Monday, May 05, 2014
How's that for an interest grabber? I'll get back to that title soon enough. First...well, last week I had this AWESOME post in my mind and I was ready to put all down and put it up here and then my keyboard wouldn't work. Actually, to be fully honest, approximately half my keyboard wouldn't work. I type and only certain keys register. It would have been horrible to try to read. So, did I grab my hubs' computer and get it done? No, the kids were playing something vitally important like Animal Jam or Minecraft. So, the total awesomeness has mostly passed but I still want to share some of last week that still stands out before it is totally lost.
My running coach has set out this really incredible workout schedule for Saturday runs and is totally focused on getting me ready for my mountain 10k coming up. I'm so glad I finally invested in someone who can help me reach my goals as outlandish as they may seem. Okay, so I'm WAY too poor to afford a professional coach, but I do still have my sister and that's what I'm calling her now, my running coach. She is training for her first MARATHON (I think that should be all caps all the time it's that huge) and dragging us behind (far behind). Mom, sis and I are all in training for the same 10k up in the mountains while sis concurrently trains for the MARATHON and we've found the BEST place to train and workout. If you've been reading for awhile you are already familiar with our favorite local hike, North Hills Trail (just minutes from sis' house and incredibly challenging) and The Beast, our favorite hill for repeats, etc. Incredibly we've been hugely short sited in our running patterns and until last week hadn't ever run INSIDE the area that The Beast leads up to. What we've done is run UP this huge hill and then stop there and turn around and run back down, totally ignoring the fact that at the top of this hill is this really pretty lake with this really incredible trail around it. The whole thing is man-made as a reservoir. They (the people who do things like this) built several dams between some hills, filled it with water and fish and created a gorgeous lake. They built a trail around the entire thing and our town actually runs a Marathon, Half, 5k and kids' run up there every year. We FINALLY did the 5k this year and ran a very small portion of the trail in brutal rain and mud and STILL had so much fun we started considering the trail as a viable running option.
Three Saturdays ago we headed out to North Hills and when we got to the lake overlook we stood there, admiring a view we've seen before and watching as bikes and runners cruised past and we decided it was time...time for us to make the leap to the inside trail. As soon as we finished our hike we hopped into my sis' car and drove up to the top of The Beast and purchased an annual trail pass for each of us. At $25 a pop we felt like we were getting a HUGE deal. Parking costs more than the trail admission so we decided we would use The Beast as a warm-up. We would park at the bottom and walk/run our way to the top for the lake trail and thereby skip the cost of a parking permit.
The very next weekend (two Saturdays ago) we showed up at the base of the hill ready to go. Well, I wasn't quite since I'd dressed for the weather we'd BEEN having instead of the the weather we got. We had been given an icy cold and very strong wind that day and I was wearing short sleeves and capris. I was FREEZING, but off we went shortly before dawn. By the time we reached the upper portion of The Beast the sun was just starting to peek above the mountain and tinge the clouds gold. It was BEAUTIFUL and made it possible to mostly ignore the HUGE headwind I was battling. A turn towards the lake put us between some hills that shielded us from the wind for a bit and then it was back. We don't often have to run in wind here and this particular wind was so icy and so strong I was wondering where it came from...Alaska? We checked in at the kiosk and started off again. I fell in love with the trail almost immediately. It's wide. The ground is even. The trail is dirt in most places and bedrock in others. There are few places that pose a threat of a turned ankle, at least until further along the trail. The deeper into the trail the more you find those possibilities, but for the most part the trail is extremely well kept and much like running on an open road without any threat of any cars coming by. The best part? Sorry, but it's the porta-potties. Weird, huh? Seriously...these are the CLEANEST portas EVER. They have t.p. They have soap. Sometimes the water function isn't working the best or there is a spider in the sink you don't want to disturb, but that's why we carry water and sanitizer with us. I'm pretty sure they are serviced every Friday so when we show up on Saturday we seem to be the first to utilize the service. SO nice. And there are PLENTY of them. I think the agency that runs the lake is so set on keeping the lake water clean that they want to make sure that the fishermen/women/kids have no excuse to use anything BUT the portas when nature calls. In fact, it is a no contact lake so no swimming allowed, so no anything else allowed. Fish only please :).
I had SUCH a great time on this trail that going 6.2 was a pleasure. My longest distance in a VERY long time and I hardly blinked and sort of wanted to keep going to see more of what was ahead, but I used my head and turned around instead of pushing it.
The run back was just as pleasant as the run out and, in fact, better. The trial that was the headwind on the way out became a tailwind on the way back. The hill that had to be climbed at the start was now downhill all the way. The wind pushing at my back was so...I don't know...pleasant doesn't seem to describe it well, but pleasant is the best I can come up with at the moment. A gentle hand resting on my back as it guided me back down the hill. I was still very cold, but the warmth of the workout kept me from feeling it until I stopped and got in the car. It was an incredible workout that left me hungry for more.
So....that brings us to this past Saturday. We put North Hills trail back on the schedule and showed up bright and early ready to tackle the challenge...and it was ready to fight back.
Oh. My. Goodness. The trail chewed me up and spit me back out again. It was hideous almost from the beginning...well, that's not entirely true. I killed the first mile. I set a great pace. I maintained a great pace, knowing that later I would go very, very slow. I felt amazingly good going up the first challenging hill and that's where it stopped. That's where the beauty ended and the horror began. The second challenging hill section is the part we ALWAYS dread. It's hard, really, really hard. It's steep. Really, really steep. It burns. It really, really burns. Oh, my aching butt. However, we persevered and made it over the really hard part, on to the nice part that is more flat than hills and shadier than other sections and feels more remote and more like being out in the wild hiking than "I can see your house from here" hiking.
That part was pretty good, but I was still feeling pretty beat up from the really hard section. We got to the lake overlook and I decided I could run for awhile, so I did for about a hundred yards or less when suddenly I hear this sound to my right. It took me an amazingly short amount of time to identify the sound and then jump about a dozen feet up and to the left, especially considering that was the first time I'd ever heard the sound in real life. Don't ask me how big it was, all I know is that I'd put its head at about my knee. I have NO CLUE how much of it there was after that, but only slightly to the right of being right smack in the middle of the trail was a nice brown rattlesnake yelling its head off at me for disturbing its whatever it was doing. Oh my heart rate. If my HRM had actually been working properly I can only imagine what it would have shown, but alas, I think it needs a new battery because it was very off on its readings the entire day.
I made it a safe distance past the critter and then turned and watched it curl up in the sun. I waited until my mom came around the corner to warn her and then we were off again. This time I was watching every inch of the trail and turning corners only after I could see what was ahead. I put in my distance and turned around. My friend had continued on his journey by now and my sister didn't see him coming or going, lucky duck. But, she'd gone a lot further down the trail and had a lot more hill to deal with than I did. Mom and I paused at a good waiting spot and watched for her return, when we saw that she wasn't too far behind us we simply waited and then we made the BEST decision we've probably ever made. We walked to the point where we could hop the fence into the inside trail (the awesome one we'd done the week before) and finished our time on the much more kind trail and down hill of the beast instead of the trail we'd been on. We had our passes so we only felt a little bad and we were able to finish in much better shape. At the point we jumped ship we still had a LOT of downhill to do and a really long (seemingly anyway) trek under the hot sun. The distances didn't really change, but the exertion needed to complete the task did. Even mentally the difference was sufficient to change torture into something doable. We still had to do uphills and downhills, but because the trail was smoother and the transitions between uphill and downhill smoother it made it more doable on that day. It didn't help anything at all that we were just coming off 3 days of HORRID windstorms that left debris everywhere and brought with it mid-summer style heat. The interior trails were also more frequently traveled and so, in my mind, less likely to have rattlesnakes in the middle of them. I finally made it to the down hill and pushed to make a certain time before my sis came and picked up mom first and then me. She was first to a car and we'd decided that enough was enough, forget distance, exertion level would be allowed to rule the day. In the end we all made it home safe and sound and for me at least, was able to enjoy what the rest of Saturday held in store.
Yesterday was a rest day and I had a great one. My kids are part of a piece of hometown history this year. The town hosts this BIG play every year and there is a part for the town kids who want to participate and this year all three decided they wanted to do it. We live quite a bit west of the play's location so hubs and I have been dropping the kids off and then loitering for a few hours. We've been going different places in town and on Saturdays include a store or two for the shopping we need done. This past weekend we headed for a place called Simpson park. It is a great location for hiking and mountain bike riding. Sunday we saw some joggers. We just picked a table and literally loitered. We sat, I read, we both took a little nap under a tree. He slept most of the time away. I did more reading. When the wind picked up and it got a little chilly we headed for the car. I had a computer along and popped in How to Marry a Millionaire while hubs napped in the tilted back front seat. The park was pretty empty, but it still felt strange being so lazy at the park where I could be hiking, I was seriously tempted at one point, but considering we'd gone from church to dropping off the kids to the park, I wasn't dressed for a hike, not one bit. Besides, I was still wary of rattlesnakes. This was much later in the day and I felt it was probably prime sunbathing time for any rattlers out on those trails. So for about an hour I just sat in the car and watched a movie...my own personal drive-in theater :). I caught a movement in my peripheral vision and looked up just in time to see a roadrunner watching me before he turned and went into the underbrush.
I much preferred that run in with nature than the one the day before. I've seen roadrunners off in the distance before, usually running across the road, I don't think I've ever seen one that close before. He was only marginally further away from me then than the rattlesnake had been the day before.
In the end, I LOVE where I live. I love that I have a few options for fitness activities that are TOTALLY local and mostly under-appreciated. None of these trails is ever packed with people. Yes, during later spring and summer months we have to use caution. We have to watch out for snakes and we especially have to be aware of the effects of heat on the body and be prepared for that. Water, water, WATER. I need to remember that it is best to start a hike on a summer morning already well hydrated. Overall, I'm already looking forward to Saturday's run. It's going to be a good one no matter what because we already decided that North Hills isn't going to work for running training and we'll definitely keep doing it...AFTER my sister's MARATHON for the strength it will give our glutes, quads and lungs. For now, the rattlesnake can have the trail, come October, he better be ready to hand it back over though.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
I've been saying that a lot the last few days. Every time I do my kids chuckle in delight. Not sure what about my aching butt is hilarious, but they think it is for some reason.
Every so often I find myself wondering why my tush is so sore. Lets see...
Saturday was a run day and I did a great job during my run, I put forth the most effort I have in a while.
Then...well this requires a bit of background to explain...here in Hemet we have a "claim to fame". We are host to the "official outdoor play of the state of California." Cool, huh? So, anyway, this play is called Ramona, it's based on a book written AGES ago by Helen Hunt Jackson, probably the most famous author you've never heard of. Seriously, back in her day she was really well known, but is hardly known in this day. She wrote quite a few books dealing with the trials of Native Americans during the later 1800's. Ramona was one of her best known plays. The play itself happens every year and relies heavily on local residents as extras. There is one part in particular, listed only as "Rock Indian" that calls upon the youth of the valley to execute. I won't give you any spoilers, but the Rock Indians don't say a single word, but provide what is quite possibly one of the most visually stunning parts of the play. My youngest BEGGED to be a Rock Indian this year and ended up dragging the other two along.
The play is performed in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater set into a BIG hill in the southern reaches of town. It's a gorgeous setting, but getting from any point A to any point B usually requires climbing some sort of hill.
Anyway, every practice the hubs and I just hang out at the cast house (set on the side of a hill) while the kids have their practice. It requires a couple hours of sitting outside in what has been REALLY gorgeous weather. I take something to read, the hubs tips back and closes his eyes. It's been very relaxing and quiet time. This past Saturday I decided I couldn't just sit for 3 hours (ended up being 4 because they ran late) so I set hubs' phone alarm for 30 minutes. When the alarm went off I headed for the stairs that lead to the cast house. REALLY steep stairs. Lots of really steep stairs. I should have counted them. 3 repetitions later I got a break. 3 down, 3 back up. Hubs ended up joining me...that was cool even though he smoked me. Another half an hour later the alarm went off again. And then again and then one more time. Four times total, 3 times each time. The stairs are divided by a railing up the middle. First time I went up and down the left side. The second time I went up and down the right side. The third time I ran a circle clockwise, down one side then back up the other. The final time I ran counter clockwise. Yeah, I was feeling that by the time we were done.
Sunday, I did lower body yoga. A disc I'm not sure I've ever done that section of. It's been YEARS since I've used it at all and I'm pretty sure I only ever did the balance ball workout. The yoga workout was INTENSE. SO many downward dog. So many poses I needed the strap for. So many I'd never done before, but gave my all for. Yeah, I was feeling that one.
Monday, I did Tae Bo Flex, an old Billy Blanks DVD that in really lower body intensive...oops should have swapped that out.
Tuesday, was back to running. Fartleks were on the agenda, but is was more like Fartless. Hmmm, that really doesn't work well-lol. Fartlek is NOT a word that lends itself to adaptation-lol. I tried to come up with something better during the entire run and failed...sorry. It took until the last 4 minutes of the 25 minute run to finally convince my legs they could do more than plod along. Four quick fartleks and I was pooped. In case you've never heard the term, Fartlek is a running term that means, essentially, run for fun. You don't have a set distance or speed, you just pick a spot to start, a spot to finish and go for it. Do this multiple times and you call it a speed workout. :)
So, yesterday and today I've often found myself bending over to pick something up or sit or stand or tie my shoes and muttering "oh my aching butt."
Now, time to go home and try another workout before I run again tomorrow. Hopefully tonight's workout will go easy on my derriere. If not, I'll modify because my tush needs a little break.
Feels good though in a slightly off sort of way-lol.
Back to work :).
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Ever turn on a new workout video and know immediately that you were going to hate it? That happened to me today.
I’ve had this set of four Gaiam videos for more than a year and just tonight finish trying out the last of the four. Honestly, I don’t LOVE any of them. Only two are tolerable and the one that had previously been in last place jumped two notches after doing the two remaining I hadn’t tried yet.
The video is Gaiam’s Cardio Bootcamp and I can’t possibly tell you the instructor’s name, but she is a perky cute blond with an annoying personality.
Maybe it is just me and it probably is, but any video that starts with live drummers in the background automatically sets me on edge. I only have one video with drummers that I actually enjoy, even then I am actively mocking the drummer whenever he comes onto the screen. Even that video appears in my line up less and less as I’ve found others I like more that are sans drummers.
Second, the two men in the video are handsome enough to add some interest, but again, I’m not sure what it is about female instructors that they can’t dress their men decently. This video is in 3, 10 minute segments. In the first and last segment the men are wearing camouflage. Must be because it is a “bootcamp” video, but really, it was annoying. In the second segment one poor man was in a black shiny tank top that looked like bad fake leather. It was sad.
I’ve mentioned the instructor’s annoying perkiness, but in addition she was REALLY bad at giving instructions and things changed up really fast sometimes. The routine also seemed somewhat schizophrenic, bouncing from one exercise to the next with something thrown in for no good reason.
Finally, I am coming to hate “bootcamp” videos that incorporate moves that no bootcamp instructor on the planet would ever dream of adding to their repertoire. Dance moves are great in some video. I don’t like them in my bootcamp videos. Pilates moves are AWESOME, but I can’t see any bootcamp instructor telling his/her trainees to do pliés. Okay, so I see you threw in a few weight training moves while you were dancing around doing ballet and popping up like a badly behave cork, but in my mind strength needs to be a prominent part of a “bootcamp” video, not the afterthought.
I think I’ve probably skewered the thing enough, but I think I’ll only do that video again if I happen to forget how bad it is. So now, it’s time for bed and I’m just irritated-lol.
I’ll remind myself that overall this week was a HUGE success with a big weight loss. Over the course of the week I’ve worked out in some way every single day including so pretty intense house work. During the week I’ve done 5 60-second planks, 250 squats, 500 crunches (125 regular, 125 reverse, 125 left oblique and 125 right oblique), 100 jumping jacks (that was pretty huge because I hate jumping jacks almost as much as tonight’s video) and 100 push-ups. That’s a pretty incredible week and those were all on top of my other workouts. So, one bad video will not be the end of my incredible week!!
Tomorrow is a running day and some flat out normal, using weights and no bouncing, strength training workout and if I’m up to it after all the rest of the house work that remains to be done I’ll throw in some yoga to get the kinks out.
Ah…something to look forward to!
Friday, April 04, 2014
I had such an awesome run this morning! I’ve been seriously struggling lately. First with a back that liked to go into spasms. Then some heel pain that I thought might be plantar fasciitis. Then a stiff back and hips caused me to go slower than slow and brought back some of the spasms. It wasn’t a fun stretch. But, lots of stretching, yoga and, I think, squats, are bringing things back into line and I had a thoroughly enjoyable run this a.m. with nary a twinge.
All of that seems oh, so long ago. Remember yesterday’s decrapifying post? We took it to heart today. Oh. My. That junky area had HUGE improvements made on it until a friend messaged…a woman she knows mother had passed away and they were cleaning out the apartment. The woman had a day bed WITH the trundle and mattresses that had only been used once in the guestroom. Our friend wondered if we could use it. WELL, oh boy could we. Son had a rather great bed with TONS of storage underneath, but it had several problems. It was so HUGE that you couldn’t move it, where it was is where it stayed. In addition, it was getting rickety, it was a hand me down and had lived through one boy’s use already, meeting our boy brought it close to death. The final and biggest problem for me was all that storage was just a big junk pile my son kept adding to on a daily basis. My junky living room area was ditched to clean and organize son’s space with the arrival of the new bed.
I don’t think I’d realized how dirty son’s room had gotten and the project was bigger than expected, but at this moment all three are sleeping soundly in son’s room. Son on his bed, the girls on the trundle. Son REALLY took to heart the decrapifying mantra. He tossed TONS of stuff. He is a Lego fanatic and everything Lego got to stay. Almost everything else got the boot. Some other choice toys made the cut, but there were bags and bags of things leaving for good. Grocery bags, not garbage, but still impressive.
We got his book shelves reorganized, his bed replaced and made, his best Legos on display and most of the floor uncovered and vacuumed. Unfortunately, I found about 4 loads of laundry, but oh well…that too shall get done eventually. It is now quite late at night and I’m sad I didn’t finish the area I set out to do, but I am VERY pleased with the progress in son’s room. Tomorrow, finish up the job and make a breeze through of the girls’ room, which hopefully only needs a quick pick up and vacuuming. Then back to the junky area for more decrapifying (which, really is almost done). We got rid of a horrible big old chair that only collected junk. We got rid of 3 grocery bags of clothes and 1 of books for Salvation Army. Son’s room has tons more room now than it did before and we tomorrow my “down time” will be spent cleaning and organizing the toys son is getting rid of. Those are going to youngest’s teacher.
It’s really quite clever what she does. Every morning the kids get 2 “dollars” (specially minted with teacher’s picture). If the child went above and beyond the day before they get an extra dollar. Above and beyond on bad days is simply being the one who is doing what is expected. On good days it means helping out a friend or being an example to the others. There are lots of ways to go “above and beyond” for that extra dollar. If the child doesn’t budget their time wisely and needs a drink or to use the bathroom DURING class time they have to pay a dollar to do so. Most kids have learned to use their recess time wisely, others gladly pay the fee. Just before Christmas break and just before school dismisses she has a “store”. She brings in items she’s collected over the term and offers them for sale. The currency is her classroom dollars. Some things she buys when there are sales, others she grabs on clearance and many others are simply donated items, a la garage sale. The kids LOVED the store at Christmas. Son’s items…those still in better than average shape…are going to the donation for the store. Now, to get the girls to decrapify a bit too and donate just a tad more!
It’s been a productive day and I’m excited to get back to it tomorrow and keep purging. Somewhere in there I’ll have to fit in a workout, but I’ll manage somehow.
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Today a friend used the word “decrapifying”. I can’t tell you how much I love this word. I don’t know if she made it up or if she got it from someone else, but it’s a great word. I’ve been working for a month now, off and on, to decrapify my house. I have a very small home. Three bedrooms, which is sufficient. I wish I had four so I could have a workout/craft room, but nah-ja it is what it is. I think I just typed in German without even thinking about it..sorry…hope it won’t happen again-lol. “Nah-ja” is a German colloquialism equivalent to something like “whatever”, it’s something I still think a lot, but I don’t think I’ve ever had it come out in type before-lol…the human mind is so weird. Okay, side-track over.
Decrapify. To rid oneself, or one’s space, of crap. LOVE it. The trick is figuring out how much is crap and how much really needs to stay. Kids’ baby books? Not going anywhere and have a permanent spot on the book shelf. Multiple hard back and soft back books I probably won’t ever read again? Decided that a lot of them are crap and about a third are not. Clothes.
How many sweaters does a So. Cal. Gal need? Probably one or two…time to thin the herd, I definitely don’t need 8. Running jackets are a different matter. 4 of those and they all get to stay-lol.
Blankets. You would not believe how many blankets I have in my house. I have no idea why. It’s not like we need to huddle under a pile of them to survive. A few of those are going in the next load, but not the afghan my husband’s grandmother knitted for us…no, that stays until we die and the kids fight over who gets it.
Clothes. Son won’t stop growing and had SHIRTS and SHIRTS and more shirts that no longer fit. Good-bye. Middle has outgrown almost everything she owns, but youngest doesn’t fit those things yet so find a corner and shove it away.
Two crock-pots? Why do I have two crock-pots? I barely use one. Wonder if I can handle parting with one.
Sitting right where I am I can see four partially burned candles? Why do I have four partially burned candles and maybe I can put a few away until I finish off one.
Hopefully one of these days soon I’ll stand in the middle of my FAR too small living room and look around and say, “this room is decrapified, I am pleased”. Then I’ll move to the dining room and say, “this room is decrapified, I am pleased.” Eventually I’ll move through each room of the house repeating this as I go, something like a mantra. “This house is decrapified, I am pleased.” Maybe not. Maybe five people in such a small place will always result in some amount of crap, but I’ll keep going and keep trying and I’ll even keep at in other places. Maybe someday I can look in the fridge and see no crap inside. Or look in the bucket we keep on the counter for quick snacks and see only healthy foods, like whole fruit and healthy nut bars, instead of Cheetos and suspicious looking granola bars.
Maybe someday I’ll post a big old sign on the front door that says, “Please come in, I’m happy to have you over because my house has been decrapified.” Until that day, one day at a time. Today I’m decrapifying the small space behind the sofa and in front of the back door. It’s a weird space that loves to collect junk and only exists because the living room is such a weird, long, rectangle that I had to put furniture in a place that made a dividing line and left this weird, junk collecting space. Today I’ll be able to say, “this space has been decrapyfied”, at least until the kids wake up tomorrow.
Anybody else in the process of decrapifying? What kind of stuff do you keep that is really crap? For me it’s clothes, books and craft stuff. Tomorrow, bright and early is a running day and I’m SO looking forward to it. I want to go out and leave “it” all on the pavement. That’s how I decrapify the rest of my life…a good run. Time to go out and participate in a good strong decrapify session. ‘Til tomorrow (at least I remembered not to type “bis später”.
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