keep reminding myself of that!

My macros fell off a little towards the end of the week because I had Blue Apron meals (obsessed), but I stayed under my expenditure every day but Saturday. I’m aiming for a seven-day streak next week!

Finally, I think I want to shake things up next week and try more boot camp-style strength training. I want to increase my cardio burn a little but still work the muscles. I reupped my ClassPass membership so I’ll try some new classes in the future! But if it bothers my hamstring I’ll have to take a step back.

Next week: a Wine Wednesday. I PROMISE I have been keeping up with my wine consumption.

Workouts January 17-23

These updates are totally disjointed because I start a draft at the beginning of the week and add to it as the week continues. I apologize for weird verb-tense changes!

Sunday, January 17: Dan and I had plans to run the Harvard stadium in the morning. However, when we arrived we learned there was an event going on and they were charging admission. So THAT was a no-go. We were THIS CLOSE to saying “fuck it” and getting brunch instead when we approached the turn to a favorite running route. FINE, we’ll jog before crepes.

We decided on a 2ish mile out-and-back so I could try running without a walking break. It was icy in some places and we took it easy.

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We ended up running a little longer than I hoped. My previous interval of running without walking was 20 minutes, so this was a 25% increase. But I didn’t feel any unusual pain during the run or in the days following.

Monday, January 18: Leg day! I tried my hand at barbell squats for the first time in ages. I took it VERY easy and paid super close attention to my form, especially my lower back. I can keep my back neutral for sumo squats, but I think I over-extend when I back squat. I should probably take a video to form check. Fortunately, though my lower back was tired after this workout, I didn’t have any soreness the following day.

(Knocks wood until knuckles raw).

imageTuesday, January 19: I went to the gym nice and early to do upper body exercises. I managed to do 2 sets of 5 at 75 lbs on the bench! it’s a lot easier to load each side with a 10 lb. plate and a 5 lb. plate than trying to locate the dinky 2.5 lb. plates in the mess that is my gym. Seriously, no one re-racks their weights and the staff seems pretty indifferent about keeping the equipment neat and orderly.

That evening, I signed up for a class I haven’t done in ages: pole!

Wednesday, January 20: jog. I waited until after work because it was cold as hell here in Boston. I was in a great mood at first and did 22 unbroken minutes. In my second running interval, the leg started whining. Sure, I was achy in several different places, probably from pole, but THE pain was also there. That. Fucking. Annoying. Shit. PAIN. I’m so over it.

The frustrating thing is that it’s not major pain. This day it was just a little tightness, nothing I couldn’t work through. But it was there. It nags and makes me doubt what I’m doing. I hate the uncertainty and the anticipation of possibly regressing.

On this run, I did more walking intervals than usual and finished in a down mood. I went home, stretched, foam rolled, showered, ate, pet the kitty, and started writing this recap. And you know what? Writing it out has already helped. I’m feeling better because, looking back, I realize it wasn’t more than baseline pain. I made a plan to rest the next day and will take it from there.

/Rant

Thursday, January 21: REST DAY FTW. Hammy felt okay. At work people asked me about my injury, so I burned some calories dodging those questions. Again, so over it.

Friday, January 22: leg day! I spent a lot of time at the gym and played around a little more than usual. I did my Romanian deadlifts BEFORE squats and was able to knock out 3×12 at 50#! I’m psyched because once I can RDL 65#, I want to try regular deadlifts from the floor with the Olympic barbell (45#) and two 10# bumper plates.

(See how I use the pound sign like someone who knows what she’s talking about? I’m a beast now).

Saturday, January 23: another pole class! I’m sticking with the 101 classes and trying to reacquaint myself with the basics: climbing and spinning. Really, I’m trying to build up my pain tolerance again, since I haven’t taken classes in FOREVER. Climbing especially wreaks havoc on my shins, but I managed to get to the top of the pole a few times, woo! 

Next week’s goals: 1) take at least 2 pole classes and 2) try sticking to my macros. 

Workouts January 10-16

I read over last week’s post and my first thought was “enough with the exclamation points, loser.” (But I punctuated the thought with an exclamation point). I also noticed there was zero snark. That ain’t right. I ROLLING PINNED my legs without sarcasm, ffs. Things have to change.

Seriously though, I re-read the last post cringing. I will aim for a more genuine voice in future posts. Likely with more cursing.

Sunday, January 10: Another session of PT exercises, which are a mix of leg and core work. I have been VERY gradually building up my BOSU squat, sumo squat, and Romanian deadlifts. I did notice pain specific to my right hammy while doing eccentric exercises, which sucked.

Against my better judgment, I also used the treadmill to try to get some of my 10k steps done. It was pouring and I knew I wouldn’t want to walk around outside. I had set 10k steps per day as a goal for the week, but looking back, I don’t think it was the most productive goal for my injury. When the steps happen organically, that’s great. When I have to force it, notsomuch.

Anyway, that night, I stretched my right hamstring and noticed it was extremely tight. I was frustrated until I stretched my left leg and felt almost identical tightness! I was hopeful that the tightness was simply muscle soreness from 40 lb. RDLs (yes!) and not the injury.

Monday, January 11: upper body and cardio. I did 70 lbs. benches again, 3×5! I also crushed some barbell rows at 55 lbs.

** Flat Barbell Bench Press **
** Lat Pulldown **
** Incline Dumbbell Bench Press **
** Barbell Row **
** Rear Delt Dumbbell Raise **
** Overhead Press **

I had to split my session and do cardio after work. I biked a lot while attending PT and gradually developed a little interval workout. Nothing groundbreaking: I warm up for 5 minutes and do 10 minutes of intervals, alternating between 15 seconds of hard work and 30 seconds of recovery. It gets the heart pumping for sure.

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Hamstring felt okay!

Tuesday, January 12: jog/walk. When I increased to 20 minutes last week, it was a jump from my previous high (16). I did the first interval at 20 minutes again to be cautious. I covered 3.73 miles in 42:19. I didn’t notice any particular or added hammy pain.

Wednesday, January 13: REST, fool. I realized that for someone who has been bitching FOR EIGHT MONTHS about an injury, I sure as hell don’t take that many rest days. That shit cray.

Thursday, January 14: More PT and leg exercises. I omitted a couple of the exercises to save some time, but also because I’m tired of a few of them. There’s one where I get into a little lunge, lean forward, straighten my bag leg and lift it, balancing on my other leg for a moment. It’s supposed to be a “control hip adduction fatiguing exercise.” I just feel a little silly doing it at the gym and I’m not sure I’m feeling the benefit odds it. I left it out on this day and can revisit it if I notice any deficit.

I DID add some glute bridges with very light weight though! BOOTY.

Also, does anyone know what this thing doors? I see it at my gym and it stumps me.

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Friday, January 15: upper body exercises, including pushups and seated cable rows. I tried doing some intervals on the rowing machine, but the rower I was on wasn’t working properly. I ended up getting lots of walking in instead.

Saturday, January 16: This ended up being a weird day. It is a run day in my “upper-run-lower” sequence, but Dan and I made plans to go to the Harvard Stadium to run the stairs on Sunday. I didn’t want to run or do legs beforehand, and I had already done upper body. I was going to do cardio intervals and core, but then I forgot a hair tie at home. LAME excuse I know, but I was so not into it. I bailed early. Hammy felt okay though!

Overall, my hamstring felt fine, apart from some stinging and feeling differently than the other one during specific exercises. I’m going to roll with it! This week my goals are to progress in weight on at least one major lift, and to do a couple evening workouts to get off the couch.

Workouts – January 1-9

Here’s my first week (plus) of workouts in 2016! I’m keeping a log to help me with my hamstring pain. As I was able to keep a pretty good training log for my half marathon training, I believe this is the forum in which I’ll have the most success.

I’m trying to focus more on strength training with some running thrown in. I would love to try a heavy lifting program like Strong Lifts 5×5, but I’m not sure my hammy can handle the volume of squats and deadlifts. I’ve been doing a disorganized split schedule and want to develop a more consistent routine.

For legs, I’m sticking to exercises my PT gave me but progressing with reps and weight. For upper body, I had been doing a push/pull split but going forward I’m going to combine all upper body workouts hitting the major muscles.

Friday, January 1: I rang in the New Year with my sister, bro-in-law, and nephew! We had a tame night so I woke up with a ton of energy. After breakfast, I tried a deck of cards workout. You assign a different exercise to a suit, flip a card, and perform the corresponding number of reps on the card. I chose:

  • Spades = squats (because they start with the same letter)
  • Hearts = push ups (because they work the pecs which are near the heart)
  • Diamonds = lunges (because you do down on one knee when proposing – Jenni thought of that one!)
  • Clubs = bicycle crunches (because … that was the one what was left)

This was a lot harder than it looked! Jenni let me discard 3 cards, and unfortunately none of them were hearts. It was fun though, with Jenni pulling the cards for me and Owen watching from his jumper. He seemed to like the lunges!

However, I think I overdid the squats and lunges. My hammy was sore for DAYS after. Additionally, the day prior, I jogged on the treadmill for the first time in ages. I took it VERY easy but it was probably still too much strain.

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I spent the rest of New Years’ Day indulging, watching the Bruins get clobbered, and getting clobbered myself at the craps table! Jenni and I hit up Oxford and I’m pretty sure I lost all of my money in 25 minutes. I had fun watching my sister and fetching her drinks! The (female) bartender told me I look like Anna Kendrick, so I left a good tip!

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Saturday, January 2: I went back home in the AM and was back to a more typical routine. I was hurting from the prior day’s workout so I worked my lats and abs. The Rock calls this “slab day,” so I do too! I’m getting the bar to my chest more consistently for lat pull downs at 80 lbs!

** Lat Pulldown **
** Barbell Row **
** One Arm Dumbbell Row **
** Plank – 3 point sets **
(I plank for 10 seconds, lift one leg for 10 seconds, lift the other leg for 10 seconds, and repeat)
** Russian twist with crunch **

Sunday, January 3: Even thought my hammy was still aching (though not more than baseline), I went for a jog/walk. I dialed my first interval back to 14 minutes because of my hammy discomfort. I did a total of 3.59 miles in 41:06.

Monday, January 4: Back to work and reality! I did a “push” day focusing on chest and shoulders with a little core work thrown in. I made the mistake of not doing a warm up set on my bench and jumped right to 65 pounds, which is near my max. As a result, the rest of my sets suffered!

** Pushups **
** bicycle crunch **
** Flat Barbell Bench Press **
** Incline Dumbbell Fly **
** Incline Dumbbell Bench Press **
** leg lift and reverse crunch **
** Arnold Dumbbell Press **
** Lateral Dumbbell Raise **

Tuesday, January 5: PT and legs workout. The primary features are BOSU squats, sumo squats, and Romanian deadlifts.

Wednesday, January 6: I try to avoid running after leg day, so it was slab day again!

Thursday, January 7: Dan was working evening shifts all week but had Thursday off, so we hit the Harvard stadium! I did the equivalent of 20 sections at a very slow pace.

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I also foam rolled and stretched like CRAZY, especially my calves and quads.Have you noticed that some self-massage sticks look like a rolling pin? My PT suggested, half-jokingly, that I could just USE a rolling pin. Why the hell not? I have one and only make pies like once a year. I love multi-tasking tools!

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Verdict? Significantly less calf soreness than the last time I ran stairs!

Friday, January 8: another upper body workout! I wanted to rest my legs after running the stairs. This time I combined push and pull exercises, which I’d like to keep doing in the future. For bench, I managed to do 70 lbs 3×5 (after two warm up sets, lesson learned)!

Hammy felt okay, maybe a 1.

Saturday, January 9: I went for another interval jog/walk, this time increasing the first jogging interval to 20 straight minutes (I thought my previous run was 18 minutes, whoops). Then a 2 minute walk, 8 minute jog, 2 minute walk, 6 minute jog, and 2 minute walk. I covered 3.62 miles in 40:48.

Again, hammy felt okay! I think the treadmill + deck of cards workout were the reason for my pain this week, because they are outside my usual routine. I have to remember not to do back-to-back new exercises.

My goals for the coming week are to combine push and pull into one upper body day and add some cardio intervals on those days. I also want to hit 10k steps a day. More cardio = more wine!

Injury update and rant

I’m back! I have missed writing training updates so I thought I’d start the new year documenting my progress. My hamstring continues to nag me periodically, so I’m hoping that keeping a contemporaneous log can help me get to the bottom of what causes the pain.

An update: I finished PT right before Thanksgiving (my insurance ran out). My PT gave me a new routine designed to strengthen my hammy, glutes, hips and core. I also started running again!

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Dan and I hit the Harvard track on November 15. I started off VERY slowly. I walked a lap, did a dynamic warmup, then ran two laps, walked a lap, and ran two more laps After that I switched to a one lap walk/run. I ended up running 1.5 miles total. I was ecstatic. My leg bothered me at first but seemed to improve as I went.

Since the track, I have run around the neighborhood, progressing VERY slowly. The first time out I did a warm up, walked for 2 minutes, jogged 5 minutes, walked 2 minutes. jogged 4 minutes, etc. I have increased the jogging time by 1-2 minutes each time and only gone out about 2 times per week. I figured out that running the day AFTER PT/leg day is no bueno, but running the day before is fine. Doing this, I felt that I made progress and didn’t have to much hammy pain to speak of, until recently.

Meanwhile, my doctors started running tests. I had an MRI on my thigh, which was negative. My doctor did blood work, which showed that my inflammatory marker was elevated (not attributed to my UC). My GI doctor ran the test again a couple weeks later and the marker was much improved. I was told that normally this sort of injury could be treated easily with ibuprofen, but I cannot take ibuprofen on account of my UC.

Sigh.

Two weeks ago I felt like I was recovering, but now I’m back to being discouraged. My PT told me that I might be focusing on my symptoms too much and to try to work through the discomfort as long as it was not worse. And no, the pain hasn’t become worse than when I started, but when it comes back like it is now, I am so frustrated because I don’t know why.

I don’t have a real diagnosis, and I don’t really have a plan apart from continuing my PT exercises. I’m thinking of asking for a referral to a sports medicine doctor or physiatrist. At this point I would pay out of pocket for a trainer or someone to guide me through what I’m doing, as long as it would get results. I want to FIX. THIS.

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Coach Lucy adding some resistance to my foam rolling.

What’s frustrating is that I’m not in a tremendous amount of pain, by any means. it’s just a slight nagging. I have been identifying it as a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale, which is minor. But it just … doesn’t feel right. And I don’t want to make it worse, or suffer another injury in future training.

I will give it a little more time doing what I’m doing and see if it continues. I’ll also try and track progress to see if I can pinpoint any triggers or problems. I want to continue to progress in both running and strength training, and will do so unless there pain becomes worse than 2/10. If that happens, I’ll scale back.

And I’ll start posting about wine again.

Wine Wednesday

I love getting Blue Apron as a once-in-awhile treat, and I was thrilled when my seeeeeester Jenni texted me to say that they were going to pair wines with their recipes. YES! While I have not opted to receive their monthly wine shipments (I have a wine buying problem as it is!), I figured I could steal their suggestions using wines I already own.

Tonight we made Blue Apron’s southern style burgers, which had a spicy kick. Blue Apron suggested pairing a Zinfandel, so I reached into my bag of tricks:

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This is Truro Vineyards’ 2013 Zinfandel made with grapes from Lodi, CA. It’s medium-bodied and spicy with a strong nose and pleasant finish. It’s spiciness and pepper made it a PERFECT pairing with the burgers. It also tasted great with the two pieces of dark chocolate I had for dessert.

A few weeks ago, Dan and I spent a long weekend on the Cape and visited Truro Vineyards. I LOVED the experience! The wine tasting is $10 for five pours and you can keep the glass!

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Plus, they sell wine by the glass which you can enjoy would taking a tour, browsing in the gift shop, or just taking in the sights.

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I LOVED the wines, especially the reds (naturally). The Cab Franc was earthy, the Merlot velvety smooth and fruity, and the Triumph (a Bordeaux style blend) was bold as hell.

In other news, my new phone is en route! Maybe more posts? We will see! 

Cheers!