Thursday, July 28, 2011

Idle Hands are the Devil's Tool

Training for ultra's keeps someone like me from going crazy.  I cannot sit still and I don't ever realise I am tired until my head hits the pillow.  I always think of things to do when I am relaxing, but in all reality, I find  exercising relaxing.  So I do it a lot.  Of course there are things that I find cathartic, like cleaning, going through drawers and giving stuff away that I don't use, recylcing, etc.  And I do enjoy to sit around to rejuvenate.  However, since I train for ultra's, I am used to a certain lifestyle of exercising a lot and eating a lot.  Now that I am not running Cascade Crest next month, there is no need to do a bunch of running.  In fact, that is exactly what I don't want to do, a bunch of running.  That is what got me out of running currently; running too much.  So what to do. . . . .
Well, that boxing classes keep me busy.  I recently started a 5 AM class.  No, that is NOT a typo, I get up at 4:30 and jog the quarter mile to the class, sweat, get my heart rate completely jacked up, jog home and then get ready for work.  I think even my dog is bewildered by my early rise, but I just love this class and I so I don't mind getting up that early.  Then I am at work early and hence, home earlier than usual.  It's the same schedule, just a few hours earlier.
I thought I might be just totally regretting my decision about CCC100, and at times I do, but in my heart, I know it is the right thing to do.  I figure now is the time to experiment with other activities that I wouldn't ordinarily do just for the experience, as long as it doesn't set the healing process back.  Owen and I were driving out to a BBQ and we a wrong turn.  I was spacing out in the passengers seat and I looked out the window and saw this sign, EMERALD CITY TRAPEZE ARTSUm...what is that?  When we got home from the BBQ, I looked it up.  I discovered that they have beginners classes for aerial. Um, that sounds interesting.  I got to work on Monday and I asked this co-worker of mine, who used to be in the roller derby, if she wanted to join me in a beginners aerial class.  She thought about it and ultimately said YES!  So, last night we went.  It is a 2 hour class and let me tell you, I have some "rope" burn, or "silk fabric" burn.  I am not as sore as I thought I would be, just a bit beat up.  I was nervous at first, just to climb the fabric.  You rub resin on your hand for good grip and then hope not to death claw the fabric and trust your body to hold yourself up.  We started out with regular fabric climbing.  I have never been good at rope climbing.  In fact. in grade school, my gym teacher made me feel so bad for not being able to climb the rope.  I was a bit overweight shall we say in grade school which is hard enough.  Then to add salt to the wound, the gym teacher makes me feel bad for not being able to climb the rope....well, whatever.  So, I climb about half way up and I am out of breath.  We tried that a few times and then did the "kitty in the tree" which requires being upside down and once we "mastered" that, we went to the "hammock".  This is the hammock:
That is NOT, me, I got this image of the Internet, but this is what we did.  And I did not look as graceful.  After that, the instructor asked us to try the fabric climbing one more time as we had spend a bit more time with the fabric and maybe we might feel more comfortable.  So I did.  I got on the fabric and I climbed all the way to the ceiling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I could not believe it!  It was an accomplishment for me.  It is true what people say, it is mostly legs that get you up there.  But before your legs can do the work, your mind has to believe it.  It might sound silly that I am excited about climbing this fabric, but hey, I was a new experience for me and I am not that comfortable with heights.  I am sure I will go back again, I'd like to learn some other moves.  It was such a nice change to the same old thing.  When I get back to training for ultra's again, I will be glad that I tried new things while I had the time. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hitting the Reset Button

I was lucky enough to visit my parents in early July this summer.  I was "surprising" my dad for his 72nd birthday.  I put that in quotes because he knew something was up, that I was coming, but he didn't know when.  Technically I did surprise him when I showed up with balloons, champagne and reading a poem I wrote him in a blond wig.
Being in North Carolina was completely awesome.  After spending the first part of the summer in Seattle with temperatures barely reaching 65* with rain and clouds, I was ready to jump in the heat and get thawed out, dried up and restore some heat in my bones.  That happened rather quickly.  I played tennis with dad in the mid day heat, went running most every day.  However, one of the highlights of the trip was going to the BEACH!
I absolutely love the sand, swimming in ocean and being transported through sight and sound to a different world known to me as THE BEACH.  I grew up swimming in the Atlantic and being there this summer just brought me back to being a kid.  As I floated, body surfed, dove under waves and bobbed around, I could feel the stress I have been feeling just get washed away in the salty waves.  Whenever I would get pummeled by a wave, I would crack up!  There is something about being in the ocean in warm salty water that brings me much serenity.  I could stay in there for hours and never get bored.  It was incredible to see my parents, married for nearly 50 years and having known each other since kindergarten, laughing together in the ocean.  That image is burned in my memory, it is an image of love and commitment, that is for sure.   And of course, what goes perfectly with a day a the beach....?  Well, ice cream or frozen custard of course!

After 2 days and the beach, we left and the next day I flew home.  I was still on vacation for a few more days from work and had planned to run around Mt St Helen's for my birthday.  After talking to the ranger, we decided that route finding in 8 feet of snow did not sound like a relaxing birthday adventure.  We opted to run in the North Cascades, however, it rained a lot of the day and I forgot my rain jacket.  Oh well, you'd think by now I would remember the essentials, but no.....  It was a fun day anyhow.

While I was in North Carolina and really since Big Horn, my leg pain has not subsided.  It seemed to be getting better before Big Horn and I was feeling optimistic.  I ran Big Horn and didn't run for a week and then gradually started running and resuming the boxing classes.  I am back to where I started with the leg issues.  I cannot complete the 4 mile loop near my house without stopping at least twice to walk.  The other day I went to the trails to run and I had to walk about 1/3 of the time on account of my leg.  It was then I decided that I would not participate at Cascade Crest 100 next month.  Sometimes my leg warms up and I have a great run, but lots of times, I just walk and run and "get through" a run.  This has been going on too long, a year and a half now.  I thought I had tried everything but now I am trying something different.  After reflecting on the book/memoir "Touching the Void", I decided to mix it up.  This book is written by Simon Yates.  Simon had a nearly fatal experience attempting to climb Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.  This peak is 20,813 ft in elevation and he and his climbing partner attempted to climb this.  They had some issues going up but the sh&&t really hit the fan on their way down.  Simon was belaying down and was attached to his partner by rope who was anchored on the mountain.  Simon goes down and somehow swings into the mountain, breaks his knee and swings away from the mountain and finds himself suspended in air, hanging from the rope with no way to get contact with the mountain.  He cannot communicate this with his partner either as they are not in ear shot of one another.  His partner is up above him, wondering what is going on.  The continual weight of Simon is wearing on his partner and his partner is having a hard time holding on to the rope and staying anchored into the mountain.  The partner has to make a decision, should he continue to hang on and put himself in danger of falling off the mountain or should hevcut the rope to save himself.  What a decision!  Eventually, he decides to cut the rope!  When he cuts the rope, Simon goes flying down the mountain in mid air and lands in a crevasse.  He is submerged in snow and mountain with a broken knee.  He has no provisions with him either.  For days he tries to crawl out of the crevasse any way he can.  When he fails time and time again, he yells and screams for help, but no one can hear him.  He keeps trying to climb out and he still is in the same position.  After a few days, he realizes that this could be the end.  His will to live is so strong that he decided to do something totally counter intuitive.  What he does is he LET's GO and immediately slides down the crevasse.  He is going deeper and deeper down and the eventually, he shoots out the bottom of the crevasse and is once again out in the air and on snow.  Now he has a chance to survive.  It's truly an amazing story.  I won't tell you the end as it's a really good read, but obviously he wrote this book so that's a pretty big indication that he survives!  Anyway, the take away message for me is that when I have tried everything I can think of, or have the will to try, and it doesn't work, then I must let go, dig deeper and try something new.  I realize that this situation with my leg and running 100 milers does not even make it on the radar screen with what Simon was up against, but the book has always been a reminder to me to always be in motion trying to fix, solve, resolve or overcome what is ailing me.  I have known for quite some time that if I stopped running so much that I would heal quicker, but I did not WANT to do that.  But now is the time.  I WANT to run CCC100, I WANT to run the 4 mile loop without stopping, I WANT to ride my bike without having to get off of it and push it.  But because I can't do the two latters, it leaves the former in question.  So, I am letting go of CCC100 and trying a new approach.  I can still do my beloved boxing classes and go for trail runs here and there.  But now the pressure is off to find a solution before the next race only to find myself back where I started.  I will cheer my friends on at CCC and volunteer, pace Owen for some miles, but other than that, it's time to get on a different path. As Erin says in Jasyoga, I am going to hit the reset button.  Although I am personally disappointed in not running CCC, I know I am doing the right thing.  In the long run, it is the best thing, (no pun intended).  I'll be there cheering friends on and pacing Owen for part of it and hopefully volunteering in other capacities.  And I also decided to join to fellow ultra runners for the Great Urban Race in August.  It's something different, why not?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Daze

It's finally summer here in the PNW!  We have temperatures above 65* finally and sunshine!  I am ready for summer adventures, there are so many things I want to do this summer.  I want to circumnavigate Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer, just to name a few.  It's just 2 weeks post Big Horn and although I don't feel like "training" I do feel motivated to get out an enjoy what the PNW has to offer.  Summer is just a few month long here and we have gotten off to a slow start and snow levels are still quite low. 
Last weekend a few of us went to Granite Mt.  It's just an 8 mile out round trip "hike" and sounded just up my alley.  I haven't really run much since Big Horn but I have been back to Seattle Boxing Studio and am loving it.  I love these workouts, they are different and fun and I sweat like no one's business.  Sweating like that makes me feel accomplished, like I've done something.  I like to start the day off like that, it keeps the pace up to get stuff done while at work.  Anyway. . . as I laced up my running shoes getting ready for Granite Mt, some dusty dirt flaked off my shoe laces, reminisce of Big Horn.  Even though I spend like 45 minutes cleaning those shoes after BH, it's impossible to get it all really.  The dusty dirt was a gentle reminder to take it easy.  Life can become such a whirlwind sometimes with working, spending time with friends and loved ones, training, resting, reading, chores, etc.  Big Horn was a different kind of "vacation" and it is not time to take the pressure off and enjoy spending the day outside.
Well, what a day it was!  it was sunny and warm.  The dogs had a blast, there was lots of snow at the top for the dogs to roll in and chase snowballs.  We got up to the top, lounged around and then slipped and slided down the snow and once past the snow, Owen and I gently ran down to the car.  It was a perfect day really.  The next adventure is scheduled for next week and that is to circumnavigate Mt. St. Helens!
Yikes!  Lots of snow!
Great View of Rainer!

Self portrait

The dogs give Michelle their undivided attention for COOKIES!

Running downhill on soft snow=one of life's greatest pleasures