Monday, August 25, 2014

Too Busy for a Cold (and 10 out of 15k ain't bad)

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I started getting sick in the middle of the week last week. I went to the gym on Monday and Tuesday and then not again for the rest of the week. It started with a bad sore throat and then my energy level just took a dive.

I'd registered for this race for Saturday morning, what they call the Double Road Race. For some reason, which I admit I still don't understand, they split the distance up into two legs. I signed up for the 15k, which means I was supposed to run a 10k, take a break for a while, and then run a 5k. Hmph.

Of course I knew almost nothing beyond this interesting fact. I showed up and started running the 10k, moving very slowly mainly because I was still basically sick but also because I've been running 3 miles and less lately. I decided to run at a pace I felt I could maintain all day long if I needed to.

It was probably around mile 1 when I realized we were running the same loop twice. I had nothing on by way of tracking myself - no heart rate monitor, no Garmin. Can you believe that?! I was doing this for the fun of it, nothing more. At the end of the first loop there was a woman yelling out our times, I was around 34 minutes I think. Take off a minute for being near the back of the pack but still, for a hair over 3 miles, that's my easy, slow pace.

And now that I knew what to expect in the second loop (one small hill), I decided to pick up the pace and comfortably push myself. I started passing people, which is always encouraging, and reminded myself that I know how to tolerate a bit of discomfort. My lungs felt good, so did my legs, so I stayed with this now somewhat faster pace.

I finished and stood around waiting for the 5k to start. They had a live band, which was nice, and the weather was good. But as I stood, my muscles started tightening. The idea of doing a 5k sounded, well, silly. So I bagged it and got the heck out of dodge to go hang with my kiddos. I am very curious as to my 10k time but they apparently don't post your time unless you finish both legs. Oh well, I was happy with what I did.

I'd say this is my first DNF but I have a hard time with that given I crossed a finish line and got to stop running. But it was a 15k and I did only do 10k. Ah heck, it doesn't matter.

Sunday was a super fun day, Marek's first soccer game. We signed him up for the league and they've had 3-4 practices so far. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face the entire game. They were so cute running around after the ball. And some of them, my son included, took it pretty seriously. I mean, like, really played.

I'm looking forward to watching them grow into themselves as far as physical fitness and sports go. This is something I largely missed out on growing up so now I can live vicariously through them. Assuming they continue to show an interest of course. And given that we'll be there stoking that interest, let's hope it sticks for a while.

I took about a million pictures as you can imagine, but I'll only share a couple less than 10 here so as not to bore you with my new soccer mom status.

Game face

#6 !!

kidding around with daddy


I love this picture.

Today, Monday, I managed to get myself to the gym. Still on the cold medicine (DayQuil is like liquid gold) but no real coughing to speak of, which is good. I did 25 minutes on the upright bike and back/biceps/core for strength training because, well, because I could. I've got a busy week ahead so any chance I get to squeeze in a workout, I will. The cold will just have to come along for the ride because I don't have time for it to take me down.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maybe I'm Amazed

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For years people have been asking me, "how do you do it all?" And by all I think they mean raise kids, work, exercise, blog, keep a friend or two, etc, etc. Well, sometimes something has to give and the past week + it's been the blog. I assure you, I've been mostly busy as heck. And if not busy, sitting on the couch at the end of the night watching bad television (Housewives, anyone?), which I've decided is the TV equivalent of a cheap glass of wine. I'm sure it kills brain cells too but at least it's calorie free!

Speaking of calories... the eating. It got bad. Like, two pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter past midnight bad. And that was after a variety of other "snacks." As I was buttering the toast I thought, "What's it going to be Michelle? This?" For days (or weeks?) I'd been thinking over my re-visiting of old habits and kept reviewing the same material, "I have to stop doing this, this doesn't feel good"...cycling through feeling motivated and strong in the morning but come nighttime, all is lost.

Not all, of course, as I'd remind myself. Most of my clothes still fit (notice I didn't say all) and hey, I still look good, right? And I'm still exercising. But that misses the point. The point is, I'm not happy with my behavior. So I finally started to challenge myself to stop saying the same old thing and start analyzing what it is I'm telling myself that leads to sabotage. And when I listen, the answers are there. Or, not so much answers, as lies.

I found myself saying things like, "It doesn't matter", "I'll start fresh tomorrow", "It's only a string cheese" (if only it stopped there), "But I want it", "I don't care." Some of these are old favorites, others are relatively new to me. In any case, once I started listening, I could start challenging. So that's where I've been putting my energy. And I'm happy to report, I'm course correcting. The evening snacking is slowing down, the random food choice situation is improving.

Because it does matter; starting fresh tomorrow is useless if I stop cold by 10pm; if I'm eating out of a bad habit it doesn't matter what I'm eating, it's the behavior that's the problem, not the food; I think I want it, and maybe I do in that moment, but what else do I want? and don't I want that more?; and I care. I CARE, dammit! So no more lies, no more denial.

Also, I heard of this little trick to change your most-used password to something positive you want for yourself, like WHOLEFOODS24!, and that by typing the positive phrase all the time you subliminally influence yourself. So I picked a phrase for my phone and it might seem silly, but I think it's helping.

we love this little guy!
Mostly though, I had to get my head out of the sand and that's what I'm doing. So...what else am I doing? Keeping busy. Marek started playing soccer so now twice a week practice sessions and weekend games are on the agenda. I still need to get a picture of him in his little outfit, so cute! big boy starts kindergarten tomorrow. Eek! Remember when he was born a short 5.5 years ago?? He's a little man now and he's sure to let us know that any chance he gets.

We also took a weekend camping trip to Tahoe this past weekend. I took the kids up to a S.Tahoe spot called Zephyr Cove. We had a blast! The kids LOVE camping and we wore ourselves out with lake activities and hiking and general adventuring. It was a great thing to do the last weekend before school starts. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures. I know, so unlike me!

The evening just before leaving I went to the Paul McCartney concert (hence the post title) with my mom and some family and friends. Staying up until 1:30am and then getting up in the morning, pack for camping, drive 3.5 hours to Tahoe, set up camp...ambitious, let me tell you. But I pulled it off.

I'm sure part of how I could pull it off is being in shape. I've been pretty damn good about exercise. Last week I made it to the gym on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday evening we stayed in a hotel near the concert venue. I got there about a half-hour early...just enough time for a run! So I ran for 30 minutes along the water and gave myself TONS of #wycwyc kudos.

And it's a good thing too because I had more than a few cocktails that evening. Oh, and for dinner that night I had a small salad and chicken wings. Yumm, chicken wings. Anyway, back to exercise. So last week was a resounding success. This week is also going well.

Yesterday I was driving to the gym after work while getting an earful from an angry person on a work-related call, complete with shouting and cursing. Ugh. It just pushed me over the top stress-wise. As I walked into the gym I noticed a mat Pilates class was about to start. Ahh, yes, relaxing music, slow moves, that's what I needed. So I tossed out my cardio/weights plan and did Pilates instead. Perfect! And I challenged my stubborn brain when it tried to suggest this workout didn't "count" because I didn't burn x-number of calories or break a major sweat.

Today was back to my normal routine, I went for a 25 minute run outside and then did legs/shoulders/core. The run felt so good. My pace lately has been whateverthehellfeelsgood and I gotta tell you, I like that pace. Who cares how fast/slow I'm running...I'm running for crying out loud!

So there you have it, the update of where I've been for the past 10 days.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hard Spin, Easy Run

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Same old, same old around here. Just been doing my thing, which lately means ongoing struggle with late-night snacking. I'd gotten it under control prior to the backpacking trip, when I was tracking my food on the Lose It! app (which I don't actually love but it did the job well enough), but I've fallen off the wagon. Which makes it sound like I should start tracking again. Something to consider.

Exercise remains good. I got to the gym twice more this week, making it three times (instead of my ideal goal of four). All things considered I feel really good about the effort. After the backpacking trip last weekend and, just life, I was tired and had an emotional hard landing coming back to reality. The wilderness is so pure, so beautiful, and from that distance everything seems manageable and positive. Meanwhile, back on earth, I struggle for that same perspective.

Glenn and I before class
Anyway, gym on Thursday. Spin class was starting up just as I arrived. My gym has this version of spin call Joycycle, which is spin mixed with upper body exercises while on the bike. It's not often that the class time aligns with my arrival, one of my favorite leaders is on deck and there are spots open, but Thursday it happened.

I couldn't stay for the whole class, I only had an hour total for my workout. So I did 25 minutes of spin and then went to lift weights. Whew, that bike had me sweating! After that I did back/biceps/core. I couldn't quite do my whole routine before running out of time but I managed most of it.

Friday was tenuous. I had stuff in the morning that almost derailed me from working out but things fell into place for an afternoon gym visit. But I was dragging. It was hot out and I felt so lazy.

So I told myself to just run 25 easy minutes outside, no pace pressure. Which is exactly what I did. I'm not sure the distance covered but I ran 27 minutes and felt very pleased with myself for doing it. I reminded myself of some advice I've given others. When someone asks, "What's a "good" running pace?" I answer, the pace that leaves you wanting to go out and do it again next time. After the run I did chest/triceps/core for a total of 1 hour, 11 minutes of exercise.

After the workout I had a little bit of time before I needed to pick up the kids. My feet were in dire
need of attention, still with dirt stains on my heels from the backpacking trip. So I stopped into my favorite toe spot and got a pedicure. I chose blue toenails in honor of Lake Tahoe. I'm taking the kids camping next weekend - and get this, all by myself! - at Lake Tahoe. Blue lake, blue toes.

Then I picked up the kids and we went to dinner (I had to have a coffee though to get me through the evening). I had linguini with clams, one of my favorites! And then to frozen yogurt, where I had a good-sized serving with all the toppings. Yes, it was a calorie heavy evening. And then more evening snacking later. Ugh, can I stick my head in the sand and pretend this isn't happening?

Sure, except the scale keeps me in reality. It's been up near 150 ever since returning from backpacking. At first I figured I was retaining water from all the hard work carrying that pack, but now, I'm not so sure. I just want to get back to my normal eating routine and then see what the scale does.

Enough about all that. The weekend is going well. We're having a lazy Saturday at home, kids are entertaining themselves in all sorts of ways while I do laundry, bills, write, etc. I love hearing them play together and I really love that they can figure out how to entertain themselves. Sometimes paying almost no attention to my kids is the best thing I can do for their little minds.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Run Outfit of the Day

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Hey there! Yes, it's almost midnight and I'm just starting this post. Bad blogger! But I want to get a few things out there before I sign off for the day. I think a list will help keep this post short.
  • I was featured in the Runner's World online column, RUNootd (stands for Run outfit of the day).  I tagged this pic on Instagram and it got picked up. How fun! I'd entered their cover magazine contest but when I read how inspiring some of the other entrants are I threw in the towel on that concept. Listen, I gotta get in that magazine. I can die a happy girl then. So, not the cover maybe, but this column is a step in the right direction :) I better keep running!
  • Speaking of... an exercise update. I skipped the gym yesterday. It was a combination of being very busy catching up at work (it was my first day back) and feeling tired. But today I went. I had to overcome a bit of that, "Oh, but I don't feel like going to the gym," it was hot, late afternoon - good time for a nap. But no nap, I went and ran 3 miles on the treadmill in 27:32 (9:11 minute miles - woot!) and then did legs/shoulders/core.

  • And...I have me some tight muscles. I was remembering that the day after past backpacking trips I'd get a massage. I think a massage is in order. When??

  • Eating is so-so. Scale has jumped back up to 149.something. Fucker. I wouldn't have a problem with it except I'm sitting here with a bag of almost empty chips which contains 5 servings and which I've eaten entirely by my lonesome. All is not lost, I made several goal-oriented eating choices today and I'll pick up again tomorrow and continue to fight the good fight. Just as soon as I finish these chips. Oh, and I might be pre-menstrual. Hence the F-word.
That is all. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Backpacking in the Mokelumne Wilderness 2014

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This is my 3rd time attending the annual ladies backpacking trip. The group started going in 2010 and my first trip was in 2012 to Ten Lakes in Yosemite, then in 2013 to Lake Gertrude in Desolation Wilderness. The outing this year was in the Mokelumne Wilderness, a federal wilderness area that is within the boundaries of three national forests - Stanislaus, Eldorado and Toiyabe.

Unlike years past, this year I hardly paid attention at all to where we were going or what the hike looked like. This is in part because I was so busy leading up to the trip and also because pf my confidence in being able to meet the physical challenge. I packed my backpack in a bit of a hurry and was up at 10:30pm the night before finding driving directions to the permit office.

This year I hiked in a day later than the rest of the group. I made the trek with a backpacking newbie, Jen. She and I both had scheduling issues preventing us from leaving earlier. Anyway, the email from Karen went like this...To my knowledge Jen has not backpacked before. So you are the veteran and she will be looking to you for guidance. Congrats on your "promotion"!  ;-)

Oh boy. Fortunately, this being my third trip, I felt pretty comfortable being able to find our way to camp. Jen and I drove to the ranger station and picked up a permit and a map (that could come in handy, eh?). While we were walking around the ranger station I couldn't help but notice the number of "warning" signs.

Mountain lions, bears, coyotes and...the plague! Oh my. Add to that, after asking where we were headed a guy visiting the ranger station offered, "Oh, lots of bears out in them parts." If Jen was nervous, she didn't let it show.

We parked and got our stuff together. My pack was not well thought out and weighed a back breaking 50 pounds! Note for next year, plan your pack and shoot for 35 pounds. After a bit of walking in circles we found the Allen Trailhead and got underway at noon sharp.

Jen and I at the start (the guy taking our pic insisted we both point to the map, so we did)

The plan
Karen had armed us with a photocopy of her map showing the route. I scoped it out on our map and away we went.

Cole Creek Lake 7 miles - our destination
The weather starting out was just perfect, warm but with a little cloud cover and a cool breeze now and then. We'd received the following text message from Group I the day before so we had reason to be grateful for what looked like good conditions.
Hey! Almost to the lake. Had to stop for a thunderstorm. Start early to avoid t-storms. Safety note: if you get caught in t-storm and your hair on your arms get staticy, GET AWAY from that location!!!!!! 
Turns out there was a spot on a ridge where they had cell service so they were able to get this out. The "safety note" prompted me to read up on what to do if lightening starts striking, "During lightening storms forested areas away from the tallest trees are safer. If you are in a treeless area put insulating material (sleeping pad, poncho) on a small rock and sit on it. Only your buttocks and feet should touch the material. Clasp your hands around your knees and pray (I added that last bit) and bend your head down, as in a seated fetal position. Be sure to remove metal frame backpacks, poles - anything metal can attract lightening." Ok, so we're as prepared as we can be for that.

So when we started hearing thunder during our hike in we both smiled that, "I sure hope we survive this" smile and took note of the sky. Fortunately the thunder never got close and there was no lightening or rain.

We made it to the top of the first climb at 2.2 miles and stopped for lunch and pictures. We'd started at 7,307ft elevation and this was 8,224ft. 

Looking down on Silver Lake, where we'd started

After lunch we had more climbing to do so after a brief rest we continued on. There were a few moments of confusion here and there, like what to do when we ran into the barbed wire fence (open it and pass through) but for the most part we were fine. We arrived at Allen Camp to find a dilapidated  log cabin and a beautiful meadow.

By now the weather had warmed up quite a bit and we were about to face a bit of climbing with very little shade. Between the sun beating down, my 50 pound pack, and the elevation - well, we weren't moving very fast. Ugh. As beautiful as the surrounds were, after a while we were head down, one step after the other, in a slow march up, up, up.

A couple miles of our trek included this wide off-road path. And check out the wildflowers. Wish my camera had picked up the yellows but they are lost in the green. So after a slow, hot climb we arrived at our highest peak, Plasse Trading Post at 8,635ft, just shy of 4 miles in to our 7 mile hike.

Jen looking for our trail
We walked around lost here for a moment before Jen realized we needed to continue a bit further on the off-road road before picking up our next trail. Go Jen! Lots of happiness ensued when we saw only 2.5 miles to go.

Almost there!
It was generally downhill from here, with little hills here and there just to keep us on our toes.

Toward the end we were walking in mostly treeless, rocky areas but fortunately there were enough cairns to keep us on course.

Cairns guiding us along our way
At one point we were looking around a bit lost when we noticed an orange bit of flag tied to a piece of wood. Upon inspection it had been left by our foretrekkers, helping alert us to the wooden arrow (strangely nailed to the base of a tree, why not nail the arrow up higher where it'd be easier to see?) pointing us toward Cole Creek Lakes.

I should have taken a wide shot to give you an idea how this wooden arrow was practically camouflaged. Anyway, the orange flag and Jen's eagle eyes (she's got a talent for spotting cairns) saved us...the arrow says 1/2 mile...we're so close! We came upon a meadow and spotted more orange tape tied to a tree, this time with our names on it.

Notice the little hand-drawn map?

X marks the spot. Complete with LAKE, I love these ladies!
So, through the meadow and voila - we spotted water. Woo-hoo!!! We started calling out and sure enough, they were waiting for us on the other side of the lake, "Walk around the lake!! You're here!!!"

To say the area was beautiful would not do it justice. As much as I wanted to put down my pack and take off my shoes, I couldn't help but pause for a picture.

So worth the effort to get here.
And yes, we arrived! Here's some Garmin route data.

Off with the packs and boots, hugs, smiles and cheers! all around, complete with a warm but hearty cocktail. Vodka and Crystal Light - yum! Here's a few random camp pics.

Arrows pointing to our 5 tents.

The kitchen

The pantry - of course we had twice as much food as we actually needed
The cocktails, laughter and conversation flowed - many of us don't see each other but for this once a year trip so we have a lot of catching up to do - and before I knew it I was quite tipsy.

That's our resident biologist Sarah laughing in the background - I love her!

Getting cozy with Karen

and swiping her hat

Ok, I was more than tipsy, let's call it drunk. Holy cow that happened fast. But we were having a blast! Somewhere in there I made myself dinner, a Trader Joe's madras lentils with brown rice. Last thing I remember is Karen, "are you ok?" as I felt myself drifting off to sleep in my chair. I happily wandered to my tent, took two Advil PM (I know, my poor liver), and fell fast asleep. It was only 9pm.

The next morning I woke up a bit after 7am to a sunny day and the sounds of (some of) the ladies making breakfast. Fortunately I felt pretty darned good considering. I heard stories of the drunken hilarity that ensued after I went to bed, including someone (who shall remain nameless) waking up with both a rock and a spoon in her sports bra. As well as the wrangling of ladies up on bluffs calling to the stars. Yep, it's true. But I slept through all of it.

I made my oatmeal and coffee and sat around waiting for both my and the group's energy to kick us into action. After a lazy morning six of us decided to head out to find Pardoe Lake.

Jen, Laura, Karen, Sarah, Erin and I - on our way!
There are no trails to Pardoe so a bit of orienteering was needed. Just in case, we had a plan that if we weren't back to camp by 5:30pm Angie would hike up to the ridge and call for a search party, "So you all damn well better be back by 5:30!"

Karen and Laura discussing the journey
Thankfully a few of these ladies, namely Karen, Sarah and Erin, know what they're doing. And I'm learning more every year. Laura and Jen were the newbies this year and they braved the great unknown wilderness with enthusiasm.

Sarah, Laura, Jen and Erin
Making our way up a mountainside

A map, a keen sense of direction and lots of experience and we eventually found it (we did also have a compass but never needed it).

Our trek

Pardoe Lake

(L to R) Laura, Sarah, Karen, Erin, Jen and myself lounging
We ate lunch, swam, lounged and enjoyed the peace that only being miles away from civilization can bring. And to think I almost missed this. Thank God I got off that couch all those years ago.

My lunch - naan with avocado, salami and cheese
After blissing out on nature we packed up for the return trek.

Karen, Sarah, Laura, Jen and Erin - how cool do they look?

We'd noted landmarks and left plenty of cairns so what took us one hour and 22 minutes on the way in only took 45 minutes to return. Back at camp and more drinking ensued, albeit with less gusto than the night prior. After all, we had a 7-mile hike out in the morning. I got antsy after a while so I took off on a solo tour exploring the near surrounds (telling people where I was going and never going out of shouting distance).

A long afternoon shadow

A happy hiker
I wish I could capture the breathtaking beauty of this valley

Mokelumne Peak
I returned to find the ladies hanging out eating dinner.

I'd eaten too much trail mix and never got hungry for dinner. We returned to the valley lookout to watch the sunset and wait for the stars to come out.

And we got our first group shot!

Me, Jen, Angie, Karen, Erin, Laura, Cheryl and Sarah in front of Mokelumne Peak

Karen trying to get a selfie but getting photobombed by everyone
Sarah and I ready for the night
Karen showing me some love!
I feel so lucky to be included in this group. This has been a challenging year for me and I unloaded a whole lotta life updates on these ladies and they embraced my attempt to find my way. Thank you wonderful women of nature and beauty for the unplugged, authentic, breath of life that is being in the backcountry with you all. If that sounds a bit cheesy, well, it's duly warranted.

Me and Mokelumne
I know my hair is blowing in the breeze but I love this picture
And as the sky darkened, I was lucky enough to snap this picture.

No filter
I sat up and watched the stars until I got too sleepy to stay up. But I couldn't fathom climbing in my tent and the weather was so nice, I dragged my sleeping bag out and slept on a rock, a blanket of stars to keep me company.

I woke up to the birds and sun and to Sarah and Karen greeting me a good morning.

That's me in the background.
My digs for the night
After breakfast and packing things up it was time to hit the trail for the hike out. But not before more pictures.

Strike a pose!

Altogether now!
Ready to go!
The hike back was grueling here and there. I usually hike the return in a bit of a nature-bliss daze and hardly notice the trek but this wasn't a cake walk.

Angie, Jen, Me, Karen, Laura, Cheryl, Erin
Of course we made it and happiness to be done carrying our packs meant smiles all around. We took a dip in Silver Lake before our drive back home. Er, before the drive to Mel's for burgers and sides and then the drive back home.

Well, that's it! There's already talk of where to go next year and I already can't wait. I have to close with a huge THANK YOU to Karen for being the ringleader of this whole thing. Karen, you add a richness to all of our lives, you are so appreciated.