Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Honest Post

Sometimes you just need to do things that make you smile. Thanks to Maria for tagging me a few days ago. The mission: 10 honest things about myself. So, without further ado - here we go...

(In no particular order...)

10. Even though I love Ghost Hunters, I can't watch the show if I'm alone in the house. Well - the kitties are here - but they don't really count, because they don't offer protection of any sort. If Nathaniel has a late flight, I won't watch...but if he's here, I'm fascinated.

9. I don't like diet pepsi - at all. And...if I order a diet coke in a restaurant and they only serve pepsi products, I'll stick with water. There is a difference.

8. Sometimes I hate Nathaniel's job.

7. I used to put antiperspirant on my hands before solo violin performances, because I would get soooo sweaty that my fingers would slip. Playing in an orchestra is different and (thankfully) I'm not nearly as sweaty. Instead my sweaty-hands appear when I rock climb; I go through bags upon bags of chalk because I have a (slight) fear of rock walls (but love climbing). Humph.

6. I'm highly annoyed at the Southern California weather-forecasters. AND, in general - the local idea of how "horrible" the weather is. Cry me a river. Until you've had your nostrils freeze while inhaling in sub zero Minnesota temperatures, or nearly been struck by lighting while biking during one of the daily pop-up Florida thunderstorms, then zip it. And I'm speaking from experience.

5. You won't get me into the ocean unless a) I'm racing b) someone needs help and I'm the only one available to offer assistance. Yes, I'm afraid of sharks. And yes - its been a lifelong parents claim that my three-year-old younger self was afraid of sharks coming up through the drain. Woa. That's quite the imagination.

4. I could eat sushi every day, but I don't. Instead, its something like 2 or 3 times per week. Honestly.

3. I've read all four books in the 'Twilight' series, and I'm ashamed... I had to pretend that I was buying book #4 for someone else as a gift. I don't think the sales clerk believed me.

2. I miss training a lot more than I thought I would. I would give just about anything to go out for a run and feel the way that I used to. But I'm determined to have my body in a more "normal" state of being/health, before adding training stress. In the meantime...I wait...and wait...and wait...

1. 80s music is the WORST. Ugh. For real...I don't even feel bad about offending anyone with that statement - because it's true.

Today was a better day than yesterday - along with violin, I found solace in cleaning and organizing the kitchen. I donated 8+ bags of old cooking pots and pans, cutlery, and just "stuff". It was very refreshing - a nice change. I might just attack my closet next... we'll see. Regardless, while I sort - you all know what kind of music I WON'T be listening to.

I'm still waiting for that sun!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Early May Grey

It's not always sunny in San Diego. We are now approaching the weather phenomenon of "May Grey" and "June Gloom". It's a time where the Marine layer covers the coastal communities with a thick layer of fog and gloom.

For me this year, the May Grey has arrived early. I knew it was coming, had expected its arrival. But it's still a shock to wake up one day and realize that the sun was gone.

Perhaps it's my mood in general, though. This year is so different from last; health-wise, training-wise, work-wise. Things are definitely changing - not for the better or worse. But still changing. And while I'm doing the best I can to go with the flow and use the tools that I have - sometimes, you just hate the May Grey.

And yes, hate is a strong word. But apparently it's how I feel about May Grey right now, so I'm going to use it.

But all hope is not lost, and just because the forecast calls for a little fog for an undefined amount of time - it doesn't mean the sun has disappeared entirely. We just can't see it - but we know it's still there, sending its shining rays across blue skies. Trust me when I say that I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the sun again.

And not that I condone drinking on a weekday before 5 pm, but sometimes all you need is a cold brew with a great friend. Yes - this was part of our Monday afternoon, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Take that May Grey!

For what its worth - tomorrow I'll look for sunshine. But today, I'm feeling pretty yucky. Nothing that a good rehearsal and/or batch of Swedish Fish can't help...but I'm still missing my sun.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

As far from triathlon as possible. Seriously.

The first half of the weekend was spent doing stuff like this:

And it was FANTASTIC!

The second part...well... Nathaniel spent much of it prepping for upcoming flights, while I prepared for an audition. Because the symphony will be out of session for two months in the summer, I'm working towards earning my Suzuki Music Teaching Certificate (with an emphasis on violin). Yea! Part of this involves an audition DVD.

Oh. Shit.

Don't laugh. But... It only took six completed performances and 40+ incomplete takes for me to pick the as-close-to-perfect-without-being-too-OCD "right" one. In the end I picked rendition # 3. But I still had a good time in the process.

And I can safely say that Nathaniel can now whistle (from memory) the first movement of Bach's A minor violin concerto. Including the trills. Luckily, my neighbors are saints (or currently out of town).

No word on re-re-re-re starting training, though I'm hoping for sometime next week. In the meantime, I'll keep practicing, prepping for next weekend's performances, hiking with Nathaniel, and poking fun of him for the massive amounts of gear he takes with him on each flight. For real: it makes my transition bag look like, um... well - very lightweight. (Which is pretty pathetic if you ask me...)

Congratulations to all the people who raced this weekend! WOO HOO - great job! I had fun watching the results roll in, even if I couldn't be out there training or racing. Soon....when the time is right....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Nathaniel Massage Saga.

It started off innocently enough. But you know it was an interesting night when your husband is passed out next to you, smelling of kukui nut body cream, with a bag of frozen peas precipitously placed over his hamstring.

And no - this is not an R17 post.

During dinner (bison stir fry - lest you were wondering), Nathaniel mentioned tight hamstrings. (Is it awful to admit - that got my attention?) It wasn't bad, he claimed, but his left one in particular had been bothering him all day and he couldn't quite figure out why.

Now in case you were wondering, in the past I've been the Queen of Tight Hamstrings. Seriously. From 2006 through my bike crash in 2008, I dealt with near-constant tightness (but those were mostly the pre-Jen Harrison days when my old coach had me do crazy workouts with crazier amounts of intensity). Those fast-twitch fibers were aggravated, agitated and I began every run with a few timid, precautionary steps.

You know the kind... The I'm not sure if my muscle will work, but I really hope it does because I've got an important track workout in prep for my AAAA+++ priority race just around the corner....please pretty please work without pain or any niggles. (And if you could help me to run :30 per mile faster on my 10k, that would be SUPER.)

Inevitably, my hamstring would seize up, my IT band would revolt and I would writhe in pain on the table while my old massage therapist cracked her knuckles and asked, "Does this hurt?"

Yes. Yes it does hurt.

But through these uber-painful (but effective) massage sessions, I learned A LOT about how the body works, why the muscles feel the way they do, and - most importantly - how to alleviate the tightness/pain.

For the most part, a tennis ball, massage oil and sheer will will get the most stubborn of knots out. Unfortunately, my will isn't that strong, and I'll be the first to book a return trip to the massage therapist to fix what I've so foolishly done.

That being said... I've never been given the opportunity to practice what I've learned through my own painful sessions. Until tonight.

Later on in bed, things got a little more serious. Somewhere between Housewives of NY (yes, I'm ashamed, and no he wasn't watching) and the local news, he suddenly gasped, wrenched the covers up, and vigorously started rubbing his hamstring. Its one thing if YOU yourself are in pain - I can deal with my own stuff...I've dealt with it (in my own capacity) all of my life. But its another thing to see someone else suffering.

Especially when its your husband and he's making what could otherwise be construed as rude gestures under the covers.

So I did the best thing that any wife-who-has-had-previous-hamstring-issues could do. I asked if he wanted a massage.

The look he gave me was classic - The 'This-isn't-happening-but-okay-because-I-love-you - look (as though I was the one getting a treat because I was giving it to him. Humph - men). And then he groaned and rolled over. With his left leg up in the air.

Clearly, the boy has never been to a masseuse.

I told him to lie face-down, head over his side of the bed, with his feet over my end. He looked at me, rubbed the hamstring, and slowly obliged.

Oh boy. We hadn't even gotten to the clothes-removal part - but I wasn't about to tell him now before I started. And yes - I promise this is (mostly) child appropriate. Except for the hairy butt - but that comes later.

I told him to get settled, to relax, and that I was going to take a few investigatory pokes and prods around his hamstring area - just to get a better idea of where it hurt. For which I received (yet another) glare. I swear that he shook his head, but settled down. I was, after all, doing him the favor.

After I few strokes, I noticed his leg tense up and twitch. Overall he was doing a good job, not jumping at every touch. A few more strokes later though, and tense twitch tense twitch tense tense twitch! And then I realized the problems. 1) Leg hair = friction and 2) boxer shorts.

I knew this would be a delicate subject, after all Nathaniel isn't really the nudist type (especially while sporting clothes on the top while his wife massages his leg). And the boy certainly doesn't use body lotions of any sort (even though he complains of dry skin, yet refuses to come within ten feet of ANY sort of topical remedy)... But I knew that in order the get the most effective massage possible, these steps would be necessary.

I took a deep breath and composed myself to the best of my ability. Yes, I have a problem with laughter at the most inappropriate of moments - and one crack, one chuckle - hell, one smile - and all bets were off.



I took that as a sign to proceed.

"Sweetheart? You know - its a little hard to work around your boxer shorts. You know...most massage therapy clients don't wear clothes...the therapist uses sheets to tastefully cover up body parts..."

No response. But he was still breathing; I could see the rise and fall of his back. I knew he was listening.

So I continued.

"Anyway. Listen - I need to flush your hamstring, and that requires my ability to work around your glutes. And for that - it would be, um, better if you removed your shorts."

He raised his eyebrow and I could see the wheels turning.

"But don't worry -" I continued. "I won't try anything. Here, let me get a towel so you can cover yourself up."

And yes, I averted my eyes as he changed (what IS it about guys and getting naked? Seriously - they have NO problem, absolutely none dropping their drawers to do their business. And yes, I realize I just spent a week hiking throughout Northern Arizona - but still...At the first talk of nudist stuff or spa-environments - all bets are off), and then tastefully arranged the towel so I could only see the left butt cheek.

Okay - so the naked part was easy.

The kukui nut body lotion would be a tougher sell. I had to think here...strategy would be my friend. I knew that he felt uncomfortable without any oil, given the amount of tensing and twitching going on with each flushing stroke. I couldn't swear it, but I thought he might be able to crack a walnut between those cheeks. But HE just didn't realize that his leg hair being pulled with each flushing-motion, was the culprit...Maybe if I just applied it without warning? Then he would be stuck -

Its not like he was going anywhere...

Luckily I keep my alba lotions on the bedside table, so they were within easy reach. Goody.

"What are you doing?" he sensed something was amiss.

I had seconds before the smell and the realization combined to hit my husband full force, so without further ado, dropped the entire blob in the middle of his hamstring.

There was a definite twitch. But he said nothing.

Gradually I started massaging his leg, flushing up towards the glues and mimicking what I had felt Shelly and Lisa (past and present) massage therapists do.Thankfully the lotion was helping and I didn't get any comments from the Peanut Gallery. After a few minutes - when his muscle had relaxed a bit and I figured it was ready for the deeper tissue stuff - I applied more pressure.



Okay - too much pressure.

I told him to relax, to breath, and that I would make it all go away.

And yes, I realize that numerous Hollywood films have started - or ended - with similar sentiment.

...And we continued....

In the beginning it wasn't too bad. Just a few more flinches while I worked away. And though I've been married for nearly seven years, there were bits of Nathaniel that I saw for the first time tonight. It made me realize that I should never ever ever have Nathaniel work out knots in my hamstring and tissue flush into my glute.

And I will always hire a professional (who isn't married to me). There are just some things I don't want my Other Half to see or be aware of. I really didn't mind working on him. I just didn't want him to see me! Heck, I don't even like the back of my legs right now - especially since its been, um, well - when was the last time I ran?

With every flush up into the glutes, he seemed to tense more and more. I guess, though, he's just never had the pleasure of his wife rubbing his butt cheeks with kukui nut body cream - enough to make even the manliest of men cringe.

Things reached a peak though, when I pushed my palm into his IT band and slowly worked up his leg. Inch by painful inch, I could hear his muffled gasps. And in spite of my calming words and soothing voice - he was having a hard time maintaining composure. At that point, I think anyone would.

I knew that I was working on borrowed time - so I skipped straight to the Active Release Therapy. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of ART, let my paraphrase: During one session last year, I told my therapist I would rather be giving birth than getting ART.

Luckily Nathaniel didn't know this.

I told him to bend his knee and that everything would be okay. For which I (naturally) earned another glare. But the poor guy was helpless. Half naked, with a towel covering one butt cheek, and smelling like a pina colada. So he bent his knee.

What followed was a series of strokes that I cannot bear to repeat. There was also swearing, visible flinching, and I think I may have drawn a tear (his not mine). I can't be sure. Suffice to say, Nathaniel wasn't a fan of the ART.

At that point, I felt really really sorry for the guy. I finished up with a few easy rubs and tried to make him relax sans deep tissue strokes. It wasn't happening. Instead he had turned over, completely disregarding his lack of clothing, and proceeded to tell me that I was done. D.O.N.E

(But miraculously, his hamstring was feeling not-as-tight).

I took this as a good sign and told him he should probably ice the area, and that it might be a little the morning. And that ice would definitely help. What else could he do but agree? I had already removed his shorts, covered his leg in smelly body lotion - a little ice would be the least of his woes.

And that, my friends - was our night. But don't worry, I won't quit my day job. Massage therapy was never really my thing...unless I was trying to relieve my own tight body parts. At this rate, I would give just about anything for a long run, speed session, 5k or hell - a short run of any sort.

And who knows? Perhaps I will have to call upon the Nathaniel Massage card one of these days. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sooner rather than later. Better yet, I'll have my massage therapist at the ready. Yeah, that sounds better. And better for our marriage as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Little has changed...

I've always been a cat-person at heart. And here's the proof that we've always had House Monsters, no matter my age. (Yes, I'm a natural blond even if I need chemical help as an adult. No, I didn't cut my own hair. Yes - behind me is one of the many beautiful gardens that my Mom has planted. And ABSOLUTELY - Perounka was the most docile cat ever. Sure my "hug" looked more like a death-grip, but I was young and enthusiastic and wanted to "love" the kitty).

In other news, we're back in California - back to work, life, violin practice, flying, and no training (in my case). As difficult as it is, I've decided to wait until I finish the medication completely before (re) re-starting training. Again. Which means that in another ten days (perhaps) my body will be ready.


How many times can one restart something?

If this was cat-lives, I think I'm somewhere on my sixth life - but not quite that dramatic. Obviously.

But hey, I'm doing the best that I can with the tools that I have. Going with the flow, coping, learning, surviving - and building up massive amounts of energy that I'm SO ready to unleash on short-course races. Oh yea. And doing my best to have fun in the process - triathlon training/racing or not.

Soon enough, my friends, soon enough.

But in the meantime, it was quite the shock to return from Flagstaff to Carlsbad. And because I like making lists...I've made another one. Goody! Here we go...

10) The daytime highs in Flagstaff are nearly the same as in Carlsbad. I hope you Flagstaff people feel good about that...

9) Walking up a flight of stairs in Flagstaff (at 7,000+ feet) left me breathless at first. Walking up a flight of stairs in Carlsbad still leaves me, um...breathless.

8) When you bring condiments (mustard!) from sea level to higher elevations - STAND BACK when opening. Trust me. Although to some, the spatter patterns could make interesting art work... Mustard on Canvass...? Has a nice, ring, eh?

7) The second violin part in Mozart's 40th and 41st Symphonies gets exponentially more difficult for every rehearsal you miss. I had one of my "not-supposed-to-play-solo-but-I-make-a-mistake-and-play-loud-anyway" moments again. Luckily - to anyone else listening, I could have passed my mistake off on one of the violas. Unfortunately, none were sitting near my person. Oops.

6) The lack of oxygen at Flagstaff and Northern Arizona levels prompted Nathaniel and I to download the April 2nd version of "The Soup" with Joel McHale. I wanted to show him the "clip of the week" and he just wanted to laugh (after 8+ hours in the car). It was funnier the second time and we both laughed. A lot.

5) Nathaniel will be extremely busy with flying for a while, and I'm trying my best to not think about it. But as with anything in life, the more I try to keep my mind off the subject, the more difficult it becomes to focus away from what I'm trying to NOT think about in the first place. Does that make sense? So instead I think about one of my favorite quotes by French novelist and playwright, H. de Balzac, "Our greatest fears lie in anticipation..."

4) The same quote also applies to my health. Right now I'm just waiting...and doing my best to be healthy...thinking healthy thoughts...doing healthy things...And just waiting for the medicine to work and take the next round of blood tests. Waiting, wondering, wanting, and wishing...

3) I'm amazed at what a BIG deal the local (Southern California) weather-people make about "storms" that "blow through" our area. All .02 of an inch of rain the other night...(I'm NOT kidding). There was more snow on the ground in Flagstaff and at the higher elevations than anything San Diego will ever see. Ever. IT'S JUST A LITTLE RAIN! I'm getting a bit tired of the frenzy that our local forecasters get into at the first sign of rain. Seriously. Move to Chicago and then get back to me...

2) I spent about :02 seconds contemplating a summer job as an Ocean Lifeguard. The Symphony will be out of session, and I've spent so many years life guarding through high school and college, that it could be possible. Then I realized how DEATHLY AFRAID OF SHARKS I am, and quickly squashed the thought.

1) Its been over a week since we've had stir fry of ANY sort. Woa... I think I know what's up for dinner tomorrow or Thursday...

And for now, my friends - that's it. Elevation + impromptu solos + Mustard Art + big ocean animals + not-so-scary "wet" weather + House Monsters old and young... Cheers!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Grand, Grand Canyon.

Well - we did it. And unfortunately, we only spent one day cruising around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. After no less than five minutes, Nathaniel and I were already planning our hiking/rafting/camping/future-adventures at this magical place.

Words don't do this place justice - and neither (I'm afraid) - do photographs. Its pretty amazing to think of the powers that formed this canyon. One determined river and oodles of time. It makes you realize that there are so many other things at work, in progress, and it makes our own existence seem small by comparison.

Tomorrow we're heading to Sedona - vortex sights and all. But for now, here are a few shots of the day. Some are the "typical" Grand Canyon money-makers. Others are a little off the beaten path. Enjoy!

It seemed almost unbelievable - that the Grand Canyon was a mere 10 miles away...
Getting closer....The Little Colorado River.
We made it! We took the little-used Eastern Park entrance, near Desert View. The drive was easy, the crowds non-existent (compared to the masses of people at the South Rim Visitor's Center), and view was spectacular. In the future, we'd like to time it right and see the setting sun...but that's for another trip.
We are here! With the canyon!!
First point at Desert View and...Hey! There's snow!'s....cold! Officially 27 degrees this morning.
Butte, looking towards the Little Colorado River - Desert View.
He assured me that he wouldn't jump. But that this was almost like a helicopter view.
The colors were incredible - in spite of the slight haze. Somewhere along the South Rim Drive. This photo is unfiltered, while the picture at the top of the page is.
On the ledge.
Wildlife was everywhere!
Here too....
All around!
All enjoying the view...
On a (sort-of) different note...they are everywhere.
Far away.
No backing up for me...
At Yavapi Point, there was a great device one could angle to view named peaks (or buttes!) in the distance.
The sheer ledges were incredible. The North Rim is technically higher in elevation at 8,000+ feet - but the sheer face of the South Rim is much steeper than its northern counterpart.
Twisted and weathered wood - exposed at 7,000+ feet.
Playing around with the camera (not too near the edge) and finding inspiration.
At the Visitor's Center as well!
Desert View, 7438 feet above sea level.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Arizona Adventures.

A few days ago, Nathaniel and I decided to go road tripping - to have fun, spend time together, and not worry about XYZ. He took a few day's away from flying and I got permission to miss two symphony rehearsals... We hired a sitter for the kitties, threw a bunch of stuff in the car, and headed towards the desert. The high desert.

8+ hours later (including but not limited to three very hair raising descents where Nathaniel laughed at my imaginary brake-foot and curse words, as he sped around mountain curved roads), we arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona. Alive.

Its great to be "away" - to not focus on the things I can't do, and instead enjoy the things I can. While doing them with the person I love the most. And while I love Carlsbad and being home, its downright tough seeing my bike and knowing that I can't yet ride it. Not just yet anyway. Up here - at 7,000+ feet - its different. It would be too damn cold anyway.

So here are a few snapshots from our adventure thus far. Tomorrow we're hitting up the Grand Canyon and perhaps Sedona on Friday. But we'll see...

Enjoy the shots - its been fun playing around with the cameras.

We left one desert in exchange for another. Hair raising descent towards Indio. Joshua Tree National Park mountains in the background.
Blue Figurine, Car Lot, Art Americana, circa 2010.
Endless CA Road, I-10, flanked by wildflowers and saddle mountains.
Friendly cows. Perhaps the one positive of my wacky sinuses - I couldn't smell them.
Friendly Arizona dirt devil.
Flagstaff Visitor's Center + Train Depot. We made it!
Hike #1, along the most-excellent FUTS (Flagstaff Urban Trail System). We walked south towards Soldier's Loop, enjoyed the high elevation and views, and then back. The mountain air feels awesome!
We made a new friend at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
Hungry? Hopi Pear.
A birdie friend for Tabbitha and Anabelle, thanks to more Hopi craftspeople.
Pine Tree bark!
View of Humphrey Peak from Elden. We really wanted to climb Humphrey - the tallest point in Arizona at 12,000+ feet - but the snowpack was too thick without the use of crampons. And I didn't really relish the opportunity to carry an ice axe or something of the sort to stop myself from sliding over the edge. I have a hard time maintaining my balance as it is, let alone at high elevations and with spiky-things strapped to my feet.
Clearly, the chocolate-caramel egg didn't stand a chance at 9300 feet.
Snowbank with the desert waaaay in the background. Looking Northeast towards Sunset Crater.
Nathaniel found another USGS Survey Marker! YEA!
Top and c-c-c-cold! Windy, too!
Flagstaff overlook on Elden Mountain.

Inner contours of a pine tree, destroyed by fire.
We survived! And how could you NOT love a path dubbed "Fatmans Loop"? And yes, we did walk the trail.
With all the driving, culture, Americana, and hiking - we figured a beer OR beer sampler was in order. Hooray for the Beaver Street Brewery - proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy - according to Nathaniel. At this point, I couldn't agree more.
Here's to health and happiness. The Grand Canyon awaits tomorrow and we both can't wait!