Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all the brave men and women who serve our country, past and present. AND their families - for their sacrifices as well. Freedom is not free, and we are grateful for your service.

And now, I'm going to go hug Nathaniel!

Happy Memorial Day, friends.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Woa! Minnesota by storm!

Oh - my word.

I honestly CAN'T remember the last time it's been this long between blog posts. Seriously. But then again, that's life - and we all live it from one time to another. And not that I'm 'whooping' it up with the best of 'em....but I did squeak out a quick trip to St. Paul to visit the folks and attend a Suzuki Music Seminar.

But I digress....

A few things of note this past week:

*Midwest Humidity. Yes, it does amazing things for the skin, but oh man...running or (even walking - ahem) can get HOT. I stopped for water at Black Bear Crossings on Como Lake, and I think the manager was slightly concerned when he saw my sweaty state. Suddenly the May Grey/June Gloom along the coast doesn't seem so bad.

*Sleeping with the windows open and waking to the sound of chirping birds. Awesome - I LOVE it. In California - while we could sleep with our windows open - for security purposes we choose not to. I thought our noise machine did a good job of capturing "Northern Loons". I was wrong.
*Running outside and NOT being fearful of being eaten by mountain lions. Yes, people make fun of me and yes, I think I have a (slightly) irrational fear of being consumed while training. Still - the "scariest" animal I saw was a snapping turtle. And even then, I gave him/her a lift across the road.
And on that note....

*Swimming open water with friends and NOT BEING FEARFUL OF BEING EATEN BY A SHARK. Last Wednesday morning I rediscovered how much I love open water swimming. And boy - let me tell you: it's helpful when you're convinced that every stroke won't be your last.Thanks Steve for the photo!!

And while we're on the swimming theme....

*Swimming at the Y with Julia and co. on Friday morning. Initially I was HAPPY that I wasn't tagging along for the 10 X 100 descend, followed by a dessert of 1000 time trial. Ugh. For some reason, I didn't think it right that my 5th swim since pneumonia should entail such torture. But then during the third set of a 400 IM, suddenly that 1000 TT didn't look so bad. Never has it been more true - that my butterfly was a butterflop.
*Spending time with old friends, new friends, neighbors, more neighbors - and yet feeling sad because there were MORE people that I wanted to see/meet up with...but just didn't have the time.

*Waking up to the sun streaming through the windows, rather than to an alarm. (And yes, it was still stupidly early. Coming from the West Coast, 5:20 am when I left for my Thursday run was, um...stupid). But I didn't have any other time I could actually do the darned thing - and in the end, I loved it.
*Chocolate Vitamin Chews. One word: yum!

*St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concert (featuring Joshua Bell). I was so excited I took a picture before they even walked on stage. Brilliant performance and lots of fun!
*Sushi with Mom. Again: Yum!
*My favorite new shirt that reads: Minnesota is the new California. I was out having lunch with a girlfriend whose husband flies with Nathaniel - and she happened to be up here at the same time. Anyway...she spotted the shirt first, but we just HAD to each get one. Yes, it's a little dorky that we nearly match each other...and the sales associates laughed when we posed in the store with our finds. But there you go... two Minnesota girls who live in California.
*A friend to keep me company while I'm away from Nathaniel. Apparently there's a new sheriff in town.
*Coffee and breakfast with Julia post-swim. Dude: I earned it. 4100 yards later (half of which was IM) and I was ravenous. Had there been a House Monster within close proximity, even it would not have been safe. But seriously - one of the things I really look forward to whenever I visit home, is seeing Julia. Thanks for the great times my friend!
*When Nathaniel DID call - this is how we communicated. Yes, his flight schedule was weird (flying nights + 2 hour West Coast time difference will most definitely mess up your spouse's sleep schedule...). Honestly, though - I didn't mind the 2 am wake-up call. (And yes, I was trying to Facebook chat, skype, and work the cell phone at the same time. You would was either VERY late or VERY early. Take your pick...)
Downtown St. Paul at night, post SPCO and Joshua Bell Concert... magic, if I do say so myself...
Sunday I'm headed back to San Diego - to the girls and Nathaniel...but for this last night, I'll enjoy sushi with my folks, wine on the backyard patio, and great conversations all around.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A few observations...

A few days ago I returned to the pool. It's been approximately 10 weeks since I swam, kicked, pulled, or smelled like chlorine. And though I didn't expect much from my swim in terms of times or technique, I decided to keep an open mind. To take things as they were.

After all - 10 weeks of no swimming, either from sinus woes, allergies, pneumonia, or any and all of the above - is quite a bit of time. I wasn't expecting a personal record-type performance. Absolutely not... I'm a realist when it comes to knowing my body and it's ability to perform. But I DID carry with me a sense of optimism, happiness, and excitement.


Just before walking into the pool complex, I saw one of my Master's coaches. While it was great catching up, hearing about the workouts, and just talking about training and life-stuff, he commented, "Boy it really hasn't been your year, has it?"

I squinted at him and replied, "Yeah, you're right. Race-wise, it really hasn't. My focus has shifted from performance to health and happiness."

And it's not that the two ideals can't coexist together. For those high-level and extremely successful athletes, I think the boundary between performance and happiness isn't blurred...they are successful, in part, because they're doing what they love, staying healthy, and are generally happy. Add that to an incredible work ethic and natural ability, and you've got yourself one heckuva successful combination.

For me, though - I know myself well enough to know that RIGHT NOW, the focus is less about performance, and more about having fun, staying healthy, and learning from the experience. That's exactly what I need to do, to focus on, in order to deal with the disappointment of not racing and fear of falling ill again.

(On the flip side, I'm in week #3 of careful base building and couldn't be happier! I GET to do far so good - knock on wood). Welcome to 8 weeks of base training! YEA! The performance will get there, eventually, and I'm excited to compete one again. But only when my body is ready. That's a line that I'm not willing to cross or compromise on.

Believe me - constantly being sick will make even the heartiest of athletes reconsider not only their race schedule, but their ideals as well.

During the swim, though - his comment got me thinking...

I'll admit - race wise and athletically - this hasn't been my year.

Let's face it, I'm allergic to Ironman.

In all seriousness - too many sinus infections to count, pneumonia, lower leg issues...doesn't exactly boost one's confidence, eh? But I've done the best that I can with the tools that I've been given, dealt with and accepted my frustration and anger, and let go of my 2010 schedule. I've accepted the fact that I might not race until much later in the season (if at all) - and am thankfully okay with that. A little sad, yes. But the goal is health and happiness - and as I've said before, everything else is just icing on the proverbial sheet cake.

On the other had, these past few months have provided me with a lot of insight and personal growth. Honestly, I don't think that I would compromise or trade one for the other. Between playing violin and a musical career (teaching Suzuki AND gigs - holy cow!), to expanding my writing and photography, finding an incentive to leave the military standard of health care and find my own great doctors, and even the plethora of hikes and adventures that I've been on with Nathaniel... there's a lot there.
I can honestly say, that had I been training for Ironman or taking triathlon as seriously as I have in the past, I don't think I would have auditioned for the symphony...worked on my pictures...found a doctor that I really really really like...or explored the trails of Southern California.

So, with that in mind - I think it's been a VERY successful year. Perhaps not what I envisioned when I established my 2010 Season Goals, but not necessarily bad either. Just different. I think that if I was too focused on HAVING to compete and HAVING to race and HAVING to hit my numbers regardless of the circumstances, well - gosh... that just doesn't sound fun. It would suck the remaining happiness out of the dementors from Harry Potter. And the first half of 2010 would have been unbearable.

I know that eventually I'll tack up those 2010 Season Goals (because the timing just hasn't felt right YET...and I'm still looking at the 2009 Season Goals scattered around the house) - but I'll do it when I'm ready. When my body ready. I've learned these past few months, that there are some things you just can't rush.

And as a non-professional in the sport of triathlon, I'm okay with that.

It's so easy to get caught up in achieving our goals, hitting our numbers, doing XYZ, that we loose sight of why we do this sport in the first place. And at the end of the day - the reason I choose to compete is very different from your reasons (and vice versa). Okay, nothing earth shattering there, I'll admit.

But in taking a step back from competition for the first half of 2010, I've noticed that the MOST SUCCESSFUL athletes, are those who truly love what they're doing, take the time to do the work, listen to their coaches/mentor and who don't place too much pressure on themselves to perform. It's one thing to establish goals and bench marks...they are critical to success and we absolutely CELEBRATE when we hit them. On the flip side, it's not the end of the world when we don't.

Instead, take everything in, review and digest, and focus on the future...on controlling what you can control and letting the other things go. And having fun - yes, the most important ingredient. Love what you do, and I promise that you'll do it well. And as I've said before, everything else is just icing my friends, icing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Flex-Arm Hang Competition

My gut response was an immediate and resounding, “NO!”

N. O.

However, there was another part of me that wanted to accept the challenge. But I shook my head, no, and politely informed the gym manager that I wasn’t interested in entering the Flex Arm Hang Challenge. No, no thank you.

I had to hand it to him, though – he was certainly trying his best. He promised great participation prizes, awards to the top three, and made it seem like a lot of fun!

Exclamation Points!!!! and all.

But still, I said no.

While cooling down on the bike, I tried to convince myself that even attempting the challenge would be silly. I had just finished a massive strength and conditioning workout, I hadn’t been training ‘seriously’ for more than two weeks, and besides – only Marines did pull-ups and flex arm hangs.

It’s open to EVERYONE he reminded me.

And still, I was resolved. Even when I handed my towel back in, gathered my gear, and marched out the door. Walking across the parking lot I could see the pull-up bars where the challenge was being held. I wondered how I would even get up – they seemed so high. And given my clumsiness, it would be just like me to leap for the bar and fall on my ass.


There was that other part…the part that wonders, questions…the part that believes you should just go for it. And she was making her presence known as well. Just think of the funny blog you could write if you did it, the voice whispered.

Now I was hearing things – never a good sign. Clearly I needed to turn the car on and DRIVE AWAY from the damned bars. The only bars I was interested in,were my PowerBar Recovery Bars…yummy and delicious, packed with the best post-workout recovery blend ever. PowerBar vs PullupBar. I knew which one I was going for.

Cue: car being turned on…

I swear to you – I even figured out HOW I would begin my non-flex-arm-hang challenge post. I would quote The Great Wayne Gretzky with, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

With all due respect, Mr Gretzky – what if you don’t want to shoot in the first place?

But then I scratched that idea. It sounded stupid.

However – the meaning behind the quote stuck with me. You miss 100% of the shots you never take. You miss 100% percent…shots…never take. Never taken… You miss….

And it got me thinking.

Seriously – what did I have to lose?

Yes, my pride when I fell on my ass while jumping for the bar. But aside from that – really, what was there to lose? And besides, I could write one hell of a funny or poignant blog from the experience. I’ll do it for the blog, I decided while turning off the car and marching the 100 meters back to the gym.

Screw that, I thought. I’ll do it for ME. Because I can, because I’m strong, because I love the challenge, because I don’t want to look back and regret the risks that I didn’t take.

Suffice to say, the gym manager, recreation attendants, and other patrons were surprised to see me back in the gym. Before they could get a word in edge-wise, I opened my mouth and blurted, “Okay! I’ll DO it!” And then I continued, plowing on, “I love to write and I have a blog, this will make a great story!”

Yes, I am a nerd. But I’m proud of it.

But I don’t think the second thing I said really registered, they were all super surprised, but super excited to see me back and entering the challenge. Exclamation points and all!!!!

I could feel the eyes of the power lifters on our backs our procession marched through the gym. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except the manager kept turning to me and excitedly saying things like,“I just KNOW you’re going to win it! You’ve absolutely got this challenge! It’s not that hard – all you have to do is hold on for 65 seconds… that’s the first place time, and I just KNOW you can beat that!”

Though is enthusiasm was infections, I was a little embarrassed. And gee - nothing like adding a little pressure.

Especially when the guy bench pressing 395 pounds just looked at me. (For the record – he owns the current bench press record at the gym. And for the life of me, I can’t remember if it’s 425 or 475 pounds. Does it really make a difference?)

Our little entourage was growing, as another gym patron joined our procession. She was eating a slice of pizza, shorter than me (I’m ‘5 4” on a good day), and assured me that I would definitely beat her record of 12 seconds.


I wasn’t sure if she was being facetious or totally serious. Given the fact that she wears a uniform on a daily basis, I erred on the latter.

As we made our way outside, the gym manager was still chatting away. I think he just didn’t want to give me a chance to speak up and back out of the contest. I confessed to the female gym assistant walking next to me, “Um…I’m not sure I can even reach the bar…?”

I was already having palpitations of the thought of jumping for the bars, missing and… The picture wasn’t pretty. I didn’t want the wood-chips at the bottom to be lodged anywhere they didn’t belong.

“Oh – it’s no problem. There are little ledges you can stand on to reach the bar. Even I could do it – and I held on, for: 45 seconds!”

I looked at hear – tall and lanky, barely an ounce of extra fat. Gee - maybe this flex-arm hang thing was harder than I thought…. After all, the top score that Female Marines can receive on their PFT flex arm hang score is: 90 seconds. Perhaps this would more challenging than I had initially anticipated.

Just think: you're doing for yourself. And you're doing it for the blog...

Let’s face it – any physical endeavor where one is just holding oneself in a specific position – is difficult (both physically and mentally). Have you ever tried a plank? I swear that after: 20 seconds, I’m shaking (and that’s with all fours on the ground). Suddenly - supporting my entire body, with my chin over the bar (in proper flex-arm-hang position), seemed a little more daunting. But I assured myself that this was ‘for the blog’. And that I would regret it if I didn’t try…

Before I knew it – we had arrived.

I wanted to tell them before the contest even began – that I wasn’t a moron. That I raced Ironman, for Christ’s sake! (Okay - the moron thing could be applied to Ironman, I grant you that.) But I hadn’t been training and I was tired and my strength workout kicked my ass (courtesy of Jennifer Harrison, thank you very much) – but I knew that any excuse would sound, well – like an excuse. Blah blah blah. So I kept my mouth shut.

Wow… the bar looked – um, high. Thankfully there were only three or four in attendance, and the parking lot wasn’t too full. I could see Marines in the adjacent field playing flag football over their lunch-time break. I hoped they were too distracted with their game to see my attempt.

“Whenever you’re ready! Do you know what to do? Have you done this before? Remember the current record is 65 seconds, I KNOW you can do this! Are you ready??!”

Honestly, the gym manager seemed way too excited about this flex arm thing. Wired. I think I only get that way after four cups of coffee (which isn’t unheard of during concert weekends).

Last minute explanations were given – Keep your chin above the bar at all times…it’s MUCH easier in the underhand/bicep postion, instead of the overhand/lat position…whenever you’re ready… YOU’RE GOING TO DO GREAT!!!!!......

I took a deep breath. This was for the blog. And for trying new things. Oh – and no regrets. That too.

I don’t know if it was the fear factor or not, but at the very last minute I blurted out, “For the record, I did a ‘serious’ strength workout. I want that known.” Seriously – who am I? I must learn to control my outbursts a little more.

And before I could stop myself, I – ever so tactfully – added, “I hope I don’t pee on myself.”

If anyone said anything, I don’t recall.

I carefully stepped on the metal ledge under the bar. I could tell that it had been freshly wrapped – and the white medical tape looked unused and pristine. I guess there’s something good about being ‘short’…no one wants to use the smallest pull-up bar. At least my grip wouldn’t slip because of dirt and grime (very gross – but it has happened in the past when I’ve been attempting pull-ups. Not doing – attempting. There is a difference).

I looked at the entourage. They looked back at me. I swear, the gym manager had his finger on the stop watch, ready at the exact moment I started my hang. Better now than never, I thought to myself.

One more last minute flex of my biceps, a brief thought of Nathaniel doing pull-ups flashed across my brain, and I withdrew my foot from the metal ledge, easing my way to the middle of the bar.

“GO!” cried the gym manager.

And then… there I was… just (literally) hanging out.

The first few seconds seemed…okay. Not too bad – dare I say…easy?

I could feel m biceps engage, core muscles contract at the sudden strain of supporting my body weight. I’ve never attempted a flex arm hang – so this was a new feeling for me. So far, so good. I had managed to not 1) slip off the bar in the first :05 seconds and 2) not fall and get a wood-chip lodged in my rear. Yes – it was a great start.

“You’re :12 seconds down! You just passed my mark!” said the gal, still eating her pizza while staring at the stopwatch. “Keep it up!”

“See – I TOLD you were going to do GREAT! You’re just rounding the :20 mark – NO PROBLEM! You are DOING it! I knew you were perfect for this challenge!”

I looked at the stop-watch wielding manager. His legs were spread apart and he was really getting into this flex arm hang thing. “20 seconds?” I asked. “Great – wow – that went by fast. Okay….”

Still hanging…. I thought about planks, about holding my position, about getting down on my aero bars and cranking out a max effort sprint. This is all that was – sustained control over my body. I could do this! I WAS doing this!

“:30 seconds down! GREAT!”

Good feeling gone.

I didn’t want to panic, but I could feel it… a little bit of shaking starting deep within my core. The tone of my voice caught their attention. “How much time?”

“:40 seconds!”

Oh good god.

My arms began to tremble, but I fought to hold on. Stars began to cloud the edges of my vision, and while the thought of drifting away entered my mind, I was way too uncomfortable to enjoy the feeling. My breathing increased to freight-train level. I wasn’t sure how out of control the shaking would get – but I knew it would be ugly. Thank god I didn’t need to pee.

“You are doing SO WELL – I’m not even going to tell you how much time has passed!” Pause. “Okay – You’re at 50 seconds….”

So much for not telling me.

And why the hell is time slowing down? I mean the first twenty seconds had gone by in a snap. And now – well – now I just was more concerned with public urination and deeply embedded woodchips in unpleasant places. It’s all relative, I guess.

“Fifty five seconds!”

And then – before I could help it and as though I had NO control over my arms whatsoever – I could feel myself begin to slip, ever so slightly. It was only a centimeter or two…but my biceps were burning up and sending clear signals to my brain to STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP! Violent shaking was erupting from my legs, and the twitching was downright embarrassing. I could no longer control my breathing, and the gasps escaping from my mouth were alarming. I hoped that my flabby stomach wasn’t too visible through my shirt, and I was grateful I had availed myself of the facilities shortly before this damned contest.

They all took a step forward and exclaimed, “Hang on ! You’re ALMOST there!! Just a little longer to beat the record – keep your chin up! YOU’RE DOING GREAT!! Almost there!”

I think the girl with the pizza was even jumping up and down. But perhaps I was just hallucinating?

But the shaking was getting worse. And their shouts were drawing attention from the gym patrons, curious to see how someone silly enough to enter a felx-arm hang competition was doing. I wanted to yell STOP YELLING – but I was more concerned with the shaking. And lack of breathing - because (to my horror) I was now holding my breath, too much in pain to realize the lack of oxygen was affecting my brain.

I tried to force myself to breath, to find my ‘happy place.’

Trust me when I say – there was no happy place.

But I held on, vaguely aware of the gym manager counting past the 1-minute mark. My immediate focus was to hold on for 1:06 and beat the record of :65 seconds. My brain focused on the number 66. 6-6. 6-6! 6-6!!

Add one more six and you're in hell. If this is what hell feels like - then no thank you. But I've already been there... mile 23 of Ironman Coeur d'Alene when my quads broke down...those final few swim strokes in a 10 X 100 test...2 X 20 minutes at 110% of LT on the bike...rounding the track on my last 400 repeat...

And I got through it then - I can surely HOLD ON for a few more seconds now. I noticed that I was breathing - good.

My legs were violently adopting dancing moves of their own and I gritted my teeth to HOLD ON. It wasn’t pretty, and I know I would never make a poster-child for flex arm hang competitions – but I did it.

As soon as Peppy Gym Manger screamed, “Sixty Six!” I dropped. No – I didn’t land on my ass and thankfully no wood-chips were harmed. But I did it! I surprised myself, and hung on for exactly one second longer than I needed to win the contest.

It was pretty cool – and their enthusiasm was infections, even if my biceps were cramping and I really DID need to use the restroom. I smiled, in spite of myself – already thinking about what I was going to write in my head.

My first words were NOT along the lines of yea! Or yes! Instead I asked, “Is it normal to shake like that?”

The female gym attendant responded that, “Yeah, so far everyone gets like that towards the end.”

Well, there you go. For future flex-arm hang competitions, I will keep that tucked in the back of my head…

After thanking them, and their promises to let me know if I won (I’m SURE YOU DID! YOU DID GREAT!) – I posed for a quick picture and headed home. Yes, my arms hurt to grip the steering wheel, but moreover – I felt really good about myself. Sure, it was only a flex-arm hang competition…but how often do we really get the opportunity (big or small) to challenge ourselves and try something new?

And then I started thinking about those sixty-six seconds. I briefly wondered, had the record been :70 or :75 seconds – could I have held on? And I thought about the incredible mind-body connection that we all have.

When push comes to shove – why limit myself to :66 seconds? Sure, I was shaking and about to pee on myself…and my biceps felt like they were on fire…and my breathing was coming in spurts... But I also know that we are ALL capable of amazing things. And, as so often is the case, when we put our minds towards accomplishing something – from Ironman down to a flex-arm hang competition – we can make it happen. I’m convinced that if the previous record had been higher (within reason, of course), I would have held on JUST enough to eclipse it.

Next time I head to the pool, or set myself up for bike intervals, or run around the track – I’ll remember this challenge. Not so much for the shaking or wood chips or UBER ENTHUSIASTIC gym manager. But for the lessons learned along the way – that when I want to achieve something, I can make it happen. And…to NEVER sell myself short, because at the end of the day – if I want it enough, I’ll definitely go after it.

And you can too.

Part of me wanted to go back and re-test…see how long I REALLY could stay on the bars. But I knew my muscles were completely shot, taxed beyond normal. And I would have to wait for another day. Rest assured – the next time there’s a flex arm hang competition, I am so totally there. With practice and belief, great things can be accomplished. And time-wise, the sky’s the limit…

Monday, May 17, 2010

Image: Weekend events...

A few bits of my weekend observations...

Image: Ambulance pick-up point just before another part of steep hill.
Image: Cake in the check-out line (NOT where it's supposed to be...)
Image: Trying to pose for a pull-up after winning a flex arm hang competition. The only thing the camera didn't capture was the shaking.
Image: Impossibly difficult music. Insert four-letter-word here:___________!
Image: Haircut and "chemical alterations". I'm convinced it's too short - but then again, I'm always convinced that it's too short at first. So there you go.
Image: Hills on my Sunday run. They were relentless and never-ending. And you'll just have to trust me on that one.

Image: Happy House Monster-
Image: Attentive Anabelle
Image: Breakfast in spite of the May Grey (pre haircut...)
Details of the flex-arm hang competition are forthcoming...and pretty funny. But you'll have to trust me on that one as well. Until then - good luck with the hills, we CAN survive the May Grey, and cheers to coffee with loved ones.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bad Romance, a Capella style

I was going to write about pink compression socks and the subsequent comments one receives upon walking into Target. Yes, I realize my socks are pink. No, I'm not a soccer player.... And so on, and so forth.

However, thanks to Alili, I thought this was much better. Those of you who really know me, know that I'm a sucker for acoustical performances. Though I've never been a huge fan of a Capella, this ensemble takes the proverbial cake.

Without futher ado, "On the Rocks" - the University of Oregon's premiere a Capella group - performs Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."

And yes, it's okay to admit that 1) you watched it more than once and 2) you were humming along. I know I was (and did). All while wearing pink compression socks, no less.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Hike

It wasn't so much the weather (cloudy, windy, blustery) or the incredible yellow wildflowers that caught our attention. It was the difference in color. Within the past six weeks, the hillsides have transformed from vibrant green to golden brown. Case-in-point:

March 2010
May 2010
Proof that there are seasons in California.

We thought about hiking up the "telephone trail" like we did last time, but the rattlesnake threat had me deterred. (We've already seen and heard a few on Villager Peak and one out in Sedona, AZ). Nathaniel just laughed, but as I'm the one who thinks catastrophically I told him that I was sticking to the well-defined trail. And so we went...

Waking up to this guy was great...and you can't help but be enthusiastic to spend the day together...The Breakfast of Champions: Raisin Bran.

The open trail awaits...
Fields of wildflowers (and we're heading towards those power lines!)
There is no place that I'd rather hiking with my special someone...
The view, half way up the cliffs.
We reached the power lines!
AND the trail's end, with a great view of the ocean.
Snack break!
Truly an essential service (because when you gotta go, you gotta go. Especially after eating GORP - Good Old-fashioned Raisins and Peanuts)
Holy Cow! There's a snail attached to that flower! They (snails) were everywhere...
Almost back at the car...looking up.
Palm-tree lined road home.
It's hard to be apart from your loved ones...especially on holidays...and Mother's Day is no exception. I hope that EVERYONE had a wonderful weekend and was fortunate enough to spend it with their loved ones. And...that everyone was smart and avoided rattlesnake threats. Yeah...that one is important as well.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day!

We love you! Salute!

Even though Karyna and I live on opposite coasts and can't give you a hug on this very special day...we wanted you to know how special you are.

A few memories...for old time's sake...

-Collecting snails at Como Lake and bringing them home, only to discover they were very very stinky snails.

-Giving Karyna a bath and shaping her hair into various presidential hairpieces of past (George Washington being my favorite) while she played obliviously in the tub. Big sisters have it made (in some ways).

-Red Lobster waitress.

-Jumping on the beds at Suzuki violin camp. Oops - did you know about that?

-We've already discussed the destroyed stair banister that Karyna and I hastily concealed before you or Dad could discover it had been kicked down a flight of stairs. If you look closely, the cocoa-smelling brown marker should still be covering the stripped wood.

-I love how you love Nathaniel.

-And the House Monsters (even though the Big One attacks).

-For teaching me to appreciate plants and flowers and all-things-nature-like... Even though I'm a plant killer... Happily, the fern we bought together is still alive.

I could go on, and on, and on...but I won't I hope you enjoyed the album! I love you!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday ride...

Today's bike ride called for an EASY 75 minute session. Easy. Easy - as in heart rate/watt output zone 1. Easy as in DO NOT under any circumstances exceed higher than zone 1 for a few seconds, like after accelerating from a stop sign. Easy as in, no hills. No problem! Easy, as in - I get to take my camera and take pictures while I ride, because clearly I don't have to focus on xxx watts or yyy heart rate or zz effort - so picture taking should be easy.

Um, did you know that taking pictures while riding is a diminishable skill? Huh? Neither did I, until thirty second into my ride - when I whipped out the camera for something silly/unique/fill-in-the-blank - and nearly crashed my bike. Luckily, disaster was averted - or this would be a MUCH different blog post.

Anyway, here's a bit of what I got to experience...

Even my bike was excited!Raring to go!

Hello I live in California.......and wear flip-flops just about everywhere. I have no idea what I'll do when we leave. On second thought - I do know. I'll continue to wear flip-flops because I love them so.

The road was beckoning...
...And I couldn't help but smile!
Yes, yes, yes - I'm sticking to my heart rate!Sheesh - sometimes I feel like my coach has eyes everywhere.

You know what?In the time I've lived here, I never realized there was a windmill. Sometimes taking the time to really absorb our surroundings is worth the effort. Who knew?

The fields are already turning dusty and golden in color.
I think I recognize that shadow...
Palm trees and (slightly) greener fields on a different part of base.
I thought this sign was interesting. What the heck is an LCAC?When I got home, Nathaniel proceeded to explain...although he used lots of military jargon. I will translate: It's a really cool Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle that can navigate about 70% of the world's coastlines, carries a crew of 5, and is really loud. Oh - and he would like to try piloting one someday. I told him to stick with helicopters and the Carolla.

Hello, I live in California...And there is seismic activity.

Hillside wildflowers.Pretty soon the brown grass will take over everything. But for now, the fields of flowers are breathtaking.

Mike TERF area.I think I know where Nathaniel and I are hiking tomorrow...

Sometimes I just get so happy and excited, that I can't help it.I love to ride my bike...

My view --And near wipe-out! The things we do to get the 'perfect' angle...

I like signs like these - it makes me happy.You doesn't matter one's political affiliation or foreign policy ideals. We can (and should) all thank those who serve or have served in the military. And their families - who also deal with a lot more than what most realize. There is no gray-in-between for me.

Me and the bike.Done for the day - surviving the ride upright, intact, without flats, on the same page, happy....

Jen Harrison bottle, brought to you by Jen Harrison!The best coach. Ever.

The Motherload.I would look like a loaded mother, if I ate it all though.

Post ride fuel!Now if only Powerbar had their own sushi we're talking...logistically that would be kind of hard, though. And potentially really gross. Not going there - ho hum.

Happy Saturday to all!!!