Friday, May 6, 2016

Now Blogging from the West Coast

I moved pretty much across the country at the end of last year, from Washington, DC, to Sacramento, CA.


The move was a long time coming, and friends had been threatening to send in an extraction team for years, although, if we want to get all yogic and new agey about it, there is no extraction team, only the individual. From there, it is the individual's responsibility to the Self to take that first step.

My 15-ish years in the Washington, DC area – 14 within the District's boundaries – meant that I witnessed the revitalization of some places that were pretty sketchy in the late 1990s. I saw the changing climate of politics and protest. I experienced the ebb and flow of the physical presence of friends in a very transient community, to the point where I was losing approximately 8 friends a year to moves. In turn, social media made connecting with now far-flung friends easier, although the painful corollary was, of course, noticing when you were excluded from not-so-far-flung gatherings.

While in D.C., I rehabbed a knee from surgery into regular yoga practice, teaching, and even found myself on the stage at last year's DC Yoga on the Mall event.
This was the slightly chaotic demo session.
I'm in the purple t-shirt in front row, in downward facing dog.
And while we're on the Mall, I ran around and around it a lot.  Another skill that I cultivated was adeptness at traveling through the local airports with multiple pairs of skis and a rolling duffel bag. Coincidentally, I also developed an impatience at other airports when travelers took more than 5 minutes to get through security, but that's a different blog post.

There is a trajectory that many people who at one point called D.C. home take. That was not my path. I remained there longer than many, and nothing cataclysmic occurred that spurred the move to California. I'm still in the same career field. I didn't have a partner in D.C., so it's not like I jettisoned him, either. My move was a product of the hackneyed John Muir quotation more than anything else.

But that doesn't mean the transition has been easy, either. I still have no idea where the nearest mail box is to my house, and I'm ridiculously out of shape for someone who ran a respectable half marathon time in November.
I had so much energy left over after the half,
I ran Colleen's mile 25 with her. While carrying a purse.
My yoga asana practice is intermittent, and the lunch time fast casual food options are meager – D.C. really has that one dialed.

Free yoga in Sacramento,
through Yoga in the Park/Yoga Moves Us!
And, I am actually more neurotic than ever about skiing.


Will I ever keep my hands up and not in a defensive posture? Will I ever not want to puke at some point while skinning? Will I remember to lock down my heels on the downhill??? Will I ever move on from being a backcountry skiing bench warmer, or, as I call it, the C Team??

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

On the DNS

It happens. In early spring, you have every intention of making this the year you'll adequately prepare for a fall race and execute the race plan. The Universe throws you a few curve balls, but it's okay, you'll get back on track. Look, there's even a Groupon for a random race that sort of fits your training schedule for the peak race.

Then you catch a dreaded early fall cold and are knocked off your feet for days. And race day turns out to be chilly, and when you look at the course map, it's essentially laps around the parking lots of a defunct football stadium.

That's how my first DNS happened this morning. Going into the summer, I soon realized that my running base was nonexistent, which made a half marathon training plan with any sort of speedwork silly. New goal: build up mileage without injuring myself.

I was lured by a Groupon for a 15K a few weeks after the Army Ten Miler but before the Richmond half. I'd never run a 15K before. Why not?

When I went to bed last night, I still had every intention of racing this morning, even though I was on Day 10 of a lingering cold and had celebrated a friend's birthday with an 8-mile hike and multi-course dinner the night before.

Then my alarm went off at the reasonable time of 7am. Instead of bounding out like I usually do on race day, I rolled over and hit snooze. When the soothing tones of NPR woke me up again, I made the decision that my body was not well enough to race.

I slept for another 1.5 hours, pretty much proof that I was too exhausted to race. I did make it out for an 11-mile run later in the day. Suffice to say, my cold and tired legs showed.

I don't feel great about not making it to the start line this morning, but there's no doubt it was the right call. Plus, I got this view yesterday:



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Montana! Yellowstone!

If you've never gone to Yellowstone National Park in the winter, do it. ASAP. Before the winters in Yellowstone become non-winters.

After flight cancellations and delays — not all bad because I got a table massage and a friend sent me a list of the best dining beer in the Denver airport — I walked through into the Bozeman airport 25 hours after my scheduled arrival. The plan for the week: ski Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, and, uhm, Yellowstone, you know, that mecca of backcountry skiing. 

Ever since a friend's parents told me 8 years ago about their winter trip to Yellowstone, a ski tour around the thermal features has been on my radar just for the sheer novelty of it. And although Yellowstone was not the first national park that I'd been to (hello, Badlands!), it was the first that I had appreciated. I was 8 or 9 or 10, basically an age where volcanos were rad, and geysers were even more rad. But until this friend's parents told me about their trip, it didn't even occur to me that one could go to Yellowstone in the winter. Now a whole new world was opened to me.

Last week I hit Big Sky, Bridger Bowl (and skied-ish off the ridge! Emphasis on the "-ish"), and even the Bozeman music scene.
There is a ridge behind me. Really.
The highlight, though, was experiencing Yellowstone in the winter.
Um. Winter.
First, as with many parts of North America known for its winters, it's a bad snow year in Yellowstone.

The ice skating rink at the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel was closed for the season when we arrived. Technically, the season was ending a few days after our departure, but still. And then we searched for snow in the immediate area and hoped to do some ski touring. It was mostly combat touring with minimal elevation gain thanks to the low snow coverage. Given that all I really wanted to do was just ski around the hot springs, this wasn't a big deal to me, but before I flew out to Yellowstone, I checked out a few topos and realized that there was actually some terrain, which, if covered in snow, could be skied.
We ducked into the loop at the upper Mammoth Hot Springs in hopes that we could then head up. Meh. Nothing special, unless you count practicing putting on skins, maneuvering over brush and downed trees, taking off skins, and not tripping over downed trees on the way back. Which is good practice.


The next day brought us out towards the northeast section of the park, where we should have headed the day before. Winter and wildlife greeted us.

Sheep! Ram! Or whatever.
Off to see what's behind the trees, towards Druid Peak and Mt. Hornaday.

Turns!
I would love to ski Yellowstone in a solid snow year. The Cooke City area, which is outside the park's northeast entrance, is reputed to have great terrain. And even within the park, it looks amazing in that corner. As for myself, I need to get into better skinning shape, improve my technique, and get more experience with route finding.  I'll be back...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Getting to Non-Attachment

In the early summer of 2012, I found myself at a crossroads. I know, cliché, especially coming from a yoga teacher. But bear with me. 

I blogged about a student leaving a yoga class as I was teaching it and needing to reinvigorate my yoga teaching. I'd been teaching for one year and had a month earlier picked up two amazing regular classes. After a year of networking, I'd finally had three regular weekly classes that I could cultivate.

Then a former employer in Seattle asked me to apply for a position there. I loved the people I met when I worked and lived in Seattle in 2010, and of course, the access to the outdoors. The low clouds all winter long nearly killed me, though. 

Between my ambivalence about Seattle, a desire to nevertheless move out of the D.C. area, and having finally "made it" with teaching yoga part-time in D.C., I was conflicted. I was really attached to the two new classes that I had just picked up. I recognized the attachment, knew that nothing is constant, and yet I clung to the classes. 

I had worked so hard to get to a place where I was teaching regular restorative yoga classes in studio settings in D.C.

So, it's with a cheeky smile that I write that as of last week, I no longer teach those classes: a Friday night class and a Saturday afternoon class. Technically, I haven't taught the specific Friday night class since 2013, but I replaced it with another Friday night class. 

Don't get me wrong. I loved teaching those classes. 

But, in November, I decided to shake up my yoga teaching schedule. [insert one of my least favorite clichés about making space for something new to come into your life] There isn't a defining moment of how I arrived at non-attachment to the classes, but it was a little unnerving not having anything to "fill" the space. Over the course of a few weeks, it just made sense to let go and see what would happen.

Two fantastic teachers are inheriting the classes, and for that I am grateful.

Now, I'm facing my first Friday and Saturday that were until 10am this morning completely unstructured. The idea of having a weekend is amazing. I'm positively giddy. I'm headed to a yoga workshop tonight and tomorrow, and I don't even need to find subs to cover for me. 

Wow.

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Realism, or The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon Kicked My Glutes

I kept my training cycle and schedule for this fall racing season pretty low key, mostly because I knew going in that it would be a rebuilding year. Rebuilding periods are mentally tough. Basically, "rebuilding" is a reframing of "not as fast as I know I can be" and learning to accept that. Rebuilding is realism. In fact, being overly optimistic about a rebuilding period is more likely than not a recipe for falling short of expectations and disappointment.

Yet it's practically human nature to be optimistic. Optimism about our own capabilities is the stuff that compels us to tie up the laces to head out for a run hours before the sun even rises.

After taking the bulk of the 12-month period after November 2012 off of serious training for middle-distance races, 2014 started off with some skiing, yoga, and overtraining for the Broad Street Run in May. Whoops. By then, Michelle had persuaded me to run another half marathon, so I needed to get my act together and train. I took June easy and ran without a watch for the entire month before ramping back up to train for this past weekend's race in Louisville, KY, the Urban Bourbon. I finished race, but the course kicked my butt. 

The swag kicked butt, too.
But, before the course kicked my butt, I also had a feeling of dread. Unlike the Richmond Half in 2012, I didn't run through the prior winter this year, and despite having run the Broad Street Run, my base was mediocre. I didn't prioritize strength training because I wanted to do more standup paddle boarding, and I was, well, lazy. Coming off the Army 10-Miler in 2012, I distinctly remember thinking, "I can run another 3 miles." This year, I finished a minute behind my 2012 time, which is inconsequential in a race as large as the ATM, but the thought as I crossed the finish line was definitely not "I can run another 3 miles."

Then, ten minutes after the race, I had foot and low calf cramps. I'd never had any sort of running-related muscle cramps before, so these caught me off guard. And if I was getting cramps after a 10-mile race, what would happen to me during a half marathon??

Is it self doubt leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy or realism when you jog to the start on race day and just hope that you can stay loose the next 13.1 miles and that they won't hurt too much? 

And the first 5 miles did feel good. But then the hills came. I hate hills, and for that reason, I rarely hit more than 2 hills during a long training run. During the race, there was a spectator on one hill that I could have hugged. He was coaching people up the hill, telling us things we already knew but were buried in an oxygen-deprived corner of our brains: use your arms, let your upper body carry you up the hill, you can do it. Nevertheless, these hills took a lot of fight out of me, and by mile 9, even though there were no more hills, I had lost a lot of will. Sadly for me, the Urban Bourbon was not a 10-mile race. Even sadder, I didn't really have a mantra planned or miles dedicated to anyone to carry me through the last three miles. Come to think of it, though, it's probably good that no miles were dedicated to anyone, lest the quality of mile 12 reflect the quality of our relationship.

Here's how my body felt: it was loose the first 5 miles. Then, both mentally and physically, I began to break down from miles 6 through 9. I took 3 walk breaks in mile 10 because my body tightened up. Hamstrings, calves, shoulders. My glutes would have tightened up if they still existed. I got my act together in mile 11 to run, but I took another 3 walk breaks in mile 12. Mile 13 was frustrating. I wanted to run the last 1.1 mile but made it only .6 of a mile before I needed to walk again. Strong finishes have always been my strength, but this was definitely not strong. 

Even though my race plan was to survive the first 10 miles and then see what happened, I really wanted the race to go better than that. So, I was pretty crushed at hardly surviving the first 10 miles and how bad the last 4 miles felt in comparison to the first 5 miles. The foot cramps that first showed up at the Army 10-Miler reappeared within 15 to 20 minutes after finishing, and I don't remember an endorphin (or any other) high. I'm pretty sure I told Michelle that I was never running another half marathon. Or hills. And if she wasn't there waiting for me at the finish, I would have skulked back to the hotel room and curled up into a ball.

Now I'm two days post race. What do you do when the thing about yourself that you could always rely upon becomes unreliable? You try to figure out what went wrong and whether you can get it back. Onward.