Monday, December 16, 2013

Falling in Like with Arizona (Trails)

Yesterday, we had my favorite Arizona trails experience to date. 

Arizona winter weather has really hit its sweet spot this weekend, with cool evenings and days topping out in the high 60s and low 70s. 

So, Ed decided to take me someplace I'd wanted to go since we moved here - the Superstition Mountains! I can see these mountains daily as I drive home from work, and their very unique visage has alway made me want to go explore them. However, I was always afraid their trails would be out of my league. 

Thankfully, the trails were surprisingly lovely! We realized that maybe there is a correlation between paying a park entrance fee and getting nice trails :). Totally worth the $7 to be on trails this smooth. 

I also decided to borrow Ed's hydration pack for our hike, since on previous hikes, my one bottle of water seemed inadequate. Even though I didn't drink probably even half, since the weather was so mild, it was mentally great to know I had more than enough. 

The lighting on the trails was just spectacular, and the recent rains meant that a fine layer of grass covered the ground. 

Who would have thought - a green Sonoran Desert?

Eventually, we began climbing, which started gradually. 

What's that in the distance?

Downtown Phoenix!

Finally, we got up high enough where the sun was blocked by the cliffs, and the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees. Even though it wasn't that hot, being in the shade felt heavenly. 

Being at the high point also afforded us some more views. 

At our high point, we made good use of a bench while some horses passed by, and then started our (precarious) downward trek. 

For future reference, we did this loop backwards. Our downhill was not the smooth, groomed experience we had going up, and I *may* have lost my footing coming down. Not usually a huge deal, but a little more concerning when you're carrying a little one inside. Luckily, it was one of those slow motion falls, where my feet slipped out from under me and I was suddenly not so gracefully sitting on the trail. I did scrape my back a bit on a sharp rock, but otherwise only my pride was injured. 

Little Evan has been kicking plenty since then to let me know he's no worse for wear :). Ed and I wondered out loud on the hike how he experiences outings like this. How much can he hear? Can he tell we're outside? Can he feel the bumpiness of the trails?

As our journey came to a close, we got to take in some beautiful wildlife. 

Finally, we reached flat land again, and took a few moments to soak in that view for a little longer.

Just 2.4 miles and an hour on the trails, but the beauty of the day made it incredibly memorable. Experiences like this make me realize that there really is a beauty to the nature here, and that maybe, just maybe, trails here aren't all bad after all :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Hiking in Prescott

Every year on Ed's birthday, we take a little weekend getaway (the benefits of being born near a 3 day weekend). This year, we chose Prescott!

Neither of us had ever been there before, and we thought it'd be fun to explore a new place that actually got some seasons. 

Our first stop was a hike, on the Peavine Trail, a Rails to Trails project that promised a flat, smooth grade, leaving us free to enjoy the day. 

We Phoenix hitting the high 80s that weekend, we were so thrilled to be enjoying mid 60s on our midday hike, and couldn't stop exclaiming about the fantastic weather. It's been a very long time since we've been able to go on a hike at 11am and feel wonderful the whole time. 

Of course, Ed being Ed, he wasn't completely content with our very quiet trail, and suggested we try the short off-loop. Of course, the sign said that it was extremely difficult and technical. Ed promised it wouldn't be so bad :)

We were featured with some more beautiful views of Watson Lake - a man made reservoir whose rock structures reminded us a bit of Big Thunder Mountain. 

There was definitely some climbing on rocks to be done, but all in all, it was pretty mild. That said, I was happy that our adventure was short and we got back onto our regular trail.

Once we got back on the trail, the sides of the trail started heading upwards. The red granite was everywhere, and quite spectacular. 

Many more "big thunder mountain" rocks were everywhere, which reminded me not only of Disneyland, but of their inspiration at Squaw Valley. 

A gap in the rocks showed us another offshoot of the lake. Sometime, it would be fun to come back and kayak here. 

Finally, we reached our turn around! 

4 miles roundtrip might not seem like much, but it's the furthest I've gone since getting pregnant, and I was pretty excited about it (and pretty tired by the end). It's been a very active week, with 2 runs, an intense yoga class, and then this hike. I definitely earned our rest in the hotel later!

It was fun to try out my new maternity running shirt (from GAP!) and my cheap, new, larger running shorts, that hopefully will work perfectly for the rest of this journey. 

As we finished up that last mile, we both enjoyed how lovely it was to spend this time together, in cool, crisp air, taking in the fall colors. 

The perfect way to start the birthday celebration!

Saturday, November 09, 2013


One aspect of yoga that I've really appreciated, especially at this center, is that at the beginning of each class you choose an affirmation; something to center you throughout your practice. When I first began, my mantra was often, "I am Whole". With all my pain issues and limitations, its hard to feel like a complete person sometimes, and yoga was a wonderful way to focus on the positives. Especially since the poses also were, in part, healing for my body.

In prenatal yoga, we also choose an affirmation, but now it is for both ourselves and our baby. That first prenatal yoga class, where I started making my affirmation "I am..." but had to switch it to "we are..." was this really meaningful moment - where I realized it wasn't just me here practicing yoga. The class has made me feel more like a soon to be mom than really anything else, mostly because so many times in the class we bring one hand to our belly and the other to our heart to consciously become aware of how our breaths and heartbeat go to our baby - giving it oxygen and helping it thrive.

So, today, my manta was, "We are Thriving." I spent most of the first 8-9 weeks of knowing I was pregnant worrying about everything. Worrying the pregnancy wouldn't last. But since hitting 12 weeks (and especially since hitting 14), I've been able to let go of a lot of that fear. I think seeing my body changing has been a wonderful affirmation that things are going well. Part of why I was so inactive the first trimester (besides feeling sick a lot of the time) was because I was so worried about doing anything that would harm the baby. Everything felt so fragile.

But now, I'm getting increasingly confident in exercising, in getting healthier and stronger for myself and for my baby, too. I did two run/walks this week (averaging about 15 minute miles for 2 miles), which has been lovely.

(glad my running skirt still fits! It's getting quite cold in the mornings, though, so I'll need to get a new pair of running pants. This was before I went to the gym last week)

I'm setting a goal of being active 4-5 days a week, and am going to try to do a little yoga every night, since I need to work on my flexibility more than just on Saturdays.

So, I am enjoying this phase of pregnancy. Where I can really feel like we are both Thriving :).

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Early Morning Run

After being fairly lucky the last few weeks, I got bit by the insomnia bug last night, up from 3-5 with choppy sleep after that (and trouble initially falling asleep to boot). So when I woke up at 6:40, I didn't want to do much more than sleep for another day, but I'd been having some nightmares, and knew I wouldn't be getting any more restful slumber. I also knew that my plan of going to the gym after work would probably be shot, since I knew I was going to be even more than normally exhausted.

So, I made a better choice. I threw on some (increasingly tighter) running pants and a long sleeved shirt and headed out the door. Ed decided to walk the first block with me so he could get the mail (and we could spend some nice time together) and then I was off! I decided to ambitiously do a longer loop I haven't done since we first moved here (And I was overwhelmed by the crazy heat), so doing it in the 40s was a totally different experience.

All told, I was out there about 30 minutes and completed about 2 miles. I probably ran over half of it, and felt pretty darn good the whole time! I'm really viewing this new adventure as my next training goal, and so far it's been quite motivating. We'll see how long it lasts :).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween Running!

Happy Halloween! We are going to have a gorgeous day today - high of 77 and a low of 46. I woke up early (awake a little after 5am, and couldn't fall back asleep, so I got up about 5:45) which meant I got to watch the gorgeous day unfold. Clear sky with that crispness you can almost see. It doesn't feel that long ago that our lows were in the 80s; what a change!

With tutoring after school and trick or treaters probably starting to come by not long after I get home, I was a bit puzzled on how I could get in some activity today. Until I realized I should just go back to basics. So I threw on some workout clothes (Halloween appropriate), laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door.

Yes, it's been a long time since I've run outside. The heat plus all the nerve pain stuff has made it super challenging. However, I have been doing some running at the gym and knew I'd be keeping it short, with some walking thrown in. I ran a bit over a block, walked a few blocks, and followed that pattern for the rest of the "run," arriving back home a bit more than 10 minutes after I started. Barely anything, but I figure I should be cautious to start, and make sure the baby is happy with this new activity :). 

Still, that all over buzz your body feels when it's all toasty warm in cool, crisp air is fantastic. I'd forgotten how wonderful that feels! I've so missed running, especially outside, and I'll take that 10 minute chunk any day. So long as the rest of the day leaves me feeling just as great, this may become a daily occurrence!

Hope you all have some great Halloween runs!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Happy Hike!

Since I've moved to Arizona, this  blog has been pretty lacking in outdoorsy adventures. Mostly because desert really isn't my thing, apparently. The bay area always felt so inviting: "come into the redwoods. Enjoy the waterfalls. Sit on a log and take in the cool mist." Arizona feels like it's out to get you: "watch your footing on the loose rock. You might fall off the drop off or into that cactus. Careful where you put your hands and feet - there could be a rattlesnake or scorpion. Watch that heat" Part of the problem is so far, I'd been letting Ed choose our trails. And the trails he chooses? Sort of challenging. 

Now that I'm emerging from the other side of morning sickness (knock on wood), I decided that we could try an excursion, but that I'd pick the trail. I discovered that many trails in our area are actually leveled, with the trails Ed likes being black diamond (loose, uneven footing, major obstacles, steep drop offs, etc). I found us a nice easy trail, described as a flat desert loop, and off we went. 

Ed was a bit skeptical, but honestly, this was exactly what I needed. The trail was smooth, wide, and easy, and I never had to worry about what my feet were doing. 

Instead, for the first time, I could actually appreciate our surroundings! We had fun admiring all the jumping cholla (while being careful not to get too close).

This guys seemed particularly jumpy, and we had to be careful not to step on any, especially when we'd step off trail to let bikers go by. 

We were surrounded by some pretty mountains, which made everything even more scenic. And of course, made me want to take lots of pictures. 

Had to document our growing little one - a little over 14 weeks!

The Superstition mountains were straight ahead, and looked quite beautiful.

I was even more grateful for the easy trail about 45 minutes in, when the hot temperature got to be a bit much (which honestly usually happens). However, thankfully the trail remained easy, which helped me keep my head and my happiness. Ed let me use his hat, I kept up with my water, and pulled up my shirt a bit to try to get cooler. I forgot that in the span of an hour, the desert can go from a cool 65 to a hot 88. Oops. Should probably be more careful!

In any event, we finally made it back, and Ed went out for another loop while I headed to the visitor's center for some nice cold water. 

When I picked him up 25 minutes later, we reflected on what a great hike it was, heat notwithstanding. "Ah" Ed reflected, "so this is the kind of trail you want." 

Exactly. Something where I can enjoy the nature without worrying about every step I take. Where I can enjoy just spending time with Ed. 

What a lovely Sunday.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our Next Big Adventure!

So, there's a reason I've been so quiet over here lately :). We're excited about our little runner in the making and can't wait to share more details about this happy event! Now that I'm starting to feel a little better, I do have some fitness goals to keep me in shape during this journey, so I'll hopefully be blowing the dust off this blog and getting writing again. For now though, I'm happy to just be celebrating this next step in our lives. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

One week later

So, I'm closing on my first of 4 weeks of hardcore primal eating, and I have to say, it's been great!

Here's a look at some of what I've been eating:
(fried egg with mushrooms and arugula)

(creole salmon salad)

(grass fed sirloin with green beans and pine nuts, and kale and mushrooms)

(bison burger, with guacamole, mushrooms, tomato, wrapped in lettuce, with a side salad)

(homemade almond butter!)

("Paleo Paella" from my new recipe book. Shrimp, chicken and veggies in cauliflower "rice")

(bacon wrapped mahi mahi, topped with guacamole, mushrooms and onions, wrapped in lettuce, with a balsamic pesto salad)

Notice any patterns? Lots of good protein, good produce, and good fats. And definitely no grains, legumes (green beans don't entirely count, since they are more like seed pods and can be eaten raw), alcohol, or dairy. We are trying to be good about the grass fed/organic, but are a bit hit or miss, which I'm okay with at this point. Fruit has been a great desert, but I haven't even been needing that every day. Homemade almond butter is amazing, and we've eaten almost the entire batch already. Definitely a new staple. I'm also super proud that I made and ate a dish with cauliflower, which I historically haven't been a big fan of. End up that when you season it, it can taste amazing! I am loving that this food philosophy is getting my out of my comfort zone with some foods and showing me new things to try.

Ed and I have both noticed since eating this kind of food, we feel much more satisfied all the time. I think I'm also starting to feel more energized (though that could be psychosomatic). I really haven't found this switch to be hard at all, I think because we were not huge bread people to begin with (except on special occasions as an appetizer with olive oil and balsamic).  I have missed my yogurt breakfasts, and the glass of wine, but I can add both those in after the first month if I want. 

No change in pain symptoms yet, which I can't say I'm shocked by, though I still have a little hope. In any event, I am feeling really good and glad to be putting so many more healthy things in my body, after a summer with more than enough indulgence. We'll see how things go when I head back to work (tomorrow...gulp), but fingers crossed that boundless energy this eating plan promises shows up :).

Until then, I'm just going to enjoy feeling healthier starting the new year!