Sunday, May 11, 2014
I started writing a reply to OneKidsMom's blog entry, www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=5691723 , realized my reply was going to drone on and on, so I figured I'd put my comment in a blog entry of my own. And because this is so long, I don't expect anyone to read it.
I became an avid skier and hiker in my 30's. With the exception of trips and leading hikes with the Mountaineers, I was almost always alone. By choice. part of it was scheduling: I didn't want to be limited by other peoples' school or work schedules. I also didn't want to worry about my pace being too different than my companions'. The biggest reason, though, is that I'm kind of a loner.
I love meeting up and talking with people on the trail. I always enjoy chatting with people riding the same lift chair. But I was quite content to do the working part by myself.
When it comes to hiking, people frequently focus on the dangerous aspect of a woman solo hiking. I was always careful: my overnight trips rarely involved the weekends, when the woods are more crowded. When I talked to people, I always told them I was meeting up with other people (a lie), and always lied about my destination. I camped out-of-sight of others. Even for day hikes, someone always knew where I was and when they should expect an "I'm off the trail" phone call. That was usually my mom, who also had a list of what gear I carry (so the search and rescue folks knew I'd be able to survive several days without help, even in the winter), what trail # I was on, what map it was on. (Like me, Mom loves reading maps. It let her join me, vicariously.)
I did have a couple of close calls, but those were with nature. Both came in the spring, after a very snowy winter. (Mt. Baker broke the record with over 1300" of snow. That's more than 100'.) In one instance, I'd dropped my back to search for a good camp site. Crossing a snowfield, my left leg broke through the snow and I sunk in up to my hip. The spring sunshine warmed the boulders under the snow, causing the snow to melt from below. I was amazing lucky to fall into a pocket, rather than hitting one of those boulders after dropping a few feet. In the worst case scenario, I would have shattered my ankle. I would have had to crawl back to my pack and crawled into my sleeping bag and tent to keep warm for the night, and then attempted the trip back down 2500' to the trailhead. I always carry an ice axe (I've even carried it into the Juniper Dunes Wilderness), and it's long enough to serve as a cane. But I can't imagine how much pain I would have been in, how much more damage I would have done, and how long that would have taken me because, as I mentioned, it was during the work week when the mountains are pretty empty.
The other close call came, again, when I was looking for the perfect camp site. I was crossing a partially-snow-covered bog. I was within a few feet of solid ground when one of my feet sank in up to my knee. It took some time to extricate myself from the bog without losing my boot. Once I was out, my priority was finding a camp site that was level and not in a depression. It was raining lightly when I first arrived. The rain got heavier, and turned to snow before I got my tent up. I got into the tent, into dry clothes, and into my sleeping bag. I cooked dinner in the vestibule of the tent so that I didn't have to get out of my sleeping bag. (Eating was a must. Food enables you to stay warm. I was badly chilled already, and I didn't want to risk hypothermia.)
My worst back country experience happened when I had someone around to rescue me. We'd snowshoed in the night before. It snowed another foot overnight. I woke in the middle of the night nauseous and with a horrific headache. Vomiting felt like someone was driving ice picks into my forehead. The next morning, my companion Marie packed all my gear for me. Fortunately the trip was all downhill, but I could barely move. Marie finally gave up on staying with me. She hiked all the way down to the car, then back up to me. She took my pack from me and kept me moving forward. She helped me into the car, and when we got to my house, she almost had to lift me back out of the car. Over the years, I told her she saved my life. She scoffs. She tells me how scared she was, and how amazed she was that I kept going. I told her repeatedly that if I'd been alone, I would haven't gotten out of my tent. I would have just lain there until someone found me. (And since my mom knew exactly where I was, it would have been within a day or two anyway.)
The lesson I learned from those three misadventures is Kim Does Not Go Into The Backcountry Alone When There Is Snow On The Ground. But I didn't give up solo hiking. The absolute stillness of the backcountry is worth it. My friends who worried about the "bad guys" were not solo hikers. I'd point out I'm more at risk in a mall parking lot. My then-boyfriend agreed. As he put it, someone looking for a victim is unlikely to go into the backcountry to find one, especially since any woman he encounters is likely to be fit enough to kick his ass.
I had an epiphany on one of those hikes. It was my first solo overnight. I encountered a guy on the trail. We chatted. He was headed down the mountain- he'd been caching supplies for an upcoming overland trip. I told him I was headed for Copper Lake, the most popular lake on this particular trail. In reality, I was headed for Malachite Lake - less picturesque, frequently snow-covered into August, more solitude. I told him my standard lie that my faster-hiking friends were coming up the next day. And of course, I had my ice axe strapped to my back and my 6' walking stick in hand.
That night, safely tucked away at Malachite, I kept thinking of the what ifs. What if that guy was a bad guy? What if he came looking for me? What if he realized I wasn't at Copper Lake and figured out I was at Malachite?
That's when the epiphany came. The voice said, "That guy is a wild card. You've done everything right. You cannot control what he does. Let it go. Stop living your life in fear of what some random stranger may do." And so I did.
Here's the crazy part: a few years after we met, the man who is now The Hubs was hearing me relating this story to friends. The Hubs said, "You know, I've heard you tell that story a couple of times now, and I think I'm the guy you met on the trail. I remember I was preparing for a trip from Big Heart/Little Heart into the Necklace Valley. I'd been caching food up around Big Heart. I was headed back down to Trout Lake, and I met this woman on the trail. We talked for a while, and then headed our separate ways. And all I could think of is, 'What if she finds my caches and steals them?'"
It's entirely possible that guy that spawned my epiphany is now The Hubs. The guy on the trail was white, about my age, pale complected, wore glasses. I have no reason to doubt that it was him, but what an amazing coincidence that would be!
But now that I'm married, I rarely hike alone. I don't backpack alone, because it would make The Hubs crazy. I ride alone a lot, but that's because I'm more interested in riding than he is. I don't ski alone because I miss The Hubs, and it just isn't as much fun without him.
Friday, May 09, 2014
Sunday, I'm headed back to Spokane for a work-related conference. The hotel has a pool, and it's on one of the bike paths that joins the Centennial Trial.
Swim? Take the bike and ride? Run? So many choices!
Truth be told, my bike's front wheel needs trued. The Hubs & I are planning to ride tomorrow, and then we'll take our to-be-trued wheels to the LBS. I'm doung a duathlon on the 17th, so I'd really like to have my bike in good shape - at least in better shape than me! So the bike will likely stay home. (Poor bike!)
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Last Sunday was Bloomsday. We stayed at a hotel about .8 mile from our starting area. The Hubs was in the starting group behind mine. It's okay to move back, but not forward. If you start before your color group starts, you will not be timed. I'd been warned that the crowd is so thick I'd walk the first mile, so I figured I'd start with The Hubs.
I planned to walk to the start. The Hubs went back & forth about walking or taking the bus. Ultimately, he agree to walk. The bus would have required almost as much walking. With 45,000 people on the course and thousands of spectators, Spokane gets really crowded on Bloomsday.
We stood around in the staging area for nearly an hour, but our group got the "Go" sign pretty close to the targeted start time. Twenty minutes later, we were at the start line. About a half-mile later, I kissed The Hubs and we proceeded to run our own events.
I'd been warned that running Bloomsday - which is a 12K - means running at least 15 km because you're constantly running around people. I believe it! I gave up on any kind of "plan." Whether I ran or walked was dictated by the crowd and my heart rate. People were pretty polite though: Often, when I ran through a gap between two people and accidentally bumped one of them, the person I bumped would apologize. As if it was their fault I bumped them, even though they clearly have the right-of-way.
I ran up the first hill, which isn't much of a hill. But then came Doomsday Hill. I used to hate riding my bike up this hill. It's three-quarters of a mile, 6.5% grade. I only ran to get around people. There was a giant vulture decoration at the top of the hill and lots of "Congratulations!" banners. At the top of the hill, there's less than two miles to go, and no more hills. At this point, the course is through the West Central and Felony Flats neighborhoods. There's a real celebratory and party atmosphere along the course from this point on. (There were two dozen musical acts along the course, in addition to folks blaring stereos and providing other "entertainment.") I missed the folks handing out paper cups of beer in Felony Flats.
I was really feelin' it by this time. At the start, there was tightness in my upper outer quads. No idea why, other than the 19+ mile bike ride home several days before. There was no reason for my legs to be tired. Once I started running, that feeling dissipated. Unfortunately, I felt it every time I walked. It got to the point where I didn't want to walk because my legs hurt, but I didn't want to run because my legs hurt. Obviously, I pushed through it.
Past the courthouse, the course makes a final turn to the south, down the hill and to the finish line. I knew there would be photographers at the finish, so I did my damnedest to look happy. In fact, I was delighted to see that finish line! There's a video of me approaching the finish line, high-fiving everyone along the course. The joy on my face is genuine. I earned my finisher's t-shirt.
My final time was 1:43. I'd estimated I'd finish in 1:45, so I was glad I met that. (That's how the organizers sort the start groups.) The Hubs finished about forty minutes behind me. I stood near the finish line, doing dynamic stretches and moving constantly. I saw him approaching the finish line, prepped my cell phone to take a picture, and completely missed the opportunity to take a picture of him. Fortunately, the event photographers got a couple of good shots of him.
We headed back to the car. That may have been the longest mile I've ever walked. Both of us agreed we were really at our limit. We refueled at Dick's Hamburgers. (If you're from Seattle, Dick's is a treasured cultural icon. There's one Dick's in Spokane, and while it's been there forever, I never got the impression Spokies love Dick's the way Seattlites do.) I asked that we stop every hour or so on the way home so that I could walk around a little bit. The Hubs agreed. I put on compression socks, and put my feet up on the car's dashboard. I never do that, because it's incredibly dangerous. In this case, I decided the benefit of elevating my feet outweighed the infinitesimally small risk of catastrophic soft tissue damage if we were in an accident on the interstate. My legs are still a little stiff, especially if I sit for too long. I managed a pretty good time (14 mph) on my ride home last night, though.
My bib number is up on the wall in my office. We're planning to do this again next year, but we're going to splurge a bit and stay at the Davenport, which is right next to the course. My goal for next year is to be twenty pounds lighter and twenty minutes faster. But I'll still go to Dick's afterwards. www.ddir.com/
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Last Sunday, two women at church asked me if I'd lost weight. I have, but more importantly, I was wearing pants that didn't give me a muffin top. But what struck me was that one of them, a woman about my age and shape, said, "I'm jealous."
Jealous? It's not as if I've done something that she isn't capable of. She's on my FB friend feed, so I'm sure she's seen how many workout-related status updates I've posted. Kim is at Tri-City Court Club. Kim ran. Kim rode her bike. Kim hiked Badger. Kim swam laps.
I know a lot of us get this kind of feedback from people: we somehow have discovered some miraculous truth and accomplished something the uninitiated cannot. Hardly. Ask what I ate yesterday - I can tell you. Ask me how many times I've run, swam, ridden, hiked, stretched, or strength trained this month - I can tell you.
Success is not an accident. While my bout of gastroenteritis two months ago gets some credit, the reason I didn't immediately regain the weight is that I made reasonable, healthy food choices instead of saying "I lost five pounds! Bring on the pizza and ice cream!" I still eat too much, but for the most part, I make good choices and keep my calories within a reasonable range. Some nights, I watch an hour of two of television; occasionally I splurge and watch three or four. But those nights are rare because I chose to do something different.
I give myself permission to skip workouts, but I don't do that very often, and I have to have a well-described reason for doing so (such as, I desperately need that extra thirty minutes of sleep, and that sleep will benefit me more than the run will). I've pushed through workouts I did not enjoy. I've ridden in 35-mph cross winds more than I care to describe. I've stared at the pool and wanted to cry because it was beating me. But day after day, I push myself. I work a little harder. I sacrifice the temporary comfort for long-term benefits (and big-assed bragging rights).
But here's what gets me: this woman is educated. Clearly she doesn't think she got her professional certification because she was lucky. Surely she's aware that it took hard work to get where she is today.
I wouldn't say any of this her, because that would be mean. But it saddens me that so many people continue to think there's some magic pill, some quick-fix, that will make them fit and healthy. There isn't. We all deserve to be healthy and fit, regardless of our shape and size. And that "secret" is already in us.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I'm riding home tonight. I had a meeting last night, so I didn't ride home. And because of the meeting, I didn't get quite enough sleep last night. I've been a little draggy all day, but I took myself to the gym at lunch for a quick swim.
This morning, I decided I would do a brick workout tonight instead of going to the gym for strength training. I've been slacking on the strength training, but at this point I think I need to spend more time on the activities. The ride will be easy. The swim and the run will not.
Next Sunday is Bloomsday, a 12K. Two weeks after that I'm doing a duathlon 5K/30K/5K. Between these two events, I'll know how ready my legs are for the triathon the first weekend in June. But I think I've only done one brick this year, so it's time to shock my legs back to reality.
But I'm really looking forward to this. It's 72°F outside with a barely-perceptible wind from the ENE. The ride home should be amazing. I'll run into the house, switch shoes, and then take off running. I'll be miserable at first, but after about a half-mile, I'll be glad I'm out there, running.
Oh, and that banana cream pie in the refrigerator? Yup, it's dinner.
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