Friday, February 22, 2013

Hey Marty, Today's workout didn't suck!

I am posting this note to my friend Marty, who is one of the most logical minds I know when it comes to living each day as balanced as it comes, and not looking anymore forward than that, at least thats my own take on who he is. If you remember, my whole recent quest to go out and do something about my current status of fitness came from a nudge that evolved out of a serious heart to heart at the US Single Distance Championships in early November. I put one foot in front of the other on that very day and almost four months later I am better for it. Exercising in some form is once again a habit, and despite it not being as intense as it was at one time a few years ago I am finding it more rewarding. Maybe that's because I have put less pressure on myself to be "faster, better, stronger, top of my game". Now, I just want to experience every moment and relish it for what it is. Maybe that is me showing my age?

I had originally planned on a tabata interval set today. I like these, even though they are at the top of the intensity scale and HURT beyond belief, their effect is as good as a 90 min workout in a 45min period. What is a tabata interval? Its a HIT (High Intensity or VO2Max effort) developed by Izumi Tabata in the 90's to use with the Japanese Speedskating Team. It consists of a warm up period which in my case was a 30 min walk at 3.5MPH and then a 4 min effort (8x 20'max sprint/10'jog) then a cool down. I really didn't feel up to this today, but that was before I started out on my walk. I was feeling a bit blue this morning, I think it is the fact that I have been paying attention to all the small details and I am finding myself a few pounds heavier than I was when I started, which sucks. I am also tired, my feet hurt, my knees hurt, my hips hurt, my back hurts and my chiropractor has seen me 2x a week. I take a few days off and slide off the cliff I am climbing. After I walked for a bit I made a turn for home to drop off my jacket as I was too warm and I did a "gut check". I decided I would go for it, if I was too sore after the first one I would return to my route and finish the LSD steady state workout,  if I felt fine I would continue the HIT workout. I finished it, it sucked while I was doing it but I was so surprised that when I was finished I bounced right back immediately. I even had to double check my HR to see if I was working as hard as I thought I was. Perceived effort was spot on. WOW! Marty, I take back the part about of the note on your wall about bagging the heavy work. It didn't suck as much as I thought it would!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

funny little reminders

I often listen to podcasts as I walk. It is my way of getting my mind of the pain and onto much deeper thoughts. Today was no different. It was a gorgeous day that I spent procrastinating by doing a bit of spring cleaning consisting of purging of what seemed to be quite a vast unneeded wardrobe and wrestling with the washing machine, which chose at the point in which I was headed out the door to decide to cry itself a damn river all over the laundry room floor. Hey, at least I was home to witness the mess and was able to shut off the water before I had the contents of the local water supply in my basement. I futzed over the valve for a bit before saying screw it. I needed to get out and put some miles in and so I launched myself out the door and on my way.
The time on my feet felt pretty good today. I am surprised at how quickly time passes sometimes as I notice so many things at this pace. Back to the podcasts, what did I listen to? The first episode was about Barbara Rodbell, a Holocaust survivor who grew up with Anne Frank. It was an interesting listen and had me thinking a good deal about our recent trip to Erfurt and how much Europe as a whole was really effected by the war, and then subsequently the Cold War. The Story  usually is divided into two parts, the second half was this little reminder from a book I am currently savoring by Robert McFarlane, called The Old Ways. I am loving this book, so much so that I have decided to read it very slowly, so I can let the words sink in. At this point in my walk my mind was drifting to an invitation of sorts that came from my friend Alicia, not unlike one of the journeys McFarlane describes in his book, she wants to hike along a literary route in the UK next summer. I am so intrigued that I have to say that my bag is already packed. The next episode of this podcast was about the right to bear arms, and I found myself really quite agitated. It was not over my opinion about guns, as I think they do have a place in our society, but over the fact that here was this newly naturalized citizen of Chinese decent in a public forum talking about how he proudly owns a gun. He does not believe that guns should be for hunting but rather to protect himself from the government and things like eminent domain and then he went on to say how he doesn't trust our government. My question to him, then why the US? Why did you emigrate here? I was just about to turn it off when the second half of the broadcast came on. I started to giggle about this one, it was another story I have been following closely. It was Ken Llgunas speaking about the end of his journey on the Keystone pipeline. He spoke to those sentiments that Rod shared with me. Check his account of his last day.
I am home now, a bit startled at the fact that I only had walked 5.8 miles despite trying to be creative with my route. There is vegetable barley soup on the stove and a small spiral ham, less than 4 lbs, in the oven, a fixed washing machine and a hot shower waiting so until next time…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How its going? (the journey)

“One solution is to just let all the striving, all the thinking, all the fatigue, all the worry, all the self-contradictions, all the need-to-strive, all the pain, all that other pain, and all that other pain and fatigue and worry and striving and need-to-strive over here and under there and on your head and hanging onto your shoulders, just drop. And enjoy it. You're out there. You're trying to do something tough. Enjoy it. You've got pain and fatigue and self-doubt, but it's okay. Enjoy the craziness. Enjoy each moment, but ESPECIALLY enjoy when you're out there, and whenever things are completely un-enjoyable, when you're totally wrapped up in the mentality of overwhelming challenge and need-to-prove-yourself, remind yourself that you have a little mental screwdriver that can pry all that open and let the light in. All it takes. The un-enjoyable is just tinfoil. If you wrap it up (instead of being wrapped up) it becomes a bright little ball for a kitty-kat.” 

I received an e-mail from a really good friend las week or so and while I don't usually share these things, this one, meant so much to my psyche that I thought I would put it out there. I am continuously amazed at all the support that I am receiving for this journey. It means so much. 

Kenny and I spent the weekend in Lake Placid. We had a wonderful time, I even managed to get him out into the woods on snowshoes while I skied alongside him. I think he liked it, but I am not quite sure. Speaking of skiing the more I get out there the more I had come to realize that my equipment was just not right for my ability and personality on the trails. I tend to hate groomed trails, prefer to cut them myself even. I love skiing in the back country, hate the dictation of direction of a XC center. I actually hate having to pay a trail use fee, unless I know its actually going to preserve undeveloped space. It warmed my heart to see a DEC tag on a trail that "mandated" xc skis or snowshoes for winter travel on their backcountry trails. I would gladly fork over $$ to preserve that. Anyway, as I get sidetracked here, my equipment sucks so I made one small change this weekend. I found a backcountry boot that fit so well I felt like I could ski down the Niagara Headwall at Whiteface on toothpicks in them. I changed the binding and kept my skis until I decide on the perfect "BC ski". I couldn't wait to try them out. So this morning, despite the prediction of rain, I drove to a great old school XC center in central CT to try them out. Yes, I said XC center, and I expected what I got, groomed boring trails that have little or no challenge to them. I was going to see one thing in particular, how comfortable was I on the steeps. I managed every single black trail, and despite the taboo against doing so, I skied them in both directions. I really didn't see anyone out there (maybe three people total) so I didn't really think it would be a problem. I fell once, skiing uphill on by far the steepest trail in the place and I know why I fell, I overcompensated for the steepness and leaned way too far into the terrain. So how did the boots fair? All I can say it what a difference a good pair of boots makes. I managed 7 miles in about 1.75 hrs time. I am ready to conquer the Niagara headwall on toothpicks…Lunch was so good after that - old school prices for that too (grilled cheddar cheese with egg on wheat- 3.00)

Praying for snow this weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2013

5AM phone call

Snow day, not sure if it was warranted but somehow it feels like I needed it. Its funny how I ended up awake about 15 minutes later than usual, I couldn't seem to get back to sleep after the phone rang. I decided to take advantage of the lack of snow to get my fast 6.5 mile walk in. I arrived home just as the snow started to pick up. Now, a few hours later, despite the refueling, I am so tired.

The past two weeks of training have been tough mentally. I know what needs to be accomplished but finding both the time and energy have been difficult. It has been hard to get myself out there, even with the constant stream of support from Kenny and others.

The best motivators?

1. My friend Chris Hartman (Hartman Strength and Conditioning) posted this article to his page:

2. My husband Kenny continues to tag me in inspirational motivators on FB

3. My friend Alison shared this: 

4. My friends keep asking me, pestering me even, about how training is going wanting to know what they can do to help.

Today's workout was challenging and I spent a good portion of it thinking about how I was going to prove those who have told me this is event would prove impossible wrong. This was a huge mental battle as I was wheezing enough to want to just quit. I found myself having to get angry about the conversation all over again as I slugged along at 4mph.  This made for added exhaustion later. I know I am wired like an endurance athlete, despite my size. Even these training battles are not new to me. Its hard to do this alone, its hard to do this in the dark, its hard to do this when I am exhausted after teaching all day, and its hard to do this when I am so distracted by other things. I expected all of this, every single stitch of it. I know that I will be completing this alone, in some darkness, carrying most of my own gear, having to deal with things like temperature changes, loneliness, aches, pains and even hunger in a very remote setting. So every mental battle I have has to be chalked up perfecting my training.  Still its not easy.

I have listened to some great stuff lately too. I finally broke down an bought that Lumineers album I have been thinking about for awhile, I have caught up on Faith Middleton. The latest episode on the  brain was so pertinent and helpful.  The Moth Radio Hour and The Story are always good for a laugh too.  Then there is the shuffle of music on my I-phone. (I will sappily admit that I was so inspired when Billy Bragg's  "I Keep Faith" , was followed by Carolina Chocolate Drops "Run Mountain", The Subdudes " Lets Play", Fun's "Carry On",  Zac Brown's "Chicken Fried" and finally Trampled by Turtles "Alone") I am also liking fitting into my clothing better, though the weight loss is somewhat elusive. I think I have more energy, even though you would never know it today.  My brain is awake but my body is exhausted.

I have finally gotten around to setting up my Crowdrise page for the event. That can be found here:
Please consider helping preserve the ridge and come join me up on the ridge to see for yourself why the place is so special!

Friday, February 1, 2013

nostalgia has me in its grips thanks to a student comment

"Mrs W is right about Yellowstone, its like standing on the crust of hell and being in heaven at the same time." Right now? That comment has me thinking. We checked in to our hotel last night, my mom, Kenny's mom and I, expecting that there would be a roll away and finding out that it was against fire codes. Someone had to share a bed. I spent the night next to my mom, probably for the first time in 40 years. I remember as a kid I was allowed to crawl into bed with my mom as long as I was still. It's funny, last night I slept with frozen posture. As I sit and wait for my companions on this journey, I am in reflecting on that Yellowstone comment, the reminder from a dear colleague that my students are in HS and despite the capability of reaching for the stars, the are just babies. Then there is my own venture into a new medium. How fitting that I showed them that Annie Liebovitz photo of Old Faithful. The summer, 2011, I stood on the crust of hell I had high hopes of setting up studio space in Utah only to realize the the schedule requirements were too much for me to fit any time in. My hand was forced. It would be pen, sketchbook and point and shoot. Oh how I hated photography and oh how much I learned with a few glimmers of possibilities. I took 3500 photos. I had maybe 100 I liked and out of them I culled a dozen. One of my best was of the geyser field in Yellowstone. I am here in MN a good camera in hand, hoping to eventually match that Yellowstone moment. I spent the evening sharing looking at my photos of Germany. There are only one or two I like but the emotional ties to that family experience coupled with the music I am being forced to listen to now (urban cowboy soundtrack) have me wrapped in this blanket of nostalgia. When Urban Cowboy was released I was in HS, hoping to study art in college, my dad was still around and at the time he would play it over and over. Wrapped in nostalgia as I realize how old my mom has become. How she is facing her own mortality on a regular basis and yet trying not think about it. She is also dealing with and saddened by her brother's decline. She and my uncle were close when they were kids. I can't help thinking its one of those important times in life that I must pay attention. Nostalgia has woken me up this morning and has reminded me to pay attention!