Coffee Lover, Part Two

Back in 2007, I gave up drinking coffee.  My daughter, 12 at the time and brutally honest, kept complaining that I had coffee breath. She would scream at me to open a window every time we got in the truck.   My cold turkey quit had more to do with a Starbucks visit though.  I went in , ordered a tall Americano and took a big gulp as I got back behind the wheel.  I felt something foreign in my mouth that jabbed at my throat as I swallowed. In a panic I tried to spit the coffee back in the cup thru that little drinking hole and ended up instead, spewing coffee all over myself, all over the dashboard.  It was pretty disgusting and a great big mess!  So, I quit.  The culprit was a  bristle from the brushes they use to clean the machines….nasty?  Yup.

I gave up coffee for about three months.  I don’t remember many side effects, just a few headaches from the caffeine withdrawal.  This time?  This time?  oh man!  I felt so miserable.  Here’s a list: Body aches, stiffness, moodiness, irritability, IRRITABILITY, inability to focus, sleeplessness, (yes, ridiculous) and of course the headaches.  This time the headaches were minor, but at the height of  symptoms I felt like I was getting the flu.  I was so out of it that at one point I was trying to unlock my car by pointing my phone at it.  I looked up symptoms on line and of course all of the above were listed.  Interestingly, caffeine withdrawal now has it’s own diagnosis code in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Seriously.  At least that’s that the internet tells me.  I could see how you could go to a doctor with the symptoms because really, I felt pretty awful.

It’s been about three weeks. No cold turkey this time.  This time I had to  wean and cajole, talk myself through it, sit on the couch and stare into space. But I am over most of the symptoms and feel a bit normal (that’s a stretch for me always).   Here’s why I decided to give it up:

1) Nutritionally, coffee was messing me up. 

My normal routine would be to get up have coffee and a banana and go for a run.  Bananas started to bother me, made my mouth itch ,upset my stomach.  I tried to find a substitute but nothing else feels right.  So coffee took over.  One cup became two, more coffee at 10 when my daughter got up, then of course more or a big mocha/latte/flavored thing for that afternoon slump. and hey, it’s the Pacific Northwest, so why not have MORE?  We do love our coffee here….In fact we survive the rain with coffee, it’s a KEY ingredient in NW life!  But all this coffee was not helping me nutritionally. My stomach was not enjoying the ride either.  Food seemed to pass though my system on a coffee flume, few nutrients staying behind to fuel me.

2) I never sleep well.

     I tell people i have’t had a good night’s sleep since the 80’s and I mean it. With age and stress and hormones (?) it’s gotten worse.  Caffeine is a known sleep enemy so, why not eliminate it?  it’s good to eliminate enemies right?

3) I am sick of bladder irritation and having to pee on runs. Or actually just         peeing while running.

     Have you ever peed your pants running?  Some of us have worse experiences I know.  Even famous runners! But it is a problem that can be made worse with coffee, a known bladder enemy too. And of course age and hormones (dang).   I’ve had it happen more than once and it’s not very comfortable!!  It has to end.

4) The coffee habit was taking up too much of my budget.

     It’s simple math.  A monthly massage may be a better way to spend?

I will give you an update soon.  I am already sleeping a bit better.  I wake during the night but can fall back to sleep and last week, twice, I spent over 11 hrs in bed!  I’m hoping eventually to reach an agreement with caffeine, moderate amounts, good coffee, good friends.

coffee lover

I realized when I started to write about caffeine withdrawal that I needed to back up a bit and talk about my life with coffee.  What’s your earliest coffee memory?   When I was about 4 or 5 my mom shopped at the local A&P supermarket.  In those days, there was a coffee grinder at the end of the checkout counter.  I loved watching the machine noisily grind the beans and even then loved the aroma! I don’t remember my folks being big coffee drinkers, but my Aunt Anna?  I can not picture her without the ever present cup of coffee in one hand, a cigarette burning in the other. My Aunt Margie is permanently connected in my memory to her aluminum coffee pot. I  can still see it percolating on the stove, boiling over, the liquid turning a dark brown in the glass bulb.  It was the strongest and best coffee on the planet!

I’m not sure when I started drinking coffee.  I know I drank it at 19 because I remember an older guy I dated telling me I shouldn’t put sugar in my coffee, it wasn’t very “grown-up”.  (ya, DOUCHE)  Anyway, I laugh at that now, but I take my coffee with cream, no sugar.

College and coffee go hand and hand.  Another vivid coffee memory I have is of a professor leading me by the arm to a large silver buffet urn as he said, “Kelly have you had coffee? Come and get some wake up juice!”   This probably would not have stuck with me all these years had he not also been a Catholic priest!   It wasn’t prayer he was offering or to take my confession, it was a cup of joe and it was very much a “come to the dark side Luke” offer, said with a hint of excitement in his voice.

For every friend, I have a corresponding coffee memory.  My buddy in grad school took his coffee “light and sweet”.  Our morning ritual coffee run brightened up so many days.  Richie?  Richie is waiting in line on a hot summer day for cups of cappuccino and drinking them in the sun.  Mike is a crisp white cup of espresso. Anne, my bff, is pots of coffee, lipstick stains on the cup and sugar all over my kitchen counter.  Kathy, Starbucks and Tevas in the Seattle rain.  And my climbing partner?  He’s a tall skinny mocha, no whip. He has a gorgeous home espresso maker and ….an at home roaster.

My husband and I have so many coffee memories that they probably deserve their own scrap book!  In the 80’s we knew where all the gourmet shops were. Remember the flavored coffee trend?  We were hooked on hazelnut.  We have ground, pressed and brewed our way around the country.  Coffee has fueled us at bike races, warmed us up camping and climbing.  It has kept us awake through 30+ years together.  I remember our first coffee as husband and wife, our first cups as parents. Sometimes on Sundays , he brings me coffee in bed.
So why am I giving it up?  Am I a coffee lover or a caffeine addict?  Am I a coffee achiever or just someone who has a bad habit?  What is your relationship with the bean?  Are you passionate about coffee?  Is it just another beverage?   I’ll be sure to fill you in on the caffeine withdrawal soon.  Until then, enjoy your weekend!  Run fast, play hard, have coffee with friends~

Monday Things, Mid May

Last week I was a bit under the weather and only got out running ONCE.  Great big frown on that!  But today, I felt much better and got out for a short trail run.  The weather was perfect, 68, sunny with a light breeze.  The  recent rains have made everything so LUSH!  The wildflowers are in bloom and the trails are really pretty!


Ken’s garden is also looking fairly lush, with lots of good things starting to grow. (see April post for more on Ken’s garden)

Caffeine withdrawal…  ever try to give up your coffee habit?  It is NOT FUN.  More on that soon…
And last thing, Bachelorette starts tonight! That’s right it’s my little tv pleasure.  Though more often I watch in horror and fear for that entire generation.  But hey, the Bruins aren’t in the playoffs, Dallas is done for now and I need something to watch while I kick back on the sofa this Monday evening.  Go Andi!
Have a great week~


Monday Things

My Mother’s Day flowers are wilting as I type but that’s ok; it was a wonderful day!  Grilled fish tacos, a family walk up the hill through town and a Black Forest cake from the local bakery.  It’s become our go to cake for every  occasion (like birthdays) and sometimes we make up occasions….

In case you weren’t aware of this fact, it’s American Craft Beer Week! (no I didn’t make it up).   I am going to celebrate with one of my favorite local craft beers from Two Beers Brewing Co. in Seattle, the EVO IPA.  It was the IPA that made me a believer in the whole IPA thing.  I finally GET IT!

And last on my list this Monday….I am incredibly tired of eating the same old healthy grain cluster stuff that I have eaten for what seems like forever (okay, just for a few months).  It’s not that it isn’t delicious but I am just burned out on it.  So, I made my own granola!  It’s a delicious recipe from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics by Ina Garten.  I have 6 or 7 of her cook books and I love them.  This recipe is fairly simple, the ingredients are easy to find and it tastes really great.  it also ends up being about half the price of the brand I buy.  It’s such a 70’s thing to do! Seriously, I actually remember the first time I ever had home made granola and it was 1972.  Enjoy your week!  Run strong, eat well, drink some craft beer~


Day at the Beach

Our trip to the coast (Westport WA) Wednesday was wonderful.  It’s about a 3 hr, no traffic, drive and when we arrived it was sunny!  Sun on the Washington coast?  Score!  Water temp was 54 and air temp about the same at 53.  My husband has been surfing for decades, but I am a beginner beginner beginner.  While the waves weren’t big, they were close together and ended up being choppy and chaotic.  The alternative activity?  A run on the beach of course!

what it usually looks like, gray and foggy

There is a paved path that runs through the dunes which I took one way then cut down to the beach for the return.  The tide was up a bit and the exposed beach was fairly rocky, so no barefoot running.  But I couldn’t wait to get my shoes off and put my toes in the warm sand and then walk in the cool waves! Far better than any spa experience…It was glorious! I wish I could show you the sun sparkling on the white capped waves and the sandpipers running, faster than me, along the shore.  But my phone and camera where left behind, which made for a rather peaceful day.  I can honestly say I have NEVER had a bad day at the beach.  There is always something fabulous to see , the waves pound the shore and the beach grass blows in the wind , making little circles in the sand.  I think I need to make beach runs part of my monthly training routine!  Happy Weekend!

the kids last year, they are beginners too but wayyy better than me
sun makes a big difference!

Monday Things

Not sure why, but the  insomnia bug has bitten me and I am a wreck.  Just call me “sleepless near Seattle”.
It’s time to make summer plans….  I love to attend car shows and concerts.  That’s one of the great things about where we live, we are in the mountains, but close to a major city and all the extras that come along with that!   So finding things to do is never a problem.   We are also close to the ocean!!  Hurray!  We have plans this week to get out to the coast for some surfing. Maybe that will tire me out!?  Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Little Fiat at a recent all Italian car show
My favorite guitar god, Steve Howe


Husband last year at Pacific City, in the SUNSHINE!