Five Fingers Debut

Posted January 30, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Life, Reviews, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

Over the Christmas holiday, I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

I know, I know.  I had a hard time admitting that I wanted a pair.  But, after reading Born to Run, I felt like giving my feet and legs a chance to perform more naturally could really enhance my running.  And the idea that a barefoot-like experience could help my feet naturally rebuild their arches got to me.  One of my arches collapsed when I was about 13–completely excruciating pain.  Over 20 years later, I still cannot relax enough to get a decent foot rub for fear someone will accidentally touch my arch.  And Jane once swung her little foot around and landed it right on my arch, and I almost puked.  So, yeah, if my arches could be less sucky, that would rock.

Since I have a  race coming up in March, I am leery of overdoing the Five Fingers.  I have heard that too much mileage too quickly can really trash a runner’s legs.  So, I opted just to wear them to the gym for their inaugural outing.

Now, I will freely admit that for whatever benefits they may offer, these things sure are crazy looking:

When I walked into the YMCA today, people could not stop staring.  Truly.  As I was dropping Jane off at the childcare area, a woman stopped me to ask me if I ran in those (as she pointed to my shoes).  I gave her too much credit and actually assumed she wanted a real answer.  But as soon as I said, “Well, not really…”  She jumped in with “Well, why are you wearing them then??”  Okay, Captain Combative… Do I really owe you an explanation for my footwear?  Then she proceeded to (very loudly) discuss with the woman next to her how much shoes like that cost.  Lovely.

After the initial encounter with a rather confused public regarding my choice of footwear, I made it into the gym and actually began working out in the Five Fingers.  Um… RAD.  I could feel the muscles in my feet and legs working as I went through my routine.  Heck, I could even see the muscles in my legs responding differently.  And I was comfortable.  I felt athletic… and natural, somehow.

I guess I will get used to people staring, because the Five Fingers will be making a regular appearance at the Y.  And I am hoping next week to ease them into a short run on one of my off days.  I really didn’t foresee crushing this hard on these crazy shoes.  But the three year old at the Y really got me (and the shoes)… he squatted down in front of me and petted them lovingly.  His horrified mom could barely drag him away.  And the whole way out, he kept talking about the shoes with the toes (over and over again).  Yeah, little dude, I totally know where you are coming from.


Chana Masala (Yowza!)

Posted January 26, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Recipes

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Indian food feels comforting.  The aromatic spices seem warm, alluring.  And, Indian food offers quite a few vegan options.  So, as I shuffled through some recipe options online, this recipe for Chana Masala popped out at me.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and the recipe seemed easy enough for a week night.  Yeah, my algorithm for dinner selection isn’t too complicated…

I breezed through the recipe.  After mincing onions and garlic and grating the ginger (which is by far the hardest part), the recipe comes together in about 15 minutes.  Rad.

But… YOWZA!  This Chana Masala really packs some heat!  I like spicy.  Really, I do.  But dang this was hot!  What’s more, I felt like it was hot without the heat really enriching the flavors.  Maybe my cayenne is too hot (I put 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/2, and it was still way too hot).  AND, I left out the green chili because I couldn’t figure out exactly which pepper I needed at Publix.  Yeah, I also have no qualms about dropping seemingly superfluous ingredients out of recipes… don’t ask me how that usually works out for me.  But still… so hot.

Amy didn’t eat it at all.  Jane (our almost one year old) ate quite a few bites before she opted for the palate cooling pear & mango baby food instead.  I ate a whole bowl, but I had to have two pieces of buttered bread to help me along.  I was bummed this was so hot; I really liked the flavors.  Unfortunately, Amy didn’t like the flavors either, so this is the last time Chana Masala will make an appearance in this house.  (Sad trombone)

I say totally give this recipe a try… but start out with a pinch of cayenne.   Otherwise… FIRE! FIRE!

And Everyone Breathed a Collective Sigh of Relief…

Posted January 25, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , ,

Yesterday I ran for the first time in almost a week.  Since running replaces therapy for me, no one really wants me to go that long without a run.  I get edgy.  And my head starts freaking out and bombarding me with words like “bad,” “can’t,” “won’t ever”…

Does a run fix all that?  In one word:  yes.

But… the first run back after a hiatus of any kind (and yes, even less than a week counts) is pretty darn painful.  And I had been really sick.  So, I promised myself I would just do an easy 5k to get back into it.  Easy, my butt.  There was nothing easy about that run.  My lungs felt a bit wheezy.  I got tired about a mile in.  I felt like I was running through watered down Jello.  But I did it.  And I still completed the 5k distance in less time than I used to run a 5k on race days.

M0st importantly, though, it was easier to smile at my daughter and mean it after my run.  For Jane and I, there was more singing, more dancing, more giggling yesterday than there had been in almost a week.  And that is worth all the effort I had to put into that run.



Avoiding a Food Coma

Posted January 23, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Life, Reviews

Tags: , , , , ,

Some out-of-town family visited recently, and one of them (who I am rather fond of), looked at me and said, “I mean… since you became a vegan, is there any food you get really excited about?  Do you ever think, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to have that?!'”

Of course, the only thing I could think of off of the top of my head was the “What’s the Dilly, Philly?” from Ethos.  It’s not that there isn’t lots of good vegan food out there.  But I don’t live in a big vegan market… so going out to eat is difficult.  Unless I am hitting up the Taco Bus, which is fast becoming one of my favorite haunts.

So, yeah… there is still food I get really excited about.  But more than that, what her question brought to the forefront is “Why would I eat food I am not excited about?”  Fortunately, only one food item in my current repertoire falls into the “not jazzed about” category:  Boca Original Vegan Burgers.  I know some folks love them… but I have to drown them in sauce to eat them.  That, my friends, is no way to live.  So, I bought these:


Exciting, no?  I kind of can’t wait to try them.  Lunch tomorrow, baby. It is ON!  I am even going to splurge for an out of season tomato and some decent lettuce.

Cross your fingers for me.  I really want a burger to add to my list.

Mercy Tastes Like Bubble Gum

Posted January 22, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Strep throat.  Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a kid like the threat of strep throat.

Now I remember why.

On Thursday morning, I woke up feeling off–my head felt foggy, my muscles ached.  At 6 a.m., I asked Amy to get up with Jane so I could sleep for a bit longer to try to ward of the impending sickness.  Turns out, sleep only delayed the inevitable.  By 1 p.m., when Amy mercifully came home from work, I knew that I was really sick.  My fever already reached 100.3.  From there, even on a steady dose of Tylenol, it climbed to 103.1 before it finally broke at 10 p.m.

Fevers, chills, hot flashes, and throbbing achiness… and an almost 1 year old to take care of.  Those factors can only equate to agony.  I do not remember ever being in that much seemingly inescapable pain.  And it all seemed so hopeless.  Jane wanted me to play.  Moving around hurt.  She still need to be fed, and held, and loved.  And I just wanted to cry.  Awful.

When people used to tell me how much my life would change after I had Jane, I thought they were idiots. Of course my life would change.  I understood the ways in which it would change.  Even after Jane was born, I felt like I had adequately prepared myself for what it meant to completely care for another human being.  But OH MY LORD… people forgot to mention that kids don’t go away when you get sick.  Jane wouldn’t issue a time out.  I could hear her chanting “No mercy” as I lay moaning on the floor next to her tunnel, which she had already crawled through 101 times.  It was hell.

At this point in the chaos, Amy was stricken down with the plague, too.  That’s right.  Both parent figures down for the count by Thursday evening.

Oh, but wait… at this point, my throat didn’t even hurt!  Nope, not until Friday morning did I wake up feeling much better… except for the thousands of tiny knives sliding down my throat when I swallowed.  But 3 p.m. I was at a walk-in clinic begging for mercy.

Mercy came in a pediatric dose of bubble gum flavored amoxicillin to treat strep (although no one is really sure I have strep at all… it is just an educated guess).

I am not exaggerating when I say that hell is strep throat with an almost 1 year old.  Absolute torment.  But it is over; we are going to be okay.

Now, if I can just get Jane to stop chanting “no mercy,” everything will be back to normal around here.

Dancing Queen

Posted January 18, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , ,

Janie hears music in the most mundane places.  Washer & dryer running?  Totally danceable beat.  Shaking the soy creamer?  Reason to shake her booty.  Spoon clanging in a coffee cup?  Time to groove.

I love this about her.  I love that, in every day life, she already finds things that move her.

Today, I looked up to find her singing and dancing; no music was playing.  I love that she is grounded enough to hear her own beat.

This little dancing imp astounds me every day.  Her personality emerges continuously.  And I continuously find reasons to love her more than I ever thought possible.

Croom Zoom 2012

Posted January 17, 2012 by Kendra Lee
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday morning, at 4:00 a.m., my alarm went off.  I groaned and hit snooze.  Then I startled awake.  The Croom Zoom, my first 25k, started in 3 hours, and I had only a vague idea of how to get to the race site in the Withlacoochee State Forest (yes, that is totally a real place).

I scrambled into the kitchen to slurp down some coffee and eat a piece of peanut butter toast while I checked the weather forecast.  In the low 30s for the first part of the race.  Oh. my. Lord.  I put on the warmest running gear I have (which isn’t really all that warm until about 5 miles in) and zipped out of the house for the hour ride up to Brooksville, Florida.

I have driven by Brooksville about a hundred times headed north on I-75.  But when Google Maps told me to take a small highway road up to Brooksville instead, I just assumed the good folks at Google knew better than I did.  So, at 5:00 a.m., I found myself driving in the pitch black through areas that looked like they might have been the inspiration for Deliverance.  I had pre-race jitters; I had lost-in-the-middle-of-nowhere jitters.  And I really had to pee.  But there was nowhere to stop.  And I do mean nowhere.  All the gas stations were closed.  Even the Wal-Mart had so few cars that I felt sketched out about swinging in for a potty break.  And, remember, I had slurped down that coffee and a healthy amount of water before I left the house.  So, I spent the last 20 minutes of the ride praying that I wouldn’t pee on myself before I got there.

I turned off of the little highway onto a littler county road that my map said would lead me straight into the park.  I kept peering to the right and the left, into the pitch black, looking for a park sign.  It was already 6:15.  My race started at 7, and I couldn’t find the damn…

And, suddenly, I was on a dirt road.

I just kept driving, hoping I was headed in the right direction.  My dot on Google Maps was still on course–but did I mention I was on a dirt road?!?

And then I saw him–the traffic directing guy.  He was shivering in the cold.  Uh… that didn’t seem like a good sign.  I parked, opened my door… and shut it again.  DANG.  I steeled myself, opened the door again and hopped out just in time to be greeted by a string of profanity from the guy parked next to me… something about Florida…damn cold…someone’s mother…something, something.  As interesting as his diatribe was, I needed to pick up my race packet, finally pee, and strip off my warm sweat pants and fleece and stand around in lycra running garb.  And freeze.

I did all of those things.  In that order.  I have never wanted a race to begin so badly.  I was so cold that I forgot to be nervous.  No joke.  And I am totally valedictorian of being nervous.

The airhorn went off, and all the 25k runners set off down a limestone road.  We did 3.5 miles on that road.  At mile 1.5, I realized that my hands were achingly cold.  At mile 1.8, I felt like nails were being driven through my thumbnails, and I noticed–with great alarm–that it took tremendous effort to move my fingers.  At mile 2.0, I began to seriously concern myself with frostbite.  I thought for a few minutes about quitting then and there.  No kidding.  I don’t remember ever being in that much pain from the cold.

By mile 3, I didn’t remember that my hands had ever hurt at all.  But I did realize that my Gu was too cold to be gooey.  Instead, eating it was like breaking off pieces of chewing gum and swallowing them whole.  Thank goodness I had plenty of water in my Camelback to negotiate that mess.

I finished my Gu just in time to turn onto the trail and realize that my shoes were tied too loosely for trail running.  Oh, and I was running in my old running shoes that have next to no tread left on them.  Awesome planning.  I ran for a bit and found myself at the start point again, right before the start of the 10 mile trail loop, where I stopped to tie my shoes.  I hate stopping while I am running, but the retying of the shoes seemed like a necessity, lest I fall and bust my booty on this run.

Which I did.  At mile 7.  I swear, I have no idea what happened.  I was running; I must have drifted off into thought. Then I felt it… My feet tangled, and I knew I was going down.  I had just enough time to think,  “this is going to hurt,” before I hit the ground with a thud.  The guy running behind me (he was a ways back when I fell) asked if I was okay.  I hopped up to show him I was alright–I didn’t want him to break his stride too much for me–and took off running.  Both my knees were super sore.  I was dirty.  But I knew I could keep going.  Hey, it was either that or walk the last 8 miles.  No one was going to carry me out of that forest.

I hadn’t set a goal time for the run. But I did promise myself I would run all 15 miles.  And I did.  I finished the race in 2:47:21 with a Gu wrapper stuck to my hand (since mile 10) feeling like a badass.


I am more in love with running than ever before.  Crazy, right?  And I am totally hoping to fit in another trail run during this running season… but maybe in April when it is just a smidge warmer.  I am totally a Florida girl, no matter how badass I am.