Quarantine Diaries – Week 2

We’re now two weeks into quarantine in San Antonio. The city and our mayor have tried to be very proactive, as outlined below, but are receiving a lot of push-back and technicality arguments from businesses that would rather spread the virus than lose money. I wish more people would realize that the sooner we all just STFU and stay home, the sooner this will all be over. Personally, this has been a hard week for me. I’m to the point where my mental health is beginning to deteriorate from lack of social contact, but I’m doing what I can to stay as virtually social as possible.

Like I said last week: If your mental health is at a point where you cannot bear to hear more about quarantine stuff, skip to the bottom of this post for a list of positives and highlights and Nice Things. We all need some of that right now!

–Friday, March 20th
Very little happened on our eighth day into quarantine. No new cases reported in our county, though several in surrounding counties. The libraries extended their closure until late April.

–Saturday, March 21st and Sunday, March 22nd
More jumps in our number of cases (45 by Sunday evening, including our first local death). Jason was able to pick up a few groceries on Saturday, including potatoes and rice and iced coffee. Whew! The grocery store is only letting a few people in at a time, and have their lines set up with decals keeping people six feet apart. People are finding ways to cope. My hiking group set up a bunch of small-group hikes (six people max) in the evening this upcoming week, as well as a Friday evening online happy hour. Jason helped set up an online connection to Ambrose’s friend Tyler for their weekly Dungeons & Dragons campaign, so they could keep going during quarantine.

–Monday, March 23rd
Today began virtual school for my kids. Everything went pretty well on that front, actually, which was a relief. I began some daily sketching and a strength training program. In San Antonio, our local case count jumped to 57, and our mayor announced that San Antonio is going into shelter-at-home protocols. I canceled my evening walk/hike because of this, and of course there won’t be any more for some time, despite the precautions the group was taking. At this point, I admit that my anxiety ramped up through the roof. Shelter-at-home is necessary, I know, but it’s almost my least favorite thing ever. I feel isolated and anxious and paranoid, agoraphobia taking over. I’m a very social creature at heart, a full-on extrovert, and these last few months have been just wonderful for my soul. Now, all of that is being taken away, and no matter how necessary or how temporary, I feel awful. I began having panic attacks, which didn’t abate until Jason and I went for a short, slow walk together. Anyway. In non-local news, I’m also sad that the Olympics are being postponed, though again, I know this is for the best.

–Tuesday, March 24th
Local count: 69 cases, 2 deaths. Today was a big one, y’all. Schools extended their closure to late April. We received word that our Planniversary trip to Alaska in May has been canceled by the cruise line (plus then our ensuing cancelations of airline, hotel, etc). San Antonio businesses pushed back against the shelter-in-place order so that now the restrictions have so many exemptions they might as well not exist. (Golf courses remain open, for instance, because they’re essential, yeah?) Meetup (where my hiking group hosts their events) closed all in-person event availability and allowed groups to put up online events. My hiking group immediately put out an ongoing virtual walk/run/hike/whatever where we can post pictures and offer encouragement to each other. Not the same, but the best we can do in this time.

–Wednesday, March 25th
Local count: 84, with three deaths. Sigh. Morrigan tells me this morning that since the city isn’t really sheltering-at-home, he should be able to see his friends after our personal quarantine time is up. No. That’s now how it works. We all want to be able to see our friends and family, but we also need to do our part to keep people safe, even if Big Business and Politicians aren’t taking this seriously. I see multiple arguments in our family future. Beyond that, there was just a lot of arguments about what is/isn’t “essential” business in the city (mattress stores? They sell household goods, so they can be open. Car washes? Essential!). Libraries closed their book drops as well as the actual libraries. Jason’s upcoming dental appointment – to replace his temporary crown with a real one – was canceled until further notice. We attended an online surprise birthday party for our sister-in-law, Emmy.

–Thursday, March 26th
Local count: 113, 5 deaths. Yikes. Texas mandated quarantines for anyone flying in from several parts of the country. City parks now have COVID-19 guidelines up in them, but are still open as long as precautions are taken. With as quickly as we’re increasing – and seeing as the US now has the highest infection rate in the world as of today – I have a feeling we’ll be going to full-on lockdown soon. To that end, I figured out how to get our TV service (through youtube) onto my computer, so that I can exercise in my room to junk TV shows during the day. Not ideal, because my room is a bit small, but better than nothing. Certainly makes me feel a bit better!

Four things really sum up the week. 1) Agoraphobia is a terrible disorder. 2) I’m really effing angry that maids and janitors are losing their jobs and have no financial help during this time, but golf courses and big businesses can stay open on technicalities to rake in profits while others starve and sicken. 3) This is really, really bad and I don’t know why some folks aren’t taking it seriously. 4) I’m drinking WAY too much iced coffee during all this anxiety.

Positives and Highlights and Nice Things
Once again, gotta focus on the better parts of the week to get through all this without anxiety ripping apart my stomach or making me insane. Here are some of my positives. What are yours?

  • discovered the most amazing gluten-free double chocolate veggie muffins that really do taste amazing and not at all like veggies or gluten-free products! (Brand: Veggies Made Great)
  • my lovely cat-print birthday dress from Torrid arrived! –>
  • I meant to say this last week, but my Modern Witch Tarot Deck arrived, bought with an Audible/Amazon promo credit, yay! (Art in top photo is from this deck.)
  • I put together my own new pull-up bar! I’m terrible at anything that involves assembly or mechanics or step-by-step instructions using nuts, screws, schematics, Allen wrenches, etc. But I did it, alone!
  • finally watched The Aeronauts, which was pretty good.
  • Molly Galbraith and Girls Gone Strong put out 60+ free strength training workouts for all levels, including one that’s for absolute newbies that I began this week.
  • a virtual surprise birthday party for my sister-in-law, Emmy
  • walking the park with Jason during the sunset
  • figuring out how to get my TV service on my computer so I can exercise in my room again

Please stay safe everyone. Check in, tell me how you’re doing, post on your blog how you’re doing. We’re each other’s social safety net right now. Love you guys!!

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Wellness Wednesday – Real Talk About Quarantine and Agoraphobia

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about extroversion and agoraphobia, and the way they interact inside me. The following is a quote from that post:

These two forces war within me all the time. It becomes simple math/logic: If agoraphobia is winning a greater percentage of time, then 1) it’s likely to win even more, and 2) I’m going to be unhappy and my mental health will be increasingly disordered. If extroversion can start getting some wins, then 1) it snowballs until (eventually) I resemble a well-adjusted, normal human being, and 2) these times stand out as the happiest times of my life.

I’ve been doing really well over the last few months. After I joined my hiking group in December, I began going out more. At first it was just to places I was more familiar with. Then it grew to new-to-me places. Sometimes I even went to new-to-me places alone, which is a Really Big Win against my anxiety/agoraphobia. The more I did it, the easier it became. As I said in the above post, I pushed back the boundaries of my comfort zone until it was quite large and I was no longer confined to my home. Leaving the house became easy, and I no longer even had to think about it or psych myself up to it or have someone with me 75% of the time.

And now, our city has gone to shelter-at-home protocols. It’s the right decision and I 100% agree that it’s what we need to do. Unfortunately, it’s terrible for my mental health. All agoraphobia needs to begin winning again is several days inside my house with no external contact. To make this particular situation even worse, I’m not just sheltering at home, I’m basically confined to my bedroom because the rest of the house is being used by those who are working/schooling from home.

Yes – agoraphobia can become so strong that it’s difficult to leave my own damn bedroom. Agoraphobia can become so strong that when I need to leave the bedroom – to get food, or speak to someone else – I get extremely anxious and fearful of the rest of the house and return to the bedroom ASAP.

I began canceling events and appointments a week and a half ago. Twice, I managed to go out to do my C25K training runs, but those were the only times I left the house. I was so happy when my hiking group set up a bunch of 5-person evening hikes for this week – only to have them canceled when we received the shelter-at-home order on Monday.

Y’all – I’ve tried to stay as objective as possible about COVID-19. My family is taking it very seriously without doing all the panic-buying and other ridiculous things. But the day I heard we were going to get the shelter-at-home order, I began to have panic attacks. Because it doesn’t matter how good my mental health was prior to this social isolation. Agoraphobia only needs a few days to start winning, and months of being inside my home is going to crush me.

It’s so hard to describe what agoraphobia feels like. You know, logically, that there’s nothing different outside your own front door, but it feels So Scary, a distorted version of the world where your Safe Place is the only Normal, and everything else feels like stepping off a spaceship into the great wide eternity of the universe. Everything feels surreal and dreamlike outside your Safe Place, a funhouse version of the world. The only thing that can stop this distortion is to actually step outside. The further you venture, and the more often you venture, the further back the distortion begins. It doesn’t matter that you KNOW that this isn’t the case. It’s a mental health disorder, and just like depression or anxiety or schizophrenia or any other, you cannot control its manifestation.

Monday evening, while I was having trouble breathing as the panic attacks rolled in, Jason took me for a walk at a nearby park. It was slow and short, but it was enough to stop the panic. It was enough for me to look out at the expanse of newly-mown grass and see it without funhouse distortion. It was enough to calm my brain enough to say hey, I can still come to this park to run in the morning. It was enough to push back against the noose of my comfort zone and keep it from crushing in around me just yet.

This is not a fight that ultimately, I can win. Shelter-at-home = agoraphobia wins. My job is to fight it for as long as I can, and then to fight it again when the restrictions lift. I already miss the progress I’d made over the last few months, but this is a cycle that I’ve been through many times since I first developed agoraphobia in college. I just need to remember, when all this is over, that I can get back out into the world and start winning these battles again.

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Nothing to Lose, by Alex Flinn

Michael ran away a year ago and has been working with a traveling carnival ever since. Now he’s back in his home town, hoping no one recognizes him. Unfortunately, his mother is on trial for killing her abusive husband, Michael’s stepfather, a week after Michael disappeared. He knows he can’t keep running forever.

Ooh, an actual book review from me! First one in…oh…a month? Sadly, it’s only going to be a mini-review, because I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one. I found Nothing to Lose through Audible’s current quarantine-promotion (free titles available for kids/teens). I looked through the selection, found a few that looked interesting and that I’d never heard of, and then went to see if I could find e-versions at my library. This was the first ebook I found. I read it in an afternoon – it’s pretty short – and it certainly held my attention. The carnival aspect was my favorite part, a look at the lives of people that are usually marginalized in society. Sadly, the rest was just okay – predictable twists, slap-dash characterization, worn out tropes like the manic pixie dream girl. Over all, it was an okay book that was enjoyable to read in an afternoon. It will make no lasting impression on me, but didn’t have anything terrible to give it an unpleasant aftertaste.

Sorry to have such a meh review to break my review-silence…

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Sunday – The Next Five Months

I have to figure out something to do with the next five months of my life. It’s like extended summer break around here. The kids are schooling online, Jason is working from home, but we’re all home and we’re all sheltering from home during this quarantine. I can’t throw on junk TV and run around the living room. I have to be very careful when and where I go out to exercise. Having been a stay at home mom with a 24/7 job for fifteen years now, I’ve learned how to deal with cabin fever, isolation, and many of the things so many people are handling at the moment. But summer break is always the hardest for me, between heat and the boys being home full time. And now we’ve extended it for another two months.

So yes. I need to figure out what to do with my extra time that isn’t just listening to podcasts while I do stupid jigsaw puzzles on my phone. My legs itch because I’m not getting out to walk, run, or hike as often as before. My sleep is getting worse, and anxiety/agoraphobia is beginning to win back some of the ground I’ve covered the past few months. People have talked about learning new skills with this new time, and I think that’s the route I need to go down. In a fashion.

I want to start some kind of strength training program. Five months is a long time and can lead to some really major improvements in muscle. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years but have always had conflicts that prevented it. (Stuff like wanting to do other exercises I enjoyed more, rather than strength-train, which I find kinda boring!!) But I need to choose a good program that is either bodyweight-based, or uses only dumbbells, as that’s all I have access to. Thankfully, I know of several awesome ladies who lift heavy and who have made some great at-home programs to choose from during this time.

Additionally, I’m going to search for some beginner-level online tutorials in ASL. I’d love to begin learning the language. If anyone knows some good resources for that, please send my way!

Lastly, I’m going to try to get back into crochet. I had to give up the hobby a few years back because it was causing a lot of shoulder pain. It’s possible that the same will happen this time, but maybe if I just spend a short amount of time a few days per week, I can avoid aggravating the injury and also finish a nice afghan by the end of these five months. We’ll see. If not, maybe I’ll try to take up sketching again, or take some online courses/tutorials in photography, which I’d love to be better at.

How are all of you handling the changes? Are there others out there that are suddenly filling empty time or having to change up their routines because of quarantine? Hope everyone is well!!

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Quarantine Diaries – Week 1

It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a week since San Antonio went into quarantine protocols. I talked a little bit about what happened in the first few days in last weekend’s Sunday Coffee, but with the world rolling so quickly, I wanted to start tracking things more closely for personal future reference. If your mental health is at a point where you cannot bear to hear more about quarantine stuff, skip to the bottom of this post for a list of positives and highlights and Nice Things. We all need some of that right now!

–Friday, March 13th
San Antonio confirmed its first case of COVID-19, travel-based rather than community-spread. Mayor Nirenberg called emergency meetings and began proactive quarantine protocols. From these meetings and protocols, a ton of stuff changed over the course of Friday:

  • public schools extended spring break another week, and scheduled events such as UIL or SAT tests were delayed
  • many community events from the next few months, like Siclovia, were canceled
  • Fiesta (a major SA holiday/event that takes place in April) was moved to November
  • Jason was told to work from home until further notice
  • the public libraries closed their doors for the next week and suspended due dates and fines

(1st day of quarantine in SA! These shelves were filled the day before.)

These don’t include ALL the changes in the city, just the ones that affected us personally. Additionally on Friday, Jason decided to do our weekly grocery shopping a day earlier than normal. We knew people would be out in panic-runs at the stores. Laurence and I had just been at the store the day before to pick up a few mid-week things we needed, and of course we knew the toilet paper would be gone (we didn’t need any, thankfully!). But between Thursday and Friday when Jason went, nearly the entire store had been cleaned out. It’s weird to see the produce section entirely empty except for a few stray turmeric roots and super-expensive varieties of apples. Why are people stocking up on highly perishable foods? Anyway, he got what he could, improvising when necessary. Rice is the big one we’re low on. We’ll just have to make do. Weird grocery store story, though:

Jason was waiting in line to check out when the woman behind him suddenly hopped over the carts to the woman in front (who was currently paying for her groceries). The cart-hopping woman grabbed the wrists of a person who had grabbed some bags out of the paying-woman’s cart. Quick thinking and moving, lady! No one else had even noticed. This is totally unlike normal behavior here. I mean, I get that things are looking pretty scary in the world, but seriously, calm down! Stealing paid-for groceries out of another person’s cart is NOT COOL.

–Saturday, March 14th and Sunday, March 15th
I’m putting these dates together because I can’t remember exactly what came on which day. Over the weekend, several more cases of travel-related infections were reported in SA, but no community-spread yet. I started getting notices from various businesses that I frequent, first telling me that they were reducing hours, and later closing physical stores altogether to move to all-online business. Thankfully, most of them are able to keep paying employees in the meantime, but it’s so odd to see doors closed to Fleet Feet, Lane Bryant, Alamo Drafthouse, Animal Defense League, the SA Zoo, and so many others. HEB (our grocery chain) moved to 12-hour days so that overnight stockers could try to get ahead of the panic-buying, and they implemented limits on specific items.

On a more personal note, I had to convince my mom not to come to Laurence’s birthday party Sunday. She and my stepfather got sick with what they believe is influenza several weeks ago, well before COVID-19 officially hit Texas. On Sunday, she was still coughing like crazy and very tired. She agreed to stay home, but unfortunately she planned to go to work the next day. This is the worst – she works at a preschool in Hondo that’s run by her sister. This preschool is half-school half-daycare, and my aunt decided to keep it open in spite of everything. She and my uncle encouraged my mom to come back in to work, telling her that if the fever had broken (which it had quite early in the illness), she was no longer contagious. This, of course, isn’t true, but sadly this part of my family gets their news from Faux News and they believe a lot of misconceptions that are going to contribute to the problem. Additionally, my mom was meant to spend the night with my grandparents, who are absolutely solidly in the most vulnerable population. Of course, they’re not taking this seriously, either, refusing to let anyone shop for them and going out to stores themselves. Sigh.

Lastly, our murder mystery online dinner party was canceled/postponed, because apparently our Wisconsin relatives were actually planning to get together physically, and decided that was a bad idea right now.

–Monday, March 16th
More cases reported. More businesses closed down. I had to pick up a prescription, so Jason and I braved HEB and managed to get some eggs and iced coffee and tuna, but no rice. My hiking group canceled the big event they had planned for the 28th, and put caps of 10-15 people on their smaller hikes. I canceled my upcoming chiropractor appointment – that can wait until this blows over! We found out that an employee at Jason’s work had contracted COVID but was being treated in another state and likely had no contact with Jason or his immediate coworkers. In the evening, we found out that Jason’s brother and his wife had gone into voluntary quarantine because she’d had contact with her chiropractor who had contact with another patient who later got the virus. It’s unlikely they’ll be affected by such a slight contact, but just in case, they went into quarantine.

–Tuesday, March 17th
Several major things happened on this day. 1) San Antonio’s number of cases jumped from 4 on Monday to 11 by the end of Tuesday. 2) The boys received notice that the schools would stay closed until April 3rd at minimum, and all lessons would start online next week. Events like prom, summa awards, etc would be either delayed or canceled. Depending on how things go, graduation might be as well.  3) Morrigan called because KU closed to all students for the rest of the semester and needed to be picked up and off campus by Friday. (On that note: There have been several cases of community-spread in Lawrence, Kansas, and Morrigan worked in the dining halls, exposed to thousands of students. While he has no symptoms, he could be in the incubation period. So could many other students. It seems dangerous to send them all to their homes across the country rather than sheltering in place. Won’t that potentially spread this disease more??)

(Even stuck at home, they “dressed” in green…)

–Wednesday, March 18th
Jason left for Kansas very early in the morning and made it there safely. I canceled my upcoming massage even though I could really use it right now. By evening, San Antonio had shut down restaurants (except drive-through), bars, malls, bowling alleys, gyms, theatres, and all “non-essential” businesses. Local positive-virus-count jumped to 25. My aunt finally decided to close the daycare/preschool and Wednesday was their last day until further notice. My anxiety ramped up so badly that I couldn’t sleep, especially with Jason being away.

–Thursday, March 19th
By evening, local case count was up to 29, of which at least six are community spread. Jason and Morrigan arrived safely from Kansas. (Gavroche immediately claimed one of their suitcases. <– ) Texas finally got its act together and banned non-essential businesses state-wide and not just in the major population centers. My mom told me that my grandparents finally began to take this seriously and have agreed to shelter at home and let others run their chores for them. Whew!

So that’s about how our first week went. We’re all back together again and settling in for the long haul. How are things in your neck of the woods? Ready for some more positive things?

Positives and Highlights and Nice Things
I’d go mental – I’m sure we’d ALL go mental – if we didn’t have nice things to focus on at the same time. So to think about the positive, here are some of the more wonderful things from the first week of quarantine in no particular order.

  • Some of the stores that sent me store credit for my birthday changed their rules so that this credit could be used on online orders.
  • I’ve been able to get out to local parks or in the neighborhood for walks/runs to keep my fitness up while still staying away from people.
  • Laurence has been keeping me up to date with football news all week. He’s also been using his time off to rip up our rotten back deck so that we can change that area into something nice.
  • Backyard friends –>
  • I’ve been binge-listening to the Real Life Ghost Stories podcast and that’s keeping me highly entertained.
  • Jason doesn’t have to worry about his job. He can work from home without a problem, so that’s one less worry for our family.
  • The boys are really good at technology, and we have enough old junk laptops for them to use that this online school thing should be fairly easy to handle. (Or at least as easy as the software/internet/teachers can make it.)
  • I realized just how fortunate we were to sell our old house before all this virus stuff happened, because the market is going to be nuts and we could NOT afford months and months of double mortgage payments!
  • Harry Potter Wizards Unite has updated the game to make playing from home FAR easier.
  • Ash has started purring loudly every time I give him treats. He hasn’t really done a lot of purring since our year in Boston, so it’s strange and wonderful to hear after so much time!
  • As someone who has been at home full time since October 2005, the only adjustments that I’m making right now are the same ones I make every winter/spring/summer break. I have some solid routines to fall back on and I’m not worried about getting cabin fever. I did all that years ago. (Also, kinda stoked that people might understand a little better that stay-at-home-moms aren’t “not working,” because that’s ridiculous!)
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Product Review: Lumen

In the fall of 2018, I came across an Indigogo campaign for a product called Lumen. It purported to be a device that, with a single breath, could tell you your daily resting/basil metabolic rate. The campaign also said that with this information, as well as determining the levels of CO2 in your exhalation, the Lumen could tell you if your body was in carb-burning or fat-burning mode, so that you could adjust your nutrition accordingly day by day. Originally, the product was supposed to release and ship in May 2019. I bought into the pre-sales for the campaign.

I’ve long been interested in my RMR, and various tests (electric-pulse tests and water-weigh tests) show mine to be anywhere from about 1450 to 1650. I thought the Lumen could help me see what the variance was day to day, especially as I was still trying to figure out why I sometimes had excruciatingly hungry days in the 24 hours after certain exercises. Of course, eventually I figured my situation out on my own. I learned that eating low carb is very hard on my body, and causes all sorts of metabolic problems – high insulin, high glucose, wildly fluctuating blood sugar, and the problems that come along with depletion of muscle glycogen stores. Those problems went away when I began eating a higher carb diet again about a year ago. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my Lumen would tell me that my body stayed on the carb-burning side. So that part of the product didn’t interest me. I just wanted the RMR data.

May 2019 came and went. No Lumen. Indigogo emails talked about delays and science-y stuff. New delivery was expected in July, then “late summer,” then “sometime in autumn,” and then FINALLY in late January, my Lumen shipped out. I was so eager to do my first day, calibration day, where you eat high carb all day and take multiple breaths to calibrate the device. After each set of breaths, the device would give me a number, one through five, with one being mostly fat-burning and five being mostly carb-burning. In all of my breaths, I sat squarely in the middle at three (equally burning both).

The next day, I took my fasting morning breath, and to my consternation, all I received was another number on that same scale (still a three), no resting metabolic rate. The app calculated my daily plan, and told me to eat low-carb that day, with 5 of their servings of carbs. It also gave me a general number of calories to eat, and an impossible-to-use meal plan that had really bizarre foods on it and no recipes. I spent some time playing with the app and trying to find out when/where to get my RMR. The only thing I could find was that after four weeks of daily morning breaths, I’d get a number to represent my metabolic flexibility (on a scale of one to twenty-one).

Even knowing that eating low-carb is bad for me, I tried to follow the recommendations (if not the meal plan) for the first day. I ended up having more like seven servings of carbs instead of five, but I figured that was okay. Didn’t feel great, but one day wasn’t going to hurt too much. But then the next day asked me to do the same low-carb plan. I tried, until mid-afternoon when my blood sugar crashed and I had a severe hypoglycemic episode. At that point, I wrote in to the manufacturers and asked about my particular situation. I was told that 1) the Lumen would not be giving any kind of metabolic rate because “people don’t understand the science behind it and prefer a simplified method of following a plan,” and 2) the goal of the Lumen was to use low-carb days to kick your body into fat-burning mode, then to switch up the number of carbs each day to increase metabolic flexibility. In “simplified” terms, they were another low-carb-high-fat diet combined with a carb-cycling regimen and intermittent fasting.

I didn’t buy this product to be given another version of the latest fad craze. For a few weeks, I kept using it, to see if my numbers would change. Sometimes I’d lie and say I followed the plan. Other times I’d put my carb servings up at 12, the highest it would let me, even though I eat more like 15-20 daily. I checked to see if my daily recommended calories changed from day to day (a possible indicator of RMR), or if they changed based on how much exercise I said I’d be doing (nope). Each week, the Lumen would ask me for feedback, and I’d say that I was highly dissatisfied with the plan and wouldn’t follow it. Then it would “recalculate” my plan…only to give me the exact same thing. After four weeks, I never had a day where I was told to eat more than five servings of carbs. And the only time I’ve blown a number less than three on their little scale was when I had the hypoglycemia attack, when I blew a two. Imagine what a one would do to me!

So the device didn’t do what it promised, and no one was paying any attention to my personal feedback or needs, despite supposedly doing so. There was really no point of me keeping it, and I paid several hundred dollars for the stupid thing, so hell yeah I was going to get a refund! Thankfully, it seems that the company kinda knew their product didn’t go over so well. I’d heard other folks say they had a tough time getting refunds, but the company didn’t even bother to try to convince me to stay. I just sent in the device and the money was returned promptly. So at least there’s that. That’s the best thing I can say about this entire situation.

And I need to note one more thing that has nothing to do with my experience with the device, but instead to do with the company and their hype about the Lumen. This morning, I received an email from the developers regarding the Lumen and COVID-19. I appreciated the bits about their workers moving to work-from-home etc, but then they said this (copy/pasted from their email):

Lumen’s method of promoting a flexible metabolism can definitely assist in the journey to building a stronger immune system. Studies have shown that tools Lumen utilizes such as intermittent fasting, can assist in building a healthier immune system by more efficiently ridding the body of pathogens, as well as improving white blood cells in the body.

Imagine making the claim that using their product can help you avoid or lessen the effects of COVID-19. What a bad taste that left in my mouth. If I hadn’t already gone through the refund process, that BS would have sent me straight to it. I could rant on this subject for another full blog, but this is already long enough so I’ll sign off. Final thoughts:

A disappointing product that fails to do what it originally claimed and provides no value that you can’t get from any keto/fasting/carb-cycling regimen on your own.

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Race Report: Shamrock Shuffle (Virtual) 5K

This was my first virtual race, and a major race fail in so many ways. The original event (non-virtual) had to be canceled due to COVID-19 (sadness!). They still gave out finisher’s awards, though, so Jason and I both picked up those. I grabbed a coffee mug, leaving him to grab the pint glass so that we wouldn’t get two of the same thing, ha! And of course, while it wasn’t necessary for us to actually do the 5K, I was determined to do it virtually. And despite what I said in yesterday’s Sunday Coffee, I decided to run this race** yesterday morning.  This is where so many things went wrong for me.

**My toe was fine, though. That’s about the only thing that went right!

One: The weather was god-awful. I woke up yesterday morning and looked at my weather app. While it was cloudy out, it wasn’t supposed to rain until afternoon. The temps were decent – high 60s – though the humidity was a horrendous 90%. It looked like it was going to rain. This is where I probably should have paid more attention to my instincts than to my weather app. But no. I geared up and headed out to my favorite hiking trails park. I joked to Jason that I’d probably be soaking wet by the end of the run.

It began raining on the way to the park. The park is literally five minutes’ drive away. I debated with myself – worth it to just get the 5K over with? Especially since it’s supposed to rain for the next two weeks straight? Or should I just turn around? I wanted to run this and not wait for a few weeks, and by the time I got to the park, the rain had stopped. I figured that a few sprinkles every once in awhile wouldn’t hurt.

(soaked)

Generally, that was true. But about halfway into the 5K, it began to pour on me. I had to be very careful with my steps, especially whenever I ran, to make sure I didn’t slip on mud, or slide on slick rocks. Water poured down my face from soaking-wet hair, and my skin was stuck all over with bits of oak pollen buds. It wasn’t pleasant. Around the two-mile mark, I could have quit and gone to my car (as I pass the entrance to the parking lot). The rain was insane by then. But I didn’t want to quit, not two miles in. I kept going as the mud got worse and parts of the path began to pool and flood.

Long story short: my joke came true, I did my virtual 5K in some of the worst possible conditions ever, and I was soaked through by the end. In a further twist of irony, afternoon/evening dawned with clear skies and lovely temps and no rain in sight.

Two: Thanks to another stupid decision, I ended up doing more than a 5K. I recently downloaded Map My Run. Previously, I’ve been using a bare-bones app called Run Log to track my distance and pace. Its GPS is fairly consistent, though a little low (especially on cloudy days), and it doesn’t track elevation or mile-splits. I also use my Fitbit for heart-rate and step data, but find that it’s often overzealous about distance. For example, the section of the park that I run for my mile timing is actually 1.07 miles long. Run Log says 1.05 to 1.06 depending on the day, and Fitbit says 1.1 or higher. These may not seem like huge differences, but they add up mile to mile. I thought Map My Run could do more for me, but as it turns out, its GPS is terrible. I should have tested it before using it for a race-5K.

(on the trail)

In the end, I don’t know the exact distance that I went because I was using Map My Run primarily. I could tell something was wrong because the all-run mile split was much higher than normal (16:19 pace) and went much further than the 1.07-mile spot. In the end, MMR told me that I did 3.09 miles at an 18:11/mile pace. Contrasting that was Run Log, with 3.2 miles at a 17:42/mi pace, and Fitbit with 3.35 miles at a 16:52/mi pace. I’d personally guess that I walked/ran 3.25 miles in about 56 1/2 mins (each timer is slightly different due to turning them off one after another), putting me at a pace of ~17:23/mi. But I really don’t know, because my primary GPS was so wonky. (The data it gave was similarly messed up – sometimes I was going a 4-min-mile pace, sometimes a 33-min-mile pace; not to mention I started and finished in the same location but it says that I ended at an elevation 169 feet above where I started, etc.) So Map My Run is right out, and I’ll be trying RunKeeper next.

Three: This is actually a funny story. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’d begun listening to the podcast Real Life Ghost Stories. I had an episode on while on this 5K, and right as I entered a dark corridor of trees with a malignant sky above me, the hosts began to play an audio of a possessed child. Hoax or not, it freaked me out and I kept jumping at birds and squirrels rustling in the woods. Plus I kept looking back over my shoulder to make sure no one was there. I’ve literally been to this park hundreds (if not thousands) of times over the last 15 years and have never once been spooked. Ha!

So there you go. My total fail of a virtual 5K. I have another virtual 5K coming up in April, a Run Across Morocco 5K that I’ve already received my package for. I plan to have tested out RunKeeper and any other apps prior to running that one. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish that one without so many FAILS. But on a brighter note, I got to cross out another square in my running bingo!

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