Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lazy days on holiday.

So I am still in the OH - IO land of mud and trees. We saw a minute of snow, but mostly just weather in the lower 30s with some rain and lots of clouds. Basically, it is everything I always knew Ohio could be and more. This is why I moved to a desert after all.

In addition, I have been unable to breath since I arrived, but this is also completely expected. I have a gps sensor in my nose that closes my nostrils when it registers Ohio. They inserted it when they gave me my bionic knee. But I have been feeling better the last couple of days enough that I have felt motivated to work out. I especially like how my nose runs when I run in the cold. I ran a couple of times with the longest being five miles (my season high!!). I am trying to test my knee to see if it can handle 13 miles in a two weeks. It gets very sore after each run, but more good sore than bad. I may be doing a half half marathon run followed by a half half marathon walk.

Today instead of running, I did something way more fun. I joined a friend of mine on the coolest six mile mountain biking trail in Columbus. It was bloody cold at around 30 degrees, (shut up I am wimpy), but serious fun. The trail builders did an awesome job building up ramps and logs ramps to get over any muddy or rocky parts. I don't have this on any of my rides in Arizona, so I was loving the whole thing. Mud, trees, fairies, and ramps. SWEET...

We are currently hanging out with friends in CBus staying at the home of world famous Chris Thomas of Chris Thomas Productions (producing the most entertaining drunk home videos since 1995). Thanks for the great post ride egg breakfast Mr. Thomas.

Gotta run now. Blogging is so much work when you are in a chocolate induced coma. I am enjoying the LAZY quite a bit. Year's end ramblings to come.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas the night before Christmas...

and all through the house, I was sitting under my kitchen sink for 14 minutes. Then I won.

Why you might ask? I will tell you later.

I am home in the OH IO for Christmas. There is about an inch of snow on the ground, just enough to feel like it's winter. I am allergic to Ohio (seriously I am) so of course I immediately got a cold apon touching down on the Ohio tundra tarmac. But I am fighting it and so my mouth tastes like zinc all the time. The whole fam is here minus my poor little British bro-in-law who is stuck in London working over the holidays. Shoutout to Nimesh! This means that the house is a zoo. I have three loud and opinionated sisters in addition to my parents so we all talk over each other and interrupt each other constantly. It is bedlam and I feel sorry for my pops. At least he has son-in-laws now to bond with.

Last night we decided to play hide and go seek. It was pretty awesome. You think that game is for kids but you are wrong. I won by hiding under the sink and no one could find me for the longest time (except Tom who always seemed to know exactly where I was). It was a small spot and no one thought I could fit in there but they just don't know my skills I guess. Truly, the best game ever.
Otherwise, I have been super lazy. My workouts have consisted of eating and sleeping and that is about it. I tried to mud bike but my fingers were cold and I am wimpy. I may try to go for a run today. Probably not. I did climb up to the top of a closet last night to hide in the back of this wierd shaped shelf thing. That was really tiring. Then I ate more cookies.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's a slow day.

Traffic laws be damned.

So you think your traffic is bad? I took this picture from the top of the Arch de Triomphe in Paris last year after sitting in utter astonishment for 20 minutes watching one car try to get out of the mess. It was vastly amusing. Those funny French people/stupid American tourists.

I am so weird sometimes.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Sound of nose blowing. Crunch crunch crunch. Type type type. Clearing of throat. Yip yap yip yap. Silence. The all encompassing kind. The kind that is so quiet, you can hear the voices in your head. Screaming.

The sounds between 8 to 5. Should I be worried about the screaming in my head? It is almost vacation time. Just one more full day. Screams turn to laughter. Excellent.

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Really" good time.

I rode 40 miles on Saturday and was sad when it ended. I learned some great tips from some "real" riders who wore "real" biking clothes and rode "real" bikes. On the ride home, I put the bike on my car "real" loose so maybe it would fall off on the highway. I was "real" disappointed when I got home and it was still strapped onto my bike rack.

Maybe "really" soon I can get a "real" bike and become a "real" biker.

Maybe even sooner I will stopping the annoying literary habit of putting "" around words like "real".

Friday, December 14, 2007

Please come back Erin.

This friend of yours, she always has some sort of drama going on. You know the one. Her car got broken into, she lost her wallet, she got dumped in glorious ridiculous fashion while getting hit by a bus and losing her job, etc. She is that girl. (I actually have many friends like this, I think I find them interesting). Well lately, I feel like that girl. Seriously. It like a cosmic pile of sh*t is raining down on me. Luckily I am feeling benevolent towards fate and have managed to laugh/raise eyebrows questioningly at it. Sort of. Overlooking the whole second ACL knee destruction & doctor disappearing act, (that is seriously not amusing). Let's just stick with this week. I am home alone cause my honey is working in a crappy town in Southern AZ in a mine. No big deal right? Foreshadowing for later.

Monday night, I went over to my townhouse which I no longer live in and will be renting out starting next week. I have been getting it ready for renters for about a month. This is the same place that sprung a giant leak two weeks ago and had water running down the walls which in turn ruined some of the new wood flooring that we had just put in. Stay on task woman. Anyway, I think the refrigerator is dying. There is a whole lotta whining and noises coming from the engine, which is usually indicative of motor burnout. Great... Then I decided to do a load of dishes because I am packing them up for the Good Will so I fill it with soap, crank the knob and...nothing. It just isn't working at all. I have sprouted giant holes in pocket that all of my money is falling out of.

Tuesday night, I noticed, as the temperature dropped, that the house (not the town house but the one I currently live in with the actual furniture), is rather chilly. I check the thermostat: set for 70, but current temperature, a balmy 60 degrees. Remember how I enjoy setting my air at 83 for optimal comfort during the long hot summer? Well 83 - 60 is 23 degrees of hypothermia entering my body. Every degree under optimal makes me unhappy and the latest development of being bloody cold isn't driving my yuletide spirit.

Wednesday night was a dosey. Really it is one of the more exciting events of the recent past. I am minding my own business at around 9pm, when I hear a knock at my door. I peak out to see a young guy I don't know. He looks okay and waves so I open the door. He tells me he is a neighbor from across the street and that he works from home. He has noticed some suspicious people loitering around our house that day and in his opinion, they are casing our house to break in. Whaaaa...t? So our house is not... what's that word I am looking for, oh yeah, secure. I have broken in at least 5 times due to lost keys because many of our windows do not lock. Now for all you robbers out there, I am remedying the situation so don't think about it.

So I immediately think about how Tom is not here, which is obvious by the fact that his giant work truck is not in the driveway and how the window by my bed doesn't lock and how we have a really nice tv that is viewable through our open blinds which we leave open because our house is on the market for sale. So I freak out and go look for weapons in the garage. I find a really solid tire wrenching tool and my pocket knife. That's about it. Oh and a shovel. I am armed and ready. I call Tom, he calls the police, and they stop by just to check out the situation. Really there is nothing they can do, and I survive the night unscathed, but I am thinking that we better get a house sitter over Christmas.

So if Wednesday night was weird, Thursday was even more sickly fate-dependant. I decided to go to a women's frisbee practice but when I arrived, there were no lights and therefore no practice. One of my friends there however, was going to go watch her bf play at another field where there was an all male league game going on. So we get blueberry beer and I tag along to help heckle the guys. I am sitting on the sideline, drinking my amazing blueberry nectar and chatting with my pals, when BAM, something hits me in the face hard. I had zero reaction time and it took a couple of seconds to realize what had happened. Yes, this former rugby player who had previously never broken her nose in the 8 years she played managed to accomplish this feat while SPECTATING an ultimate frisbee game. I am told that the guy wound up to thrown a 80 meter zinger about 10 feet from me, and misdirected the disc directly into my nose. Thank you fate. Now fortunately, I have a larger than normal nose and the disc hit me directly straight on, so there is no crookedness or missing teeth, just a lot of blood and swelling. At this point in this amazing week, I did the only logical thing that I could do, I went to the bar.

Stay tuned for Friday's episode. I may not leave the house so that nothing else can befall me. I also have a theory that since my friend Erin also known as The Person That Everything Random In The World That Can Happen To Will Happen moved back to the east coast, I am taking her spot in this sick sick game. Come back Erin!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Great Vid

This video is awesome ! Bikes rule! It also shows me how far I have to go with my biking skills. I want to be able to jump up on dumpsters and bounce over cement cylinders. I am sure it is just my bike holding me back right now. Yup that's it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gotta get it.

I just picked up the book "The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of My Feet" from Amazon. It's about 20 crazy stories written about the experiences of some of the best adventure racers in the history of the sport (and some amateurs as well). From what I have read so far, it's awesome. It arrived last night and when I opened it up, inside the cover was this...

The Adventure Racing Manifesto
If you're not hungry, you are carrying too much food.
If you're not thirsty, you are carrying too much water.
If you are warm, you have to many clothes.
If you are not wet, scratched, and bruised, you took the long way.
If you are not frightened, you have too much gear.
If you are not tired, you're going too slowly.
If you are not drop-down sleepy, you're getting too much rest.
And if you finish the race on schedule, it was too easy anyway.

It gives me chills. I am sooo hooked. This part of my life is definitely to be continued...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Climb & Whine.

I climbed a wall. I fell off the wall. I tried again. I fell again. Why can't I do this. Whine.

My knee is shaking. My arms hurt. How is this move possible? Where is the hold? Whine.

My hands are tired. My skin hurts. My fingers are peeling. Why am I so wimpy tonight? Whine.

Sometimes you have it, and sometimes you don't. Rock climbing last night...so didn't have it. I hate it when I suck.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I ride alone but it doesn't bother me.

Endurance athletes have a whole crazy concept of what constitutes a long workout. Unfortunately I am not one of them. I am queen of sprinting on the treadmill at 9.0 mph in order to get really tired quickly and not have to run anymore. I was a sprinter/hurdler in track, a wing in rugby and consider my competitive advantage my speediness more than any sort of endurance nonsense. So it is interesting that now I am trying to do these endurance events. I think it is the challenge of something I am inherently not built for. That and two straight years of knee issues where sprinting is difficult and slow endurance activities are the only thing you are allowed to do.

So anyway, for endurance athletes, a three hour bike ride is just a normal jaunt in the park. I am not an endurance athlete however , so my quick mtb bike ride Saturday afternoon that ended up being a three hour bonk fest, was a bit exhausting. Since my normal biking buddy Sarah is rowing across the Atlantic, I am riding more and more on my own. I used to be afraid that if I mountain biked on new trails by myself, I would go off a cliff and die a lonely death. But I am somehow over that and now just assume I would break my leg close enough to the path to yell for help.

Saturday, I got ready to go for a quick ride while on the phone with a friend, so I ran out of the house without really thinking bringing no food or camera, and only filling up my camelback halfway. I road a part of a trail in South Mountain that I haven't ridden ever which hooks up with a trail I am very familiar with, the Desert Classic. The beginning of the trail was a pretty cool uphill slog of big rocks and climbing. I was fresh so felt pretty good and was pleasantly surprised how technical this ride was. About an hour in, I stopped to drink some water and realized that I was still a ways from the portion of the trail I know. But I was having a good time and didn't want to turn around yet. I hate hate hate not getting to the end of something, turning around early is really hard for me. Maybe something cool is around the corner!

So I decided just to keep going and if I had to take the road back, I would. I knew it was only around 10 miles of trail to the other end which isn't bad if you are in shape, but my acl-less knee might not enjoy 20 miles of trail out of the blue. So once I got to the part of the trail I knew, I was flying (at least in my mind). Wet sand is sooo much better to ride on than dry sand. Loving life, I reached the other end in 1 hr and 45 minutes as clouds rolled in and thunder started sounding.

I decided to take the road back for expediency and since I was running dangerously low on water and had no food. Problem was, I hadn't realized I was riding with a back wind the whole time (climbing will take away that advantage) and all of the sudden, I was tired and trying to ride into ridiculous headwind. Not to mention this road biker kept passing me like I was going still as he weaved in and out of neighborhoods. I think he was laughing at my big dirty tires.

Finally I was getting fed up with the road and I came upon a road cutting down into a wash back into the mountains behind the house line. I thought maybe that would be a short cut to the parking lot my car was it which was behind the house line also. At the very least, it would at get me out of the wind. The trail was fun and wet with sections of it actually consisting of running water, which is such a treat to see in the normally dry rock pile of a mountain range.

I was happy with my decision until the trail starting climbing the mountain again. It became almost unbikable uphill and at this point I was bonking pretty bad. After summiting a ridge, it dumped me down into a million dollar neighborhood on the top of a private mountain. I was then had to scale an 8 foot fence with my bike to get out of the neighborhood before finally making it back to my car. Tired dirty hungry and happy was a pretty accurate description of how I felt. I would guess I did about 12 trail miles and 10 road miles on about 1 liter of water. Not my smartest move ever, but, it made my cookie and wine party that night seem much more earned.

I forgot to take my camera, but snapped these pics from the top with my cell phone. Not bad for a cell phone camera.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thoughts on Christmas

I am alive with the yuletide spirit. It ripples through me like amber waves of grain. Each ornament placed on the tree and each wreath hung signifies my devotion to all things of the season. [...record screeching to a loud and violent halt sound followed by maniacal laughter.]

I haven't done anything for Christmas yet. No gift buying, decorating, card sending or even candy cane buying. I am one lazy mofo. For whatever reason, even though I grew up in a house that decorated for Christmas with all the normal hubbub, I am totally lazy at decorating my own pad. Maybe it's because I am wearing shorts as I make plans to "do things" outside. I think it's easier to decorate in cold places since you are essentially stuck in the house due to the ridiculously bad weather outside. Sure, I'd string thousands of pieces of popcorn on a string. That sounds like more fun than going mountain biking in the glorious 70 degree weather.

[Alert: This is the point in the year that people who live in bad weather places (as I call them), should stop reading this blog, because I am going to become insufferable as I describe the perfect weather everyday. Check back in in June.]

In addition, I hate Christmas shopping because the mall is sort of my worst nightmare and sometimes I just want to lower my shoulder as I run screaming for the door, knocking over little old ladies and bratty kids alike. I shudder at the question, what do you want for Christmas. I am forced to come up with ideas that are in the right price range. Can't I just say, "I want a new bike so buy me a fork or rear derailer please." I can buy my own things, thanks, lets skip the gifts this year. But hang on dear readers, I will not scrooge myself completely quite yet.

But even though I am lazy and have to force myself to decorate and shop, there are many things I enjoy about Christmas. I love caroling. It's nice and I know all the words to harmonize for most Christmas songs. I enjoy the time with family and friends back home, especially if it snows. Nothing beats snow at Christmas when you don't have to go anywhere. I like the food. Ahh food. People go all out around Christmas time and no one even stops to think twice about the amount of butter that goes in that Christmas morning cinnamon bread candy cane shaped tee-ring. Delicious. My mother is a great baker and prepares treats months in advance of my arrival. I do not know why I can not cook or bake anything. I am an aberration in my family. And really, I enjoy the warmth of the reason for the season. It's about love, giving, friends, family and rebirth and with the turn of a calendar year, all things are possible. Even potentially two knee surgeries while starting school again, working and selling a house with a little marathon and bike racing thrown in for fun. Can't wait for Christmas and 2008.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Maybe a reason why I injure myself playing rugby.

Wow. That's a solid base, is all I'm saying.

I was looking through some old pics on my computer and found this photo from my days at the ole Ohio State U. I don't believe I dump tackled this person, if I had to guess. Bad high form didn't help, but man that's a solid base to move. That's why they stuck me on the wing... all speed no form. I never really felt small in rugby though, at least not until I played club level against teams like Berkeley and I was having my garbage taken out by the freaking dump truck.

The rez. My rez.

Look at the Puddles! Of Water! In the desert! Sigh. Pure Bliss.

Ever since I have found the hole in the fence, I have been pretty excited.

I have talked about the Ak Chin NA reservation land just south of my house before. And how I found a hole in the fence that is my entry into this exciting portal. About how it is my own little deserted playground of dirt trails, roads, and just deserted barren land. Ugly by all standards, I find the absolute desolation of it quite endearing. It's kind of like when someone has a baby, and really its the ugliest baby in the history of babies, but they think it so cute just because it it is theirs. Well that is what I feel about my rez, not really mine, but since no one else uses it, it might as well be.

So we had some major rain this past weekend. It was around 2.5 inches. That is approximately 1/3 of our average rainfall. In 24 hours. Wow. Imagine if you had 1/3 of your rainfall in 24 hours. That would be like 75 inches in some places in Hawaii. In fact we had so much rain, that my roof sprang a leak and water was dripping down the inside of the drywall. That was slightly exciting, but not as exciting as riding in the mud on the rez. I went for a bike/run Saturday and just enjoyed getting dirty. The giant rainbow being painted across the sky, just served as artwork for the mini lake puddles that offset the tumbleweed sculptures. Sometimes that ugly desolation just seems almost beautiful.

Running in mud, biking in mud, it is all new for me now. I forget how mud flies up from your tire and smacks you in the face. And I forget the soft squishy unstable feeling of running through anything other than desert concrete. But I laugh out loud as I revel in the newness and excitement of mud and it makes me feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Please doc... can I ...

Forget to mention that New Doc wasn't really that keen on me running the half marathon in January. He said "well if its really something you want to do, but I really don't recommend." Is it really something I want to do? Actually no, I don't even like road running, BUT THATS NOT THE POINT!

So I conveniently forgot to ask him about riding in a 24 hour bike race as well. Cause that is something that I really really really want to do.

Sigh. I can't win. I shall have to consult my astrology report and see if my stars are aligning. Then I will drink goat's blood, kill a chicken and strap on my running shoes.

Why I am guaranteed arthritis.

So I met with a new orthopedic doc yesterday. His name was given to me by my disappearing act previous surgeon who also can't find my previous medical records and is really annoying me. I think I like New Doc though. He is very real and tells me what he is thinking and he also spent more than 3 minutes with me so that is also a plus. Unfortunately, his words weren't that exciting to hear however.

The first thing he told me was that I should stop running forever because I am guaranteed to have arthritis in my bad and knee and it will just make it worse. Awesome. I know this is probs true, but whatever, I can't live my life like that.

The second unsettling news is that because I am having a do-over surgery, I may have to have a two step process for fixing it. In the previous ACL reconstruction, they drilled tunnels in my tibia and femur to attach the new ACL in. These tunnels can not be used in the second surgery (?) and they need to drill new ones. If the paths of these two sets of tunnels are interfering, they will have to do a bone draft in the first step and then wait 3 months for the tunnels to fill in with bone. Then I would have a second procedure for the actual ACL reconstruction. I take this as stretching out hell as long as possible. Argh.

New Doc also has different rehab methods which include walking much quicker, but doing most of the initial rehab at home vs with a physical therapist. I am cool with that since PT cost $20 a pop and totally rules your life since you have to go during work hours 3 times a week. So I am optimistic that I like New Doc but the reality is that this knee isn't going to be back to normal anytime soon and that I really shouldn't plan big events for a long time. Blah. I went to the gym last night after the appt and ran a couple of miles on the treadmill. Take that New Doc.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I love the word emo.

So I have had a hard time blogging lately. Mostly because there isn't anything going on right now that is all that inspiring to blog about. True writers can blog entertainingly about anything: Britney Spears, the cost of gas, or whether Tila Tequila is really bi or straight. Vastly important topics of course, but really nothing that I care enough about to try to write humorously about.

I can only write when inspired and most of the time I just want to put pics up anyway. I am going through some thing right now. It's not depression or anything overly dramatic like that. I will just call it a funk, a work induced, knee injury induced, where the hell is the sun today kind of funk. I don't blog about work normally, but I will say this, something has to change. And I am working on that as we speak. As for the knee, I can't really blame it totally because I am not stuck in the house due to it and I can still do a lot of activities, but it has had an effect. I am not doing an adventure race I planned on doing this weekend due to it, and I now back to mostly solo working out. No frisbee or other team sports, or even just pick up racquet ball games, etc. So I am fighting off those feelings, while trying to stay motivated to still train hard due to the races I want to do in January and February. And the weather right now is blah. It's been dreary all week and is now raining. I am sooooo addicted to sun, that I miss it almost immediately. This is why I moved here in the first place.

So blah is here and will probably stay for a minute, before I kick it's ass and invite happiness disambiguation in (google actually considers these synonyms which I found interesting and totally timely). I think it's okay though because blah is fine for awhile. I put a lot of pressure on myself to feel happy all the time and sometimes, you just wanna feel like crap and wallow in it. I am going to go put on some emo music, surf monster and eat brownies while complaining about how tv sucks but refusing to go out and have a life. For a minute. Byte me. LOL. Nerd.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Announcements that no one cares about.

So winter has rolled around to the P H X. This doesn't mean that much in the way of cold, although it has gotten much colder. The biggest effect is how early it gets dark. It sort of depressing to get out of work at 6 and have it already be dark. Since I am a hater of the gym, it makes me less motivated to work out. I think I am going to start doing more dark trail running and biking. I love head lamps anyway. Gadget gadgets are my fave.

In other boring exciting news. I am working on creating my online business website. I don't actually know what the business is going to be yet (oh but i have grande dreams --evil cackle--), but that is just details right? I figured I will start on the website anyway and maybe it will just come to me. I am creating the website using a free source content management system named Drupal. It uses Apache as it's web server and MySQL as the database. Confused? Well this is just geek speak for "its going to be a website and do cool stuff". I created a website for my rugby team the seen here using similar technology called Joomla awhile ago and the benefit of the content management portion is that once I created this site, I do not have to be the only one to maintain it. I trained the team captain and manager to add calendar events, news and other things to the site. So let me know if you have any sweet ideas for what my business can be. If left up to my own devices I may come up with a Jump To Conclusion Mat*.

Also, in other news, I did it. Yup. I registered for the Kona 24 Hours in Old Pueblo race on February 16th. So what this means is that I am going to try to put off having knee surgery until afterward and what this also means is that I am going to try to ride somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 75 miles in one day with no ACL. Doesn't that sound like fun! I am excited but also nervous because I get knee pain & swelling pretty quickly right now. I think I will have to train up to the mileage as best I can and then during the race it will be gut check time. I can't really hurt my knee further so it will mostly be just sucking it up and pushing the challenge. Challenge = PAIN.

One last thing. I am going to say something that you will never hear me say again. GO SOONERS! Oklahoma needs to beat Missouri this weekend in fb for Ohio State to return to the National Championship. And the reason this is important, besides the obvious reason, is that I have a flight scheduled during the Rose Bowl and I don't want to have to pay a bunch of money to change the flight so that I can watch OSU beat USC on Jan 1st. I would rather watch OSU beat UWV on Jan 8th or whenever the Natl. Championship is. So I am going to be a huge Oklahoma Fan on Saturday night only, then I am going to laugh at all you doubters.

[Update: Oklahoma totally won so OSU is totally in the Natl Championship game in New Orleans vs LSU. Great matchup and a totally winnable game. Bring it SEC.]

*awesome reference to the best movie ever, Office Space. Told u I love this movie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanks Colorado, for a great Thanksgiving.

Well I am sufficiently able to breath again enough to try to write a blog. That high elevation stuff really does make you feel light headed.


We spent about five days at 8000 feet elevation and above (way above) which is pretty hard for us desert lowlanders. It is very interesting to see elevation's effect on one's body. Shortness of breath, lightheaded and easy wine buzzes are just the start.

We left at 6am on Wednesday morning for Colorado with Durango as our evening's destination. We stopped at the Sunset Crater National Park north of Flagstaff for our first little break. I have driven by it several times but never stopped. It was pretty cool really, but not as cool as the volcanic fields we saw recently in Hawaii. I did take some pics and we hiked about 2 miles through the lava fields and up a steep hill to see a crater valley.

Sunset Crater National Park, Flagstaff Arizona

We hit the road again and drove through some of the weirdest landscape in Arizona called the painted desert. It is a lot of wierd rock landscape with equally odd reservation towns and just seems so inhabitable. We stopped for a minute at Four Corners, which just may be the biggest joke ever. You hear about this place all the time, where you can stand in four states at once, but once you get there you realize it is just that: a man made geographical landmark marked by a plaque. And the best part? They charge you $3 a person to do it. It is the biggest rip off since Glitter.

Our final stop of the day was at Mesa Verde in SW Colorado. Now this was totally worth the $0 entrance fee. We got a free guided tour into the Bird House Ruins. It's so easy to image life here since the cliff ruins are so well preserved. I totally recommend visiting as the preservation here is incredible. We spent that evening in Durango with Tom's uncle and aunt and went to the coolest old cowboy bar.

Thursday, we decided to take the scenic route to Tom's cousin's house in Breckenridge which was our final destination that evening. We took the "Million Dollar Highway" which goes over the San Juan mountain range and through the towns of Ouray, Silvertown and Telluride. Interestingly, there was very little snow which is unusual for this late in the year, but still it was cold beautiful and its a fun drive.

By the time we neared Breckenridge, there was much more snow on the ground and the temperature had dropped steadily. We followed directions to the summit of a mountain pass which then led up a dirt road further up the mountain and we began to realize that we were going to be staying very high. Near the top of a 14,000 foot mountain to be exact. The house was one of those cool wooden cabins with the two story windows that was located at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. Totally beautiful and awesome. It was surrounded by 5 14ers (a term for a mt higher than 14k feet) and had trails leading up the mountains from their deck.

Thanksgiving was great food and great company. I met Tom's Colorado family (3 cousins, their spouses and kids plus his aunt and uncle we had met the night before). There were all well traveled and intelligent and told a lot of funny stories of Tom as a kid. Overall, I really enjoyed meeting them and hope to go back to visit again.

Five Fourteeners surround the house in Breckenridge.

We took two different hikes on Friday up the mountain because the first one just wasn't enough. The day was freezing with temps from zero to 15 and a steep wind. We hiked from the house up the side of the mountain to some beautiful views overlooking steep white real mountains. We could even see a frozen waterfall across the way that people were ice climbing up. I can't imagine living in a place like this, it is too much of a dream. I may not be able to concentrate on things like work or breathing or eating if I was surrounded by this much beauty all the time. The second hike, we went up about 1000 feet in a snow storm to the top of the ridge just to feel the freezing cold wind hitting our face. It was so painfully cold within a minute, it was amazing. I am so not used to the cold, which made me appreciate it all the more. I have a slight fascination with Mt Everest (by slight I mean I have read everything ever written about it) and mountaineering in general and this reaffirmed my commitment to climb a couple of the ice mountains in California some time. Oh and trek around the lower Himalayans in Nepal, really really want to do that sometime.

So after hanging out in Breckenridge, we took off for Fort Collins on Saturday to meet up with my friends Craig and Kris who I graduated from high school with who are now married and live in Laramie, WY. Kris is very pregnant (due in 3 weeks) but is one of the best very pregnant people I have been around: laid back, not stressing, no complaining even though she is one of those tiny people with the huge bowling ball belly. Can't wait till see a picture of the little munchkin they are going to have! Good luck friends!

On the road from Breck to Fort Collins

We left FC at around 5pm Sat. and decided to drive four hours to Raton, NM to get a head start on the 14 hr drive back to Phoenix. We had another 10 hrs on Sunday but made it home in time to hit the gym since we both felt a little fattened by too much good food. I even was able to run 2 miles on the treadmill with minimal pain. Yeah!

Since we drove exactly 2000 miles in the five day trip, we didn't really stop for scenic picture taking which is why many of my pics have interesting "car features" on them such as bugs, water drops or just wierd glares as enhancements. Taking pictures out car windows while moving 70 mph is a skill I have mastered over the years. Sometimes I will even take pictures while driving but shhh. For some reason however, I was terrible at taking pictures of the people we were with and mostly just forgot to get out the camera. I do this a lot actually.

I love Colorado and mountains and snow and beauty and good food and company and overall had a killer time on our mini vacay. Back to the desert now where temps have seriously dropped to in the low 70s...brrr. LOL. JK. LMAO. Other random laughing digital acronyms.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goodbye P. Godspeed.

Well the P of ODP is leaving tomorrow for her two month expedition. My amazing and wonderful friend Sarah, aka Crazy Rower #2, is taking off for a second attempt to row the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. She and our other friend Crazy Rower #2, both from Phoenix are joining two other foreign women in a four person rowboat team called Unfinished Business to compete in a race from the Canary Islands to Antigua. I have so much admiration for both of the Crazy Rowers since I know that their last attempt ended in a very dangerous capsize and 16 hour rescue in the middle of the Atlantic. Video of this below. I met them both when they decided to come out for the club rugby team in Scottsdale and we quickly realized that anyone willing to row across an ocean at 21 years of age, will probably be good rugger. I later got to appreciate all of Sarah's talents as an adventurer who always finds a way during our many trips backpacking through various locales and the creation of our adventure racing team Team ODP. Believe me if anyone can make it across an ocean, its these women. Unfinished Business's website can be found at www.rowformeningitis.com. They will be blogging there periodically throughout the race. You can also follow along on the official race website located at www.atlanticrowingrace2007.co.uk.

Anyway, here's to great weather, fast currents in the right direction, lack of sharks, teamwork, and celebrating Christmas on the Atlantic. See you back in Phoenix by end of January Sarah. ODP will miss you P (Sarah), but since O (me) is lacking an ACL, you've got some time.


Monday, November 19, 2007

I need more digits in my temperature.

It's going to be a low of -2 degrees F in Breckenridge on Thanksgiving. Oh. My. God.

Before you make fun of me, just remember, I am from the desert people. Come play with me when it is 115 out and then I can make fun of you. My warmest coat is rated to 40 degrees. Over the past three years I donated most of my out of date warm Ohio clothes to various Good Wills and had no reason to replace them. I have lots and lots of awesome outdoorsy synthetic clothing rated to about 50 degrees in temperature, but not one single thick wool sweater. I am going to be forced to go shopping. Will they make fun of me if I just wear my ski pants around town, cause I may die otherwise?

It's sort of exciting since I haven't been in cold weather in almost two years. It was downright balmy in Ohio last Christmas. I hope we get to play in some snow and do a little chilly hiking. I don't know if I can handle biking in zero degree weather though. I have thin blood, I swear, and my bootie fat just isn't enough. Phoenix is still in the 80s and Tom got sunburned this weekend playing frisbee. And we are okay with that... the sunburned in November thing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Results

I received my MRI results in semi-readable form, aka medical terminology English. To paraphrase:

1. Complete tear of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
2. Degenerate wearing on the blah blah medical term module blah.
3. No meniscus damage seen.

The bottom line is that I have a complete ACL tear but no meniscus damage and that my knees shows wear and tear. Big surprise right. The no meniscus damage thing is def worth cheering about because it means way less pain and quicker rehab.

I went mountain biking at my old faithful South Mountain Desert Classic trail for about an hour and a half Saturday morning and other than definitely have less power in climbing, I felt pretty good. It just felt great getting back out there and I still beat my friend up most of the trail. It got a little sore towards the end so I think I will need to work back up to being able to ride for far distances. My goal now is going to be to rehab enough to still compete with my team at the 24 Hours of Pueblo mtb race in February. I will have to delay my surgery for a minute but strangely enough I am in no hurry to redo that torture.

Go knee go, you crazy broken thing that just keeps on truckin.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Anyone know how to read an MRI?

So I finally got in to get an MRI on my knee this morning. So I immediately called my surgeon (the same surgeon who operated on my knee last June and who told me just last Thursday that he thought I had re-torn it) to schedule a follow-up appointment for him to tell me what the pictures show. Did or didn't I completely tear my ACL? Cause gotta say, I am still not convinced.


They tell me "As of today, Dr. E no longer works at this facility". Huh...what? "Do you know where he went or how I can get a hold of him?", I ask. Friendly receptionist says, "Well, all we have is his personal email. We don't know why or where he went."

What the hell...

So now, I have my MRI and x-ray photos, but no surgeon to look at them. It's like my surgeon is one of those fake non profit companies that disappears overnight. So now I have to look for another surgeon. Which sucks because the best ones take over a month to get into for new patients. So in the meantime, I am going to try to self diagnose my MRI, however they are way more complicated than an x-ray, let me tell you.

After riding my bike pain free for 1.5 hours last night, I am considering pretending I never heard the words ACL tear and playing dumb. Also, I learned today from an x-ray that I have a screw in my knee that I didn't know about. Yay.

This photo was taken last summer when my awesome friends took me wheel chairing in the desert right after my surgery. I was going crazy being cooped up (couldn't walk for 5 weeks) and needed to get out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why we are [not] cool.

Since I am having mental block-o-blog, I am going to cheat and blog in the form of a list. Lists are great because they generate topics of randomness that allow for rambling and derisive humor. Excellent. Commence.

Reasons why Tom and I are nerds. Wow this one is easy. We totally are.

#5 - We both shop at Target. For everything. Especially for our clothes, which are not emo or hipster at all.
#4- Our DVR has more Jeopardy and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on it than any other show. In fact it's probably a 4:1 quiz show to regular show ratio. Seriously.
#3 - We own four computers between the two of us, two of which we built ourselves. I create my own blog profiles which includes editing the actual HTML & CSS while Tom pulls out his voltmeters and safety goggles to change a light bulb.
#2 - We regularly fall asleep on weekend evenings at god awful early hours. Hey back off, we are married now. Big day tomorrow, Home Depot, maybe Bed Bath & Beyond, don't know if we'll have time.*
#1 - We are both engi-nerds, so nerdiness is actually inherent in our genetic make-up. We never stood a chance. We also love Office Space. Best.. Movie.. Ever..

Reasons why even though Tom and I are nerds, we are actually really really cool. Much harder.

#5 - We don't play video games. Tom used to before I explained to him how nerdy it is. Disclaimer: I would totally play the Wii if I had one because those are just awesome.
#4 - We ride bikes a lot. Hmm this may not belong on this list. We play ultimate frisbee. Still not helping. Camping? Hiking? Rock climbing? Adventure racing? Are any of these things cool? Okay, how about our rock band? That's cool. Except we aren't in one. But we totally listen to them.
#3 - We are really good at flip cup and corn hole. Confused? Guess you aren't cool enough.
#2 - We are the world's worst best dancers. Totally true.
#1 - We are both graduates from the coolest University on the planet: THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY. Not the smartest people, but the coolest.

*Paraphrased quote from one of the most funny movies of all time, Old School.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Most boring post ever.

Morbidity is finite. I think I will be done with it now. Being all sad and emo isn't really in my nature. On to happier things.

I can bike. I can dance. I can laugh & clean the house. I can buy grocerys & carry them in. I can walk, no limp. I can indoor rock climb. These are small but special activities in which I can participate in now that I couldn't last time. That is why things aren't that bad, even with no ACL.

Well the weather here in the desert is getting lovely. Middle-of-the-day-working-out lovely. I read people's blogs from cold places and it seems like everyone is always fighting a cold and fighting the depression of crappy weather. I don't miss that at all. Snow is fun on vacation. Thats the only time. Period.

Gearing up for the upcoming holidays. Tom and I are heading to Colorado for Thanksgiving. We don't usually fly to Ohio for this holiday because we usually go at Christmas and the plane tix are not cheap. But since we have free gas (thanks you Tom's work), we try to drive somewhere cool and take a mini vacation. This time we are going to visit some of Tom's cousins in Durango and Breckenridge. Since skiing is out, we will probably try to do some hiking and hopefully some bike riding, knee permitting. And play in the snow, because we are on vacay and that is when snow is cool. I also plan on meeting up with a friend in Fort Collins. I love Colorado. Pike's Peak was the first mountain I ever saw as a kid and I will never forget it. We drove all day and all night across the country in a crappy station wagon and I remember waking up in a parking lot at a rest stop and peering out the window and seeing this large white cloud like thing off in the distance. I think I fell in love with mountains that second.

Weather. Check. What's happening. Check. Okay, end of the most boring ever in the history of blogs. Later.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Moving On

So I am still feeling like the biggest, most sadistic game of deja vu is being played on me right now. I have been here before, I remember this feeling. But now I know what is involved and how long it takes and how hard it is on me mentally.

It's not the pain. I don't mind pain. Rehabbing an ACL reconsruction is a hard painful process. I know and remember this well. First there's the inital pain of the actual surgery. Every movement is excruciating. I remember laying on the couch wondering how long I could go with using the bathroom. Holding out like I was on a road trip or something where you are trying to reach the next rest stop 27 miles away. Because the pain of the need to go is less than the pain of actually getting up to do it. Then there is the pain of rehab. Trying to bend a knee that doesn't bend. They give you a stap. You wrap it around your ankle and you pull you heel towards your but. Your body resists, your mind says "stop that hurts" but you just keep pulling because you will not regain your mobility until you can bend it all the way. Some people just don't have the pain tolerance to do this and the therapists have to do it for them. Then there is the pain of teaching your leg how to take pressure. Pressure of walking, then jogging, then stairs, then sprinting, etc and it just keeps going. With each new activity, it says "woah, seriously, I am not ready for that." But you can't listen. You just ignore it, watch it swell and continue and ice it when you are done.

Eventually, the pain fades. Maybe in a year or so. I think I was exactly one year before my knee stopped hurting every time I exercised.

But like I said, it's not the pain I am dreading. It isn't what is making me despair. It's way more mental than that.

It's having to give up my dreams for another year. Dreams that were becoming reality. I was already scheduled to compete in my first 24 hour biking race, the 24 Hours of Pueblo in February. My adventure racing team had our plans set for races we were going to do next year leading up to our first 24 hour race. I had plans for playing in a competitive ultimate frisbee tournament in December with the Phoenix A team, a team I have been dying to play on since I became a beginner in this sport. It just sucks so bad.

That and the reality that I have to make considerations of my life. I will most likely never step foot on a rugby pitch again. My heart isn't in it anymore. But what of frisbee, I should probably give that up too. Then there skiing, terrible on knees. The list just goes on. Where do you draw the line between danger of re-injury and normal life activities that bring joy and happiness? These are hard questions and I am don't know the answer. I am 26, not that young but not that old. I don't want to be restricted on what activities I can engage in, but right now I don't know how to draw this line.

My life is truly blessed. I know this and appreciate what I have in it. Staying positive is hard though. But my mother always says everything happens for a reason. Maybe it will force me into competitive knitting and I will become a world champion sponsored knitter. Or something.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

News

So I wrote this on Tuesday. I didn't publish it because sometimes I don't publish the hard ones that reveal too much. But I am going to publish it now, because I am feeling devastated and I want to get it out of my system so I can move on. I saw my orthopedic surgeon today. Yes, I most likely re-tore my ACL. Yes I will most likely need another surgery to fix it. And yes, that will most likely require at least another year of rehab. But I will be fine, I will come back from this and I will somehow grow from the experience. I just need a day to be depressed and grieve.

[Written Tuesday, Nov 6th]

Sometimes I say too much. Most of the time my current mood is glaringly obvious. When I am happy, I bubble over. When I am mad, I look irritated. When I am nervous, I fidget or talk to much. When I am excited, I ramble on and on about whatever I am excited about. But when I am sad, it's different. I either hide it behind activities that leave me no time to think, or I get quiet and retreat to my cocoon. I am not sure what to do right now.

I am going to try writing about it. So yes. I am mad. Mad at myself. Mad at fate. Mad at my knee. And yes, I am mad at rugby. I am mad that all of the work I have done over the last year and a half, the endless hours of performing at less than my best, but having to be satisfied knowing it is all part of the recovery process is gone. I am mad that I can't bend my knee. That I have to go see an orthopedic surgeon this Thursday. And that I am going to have to miss all the fun things I planned to do in the next couple of weeks.

But mostly I am just mad that I am feeling so devastated. That I don't think I can do it all over again. That I would have to seriously consider changing my lifestyle if I indeed did need to do it all over again. Please please please no surgery. I don't think I can take it again.

It is my worst nightmare. I know I am being over dramatic. I realize that worse things could happen. But you may not understand how hard I have worked, how far I have come, what goals I have set, and how driven I have been. If you did, you would know.

This will most likely always stay a draft. Like many of my other heavy posts, where I write them to cleanse or crystallize my feelings that the world just doesn't need to know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wednesday Blues

It's hard to blog when life gets lame. For whatever reason, writing about how I went to work all day and then came home and couldn't work out due to knee swellage so I just watched tv even though I hate tv just doesn't excite me.

I'll know more tomorrow after my meeting with my ortho. Please please please pray that my diagnosis doesn't involve any word that begins with s and ends with y.

Lets think some happy thoughts... look how cute this kitten is. Group awww! If we ever sell our house, we want to get a little lampchop like this.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Title

The weekend is over. Sob. It was a good one in a lot of ways but it did end on a cruel twist.


Friday night was a stellar evening of Red Lobster. Yes you heard me correctly. We went to Red Lobster for dinner. I didn't think people even went to Red Lobster anymore (it's such a midwest small town kind of restaurant) but in fact they do. Some friends called, they said they were going to the RL and would we like to join them? So we went and the endless shrimp platter was everything I ever thought it could be.

On Saturday, we were up early due to the early sleep RL induced coma that Tom and I fell into on Friday night. Got the house ready for an open house and left for the bar early at 9:00 am. Why the bar at 9am? Well the Buckeyes were playing the Badgers and due to the evil known as the Big Ten Network, the only place to watch it was very specific OSU friendly bars. So after pulling out the victory against those pesky farm boys, my friend Kerri and I went to her house for a mimosa induced nap.

After dosing for a wee bit, I decided that I needed to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather (re: anything less than 95 degrees) and go for a bike ride. I decided to check out Papago Park which is a preserve area in the middle of Tempe consisting of some beginner trails and hikes. It ended up being really cool, not hard, but huge with a lot of hard little climbs that were good practice for cranking up steep hills with loose dirt and rocks. Had a great time except for my bike - which is done. Just done. It falls apart with regularity now and I had to stop no less than 7 times to re-house my shifting cable which kept popping out. Plus my gears don't work right. The time is near my friends, when I will throw it off a highway overpass and then deal with the consequences later. I am working the hubby over to smooth the deal in which I purchase a new bike which I believe will immediately take me to new biking dimensions. In my mind anyway.

They say the desert is ugly, but I think I disagree. I can see the dinosaurs in this picture.
Papago Park in Tempe. Our urban parks are better than yours!

Saturday night, we went and saw "Into The Wild". It is awesome. At least I thought it was. It followed the book closely and really painted a positive picture of the whole story. I know there is a negative side of the story/controversy lurking out there, but really I choose to ignore that. If you don't know what I am talking about, read Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild and then watch the movie.

Sunday I was pretty excited to get back on the rugby pitch, even for a friendly game against Stanford. Unfortunately my body wasn't as excited. My knee injury in May of last year was pretty devastating to me. I have talked about this before here. But I have put SO SO SO much effort into complete rehabilitation to the point that I would declare my 99% healed. It took a year and a half and lot of effort, but I though I was good to go. I guess I was wrong. I can mountain bike, play ultimate frisbee (which is way more cutting and sprinting), run down an uneven mountain trail, rock climb anything, and jump off a waterfall, BUT apparently I can't play rugby. Very shortly into the game, I ran to catch a high kick on the wing. I knew that a player on their team was going to arrive at the same time I was, but I didn't stop. We hit midair, I knocked her over, remained on my feet and kept running but I felt my knee twist and heard some unsettling cracking. Done. I don't think that I re-tore my acl, I am pretty sure it is a minor sprain or something but I realized that it's just not worth it. I can still walk, but it doesn't feel right and their is definitely some shifting going on in there. But with the power of positive thinking, I will think it better. I just know it.

Back on the bike I say. After I retrieve it from my garbage can in my garage.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Not much about anything.

Sunset along the Rez trail

So I have been pretty bad at blogging lately. Not only are some of my posts downright boring, but I just haven't felt that inspired to make them otherwise. That's okay, though because I don't have a real agenda about entertaining the world (by world I mean the five people who read this regularly). I haven't blogged much this week because I have been in Cali for work and we have been busy every night wowing people with my charm (aka schmoozing). Also, I haven't done anything worth blogging about.

I got back into town on Wednesday night in time for a very fun Halloween party where I pulled out my crazy Pink outfit again. Last night, I went for a solo mountain bike ride through South Mountain at dusk. It is fun to see how much I improve on my old faithful Desert Classic trail every time I ride it. I took it at speed last night and even chased some guys back to the car. I always assume that most people are faster than me, so if I see someone off in the distance I will pull over to let them pass. After stopping for a drink, I saw a group of guys coming, so I waited till they passed then took off after them. I ended up riding their tails the whole way back to the car. I think I am slower on downhills than a lot of people but make up for it on uphills and flat sections.

Well the second big race in the Desert Rage Adventure Racing series is this Saturday, and guess what...we aren't doing it :( I am pretty bummed since I was really looking forward to it, but my teammates just aren't able to fit into their budget's right now due to unforeseen circumstances. So ODP's return to glory is just going to have to wait for the women's AR on Nov 10th.

It's not all bad though because if frees up my weekend for other things. I plan on playing in a glow-in-the-dark ultimate frisbee tournament on Saturday night in Tucson and in the Scottsdale Lady Blues rugby game versus Stanford on Sunday. Yes, I am pulling out my rugby cleats to beat up on some college girls. I went to practice last night and was shocked at all the new faces. Gone for six months and don't recognize the team. That is good though, since the team needed fresh blood (no pun intended). Hopefully I remember how to tackle and catch a rugby ball. Double dipping both rugby and frisbee in the same weekend ... could be trouble. I will get yelled at in rugby for calling stall counts instead of tackling and get yelled at in frisbee for running someone over. It's gonna be great!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sentimental Value

Do you believe in sentimental value? Keeping an object for the sole purpose of having it, even though it provides no use? Here is what usually happens for me. I keep it because I can't bare to throw it out. Then I have to move and all of the sudden, my attachment to said object becomes non existent. Like old tee shirts from high school. Totally tossed them in my last move. Or that ugly stuffed animal from that one Valentine's Day... gone. And what do you do with the millions of cards you get every year on your birthday? You keep them for a bit, then toss them while trying to ignore your guilt. I basically feel that if I am going to keep something forever, it better be exciting to someone some day, like my future children.

So when it comes to wedding dresses, most people carefully store them in a box and never pull them out again. They have delusions of their children wearing the dress someday in their own wedding or some nonsense like that. It will never happen because your spoiled child is not going to want to wear a dress from 20 years ago that they didn't get to pick out. I picked out a simple but elegant dress. It was not custom embroidered by Mark Jacobs and did not cost me a fortune. So when I was speaking to my wedding photographer / amazingly talented photographic artist Megan Resch, and we started talking about cool places to take pictures in your wedding dress, I was interested. I wanted a wedding photo with a cactus. I enjoy cactus. And I love pictures. What better sentimental keepsake from the wedding than pictures of my dress in interesting pictures.

And "Trash the Dress Photo Shoot" was born.

Saturday, we explored various locales while I wore my dress and it was really cool. I got a lot of weird looks, and it was a bit hot hiking around in the desert in the middle of a 90 degree day but it was definitely an adventure. The desert photos are from Lost Dutchman's State Park and the fair shots are from the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix.

Megan blogged about the adventure here, but I will throw a couple of pictures up on this site as well.

The fair may have been the dirtiest place that I could have gone to trash my dress but it was awesome watching people do double takes. I may not throw my dress out completely, but I think the ridiculous black smoot all over the bottom adds character. I love this photo. I rest my case.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today is better.

Hello people.

I am much happier to be at work today... cause it's Friday! YEAH! And its Halloween! We are going to a costume party tonight. And doing a trash the dress session tomorrow.

If you don't know what it is, then check it out here: Trash The Dress.

Gonna run! Later kids.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

House 4 Sale

Wanna buy a house in Phoenix?

They say weddings are one of the most stressful times of ones life, along with child birth & death in the family. So true. At least for the ones that I have experienced. But I think you can add buying/selling a house to that list as well. Since Tom and I own two houses, it seems like we are always doing something to one of them. Fixing, upgrading, cleaning, etc consume our weekends. Well now that the wedding is over, we have decided to re-stress our life by attempting to sell Tom's house and buy a new & better house in it's place. It will be my third house to decorate/fix up before I turn 27, yippee me. Such is the real estate game in Phoenix.

In addition, since my roomie just moved out and I am no longer living in my house I need to ready my 2 bedroom townhouse to rent. This involves ripping out my carpet in my living room [which is bad to say the least] and replacing it with wood flooring. I also need to completely clean the whole place out as I still have a lot of junk there. Then I need to find suitable renters, which is always a challenge.

So Tom and I have spent the last couple of weekends of married life (besides when I am paddling around in inflatable torture devices) readying both houses for these activities. Our house is now officially on the market and the MLS listing can be found here [edit: I deleted the link because I realized I don't want any stalkers coming to my house. Even though I am not nearly interesting enough for stalkers. Email me if you want to see my house for sale.]. Please buy it. Tom has also spent the last two days ripping up my carpet and putting in wood flooring in my living room. Thanks honey! I love it when he uses power tools.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We are special.

Hello blog friends! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? How was the weather?


Now that I have gotten the courtesy chit chat out of the way, we can get down to the valuable lesson that I learned this weekend:

Inflatable kayaks are the devil. If I was stranded on a desert island and was offered the choice between a cheeseburger and an inflatable kayak, I would take the cheeseburger and devour every delicious fatty morsel.

This weekend was the big debut of Team ODP, adventure racing dames out to destroy the competition in glorious fashion. Our delusions of grandeur lasted approximately 27 seconds when in the first event [which happened to be kayaking across a lake to get a checkpoint at the opposite side], we realized that our two person inflatable kayak filled with three people wasn't going to work. It went something like paddle left, paddle right, quick paddle right again, no now left, why do our paddles keep hitting each other, why are we going in circles, is there supposed to be a foot of water in the boat..ahhhh help. We were approximately .5 miles into the 1.5 mile kayak when boats started passing us going the other way. As each team would pass in their spiffy long plastic kayaks with actual rudders, they would exclaim something like "ahh, look at the poor girls in the pool float who are sinking and going in circles". And then they would cheer for us like we were in the Special Olympics. So. Very. Frustrating. Pretty soon we just started laughing because it was either that or cry and start swimming for shore. We finally made it off the water in dead last place by a mile and just memory dumped that last hour of our lives.

The next five checkpoints (3 -7) were biking legs and we were given UTM coordinates to plot on our topographical map to find them. We set about plotting and were onto our bikes pretty quickly. Finally, a part our team could rock on. We located the area of the map for the first check point and started looking for it. Hmm, it should be right here...where is it? We scoured the area, replotted, road back and forth along this path, certain that we were in the right place. Finally, we had to move on, afraid someone had removed the flag or something was dreadfully wrong and at this point, we were just wasting time. We biked about 15 miles to four more checkpoints and each time had no problem locating the little flags. We even caught a couple of slow teams in this time, mostly by cutting off large amounts of distance by going straight down the side of a the mountain on the way back. We finally realized after discussing with another team that we had plotted the first checkpoint as 7.9 rather than .79 [the coordinate is given as 4380079]. Total rookie mistake, but to be expected in your first AR with plotting and we eventually went to the right place and picked up the checkpoint.

Checkpoints 9 & 10 were kayaking legs once again and unfortunately CP9 might as well have been in Australia. It was about a 5 or 6 mile kayak away and with our "special boat" and a strong breeze blowing against the lake at that point, there was no way we would going to make it. The race director instructed us to skip it (and a few other teams towards the back) and just hit CP 10 which was a much more doable paddle. Unfortunately even a 2 mile paddle in our boat was going to be tough, so we decided to do a little trick called portaging. This is where you physically carry your boat on land rather than in the water to save time. The ended up being our saving grace as the lake was u shaped and we could just paddle across the two ends and carry our boat over the little mountain in the middle and voila, at the checkpoint. It ended up being a very quick maneuver and we even inspired another team to follow our lead. The best part about the whole kayaking debacle was the fact that we killed a fish. Yes, you heard me. When we got to our boats to begin the second part of the kayaking, there was a dead 4 inch long fish in our boat. I think it entered in the beginning of the race while we were half submerged and then commit suicide rather than stay one more minute in our crappy boat. I wish I had though to take a picture.

After finished the kayaking portion, the last five checkpoints were on foot. Yeah! Never thought I would be so happy to be running but who knew. They of course were on the top of several small and not so small mountains (think scrambing straight up a nearly vertical side of a mt) surrounding Lake Hodges. We plotted the points and had a nearly perfect navigation to all of the CPs. We even caught more teams during this time and finished in a large pack. It doesn't really count however since we didn't do CP 9, but overall, we felt like we learned a ton and were able to get from point A to point B quickly as long as it wasn't on water.

Funny thing is, physically, although I was tired at the end, I definitely could have kept going. The race was plotted at 30 miles (although we may have done more) and took us a little over 7 hours. We kept our humors up, learned to work as a team and really enjoyed the day and the absolutely gorgorous landscape.

Take a good look at this picture of Lake Hodges from Saturday, because I hear a lot of San Diego (including this area) is under attack from nine major wild fires and its all in danger of going up in smoke.

The next race is November 10th at Needle Rock just northeast of Phoenix. There is no kayaking part so we intend to be much more competitive this time. The moral of the story, spend the $ to rent a real kayak.

Oh and I forget to mention, we did win the all women's division this weekend at the race... course we were the only all women's team there, but that doesn't need to be mentioned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Competition

As you grow older, past high school, past college, even past your immediate release from college into the real world, you change. You grow up, you get a real job, maybe even a "career" and you tend to leave your fun & games behind. Most people move into the comfort zone were work, errands, daily television show and a possible quick yoga workout makes up your schedule. Things get left behind, things like rugby & competition & dreams. We grow up. Some of us.

But not all of us. Not me. I just can't let my competitive drive go. It's not even totally about competing against others. I still feel a inner drive to be continuously better than I was before. I think I will always be looking for the next big adventure. It's in my soul and it makes it sing. So when I kick off my newest competitive endeavor this weekend, I feel so very happy inside. I really can't keep the excitement inside, it radiates out. It will probably be painful. Most likely I will ask myself why I do this to myself at least a couple of time during it. We will probably be frustrated by at least one decision we make and it will cost us. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

My new adventure racing team code named TEAM ODP is kicking off their inauragural break into the adventure racing world of the great Southwest this weekend. We are traveling to San Diego to compete in our first race of the Desert Rage series. It is a 35+ mile race of mountain biking, trekking, and kayaking. It also will most likely have UTM plotting on the fly during the race. Last year it also had something called remote orienteering where the checkpoint information was given to one team member who had to relay it by radio to their teammates. Although this is all very new to us, we are fit, we are competitive, we are mentally tough, and most importantly, we do this type of thing for fun and usually have a blast while doing it. We are three very tough and kick ass ladies.

I am not worried about the physical. There will always be teams of men that are better athletes than us. I am not worried about the mental. We have a plan to keep our spirits up. We all refuse to quit and we all are gluttons for pain & suffering. Simply I am mostly worried about the stupid mistakes and navigational errors that newbies make. And luck. Because lets face it, in the world of long treacherous events where there are multiple mechanical devices that can fail, many places to crash or injure oneself, and the ever present mother nature, we just have to go out there and do our best. And hope to be proud of ourselves when we cross the finish.

I already am. Operation Destroy Panda's Commences!

Kidding. Try again.

Oh and btw, check out our very own ODP member Sarah on tv this weekend discussing her upcoming amazing rowing race across the Atlantic here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hawaii Part VI - Waimea & Na Pali: Reasons to Return.

So we are finally at the sixth and final installment of the great Hawaiian saga. It's about time because I am sure you are ready to hear about the more exciting things that are happening in the newly married life. Like how the hubby is slow at work right so things are actually getting done at the house while I am GONE at WORK! It's so exciting really. He cleaned the garage a couple of days ago. He is trying to bank extra points I am sure.

So anyway, back to our final day on Kaua'i along the Na Pali Coast. We scheduled a tour to take a Zodiac raft along the coast out of Waimea, a western town. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. A zodiac raft, is a hard bottomed boat where you just sit perched precariously on the side and hold onto ropes for dear life. They are good for going fast in big waves, thus the NAVY Seal boat of choice. We took off out up the western coast of Kaua'i and were immediately swallowed up in some giant waves. It was so exhilarating. You had to hold on with all your might and giant waves would splash over you. People were screaming like they were on a ride at Cedar Point roller coaster (if you don't know, you should).

We finally stopped for a minute because we were surrounded by a dolphin pod. They were were so adorable and a very friendly dolphin showed off by doing a spinning jump for us right beside the boat. I had my waterproof camera around my neck but it was incredibility hard to take a picture while moving. We probably saw around 50 dolphins and several large sea turtles swimming beside the raft. We also got to jump in the water and swim some.


After awhile, we hit the Na Pali coastline and the sites became much more beautiful and the waves much bigger. Our destination was a beach only accessible by boat where we would be served lunch and be able to take a short hike and snorkel. Right as we neared the shore, our starboard motor started stalling out. This would become a problem later.

We saw a monk seal sunning itself on the beach along with some large crabs. The snorkeling was okay but the visibility was murky and we definitely had done better. We took a nature hike and out tour guide explained how the site was a very famous native Hawaiian community and how they have survived for many years there.

After lunch, we reboarded the boat to try to continue up the Na Pali coast hoping the motor would work. As we went further north, the waves became huge and the coastline became staggeringly beautiful. It was like a rugged green monster towering over us with no accessibility to it at all. The terrain was not hikable. We eventually came to the beach that is the end of the Kalalua Trail. Any access beyond this is by helicopter but is usually only done for filming the many many movies that are made there.

At one point, our Captain maneuvered the boat into a tiny opening in the rock which opened up into a sea cave. It was amazing, totally unable to be captured by camera. Apparently several people have gotten married there by kayak and Laird Hamilton (pro surfer) broke both legs jumping off the cliff into the cave while filming a Mountain Dew commercial.

About when we were the furthest away from the harbor, our second motor stopped working completely. We were in view of the end of the Kalalua Trail, and I was ready to swim for it. With only one motor, the waves were winning the battle with raft. After creeping along for awhile, it finally caught and we went flying again. Our Captain was worried about slowing down or stopping so he drove like a maniac back. I am not sure how the older people along on our trip handled it honestly. Overall, a great way to see the coast while doubling as a heart attack mini train wreck. The next day, I felt a bit like I had played a rugby game the day before.

After this, since we were already in Waimea, we decided to check out the Waimea Canyon. It is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It was like a green version of the Grand Canyon. We didn't get to do any hiking because we didn't have time (boo) but it was very compelling and another reason to return to Kaua'i. We did see a bunch of mountain goats here. It was quite the day for wildlife.

We finished up our trip by seeing one of the famous bright Kaua'i rainbows. Perfect way to end a perfect trip.