Mid-Week Tangent: hybrids changed my golf game

An alternative title for this post could be ‘what it feels like to play a 9-hole round of golf without rage’, which is exactly what happened this past weekend. For the first time, I didn’t want to throw in the towel by the 6th hole. I didn’t even throw one temper tantrum. Okay, I sort of got riled up when I missed a putt for my first true birdie attempt, but I like to think that’s always going to happen. I mean, seriously, I was robbed! That putt should’ve gone in! But I digress.

What’s important here is that I’ve found my clubs for life, or at least for my learning-to-golf life, and I can’t tell you what a difference it’s made. Actually, yes I can tell you what a difference it’s made, and I’m about to. Coupled with slowing my swing, about which I’ve already gushed of the benefits, these hybrid clubs have lead to such remarkable improvements as…

…Only losing one ball in an entire round! Even the ball I lost last weekend was a solid shot (for me). It cleared the water…but rolled off the bank back into the water. In contrast, most of my previous rounds involved repeated (think 4-5) balls lobbed into the water or hit into think brush never to be seen again. Ultimately, this led to my giving up, taking multi-stroke penalties and resuming play on the other side of the hazard, all in a distinctly worse state of mind.

…Only taking two mulligans! My partner is uber generous with the mulligans, something which has been completely necessary in past rounds where I missed or badly hit virtually every tee shot. This time around I hit some solid tee shots. Now, if they’d just stop lining fairways with trees I’d be set.

…FINALLY hitting the ball straight with some relative consistency. With any other club I have a strong tendency to hit far left. Every. Single. Time. With my hybrids, I am finally hitting straight, at least with a solid lie. If I’m on uneven ground it’s a totally different story and, in those moments, I really wish I could wrap my head around the fundamentals of physics. Something went horribly awry in ninth grade science. Sigh.

…Having so much fun that I lost track of what hole we were on. Usually by the 7th or 8th hole, I’m all like “sweet jesus, can we be done yet?” Imagine my surprise this weekend when I asked my partner what hole we were on and was actually sad when he said it was our ninth and final hole.

…Wanting to practice and play more!  I am now the one asking if we can golf or go to the driving range, and I owe it all to my hybrids.  I love them so much that I imagine it’s like what Ralphie felt like in A Christmas Story when he finally got his longed-for Red Ryder BB Gun and went to bed on Christmas night with it lovingly cradled in his arms. Let’s be clear, I don’t sleep with my hybrid clubs yet…but if I keep knocking four strokes (!!!) off my prior best score like I did last weekend, I just might!

Now if I could only figure out those bloody chip shots…


Monday Musings: finding a short-term, furnished rental is worse than dating

I recently read an article about the hyper competitive rental market in Toronto, where people are apparently writing the equivalent of dating profiles for landlords just to set themselves apart.  I remember reading it and thinking how ridiculous it was to compare seeking a rental to seeking a life mate, and thinking it even more bizarre that someone would essentially write a flashy bio to try to entice landlords to select her.

Well, now that I’m in the midst of the seemingly impossible task of finding a decent, affordable, furnished, and short-term rental in the similarly expensive city of Vancouver, I totally get it. On the outside, me and my partner are a successful, quiet, dependable couple with good credit, with no pets and no kids and no desire to throw disruptive parties in a suite. We sound like dream tenants, don’t we?  The problem: there are countless other couples just like us. On paper, there is nothing that sets us apart. Suddenly, I realize we have to woo potential landlords, something that feels odd and creepy to say the least. And yet, it seems our best option for beating out the rest.

Last night, as we viewed the first listing we’ve seen that actually looked livable and had a decent price tag, I realized we were essentially on a first date with prospective landlords. I mean, we were sitting on the owner’s patio at sunset babbling on about all our best qualities for goodness’ sake. There were the words that we were saying, and then there was the undertone of “pick us! we are the best! you will not regret choosing us!” It was subtle desperation at its finest.

Even responding to rental posts has its ties to the dating process.  It had never occurred to me before I read the article about Toronto’s market, but each of my painstakingly crafted intro messages was just as awful as drafting an online dating profile. You want to be brief but informative, giving true insight into what you’d be like as a tenant, but also wanting to make yourself appear like the absolutely perfect renter. You want to be different than the rest, but not so different as to be seen as strange. You want to be interested, but not so interested as to appear desperate. It’s a fine line to walk.

At the end of the day, no matter what we do the ultimate choice is in the hands of the renter. That’s what makes this the toughest. Much like dating, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and know that sometimes, even though you’re a great catch, the other person may not want you.

…but they should, because we’re FANTASTIC tenants. So if anyone reading this has or knows someone who has a short-term, furnished rental that won’t render us bankrupt, please let me know. We’re really, really awesome tenants.

TWIR #73: my physiotherapist broke me

Well, my physiotherapist told me last week that he was trying to “move things around” in the soft tissue around my sciatic and sacroiliac. Mission accomplished, I suppose. The pain has moved right in. I spent most of this week in damage control mode. On top of that, I’m ultra peeved because I can’t sleep on my stomach because of SI pain for the first time in a really, really long time, and that’s how I best fall asleep. Enough griping, and onto what I accomplished this week:

Activity: hike
Relevant Stats: 12 km, 260 m
Observations: Such a sad, pitiful, minimal climb through the forest for uninspiring views. All I ended up with was a sore and seizing lower back. At least I had good company, and a post-hike beer flight. Beer is never better than after a hike, even when your hike wasn’t really all that hard.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: tried to heal my SI with a massive brunch (it didn’t work)
Observations: I awoke stiff and sore and thankful that I had planned absolutely zero exercise for the day. I did not plan the rest of my day so well. I got up at 6:30 and thought that eating a tiny bowl of cereal would somehow tide me over until an 11:30 brunch date. It did not. I spent most of the late morning ravenous, and then proceeded to eat my weight in eggs, bacon and waffle. I regret nothing.

Activity: spin + strength
Relevant Stats: attempted spin for 5 min + strength for 30 minutes
Observations: I tried to spin but any standing spinning or significant tension was causing some serious SI discomfort. I gave up on the bike and opted for some easy strength training, which honestly didn’t feel much better. By late afternoon, I’d also developed an odd and random wrist pain and tingling in two of my fingers. Translation: not my day.

Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I really appreciate my trainer more and more every week. Not only did I text her the day before our session to tell her my SI was not happy, but then I showed up and told her my wrist was messed up and my fingers sort of numb. She took it all in stride and had me do some weird shoulder stretch that actually helped my wrist almost immediately. She is gifted. But she did make me do pushups, so she’s still not my favourite human.

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: It was a miracle! A solid spin session! A spin session where my legs and lungs held up! As you can tell, I was excited. I would’ve spun longer but I still feel guilty about my mid-day workouts and try not to be gone for the full 1.5 hours it takes for me to fit in a full workout and shower.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: This was day two of feeling solid. My SI was definitely not feeling normal, but it held up relatively well as long as I kept the weights reasonable and focused on form. However, my greatest accomplishment today by far was not eating a single yam fry, garlic free, or deep-fried potato croquette at an after work social. Never you mind that I went home and ate the world’s largest tacos…

Activity: cardio warm up + strength
Relevant Stats: 10 min. run + 35 min. strength
Observations: I ran! It almost killed me and it was on a treadmill with a TV screen, which I hate. I mean, can anyone actually run with that stupid screen blocking their entire field of vision? I really wish you could clip them on and off…Okay, I’ll stop ranting. The point is that I ran without pain, even if only for ten minutes, and then had a good strength workout to boot. Win.

At least I can say that by the end of this week I feel better than the beginning.  Here’s hoping my body holds up enough to hit some golf balls this weekend.  Whenever I write something like that about golf, I have a moment when I don’t even know who I am anymore.  Happy Friday! Get out there this weekend!

Mid-Week Tangent: Perks of Having a Homemaker

For four months, I played the part of homemaker and it was a brief but wonderful time. I loved not working. It was grand. And then I went back to work and my world turned into a hectic, mad rush to fit everything in: workouts, work, making breakfast, lunches, helping with dinner, keeping the house tidy, running errands, finding time for friends. Ugh. It was too much. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed since the day I went back to work.

Then, just last week, something magical happened: my partner wrapped up his work until our move. Now, let me just start by saying that my partner has always been wonderful at dividing and conquering household stuff. The problem was that when we were both working, we were rushing around together to get everything done. Both of us felt stressed and overwhelmed. Now that he’s off work I’ve experienced the wonder of being on the receiving end of some seriously fantastic home-making.

Here are just a few of the benefits I’ve experienced:

–I haven’t made a lunch salad in days. I do not miss it. At all. Also, I firmly believe that a salad just tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

–Our dining area no longer looks like a bomb went off in it. Seriously, I used to just cringe staring at all the crap piled up on our table waiting to be organized or put away, but who had the time? And it wasn’t as important as other things. It is oddly soothing to come home to order and tidiness.

–Hallelujah! The bed is being made again! I don’t know why I find it comforting to come home to a bed that’s been made, but I do. Much like the dining area debacle, it’s pretty low on my priority list (think: almost dead bottom) but when it does happen I just feel 10,000 times better.

–I’ve gotten so many treats! My boyfriend knows the way to my heart, and that is through candy and various other sugar-laden things that I shouldn’t be eating but eat with gusto nonetheless. Just yesterday I received a text mid-afternoon that said “there’s three new treats for you to find.” Scavenger hunting for treats! Could there be a better thing to come home to after work? No. The answer is no.

Lest you think I’m totally superficial, in all honesty the nicest thing has been feeling less overwhelmed at the end of the day. Instead of walking in the door and feeling like there’s another 10 things to do immediately, I now feel like I have time to breathe and relax and I am so, so appreciative of that. Trust me when I say when I’m not an overwhelmed stress-ball, it’s also a much better scene for my boyfriend. This is a total win-win. We’ve also been able to spend more quality time together. Just yesterday, we went out, on a work night (!!!!). I mean, it was just a trip to Superstore but, who am I kidding, Superstore trips are like my favourite thing ever.

I think you can tell that I’m a big fan of this transition. Although temporary because, you know, we can’t live without the income forever, it’s still pretty nice to have so many of life’s things taken care of before I even walk through the door at night. Having a homemaker is pretty freaking fantastic.

Trail Tuesdays: Hiking Humble Pie

Ever wonder where the expression “humble pie” comes from? I did. So I looked it up.

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? With that little learning moment out of the way, let’s get on to the real heart of this post.

On Saturday, I went on my second trail adventure of the entire summer.  It was a 12 km out-and-back with a measly 261 m of elevation gain. It nearly killed me. I’m not joking. My entire lower back and gluteal region seized up like nobody’s business and rendered me couch-bound for the entire night. The only positive to this was that it got me out of packing boxes. Other than that, not only did it suck but it was humbling.

I’ve said this before about chronic injuries, and I’ll say it again: they are some of the most humbling experiences a formerly obsessive athlete can face. I expected that I would be exhausted, huffing and puffing, and sore from a hike with substantial elevation gain. I was mentally prepared for that, which is precisely why I chose a trail without crazy elevation gain.  I was not, however, prepared for experiencing such severe post-hike stiffness and pain from such a relatively easy hike. I had been overly confident. I had been sure that I could just dive right back into trail life even though I’ve done virtually nothing on the trails in well over two months. It was precisely this false confidence, perhaps you could even call it cockiness, that had me eating humble pie Saturday night as I lay there in pain.

If I were talking to a first-time hiker who experienced a depressing experience like mine on Saturday, I’d give the following advice: pick your early trails wisely, start slow, gradually build your endurance and fitness, and don’t get discouraged when it’s hard (it will get easier). Somehow, though, it’s so much harder to heed this advice when you’re coming back from an injury. As a returning hiker, I’m fighting against my own expectations. And I tell ya, those expectations are stealth and silent little buzzkills. Expectations will whisper in your ear “This won’t be so bad. Nay, you should be able to do this!”  Reality sees things differently. That abyss between expectations and reality is what I like to call a nice slice of humble pie. I’ve now tasted it and it is every bit as unpleasant as its definition sounds.

TWIR #72: dead legs

I tried running twice this week and both times I had nothing but dead legs. I hate heavy legs when running. I can handle being out of breath. I can handle general muscle or joint pain. I can handle boredom and tiredness. But heavy legs are my kryptonite. I just want to throw in the towel and kick my workout to the curb. It’s especially frustrating because I know my legs are strong and I know I am not overtraining. There is no excuse for heavy legs. None.

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: first successful day at the driving range!
Observations: I had my best day on the driving range by a long shot, and then got to eat birthday cake, so I think we can agree it was a good day. It wasn’t an active day, mind you, but it was a good one.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: You have no idea how close I came to lounging around like a champ all day on Sunday. When we got home from camping, I had little desire to do anything. I thought about running but, ugh, running has sucked so much lately. I thought about going to the gym but, ugh, I don’t want to drive on the weekends when I drive so much during the week. Long story long, I did an at-home strength training workout that actually did a number on my glutes.

Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 5 (measly) km
Observations: I was excited for this run…until I started it. My legs had nothing in them. I instantly blamed Sunday’s wine and the fact that I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep. Maybe those were contributing factors, but it almost doesn’t matter to me. I’m tired of constantly having crappy running experiences.

Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: My training session was like a gift from heaven: no active hanging, no negative pull-ups and even no pushups (!!!!!!).  I mean, I did have to pull a weighted sled along the ground like a horse, so it wasn’t all fun and games, but I will never complain about my trainer leaving my upper body alone for a week.  Then I went to see my physiotherapist at the end of the day and, man, did he do a number on the muscles around my sciatic nerve. I thought it had helped, but it really didn’t.

Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 6 km
Observations: I thought I’d do a run to test if my sciatic and sacroiliac were back on track. The answer: nope. Not only was my run crappy, yet again, but it also left me with sciatic twinges and lower back tension. When will this injury just leave me the hell alone?  Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself.

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: I’m beginning to think lunch time workouts are just not going to work at this job unless I finally get the answer to the seemingly unanswerable question: how do I get my access card programmed to let me into the office tower gym? Seriously, I have now asked four people, none of whom know nor can to direct me to someone who might. Long story long (again), it takes me too long to get to and from the gym so I ended up with a crappy 30 minute spin workout.

Activity: really nothing but sort of strength training
Relevant Stats: 20 minutes
Observations: I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer. My SI felt like a ticking time bomb today. Every exercise felt one stop closer to a total meltdown. But the real kicker was that 17 minutes into my workout one of my meetings got rescheduled for a half hour earlier, so suddenly I had a choice: lie and say I had a conflict or suck it up and end my workout. I hemmed and hawed during a set of step ups and my SI was the deciding factor. I was done.

Now it’s Friday and I have an exciting night of packing my china set to look forward to. Living the wild life, I am.  Maybe I can scrounge up some wine to accompany the packing. Yes, that seems like a wise choice. Happy weekend y’all.

Real Talk Thursdays: I watch too many murder mysteries

Does anyone else watch Dateline and 48 Hours Mysteries and Criminal Minds? Does anyone out there have a backlog of 26 episodes of those shows (combined, not each….as if that’s somehow better)? No? Just me? Well, let me tell you, don’t get started. If you do, you will turn an utterly innocent event into the most terrifying moment of your life.  You will be convinced that you and your boyfriend and his parents are about to be viciously bludgeoned to death in a peaceful campground in Washington State. In fact, as the event is happening, you will hear Lester Holt narrating the tragic story of your death, his measured and slightly lilting voice commenting on the irony of such a horrific event happening in a place meant to be a relaxing respite from the daily grind. It’s not pretty and it’s not worth it.

As you can tell, I had a bit of a scare last weekend, a moment in which I experienced legitimate terror even though there was actually zero threat to our safety.  We were down at the campground enjoying the great outdoors, chilling around the propane fire pit (fire bans are in effect everywhere here). It was around 10 pm when my boyfriend’s mother decided to go to bed. My boyfriend wanted to go for a walk to see if any stars were visible since it was supposed to be epic meteor shower season, never mind that it was almost completely cloudy. At any rate, we left the fire pit behind, and his father putting away the last couple of things in the shed. All was good, one might even say idyllic.

When we returned, my boyfriend’s father was no longer outside, so we turned off all the lights around the trailer and settled inside to get ready for bed.  We’d been in bed for maybe 20 minutes or so when I heard a shuffling noise outside that got progressively louder. At first, I tried to tell myself it was just a wild animal. But then there was a very clear sound of someone pushing something heavy on the deck. I poked my boyfriend “Hey, do you hear that?”. He mumbled and then fell back asleep. Then, even in the total darkness outside, I saw a figure move past the window.

My heart jumped ten feet outside of my chest. Someone was outside. At best, he had robbery on his mind. At worst, it was murder. The possibilities escalated quickly in the dark corners of my mind.  I poked my boyfriend harder and said “there’s someone out there!!!!”  He jumped up, I turned on a light inside, he yelled “HEY!” and it sounded as though the person outside was heading away from the trailer. For a brief second I felt relief that whoever it was was fleeing on foot, but still terrified that my perfect weekend getaway destination might be a hotbed for crime.

Then things got even scarier. My boyfriend headed for the door as if he was going to go outside to check things out. I watch enough murder shows: you do not go investigate the situation. You do not poke the bear. I was in the midst of telling him that he was not going out there when I saw the door handle wiggle. Someone was trying to get in our trailer!!!!!  That was it, I was in full-blown “we are about to get murdered” mode. I held onto that door handle like there was no tomorrow…because I feared there would actually be no tomorrow.

That was the moment when my boyfriend calmly said “Is that you, dad?”

And it was. Apparently, he’d still been out in the shed and we’d turned all the lights out and locked the door on him, so he had been stumbling around in the dark trying to find his way to the door to get in.  Regardless of the situation’s innocence, or my boyfriend’s mocking (as though he hadn’t at all contemplated that it was more than a petty thief, pft!), it took me a solid half hour to calm down out my terror mode.

Only once I was calm again, and as I lay in the quiet of the night, did I firmly vow: no more murder mysteries…

…at least for a while.