Thursday, January 31, 2008

How I Almost Got Stuck in a Third World Country...

...Without Wallet, Passport, Money, Cell Phone or Friends

Maracas Beach, Trinidad

Back when I was in college, pre-bad knees and real responsibilities, I was trying to rise in the world of rugby. USA rugby, while not being well respected worldwide, has a lot of programs in place to change this. One such program, is a fluid traveling developmental team known as Atlantis. It is coached by one of the US coaches (at the time) and it's main goal is to promote newer players with potential to the national level of rugby. At the time, while playing for my college, I also played on the Midwest 7s Thunderbird Allstar team and several other traveling tournament teams. I got invited to travel to Trinidad to play for the Atlantis squad in my first international 7s tournament. I was pretty young, really broke and in the middle of finals during the trip, but I just couldn't say no. So I took my finals early and jumped on a plane to Trinidad.

Arriving was a crazy eye opening experience. It was my first real trip out of the country (besides Canada, Mexico or Jamaica) and my first trip traveling alone. I had to take a taxi about 50 miles at midnight to our hotel and pay for it in TTs. Pretty sure I got ripped off right off the bat. So I arrive really late, was sent to a room by myself and just passed out in the strange bed immediately. I wasn't even sure when we were supposed to get up or who to look for, but soon I heard the noises of other rugby players laughing and causing ruckus in the hallway so I knew it was breakfast time. I was soon moved to a room with another player and started to feel more comfortable as I got to know the others. I was happy that there were a couple of other college players that could share in the jokes about our age and rookie status.

The following week of rugby was one of the most amazing weeks of my life. As we practiced I had the opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches in the US, as well as play with some awesome players. We also visited a lot of local attractions like the beach, a horse race, authentic dinners, and of course a little nightlife. We destroyed at the tournament, and after our last game, I just remember a team of Scottish boys giving us a bottle of scotch from their sponsor, which we proceeded to taste test. Needless to say, us poor little college rookies got toasted.

So later that night, we found ourselves at out late and in no shape to walk home, so taxi it was. The team was flying out early the next morning, all except me. Since I was a college student done for Christmas break, I decided to stay in the country a couple of extra days and a player from the Trinidad National team had offered to host me. I wasn't sure what her name was, just that she was going to contact me at the hotel to arrange a pickup. The following morning, I wake up bleary eyed at like 7am because the phone is ringing. Hmm, I realize that my roommate is already gone to the airport and I am very perplexed by the phone. Who could be calling? So I grab it and it is the front desk, explaining that some taxi cab driver is there and thinks he might have my purse? Whaaha??? OMG, my purse is nowhere to be found.

I realize that I must have lost it the previous night. Because I am an idiot and had not traveled a lot internationally, I had everything in that purse. Money, cell, passport, contact number for my host, aka my proven life in America. And somehow, this incredible taxi driver had decided to bring it to the hotel where he thought he dropped off the person who lost it and cared enough to track down my name and call my room. I rushed down and got it from him, after emptying my cash into his hands as a thank you. Thank god there was no need to call the embassy considering my whole team was apparently already gone from the hotel. Trinidad may be a country where a lot of folks are hard up for money and struggle to get by, but I met the taxi driver with a heart of gold.

Later that day, I got rounded up by my rugger host and taken to her house on the top of a mountain. It was an incredible way to get a view of real life there. She called up her teammates and they met us at 4pm to have a lime for me (party) and laughed the whole night at my funny accent. I left that country thinking that islanders have it right. It has this amazing laid back attitude, I felt the people to be very genuine and amazing, and of course, can't beat the beach and weather.

Side Note: Of the 10 rugby players I played with that weekend (many of which were brand new to the game of 7s), I believe at least 5 are now Eagles (national team players). Some of them are among the best in the country as we speak. And I got to know them as skinny rookies. I went on to play for the U23 Eagles before injury and work made me take a step back from upper level rugby. I still think about what could have been. But I am happy with my rugby career as a whole, and as I drop over the retirement (permanent injured reserve) wall I remember how much I have gotten from rugby and how much I will miss it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It runs in the family.

So since I already started the self bashing earlier this week by talking about my cell phone issues, I thought I would complete the picture of my experiences.

You may remember my sister who a little over one week ago, guest blogged about her exciting biking adventures in London and how she planned on turning over a new non lazy leaf with her hubby by biking every weekend. So we usually Skype on Sundays, and this past Sunday I asked her if she did a biking trip that weekend. She starts to laugh and launches into this long story about how they packed this amazing lunch and got all their gear ready to take a biking trip, only to realize that her bike had been stolen. Well she could not understand how someone had stolen her bicycle, had they actually cut through her u-lock? So she took her hubby down to look for it, and she showed him the place she had locked it up and it looked like this...minus the nice little circle thing shown in this photo.
Anyone see the issue? So some enterprising young criminal, had only to lift the bike up and over the pole and ride off, because she also only locked it to her center frame but not her tire. So Sushi was pissed because wifey is an idiot and he proceeded to tell me how "Erma" this all is and how Ribby needs a babysitter. I was laughing the whole time. Erma, btw, is a term in our family for scatterbrained activity. I believe it came from my grandmother who passed the trait on to my mother (and subsequently along to us daughters).

So while I made fun of my sister for this, I have to confess, I have had my share of moments like this (which my new sis-in-law kindly pointed out). Tom has learned to be flexible and not to get too angry, when we need to drive 4 hours back to the ski resort at 2 am because I left my purse at the restaurant (while I proceed to fall asleep). He has also learned to not laugh, when the lady at the Pacific Sunwear chases me down in the mall because I left my wallet there 2 hours ago but didn't realize it, and she saw me walking by. These are both good tales, but these pale in comparison to the one I will tell you next time.

Stay tuned for the tale which goes by the title, "How I Almost Got Stuck in a Third World Country Without Wallet, Passport, Money, Cell Phone or Friends". Go me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I may have a problem.

Just call me the terminator of talk. The eradicator of electronics. The catastrophic cosmic cell phone crusher. In other words, I break cell phones. There is a reason that I bought a crush proof water proof digital camera. But then I sort of broke it, and now I am not sure if it is completely waterproof anymore (plus I can't find it at the moment! Ughh.). Show me something that can not be broken, and I will show you a way. It is a hard life, being an electronic gadget when your owner is a mountain crasher biker and insists on bringing phones and cameras on trips.

Broke another cell phone this weekend. This is my third phone is about 5 months. I had a Motorola Razor until last summer and let me tell you that phone sucks. I hated it from the moment I got it and due to dropage/bad design, it used to turn off periodically and whitescreen during calls. I finally got fed up and purchased out of pocket a new Sony Ericsson mp3/radio/camera phone. I chose this phone to replace my current mp3 player/radio since the antenna had broken off causing the radio to not work anymore. I loved my new phone and bragged to everyone about it, up until two weeks later when I took it Salt River tubing in a "waterproof" bag and it stopped turning on. Sob. No more new phone for you. So I resurrected the Razor and sucked it up for a couple of more months of irritation, until i felt justified to purchase another new phone out of pocket. BTW, I get a work discount so my out of pocket is way cheaper than the typical out of pocket. Anyway, this time, I decide to go for the gold, the latest version of the Sony Ericsson that I had previously killed, with an upgraded camera, FM radio. mp3 player, and 2GB of memory for storing songs and photos.

Got my new phone a couple of months ago and I have been loving it. Have lots of workout play lists on it, it takes great photos (some of which have appeared on this blog lately, since I can't find my waterproof camera). Then, for no apparent reason, it just dies on Saturday night. Won't charge or turn on. I didn't get it wet this time, and did not step on it or crash on it. I may have dropped it gently onto rocks, but it needs to be able to withstand a little rock action. The good news is, that it is covered under warrantly (as long as they don't think it has too many scratches). So they are sending me another one and I am back using the Razor. With each phone that breaks, I appreciate that old piece of crap Razor just a little more.

I think one of my NY resolutions is to take better care of my stuff. Maybe I will get a cover. I plan to find my camera and make an actual spot for it. And I swear, that my new bike will be like a newborn to me. It will not get neglected or tossed about carelessly over the wall that I am stuck behind. That I will promise.

Friday, January 25, 2008

World Record Holders

I am friends with two world record holders. It is not as cool as saying "I am a world record holder," but what can you do? Sarah, aka crazy rower #2 and Emily, aka crazy rower #1, both Scottsdale rugby players have successfully been part of the fastest all women's team, Unfinished Business, to row across the Atlantic ocean. They landed in Antigua in 51 days, 16 hours, and 31 minutes after departing from the Canary Islands, shattering the previous record by 17 days. I am thrilled for Sarah and Emily as this finishes a dream that they have had since they were 20 years old (they are an ancient 24 years old now) which was shattered by a capsize halfway across two years ago. Can't wait for Sarah to get back and rejoin me on all my adventures since she doesn't say no to anything.

Team ODP is almost complete again. Next race: The 24 Hours of Old Pueblo, Feb 21st.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's about time.

Introducing the latest member of our family...The 2007 Cannondale Rush Feminine 1

It's not the carbon version, but with the deal I hooked up, I am now considered a criminal. Words can't describe my excitement. Seriously. I am just making unintelligible sounds right now. Sigh. Shipping soon to a desert near me. Thank you work bonus, for a minute you are forgiven.


Left work last night at 10 pm. I know I know, it sucks. Anyway, I pull up to the stop light on the way home. A black truck pulls up beside me with a pickup bed full of snow !??!? Need I remind you that I live in Phoenix and it was 65 yesterday?

Hmm, whaaa? I am at a loss. I have no clue. I stared at it for the whole light trying to devise where they hell they got it. Unfortunately, I haven't a clue. Apparently, I need to stop working so late... it brings on hallucinations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Life keeps on ticking.

View of McDowell Mountains, Phoenix

Sorry my blogging has been kinda weak lately. I have been uber busy with work, school, life, etc. I gave up running which has been real hard [sarcasm]. Kind of like when a Catholic gives up vegetables for Lent which we all know is cheating. Focusing on the biking right now. Like last week, I rode my bike to the gym, then I rode on the stationary bike for awhile, then rode back home. Bike bike bike, thats all I can do without knee pain, waaaahhh. Although I am in a state of perpetual swellage right now, it doesn't actually hurt to bike, so that is what I do. Which is fine because I need to get to a place where I will be able to ride ~65 miles in 24 hours by February 16th without crying for my momma.

What have I been up to? Well, Friday I dissected a rat. Really very cool. I really like dissection. I know most people are grossed out (like the other three people in my lab group who wouldn't even touch the damn thing), but I find it fascinating because it brings to life the abstract of mammal physiology. They have all the same organs as humans except for the appendix and the gall bladder. Anyway, I had no problems cutting up that animal, and I attribute this to my slum landlord in college. Someday I will tell the story of the great hunters of 15th street (me and my roommates) and the wild and unattainable beast (a mammoth rat) we hunted for 6 months before we claimed victory. Let's just say, I hate me some rats.

On Saturday, I attended the first MBAA mt biking race of the year at McDowell mountains. I didn't race in it due to not wanting to get laughed off the course because of my bike and my speed and my gimp knee, but I wanted to watch and then go for a ride at a nearby trail. My best bud and I did what we always do: break rules and then get stuck because of it. We jumped onto the course right before the race to find a place to watch some crashes and ended up getting stuck out there because we didn't want to ride back through the start/finish where everyone was cheering for actual riders. So we hike/biked for a couple of miles over to where we found a road and climbed over the fence to get out of the course. We did find a killer hill where less than half of the riders would make it up and those that didn't found out what it was like to be "Jack and Jill climbed up a hill" while attached to a bike. Afterward we went for a quick 20 mile ride at the nearby Pemberton Trail and I found it much much easier than the first time I did it when I was a total newbie wimp. We followed that up with some brews with our new mountain biking team that we recently joined. That's right, we are now members of the local Missing Link Racing team, who seem like some cool guys and are sponsored by Four Peaks Brewery. We will be the token females I believe, but that is what mountain biking is all about. We got sweet new jerseys and get a 20% discount to the Brewery so I feel that we won on that deal.

Biking along Pemberton Trail, McDowell Mts

Sunday, I went to South Mountain to test ride some Cannondales that a dealer brought out. The Cannondale Carbon Rush and I are in love. Seriously. It was a blind date, but immediately we felt the connection. We share similar interests, like going fast and jumping rocks, and we just fit together very nicely. I may have to reconsider my current relationship. I have never ever ridden so fast on that trail and derived as much enjoyment as I did Sunday morning after a late night at the bar wearing jeans and a hoodie with no water or sports bra or breakfast in sight. I want this bike as my partner. I realize that I will never be able to afford it as it has a $6500 price tag, but a girl can dream, no? Later that day I attended the Gay Rodeo which was entertaining, but I am not gonna lie, I was a little disappointed. The quality of eye candy was way below par with my expectations.

Now I am back at the grind, trying to get tons of work done with a little biking thrown in. Ahh the life of a mover and a shaker.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Guest blogger for you.

Happy MLK Day. For those of us who don't have the day off, I am feeling ya. For those who have no excuse not to comment. Today I have a special treat for you. My sister Ribby is a married lady who lives in the proper town of London, England with her British hubby Sushi (nicknames people nicknames). They have quite the cultural life there, but alas, only laugh and sigh at my adventurous exploits on bike and foot. Due to actual exciting adventures initiated by Ribby & Sushi this past weekend, here's a guest blog coming to you today straight from Ye Ole England. I may have converted another one to biking, I can now die happy. (PS, I kept all spellings original because I have no idea what is spelled wrong due to typos and what is spelled wrong due to weird British spellings.)


There may just be hope for us yet. For years, practically my whole life, we enjoyed our lazy Sundays. Happy to let my sister and her hubby have the all the active fun. But today, we did you proud.

Sunday: We started out as usual. We normally do take the bikes out on a Sunday, but normally just to go to the other side of town to our parents, normally because they've cook some nice Indian food. Technically, our motive was actually just food, cooked well and plenty of it.

But today, we started out along the River Thames, where we live in Kingston Upon Thames, England. We stayed along the river, dodging the diligent crazy runners, Wellie-clad leisure walkers and pink baby bikers with Daddy. We soon found ourselves covered from head to toe in mud, because the pavement rapidly disappeared. (Members of my family: you should remember this when we went walking along river the the River Locks in Ham in August 2006.)

I said to myself..." W0w...Hannah would love this mud." After the second overtaking of very muddy boys on bikes and after after me telling hubby that his back was already full of mud anyways, we threw caution to the wind and joined muddy boyes splashing threw muddy puddles. Actually I'm exaggerated as it was very civiliased (with an s) as this is England after all and the Brits are very polite about not splashing other passer byers.

We followed the famous snaked path of the Thames all the way to Fulham. Zone 2 in London and 11 miles from Kingston! After a quick river bench coffee stop (I bring my themos of hot coffee everywhere, because I love food and drink and it stays hot for 4 hours) we turned around, taking the roads this time instead of the lovely, but muddy river path. The bike path sign said it was 8 miles to Kingston and we found that road bikes is alot harder because of the up and down hills; whilst also being slightly more dangerous when one considers that we were actually on a motorway (sort of...probably classified as a AA road).

So, whilst 21 miles may not be much for Tom and Hannah, we found it throughally exhausting. Me actually more than hubby; as he is somehow built like a race horse, allbeit a lazy racehorse; with endurance like a mac-truck on bio-diesel when he actually bothers too apply the accelerator.

The new sensations I've been experiencing for the rest of the day, after pushing myself as never have before after our 2 1/2 hour bike ride:
- out of breath constantly (even though it is now 8pm)
- cheeks still feeling flushed (even though it is now 8pm)
- pleasantly aching body ( expected that)
- utterly starving (much more than normal.....which means I'm just eating back all of the calories I burned.)

This is a very strange feeling, to push one's self beyond the normal threshold, beyond currently level of shape. I've really not done that very much in my life....oh except maybe that time when I beat Hannah going back up the Grand Canyon (DON'T believe her side of the story!)

So, hubby and I have decided: We are bikers. This is cool, as I feel like this day was an athletic epiphany of sorts for both of us. Finally, we found something that is physically challenging but also mentally stimulating and .... ACTUALLY enjoyable. Which is why I say there is hope after all.

My plan next weekend is to bring a change of clothes and make it all the way to Kensingston (further 2 1/2 miles and Zone 1 of London!) so we can go into the museums. Hubby's idea was just to bring sandwiches along to join the coffee thermos on the river bench. I like that idea too.

I immediately went out this afternoon to buy 'bike gear' now, hurry quick. Need florescent vests, bikes gloves and trouser clips....before Mr Lazy's prediction that the novelty will wear off comes true.

Until next week - Love Mr and Mrs Lazy in London

NB pictures to accompany next week's blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More awesome nuggets. Cause I can.

Did I mention I love techno? Dance music to be more precise. Love it.

Beep beep. Synthesized twang. Beep beep. Deet deet deet. Other random fast drum sounds. Thatsa whata ima listenen 2. Gets me pumped up to work overtime. Yessirree.

Lucas Prata Radio on Pandora. Mmmm bop. It always makes me want to work out. and not do my TPS reports. I did not get the memo.

Can't wait for this to be me again! Feb 21 baby. Aren't you jealous? These ole pics from my first ACL surgery just give me the warm & fuzzies looking at them. That CPM machine shore was lotsa fun. And I can see the blue cord for my ice machine sticking out from under the blanket. Now dat ice machine was like crack & dat is wack.

Okay enough bad pronunciations and cool misspellings. That is all.

Wednesday's Nuggets 0 Gold

So my bud Chris finally has a blog. This means that he can unleash his snarky commentary on unsuspecting people worldwide (rather than my blog comments...joking, I love all comments). I read with bated breath.

Also, Sarah crazy rower #2 is getting close close close to finishing her insane row across the Atlantic. They are less than 500 miles off the coast of Antigua and hope to finish in the vicinity of January 21st. I am ecstatic that they have nearly finished their "Unfinished Business" and are sitting pretty in fourth place overall at this point. Sarah needs to get her sea legs back on the bike so we are ready to go for our race in around a month.

My first college class since I graduated a long four years ago is this week. Looking forward to dissecting a frog...sweet. But homework is still homework, particularly after a long day of work. Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds?

My bad knee is a POS and is now 40 lbs weaker on leg press than my good knee. Found this out the other night at the gym and wasn't too excited about it. Considering immediately following the ACL retear, it was only 15 lbs weaker, this means that I am doing a lot of favoring and not enough lifting. I think it was inevitable considering how much I hate sterile but germy gym lifting workouts. More bike & more cowbell!

Did you know that they have a gay rodeo? I got free tickets for this weekend and plan on watching some good looking ripped dudes ride some bulls. Hey I am all about looking but not touching.

I have exhausted my supply of random nuggets of sweet sweet entertainment. You will have to find some other way to slack from your work now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Spring arrives.

My backyard. South Mountain Desert Classic, Spring 2008

Spring is here. Yes, I meant spring. December is over and therefore spring is here in the desert. I know you hate me right now, but don't worry, you probably only have 4 more months of winter if you live in most of the US. The mountain in my backyard is starting to get green, at least as green as it gets. Little wild grass shoots come up and believe me, we do not take that for granted. The Hedgehog cactus (seen right) start to get flowers and plants that looked like dead become alive. On a wet winter like we have had this year, the wildflowers come out and take over the brown mountains that surround Phoenix. Well, I may cheer for a team that can't buy a NCAA championship to save our lives, but at least I can mountain bike 20 miles with shorts on in January.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Countdown to cutting commences.

February 21. My big date with the scalpel has been scheduled. This is also 4 days after my big 24 hour bike race. I would rather have the opportunity to trash my own knee right before the surgeons trash it anyway. I pre-rode the race course yesterday near Oracle, Arizona, and although we got a little lost and did some extra miles (18ish total), I realized that I need to get some more extended time on the bike to prepare. I was pretty tired from the one loop (16 miles total) and I couldn't imagine doing another three or four. So I am going to stop with all the running nonsense and try to start spending at least five nights a week on the bike. Overall though, the course is pretty beginner level, which is probably good for the nighttime laps.

I am soooo ready for the surgery NOW. My knee is getting progressively more sore and it has become an annoying hindrance as it gets sore from everything. Not bad pain, but annoyingly sore. I am trying to do as many fun things as I can before then I will give you a call.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Reasons for a new job.

There is some shit going down at work today.

Basically the story is this. Over Christmas, they took some working vending machines on my floor and made them free. Where before it cost an astounding $1.25 for some damn Diet Coke, it is now free. Sweet right? Then they circulated rumors around about how the free drinks and snacks were only for a particular group that comprises of about 1/3 of the floor who recently had their cubes super compressed (waaa), and how everyone else was now supposed to walk down a flight of stairs to reach the pay vending area on that floor. I am not part of the special 1/3, so of course I would never take drinks from the free machine right around the corner from my office...right...

So everyone and their brother has been using the free vending machines for their afternoon sugar fix and so naturally, they are getting emptied quite frequently. Then the intelligent beings that thought they could provide unrestricted access to free drinks and snacks only for certain people based purely on word that they were group X's got angry that other people were consuming their product. They also got angry because someone has had to the nerve to empty the machine at night into their bag for home. Haha. This is comical but not unexpected since some jerk will also consume my half eaten pizza if I leave it over night in the fridge. I figure if they need it that bad, they are welcome to it. So angry management team of group X puts up a sign on the bulletin board stating that they tried to give us a chance to be honest by keeping the snack room's door open for all but since we (non group X) were obviously thieves and criminals, they would now be card key locking the room for only group X's badges. Whaaa? It is the only break room on the floor with coffee and snacks and a fridge.

Now there is an angry mutiny going on, and people are ripping down the signs and stealing all the food and drinks before they lock the door. I think I work in kindergarten. We haven't gotten to the chapter on sharing yet.

Gotta run, the diet is almost out.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

No marathon but I can climb!

Two bits o info as an update.

So I have bad news and good news. Bad news is that I am not going to be running in the Rock-N-Roll 1/2 Marathon this weekend like I had hoped. The good news is that I won't be paying the ridiculous $115 entry fee that it costs for the half right now. I have come to the conclusion that I simply can not run that far right now. My knee has been more sore lately and last night I pulled up lame with shooting pain after about 2 miles. I could enter and just plan to walk a lot of it, but I would rather spend that entry fee on something more exciting, like my 24 hr bike race that is in five weeks. That is the other main reason to bail on the Marathon, I am 100% committing to that race and I do not want to blow it on a run guaranteed to destroy my knee for a week or more. It does make me realize that I absolutely need knee surgery before I am able to get back to distance running of any kind. I am bummed, but that is life. Hopefully next year I will be able to run it with my bionic knee #2 post surgery #2.

Secondly, I am now certified to lead climb at the indoor rock gym. Woo hooo! I went last night and took the test that gives me the "I'm a stud" card to hang off my harness so I can climb in the non roped room (all the best climbers have this and I wanted one too...). This is fun because it opens up a whole new world of routes at the gym and requires more strength and concentration than the top roped routes. I found it to be much more challenging because you basically climb one handed so that every three steps you can tie into the clips that run along the route. It's also much more challenging to belay on a lead climb because you have to be ready for a big fall anytime especially if the person you are belaying weighs more than you. I usually flew off the ground for a second before I would break the fall and return to the ground. It definitely takes more trust in your belayer and equipment.

Go hump day go. Okay a little faster now. You can pick it up anytime now....grrr.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Go Bucks!!!!!

If you wish to be my friend, you'd best cheer for the scarlet and gray this evening. Just saying. I mean, how can you not be impressed by a team that is run by a sweater vest. If we lose a third National Championship in 12 months, I might cry. Followed by a deep hole of wallowing self pity that I may never be able to climb out of...sob. Please please please beat LSU you cute little Buckeyes.

That is all.

Best mascot ever... a poisonous nut sent to crush the world.

[Update: BOO HOO]

Friday, January 4, 2008

2007 Year in Review Ramblings

It is that time of the year now. Realizing that another year has past and you are one year older and wiser due to the experiences of the past year. Some years, I can honestly say, fall into the blur of life. They simply are extensions of previous years, and while things can get better or worse, aren't really outliers on life's linear path. And sometimes the opposite happens. You realize that a year has changed the path (slope) of your life (Mx + b = y where M is a gigantic life change) and suddenly, the end point is not where it used to be. Looking back at this year, I am realizing, that I am not the person I was a year ago. I feel like I have evolved immensely, in what I like to do, how I perceive myself, and where I am headed. I have hopes that this year was the corner turn and next year I can hit the gas on the straightaway.

In this vein, I will be blogging about the biggest changes and experiences this past year, because I believe it's good to look back and realize that while I was chasing down life, I seemed to have finally caught it once or twice and I really don't want to let it go. As I write this, it is so easy to see how when life closes one door, it opens another and makes me so strongly believe that everything happens for a reason.

What changed you ask?

-Only every athletic & career focused goal I have set for myself over the past eight years…

-The activities that make my heart sing are entirely different.

-The dreams that keep me up at night have completely changed.

-The expectations about what I can accomplish and what limits I may find are freshly baked creations in my mind.

-My vision of the future with my family at my side has developed a new and more concrete definition that fills me with such happiness.

Basically, everything has changed.

First and foremost, I started the year on a mission to get back to the rugby pitch following my ACL reconstruction in 2006. This year was supposed to be the year I was able to return to the sport that I loved, stronger and better than ever. I debuted on the pitch in February to begin what would become the most painful season of my life both mentally and physically. Physically, I was not really ready to play the game again. I still had a lot of knee pain, and while I wasn't worried about re-injury, my body would shut down when it knew I needed to, and I mostly played very subpar to my normal abilities. I spend many a practice limping through pain and many an evening icing down return swelling. This was hard mentally since I am usually my own worst critic in rugby. Lose confidence of your abilities in a sport like rugby, and I guarantee you will not last long. I ended the season in May completely and mentally done with the sport. I had lost the desire for one of the most constant parts of my life for 7 years. Where would I go from here?

I need physical outlet. I know this about myself. So I picked up the only sport that didn’t hurt my knee: biking. I didn’t know anything about biking, but I needed a non impact activity to do while my knee recovered from a rugby. Interestingly enough, I started my blog Chasing Down Life about this time due to discovering of Jill’s blog Up In Alaska which chronicles the adventures of Alaska winter biking. This opened me up to a world of crazy blog adventurers who risk life and limb in the pursuit of athletic goals. I am an avid reader of adventure novels and it was like I got to see the unedited view into the minds and training stories of things I usually only dreamed about. It made them seem real, and since real people were achieving these amazing things, why couldn’t I?

Slowly these stories inspired me to find my own adventures, and thus drove a desire to document them. But writing was never a passion of mine and since I spend my whole day on a computer, why would I want to spend time on it after work for personal activities? I love photography and wished to have a place to write the photographic story of my life hence the blog was born. I really didn’t know what to expect from my writing since I have never had a journal in my life and can honestly say I can not ever remember writing anything that was not required of me before this blog. Aside from my terrible grammar, punctuation, and fragments etc., I have been surprised not only at what seems to flow out of my head, but also in how much enjoyment I get out of it.

My only real previous biking experience was riding on a cement path when I was a kid. I owned a cheap crappy mountain bike that had been sorely neglected since its purchase three years ago. So when I picked up the bike, and started trying to ride on a real trail, I got frustrated by my normal method of dismount (going over the handlebars). These early days of discovering how a bike works are laughable and embarrassing and unfortunately are archived in May and June on this blog. But I learned that you grow by taking a tumble and I have slowly gotten better. More importantly, I got in shape… like real endurance shape. Something I had never done in my life either. Workouts became fun, and when you are having fun, you don’t want to stop, even after a couple of hours. This new feeling of strength caused me to expand my horizons on where else I could have outdoor fun.

I started indoor/outdoor rock climbing, trail running, and kayaking. I planned my first big back packing trip to Havasu Falls for my bachelorette party and fell in love with this new type of hiking that can last for more than a day. I basically discovered that I love outdoor activities in nature with a passion I thought was only reserved for rugby. I have explored more of Arizona in this past summer/fall than in my previous three years living here and have discovered the true beauty of the desert. Stepping back now, I can see the logical progression that the culmination of all of these new activities has led me to. Adventure racing is my newest passion that I have only yet begun to taste and from the first drop of it, I was left craving more. It encompasses all the hobbies that I have started to love while filling the competitive void left from retiring from rugby.

With the evolution of my hobbies, has come a better realization of who and I am and what makes me tick. With the emergence of dreams and goals, has come a better vision of where I want my future to look like. Of course one of the biggest changes in my personal life this year has been the acquisition of a hubby. Since Tom and I have been together for quite some time, I wasn’t sure how much things would change when we got married. But it has, in so many ways. I see our happy future together in 5, 10, 20 and even 50 years. We are defining that picture now, molding it to be what we want together. I feel so lucky to have found this soul mate to create a life with. I have a foundation in the form of a husband who supports my dreams and understands my frustrations. And this has made me realize that if I do not like the story being laid out before me, then I should not be afraid to alter it. I have a great job, a job many people would die for, but it does not inspire me and I don’t think I will ever feel satisfied until I feel at least part of the passion I feel in life at work. So I am exploring options that include going back to school for a pretty drastic career change in the medical field (Phys As.). It will be hard work for over three years and I am not even sure I will be accepted, but I am no longer afraid to try. It may not work out in the end, but I am going to give it a go.

So 2007 was great on so many levels. I had accomplishments and positive forward steps in the direction of my future interleaved with some stumbles in the wrong direction (re-tearing my ACL) all of which comprises the natural tapestry of life. I learned how best to deal with both highs and lows, cause the mind is a fickle but strong dictator. Mostly, I feel like I gained a little more clarity into me. Because that is what life is all about: Living to your full potential in the most positive impactful way possible.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


I am working on a blog that wraps up 2007 but for some reason, it is starting to feel like homework. Which is appropriate because I am going to start to have homework again, and not just work that I do at home. I am going back to school starting in less than two weeks on an exploratory adventure which you will have to decipher by putting two and two together to equate four. Wink wink. I get to take some fun classes such as Anatomy & Physiology and Organic Chemistry. This is just for fun of course. In the meantime, I will continue my full time other life which includes working, biking and of course essential life operations like sleeping and eating.

Super. Also, it is 70 degrees out today. I know, I suck. I told you I would become an annoying brat about how good our weather is. But truly, its hard to explain how happy I am to be back in a sunny, dry, warm place after 10 days in cold and dreary Ohio. Giddy could describe it.