Friday, December 26, 2008

A white and slippery winter's been a while since I've posted :) I've been keeping up with all of you, but life has been busy and unexciting enough that I haven't been keeping up here.

Life has been much of the same, lots of working (though I'm getting better at taking some time off in the evenings) and not much on the leg front. After waiting to no avail for a call from my new doctor, I called and made another appointment a few weeks ago and got seen again. This time he had me run on a treadmill for about a mile and a half and examined me before and after to see if that shed any light. Not too much, but he wants to go forward with a piriformis diagnosis and get me PT for that and for a weak ankle that might also be contributing. I was supposed to get a perscription for the PT in the mail last week but, as of Saturday, there was nothing, so hopefully it'll be waiting for me on my return.

All of CA (and more or less all of the country in fact) has been battered by storms these last few weeks, which made for some gorgeous scenes of 'winter wonderland'. Imagine my surprise driving to school last week and seeing snow all over the surrounding hills and mountains. We had gorgeous views from the playground and much excitment over a puddle that had frozen over during the night ("It looks like glass!!!!" One of my students shouted with glee, holding up a shard of ice and then hurling it onto the asphalt to let it shatter). The snow didn't last long but really made it feel like winter.

On Ed and my journey down to So Cal to visit my family for Christmas, we made a stop in Visalia, Ed's hometown, to visit with his brother and sister in law and to celebrate the holidays with them and his mother. We decided to take advantage of Visalia's proximity to Sequoia Natinoal Park, and planned a snow day for Sunday with a romantic overnight in a small cottage in the town of Three Rivers.

Ed, his brother and I, after picking up chains for his car, headed to the Park, despite a storm advisory for the area. We paid our park entrance and headed up the mountain. After about 15 minutes of driving it began to rain. As the temperature dropped the rain froze, and small balls of hail poured down on the car. In not too much longer, it became a thick blanket of snow.

At about this point, the car ceased to do exactly as it was told. Namely, it started sliding around a little. Now, I am not exactly the most adventurous person out there. Especially when it comes to a feeling of being out of control. We continued to inch along the rood, hoping for the promised turnout to apply the chains (well, cables actually) that we had purchased, but soon I could take the slipping around no longer. Becoming just a teensy bit hysterical, I demanded we stop the car where it was, in the middle of the road, and get those cables put on.

Standing in the steady snowfall with the cables laid out on the ground, we began appreciating too late the first directions "please apply cables to the car before the actual need arises, to ensure proper fit." Ends up, neither Ed nor Ed's brother (not to mention myself) had any idea how to put these things on. As the directions became soaked with falling snow, I saw the wonderful sight of a park ranger vehicle pulling up behind us. "You folks need help?" he asked. I immediately jumped in, telling him we would love assistance. With a few quick explanations, we soon realized we had been trying to put on the cables completely wrong and started anew, getting them secured in 15 minutes or so. With a friendly wave, the ranger was off and we climbed back into the safe and now snow capable car.

Or so I thought.

Despite the addition of cables, the back wheels (that were wearing the special gear) were going in a different and somewhat horizontal direction comared to the front. Naturally, I didn't take this sensation calmly. We stopped at the official chain spot and the boys tightened up the chains and I suggested, with the snow still coming down heavily, that we should turn around. I was convinced that it would be much better as we got further into the snow area so on we went.

our new driving conditions

the snow coming down
Trying to keep my panic to a minimum, I clasped Ed's hand as we continued up the beautiful snowy mountain. As we got to a turn in the road, the wheels lost traction and we got stuck. Ed got out and pushed and got the car moving again. Again I suggested that perhaps, with the storm, stranding ourselves on a mountain wasn't be best idea. Again, I was turned down. We got stuck one more time (and freed once again by Ed) and inched ever closer to our new, closer destination of the Giant Forest Museum.

a roadside observor

I told the boys that I would be asking a Ranger for a ride back down the mountain, as there was no way I trusted this car to make it down the mountain, which was acknowledged with a smile, and, finally, we arrived.

Well, it was gorgeous. After sitting in the museum, warming up and calming down, we headed out on a beautiful hike through this winter wonderland. The weather had lifted, with even some blue sky poking through, and we spent the next hour exploring a trail that went around a large meadow. Our trail shoes worked fine on the snowy trail, and the walk helped calm my nerves.

I relented to riding down the mountain again with the boys, on the condition that if the car slipped on our way down the hill in the parking lot, I was getting out and hitching a ride with a more capable vehicle.

Of course, the car did fine. The ride down was uneventful and unslippery, thanks to some effective salting and plowing of the roads, as well as the break in the storm. I read a book on the way down, my adrenaline decreasing with every twist in the road in which the car stayed firmly planted to its ground.

We made it to our final destination safe and sound and happy. It was a beautiful and overall enjoyable day in the mountain and it reminded me that I need to work on letting go sometimes and just enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Majority Of Americans Never Use Physical Education After High School

[Nothing yet from the doctor, but here's a great 'article' from the onion :)]

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA—Kevin Higgins always hated gym class. Like many of his classmates, he questioned the relevance of things like "exercise" and "physical fitness," and wondered if these skills would ever provide any practical, real-world benefits. Though he endured more than 720 hours of gym over 12 years, the 32-year-old accounting clerk said Monday that he has still never used physical education once in his life.

"I don't know why they bothered teaching us all that stuff," said Higgins, who since graduating has not once encountered a situation that required him to move his body at a sustained pace or keep himself in healthy shape. "I mean, come on—when will I ever need to physically exert myself for an extended period of time?"

Higgins is not alone. According to a recent poll, nearly 85 percent of all Americans admitted that, since entering the real world, they have found very few reasons to utilize the concepts they learned in physical education. In fact, most high school graduates claim that despite their gym teachers' insistence that this knowledge would come in handy later in life, they have still never used bending, breaking a sweat, or coordination.

"I remember my gym teacher droning on and on about this thing called 'physical well-being,'" Higgins said. "I still don't even know what that means."

Many educators and high-ranking health officials maintain that it is essential for young adults to learn such valuable skills as participating in activities and interacting with peers, increasing the intake of oxygen and nutrients to the blood, going out of doors, and moving. However, thousands of Americans have nonetheless gone on to lead very successful lives without ever bringing their heart rate over 120 beats per minute.

Erica Burnstrom, a 28-year-old aeronautics engineer living in San Jose, CA, said that abstract concepts such as aerobic activity and raising one's knees above the hips in a rapid "pumping" motion have not added any appreciable value to her day-to-day life.

"I never use any of that stuff, like walking quickly for five minutes," said Burnstrom, who paused from using the Pythagorean identity to solve for the cosine of 71° and 144° in order to speak to reporters. "I understand that my phys-ed teacher needed to know all that stuff because that was his job, but I'm not some specialist who needs to lie flat, lift her torso into a sitting position, and then return to the original position for a living."

"I wish they'd have taught us useful things in gym, like sitting at a computer and ordering things," Burnstrom added.

Many Americans claimed that once they finished high school, skills such as increasing joint mobility and building muscle strength were no longer necessary.

"If something needs to get from one place to another, I can just use my cell phone, or hop in the car. And I know they say that physical education promotes balance, but that's what my cane is for," said Miami, FL resident Keith Monahan, 32. "The only thing I still use from gym class is that occasionally I'll throw on some sweatpants while I'm sitting on the couch watching television. So I guess I learned that."

Omaha insurance salesman William Haylor, 43, said that when his 8-year-old son asked him how to do a chin-up, he realized that he had simply forgotten.

"I know I used to be able to do that, but for the life of me I can't remember," Haylor said. "They're really hard to do. I think that's why I stopped."

"I wish I could help him out," Haylor added. "But what's the point? He's never going to use it anyway."

In response to these findings, many Americans have urged the government to stop wasting millions of dollars on useless physical education programs and start focusing on real problems, such as obesity, arthritis, and chronic back pain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Doctor, New Hopes?

Well, my new insurance finally kicked in, so I finally got to see a much needed sports doctor.

I was initially looking for just a general doctor because I needed a physical for work, but ended up finding one that was both general and sports and thought- perfect!

He seemed very nice and listened as I gave him the long list of problems and what I had already tried. He ran me through the normal tests which, like always, didn't show much. From what I said and what little he could tell, he thinks its the pireformis (sp?) muscle pushing on my sciatic, which makes sense from the research I've done.

The plan is to get him my file and test results from before, and then come pack in a few weeks for a follow up. There's a treadmill in their building, so he'll have me run on it and then run me through some tests to see how they effect things. He also knows of some good PTs that are great with tough cases.

His plan is to get me back to ultras, which he thinks is totally possible, so I'm feeling optimistic!

*fingers crossed*

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Passing Marker

Not until I went over to Rick's blog did I even realize that the 2008 Dick Collin's race was last weekend (a huge congrats to him and the other runners of that race!)

Funny how a year flies....

Overall, with everything but running, this has been an amazing year, and I'm thankful for that. I've really been enjoying getting to re-visit with the running community through Ed and seeing it from the other side.

On an exciting note, I finally got myself a new pair of running shoes. They're Asics Gel Cumulus (I think?) but have a wider base and help with my supination (which I think is a little piece of the leg problem). I ran 2 whole miles with Ed right after I got them, and my leg didn't feel too badly, which made me thrilled. I also talked to a woman whose husband had a somewhat similar leg ailment, and she said he got a shoe insert, which correct a slight difference of leg length and it fixed his problem. A specialist will be able to tell me for sure, but I'm feeling patiently hopeful about that idea.

Still, if I can even run just a few miles every few days, that'd be great. At the very least, it's fun to have new shoes :D

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Weekend

"I can't wait for the weekend. I bet if I was a teacher I would have a glass of wine and say, "that was a very very very very very busy busy week!"

- A letter given to me by a student

It's the weekend finally, and I'm off to Cambria with Ed to celebrate some family birthdays and take in the ocean air. Rest assured I'll be working most of the time I'm there, but it'll still be nice :)

I'm promised a few hikes as well!

Have a great weekend all

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Stories from the classroom

This week has definitely had its highs and lows. My kids are getting very...energetic...and I'm having to restructure how I do things to get them back to how I want them. Still, it's great and I'm getting more used to working every day :)

I thought I would share a few of the shocking/sweet/funny stories from my room from the past few weeks:

- One of my students just gave me a "gift certificate" for $25. It's a very pretty one, peach and blue, and she made it herself on the computer :D When I asked what it was for, she said, "well, for your birthday of course!" At least I know she thinks I'm worth $25

- A boy asked if he could clean out the pencil sharpener. Thinking that was a great idea, I gave the okay and went back to get the class ready to go. Suddenly, I look over and I see him holding the electric pencil sharpener under running water! "What are you doing?!?!" I exclaimed. "Well, you said I could clean it" he smartly replied. Apparently these kids don't know that you can' mix water and electricity

- At the end of the day, one of my girls gave me her business card, in case I ever wanted a spa day, so she could do my nails, facial, etc.. "But, you can't call on Sundays" she said seriously, "we're closed on Sunday" a great!

On a side note, I'm loving the gym still. My clothes are fitting a bit better and I'm just feeling so much more confident, which I"m loving. I've been running about a mile every day (and even did a mile and a half earlier this week) which is fun. I even did a trail walk/run with ed (we walked out than ran back, 3 miles or so). It was beautiful!

The insurance is running late, so no doctor yet, but it should be any day now. I'm grateful, at least, that for an hour every day I get to be healthy and happy and not thinking (too much) about school :)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Adult Life

On Wednesday I got my first grown up paycheck and can officially declare myself self sufficient. Of course, I had the expected shock at how much you lose to various government things(seriously...more than a quarter of the total?!?!?) but am nonetheless proud of this check that towers over any I've ever received, and that represents the hard 12+ hours I've been working almost every day for the last month and a bit.

While I do want to be somewhat frugal, so I can start putting money away for the future (house and the like), I did spend a fraction of it to get myself a gym membership. With a coupon I received, I got myself a membership to 24 fitness (located on the way to work) for $35 to start and $20 a month after that. Not too shabby :D

I've been going after work this week and really enjoying my time there. As is normal with new teachers (I hope!) I pretty much am working from the moment I wake up until the time I go to sleep, with short breaks for meals. There is always something to do. So, being at the gym for an hour has been amazing. I can't lesson plan or grade things in any official way for that hour. Being back in workout clothes has also been great- it reminds me of that other, athletic self that I had sort of put aside.

A funny part of all this is that, with my gym dates after school, I've switched back to wearing contacts again. Up until this point, I wore my glasses every day because, well, I like them and they're easier. But, contacts are a must for gym/running, so back to contacts I have gone. My students freaked out when they saw me without glasses and many parents/coworkers have also commented on it with some level of surprise. It's funny to think that glasses really started to define my appearance when, while I ran a lot, I almost never wore them.

I have to admit, I have started sneaking in little runs at the gym. A half mile here, a mile there. I figure the treadmill has a decent amount of give, and it's just so fun to run. Better to run outside, but anywhere will do. The leg isn't happy, but I'm just stretching and taking some ibuprofen every night, and it doesn't seem too much worse than when I wasn't doing anything active, so I'm going with it.

It feels great to be moving again, sweating, working my body. I'm tired of feeling (and looking) sedentary and I'm excited to feel at home in my body again :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My boyfriend's an ultrarunner :D

It was a wonderful day for a 50k in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

After the less than favorable run at Redwood a bit less than a month ago, Ed was eager to try his luck at this formidable distance once again.

The day started perfectly- high fifties and fog as we dipped into Santa Cruz and arrived at the race start. Parking was easy and after a quick bathroom stop, it was time to go. Wendell called the runners over to the sidewalk (they would start with a 'victory loop' before heading off into the forest) to explain directions. This part has gotten me a little these last two races, wishing I could be one of the runners instead of having to move aside. But, I was excited to see Ed take off, and I had a good feeling about this race.

In a very short time, they took off, and I left for my car. I went to a cafe for the morning, got some breakfast and spent a leisurely few hours writing responses to my class's journals, reading and just relaxing. Ed planned to be finished with the first 29k in about 3 hours, so I headed back around 11am. Ed came through right on time, in around 2:58! He looked strong and happy, which was exciting. I got him some food while he stretched and then, after just a few minutes he was off again.

Before he left Sarah recommended that I head out to the river crossing myself so that I could see him again before the finish. So, back in the car again and up highway 9. I was a little worried I went the wrong way, since I had only gone on that highway once, but soon enough I say the caution signs for the runners and knew I was almost there. The parking lot was exactly where it was said to be, so I parked, got my water and my book, and took off down the trail.

Now, I was planning to hike all this, but as I started down the fireroad, with the redwoods above me and the soft dirt below me, I got a little carried away. "A half mile won't hurt me" I said to myself, and ran down the trail with my book in one hand and my big water bottle in the other. I felt a little silly, both with my accessories, and also with my non running outfit (cotton capris that were definitely not made for running!). Still, it was so fun running down the hill :)

Once I got to the bottom, it flattened out and I got a glimpse of the beautiful San Lorenzo river. In not too much longer, I reached the river crossing and cleared of a patch of sand to make my camp for the next 20 minutes or so. Just as I was about to sit down and read, I voice called out "Hello?"

It was Keith, the photographer. We began chatting and ended up talking the whole time I was down there, with breaks so he could do his job. It was so nice being down by the river, and I wished I had gone down earlier as well to see Ed go on the first loop. I got a definite kick out of watching people do that river crossing. The river was fairly deep in the middle, going up to mid thigh on most. Some people just ran through, some took off their shoes and gingerly crossed (one even had flip flops!), and one jumped all the way in, going completely under for a few seconds. In about 20 minutes, Ed arrived and crossed himself.

I hung out a little longer once he finished his crossing and then headed back. Once I got out of sight from the river, I started running again and kept it up until that climb began. Then, I had a lovely hike back to the car. I cheered on all the runners I saw coming down and in next to no time, I was back on my way to the finish.

I went back to the finish line and got out my kids' journals once again. But, I didn't get much done as I started chatting to others. There was a woman there waiting for her husband, and we talked for a bit. Also, I got to see Hao again, which was fun (I previously saw him at Redwoods volunteering).

A few 50k runners started trickling in, including that woman's husband, and I started to keep my eyes out for Ed. A man came in that I recognized as the guy near Ed during his river crossing, so I knew it probably wouldn't be too much longer (as long as he was doing okay). About 10 or so minutes later I saw a handsome shirtless man running through the last stretch of trail. I quickly jumped off my bench and ran over to the finish line, just in time to see Ed finish his first Ultra.

He had the ultra respectable time of 5:40 (or even a bit less), which is crazy.

I'm so proud of him! He did amazingly.

Even better, he had a great time, and felt great out there (for the most part). I do believe that more of these races will be in his future :D

Edited to add: He's not sore today- at all. How does one not get sore after their first ultra (or rather, first run over 22 miles)? Seriously...his body is made for this stuff.

Also, he got 7th overall :D

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy 23

Well, yesterday I became another year older!

It was a wonderful day, as Ed had the whole thing planned out for me. We started with a delicious breakfast (french toast, whipped cream, strawberries, mimosas, and almond biscotti tea) and then spending the morning lounging around, reading and watching Pride and Prejudice (BBC version with Colin Firth). I also got birthday phone calls all morning, and got to speak to all of my family.

Once we finally roused ourself from the lazy morning and did some necessary cleaning, we went on a beautiful hike in the santa cruz mountains. I even ran about a tenth of a mile :)

Afterwards, Ed took me on a surprise trip to Half Moon Bay where we enjoyed a lovely dinner with oceanfront views.

I do believe that 23 will be a wonderful year :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A wondrful weekend

Well, the 50k didn't quite happen for Ed. Despite his great training and attitude, the over 100 degree heat didn't agree with him (that and the PB&J he ate before the race that refused to stay down). Even with feeling pretty miserable for most of the time, he completed 30k, which is pretty awesome. He reasoned that he wanted to enjoy his first 50k, and since that wasn't happening here, he'd try again later. While that post DNF depression hit a little the few days after, he's since signed up for PCTR's Santa Cruz race in the 27th of September and is just about to leave for an 18 miler on the race trails :) He feels much more confident running his 'home trails' (he's done pretty much all of his trail training over in Santa Cruz) and is excited about the river crossing(s).

Now, with the title 'wonderful weekend' you might be wondering where the DNF figures in. Directly from the race, Ed and I took off to celebrate our one year anniversary. Can you believe it's been over a year since we started dating? It's flown by as the most wonderful year I've ever had.

We decided to go up to Calistoga for a short romantic weekend (it's hard to even leave for 24 hours with all the work I have to do), but it was just perfect. We stayed at a bed and breakfast set in an 1890s farmhouse that had only 4 other guests.

Our sitting room

Our bedroom

Our clawfoot tub

The grounds

After resting and relaxing in the room with fresh squeezed lemonade, pistachios and cherries, courtesy of our B&B, we enjoyed a lovely evening out downtown.

(the view from our room)

The next day we did what you pretty much have to do in wine country - go wine tasting! We went to Sterling first, where you take an aerial tram ride up the mountain to the winery to taste 5 different wines.

Next was our favorite, August Briggs. This was a very small, personal winery, which is what made it so charming. After trying a few wines, Ed told our server (sommaelier?) that I was only beginning to like reds. The server warned me that I might not like the next one because it was very "full bodied". I tried it, and of course, loved it, and said so.

Those, apparently, were the magic words, as the man immediately invited us to try something in the back. He took us through the large class doors into a room filled, floor to ceiling with wine barrels. In this room, he allowed us to try 3 wines straight from the barrel! It was amazing. The last wine he let us try was the same wine as the last tasting wine, but a 2007 versus and 2005. We wanted us to be able to compare what the barreling does to the wine. Both Ed and I ended up liking the newer wine best, surprisingly. Apparently it is going to be a very good wine in a few years.

I felt like I learned a lot at that winery, including why wines are often described as having the flavors of different foods. The vanilla taste is from the oak barrels (which is why chardonnays, who spend more time in barrels, taste more vanilla-ey). The fruit flavors are because the grapes have in them certain chemicals that are are also found in those fruits.

Needless to say, we bought a lovely bottle of wine there, that will be saved for a special occassion.

Our last stop before home was a third winery V. Sattui (we had a coupon for free tastings there). It was the most crowded of the wineries, in part because you could have picnics there. We had a lovely snack of bread and cheese and salami (no wine, because we still had to drive home!).

A perfect end to our celebratory weekend :)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Redwood 50k anyone?

I haven't been talking this up too much, just since I've been super busy, but my amazing boyfriend is running his first 50k next weekend :) He's doing Redwood with PCTR and I think he's going to do awesome. Two weekends ago he ran 22 miles of the course, meaning he got to check out all the race trails and knows what he's getting himself into. As we speak, we're watching "Running on the Sun" (before which we watched "a race for the soul"). So much like me before my first 50k :D. I'm excited to be attending an ultra again as well, since it's been almost a year since my last. Can't believe it's been that long...

It's been nice to live vicariously through his running, as it seems more and more like I'm not getting better any time soon. After spending the time and money last week getting an MRI of my back and an ultrasound of my leg, the tests came back totally normal, which means still there are no clues of what's wrong and how I can get better. On a side note, I didn't think these were the right tests. Apparently, though, "people don't get MRIS of legs". I just wish there was some way to see inside of my leg to look at the muscles, because I feel like there's something there. I'm getting new insurance the beginning of October and can hopefully start seeing a better doctor who will be able to help me.

It feels sad to be so out of shape now. I miss how I used to be. I've now been not running longer than I ever ran ultras. It feels like a world ago.

But, I get to come back and visit that world again with Ed. Next weekend will be so much fun (anyone else going to be there?), and it'll be nice to get to take care of him on the trails like he did for me during my 50 miler. He keeps promising that someday we'll run ultras together.

I sure hope so :D

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I love teaching :)

I need to go do lesson planning but I just wanted to say teaching is amazing. I know this is still the honeymoon period (for me as well as my students) but this is a great group of kids and I love that I get to be their teacher. I've already had kids and parents tell me they love my class which feels so wonderful.

I feel so lucky (tired but lucky) :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Teaching Tomorrow!

Hi guys, sorry I've been pretty absent around here lately. I started my orientations and things last week and have been going at pretty much breakneck speed since then. I've spent pretty much every hour I possibly could in the classroom getting ready (clocking a whopping 11 hours yesterday (including lunch)). But, at this point I'm about as ready as I'm going to be. The kids arrive tomorrow at 9 am and will be my responsiblity for the next year!!! I'm so excited but so incredibly nervous as well. A bit like I felt before running 50 miles :P

This is definitely going to be an endurance event, and I'm so excited to get started. I'll try to pop on again soon, but I'm sure to be swamped for a while. I hope you are all doing amazingly and I"ll catch up when I can!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grand Canyon

Tomorrow is my first orientation for my job (which is incredibly scary/exciting) and from here on out I'll be up to my neck (or just over my head) as I get ready for my first day of teaching a week from tuesday.

Since I am going to essentially have no free time from here on out, I'm going to try to get out my family trip photos as well as some great camping ones asap, and perhaps have them as more photo tours than real posts.

So, without further ado, here's the grand canyon (where apparently I had a thing for dead trees) :)


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First days in Zion

I'm feeling a bit tired, so for now I'll let the pictures do the talking for my amazing trip to Zion, which is one of my new favorite places!

this is a photo on the way to utah from las vegas. We decided the desert around las vegas is very bare and not all that appealing!