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.

Saturday
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.

Sunday
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.

Monday
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.

Tuesday
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.

Wednesday
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.

Thursday
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.

Friday
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.

Triumphant Return of the Quest for Gelato Perfection

This was opportunity gelato, plain and simple, as in my boyfriend and I were picking up a birthday cake in a quaint little bakery somewhere in the heart of Bellingham when I noticed there was a chocolate and gelato shop next door. Had it not been for proximity, no gelato would’ve been consumed.  I should know better than to be tempted by a store that sells two completely different products. One of them is bound to be inferior. Though I can’t say for certain that the chocolate was any better, I can say the gelato left a lot to be desired.

Where: Chocolate Necessities & Gelato, Bellingham, WA

What I Had: Cherry Mania and Mascarpone

What Stood Out: I have no idea what is going on with me this year. I have never in my life been so tempted by cherry-flavoured anything, and now it appears to be my flavour of choice.  This was NOT my best cherry flavour experience.

The picture says it all. Disappointing. Texturally off.  Sigh.

Here’s the skinny:

The Mascarpone ice cream had good flavour, with more of a distinct mild cheesiness than I’ve had in many similar flavours. The Cherry Mania was indeed cherry-like, but completely unbalanced (i.e. way too sweet, and that’s saying a lot for a sugar fiend like me!). This is the most positive feedback that I have.

In general, the “gelato” had way too many icy crystals to be considered true gelato. I couldn’t tell whether it was just ice cream, or whether it was stored at an improper temperature. The glass case housing the gelato had a great deal of condensation on it, so much so that I had to bend down and crane my neck to even read the names of the flavours in the back row. On top of that, the gelato broke my spoon. Now, I may be an aggressive consumer of sweets at the best of times, but even in my most enraptured gelato eating moments I’ve never broken the spoon.

I should learn that when gelato doesn’t look fantastic in the case, it’s probably not going to taste much better, but I feared that if I didn’t seize the opportunity I would never get back to my quest for gelato perfection. I’m sure you can tell this stop on my gelato journey was far from perfection. In fact, I feel certain that the Orange gelato, which looked heinous in colour and even stranger in texture, and which appeared to be puking itself out of its metal bin, was actually attempting to escape its fate as mediocre gelato.  Having experienced the gelato, I completely understand its plight.

ps. However, if you want a wonderful carrot cake, do visit Pure Bliss Desserts directly next door. I still regret not buying a salted caramel cupcake in lieu of the gelato.

Monday Musings: life lessons from the driving range

This weekend, we went to the driving range. Usually, this is not a happy experience for me. More often than not, I hack away at the ball and never seem to make any progress. Even when I try, my balls veer hard left or scuttle across the ground only to settle about 20 yards away. On this latest occasion, however, I hit ten times better than I ever have, most shots dead straight and even several good shots in a row (note: by “good”, I also mean good for me, which is still terrible by actual golfing standards).

When I considered what could’ve contributed to such a marked improvement in my shots, I knew it was more than just using my new hand-me-down clubs.  What really seemed to make the difference was slowing down my swing. In the past, I’ve tried to power through my swing as quickly as humanly possible, assuming that the faster my swing was the better my shots would be. As it turns out, the slower my swing is, the better the contact with the ball, and the better the shot. I was hitting balls higher and farther with less effort.

It occurred to me that perhaps I should give thought to what else in my life might improve with slowing down. Lately I have felt like I am constantly running from thing to thing. I get up, rush to get dressed and to the gym, rush through my workout, rush to get ready to go to work, work all day, battle rush hour, rush to throw together dinner and lunches and breakfasts for the next day, rush to pack my gym clothes and work clothes for the following day, rush to write a blog post, and then go to bed. Weekends aren’t always much better. That’s a lot of rushing. And it’s exhausting. I constantly feel exhausted.

How can I bring some of the benefit of moving slowly to my life? I need to feel like my life is less harried and rushed.  With a golf swing it is easy; it’s all about being slow, methodical and focused. In life that seems more challenging. However, I do believe that part of my feeling so rushed and overwhelmed is the mental clutter and chatter surrounding all the things I believe I need to do quickly.  What would happen if I were to pause, to focus on one task at a time? What if I could close myself off from the 9000 other thoughts that I have and just get that one thing done first? What if I weren’t always trying to do two things at once because I assume it’s faster? Would I actually get more done? Would I actually get it done faster? Would I feel less overwhelmed?  I don’t know the answers to these questions for sure, but I do think it’s worth testing this theory out.

TWIR #71: I need to pay attention

I said last week felt like the longest week ever and I may have been wrong, because this work week was only four days and it felt every bit as draggy as last week. On top of that, I lost focus during my training session and tweaked my SI yet again. I’m still convinced–and, I might add, my physiotherapist did not fully disagree–that work is not good for my body.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: bitchy comments to major cellular carrier, check
Observations: We flew out to Alberta to surprise my mom for an early 70th birthday celebration, and then took her out to get her a smartphone because she’s wanted one forever and has been stuck with a flip phone. I’m proud to say she’s already a texting machine with a full grasp of emojis. Excellent. In the process, however, I went full-on bitchy customer on a very unhelpful cellular carrier staff member. I mean, seriously, we don’t have a lot of competition in Canada but there are choices. Sidenote: seriously, Canadian cellular plans are just over-the-top expensive.

Sunday 
Activity: “hike”
Relevant Stats: 5 km
Observations: I call this a “hike” because really we travelled at a slow pace and barely gained any elevation and were surrounded by hordes of other hikers doing the exact same thing.  Still, we walked in nature, which constitutes a hike in my mind, and also justifies post-hike nachos and beer.  Don’t judge, it was hot as hell and cold beer was in order.

Monday 
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: shameful experiences on the chipping green and driving range
Observations: Good grief, I am certainly not making any progress on the golf front. I meant to work out after we flew home but by the time we ran our grocery errands and did our food prep for the work week, there was no workout happening. I settled for some time at the golf course, but other than sweating from heat and from the anxiety of nearly launching a ball right at the stranger next to me, it most definitely did not count as a workout.

Tuesday 
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: It was going all fine and well until I got distracted during a kettle bell dead lift and lost my form. There went my SI and then the rest of the workout was modified. The good news is that even my modified workouts these days are legit. I no longer have to downgrade to barely moving, and simply lower the weights and eliminate the negative pull-ups and other hanging exercises (which I personally consider to be a huge win). Still, I was pissy about it because, well, it’s been a solid year and a half and I’m f’ing tired of this nagging injury. Ahhhh, that felt good to let out.

Wednesday 
Activity: spin + stretching/core
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 10 min. stretching/core
Observations: I blame the prowler sprints for this terrible workout. My legs were dead. I got stuck on the spin bike that feels 100 times harder than any other spin bike and this half hour sucked the life out of me. I was also cranky as all hell because I dragged my ass out of bed ridiculously early, encountered unusually heavy traffic and got to the gym 10 minutes later than usual. I dread the rapidly approaching September and all the increased traffic volume it brings with it.

Thursday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 50 min.
Observations: While I avoided any single-leg loaded exercises, I didn’t take it easy today, particularly on my arms. They were done like dinner by the end of the workout.  Then I went to visit my dear physiotherapist, who I haven’t seen in months, and who battered my tender soft tissues like a sadist. At least I got the laser treatment at the end. I love those laser treatments with all my heart and long to be able to afford my own one day. It’s only $30k. Easy peasy.

Friday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I admit that I half-assed the first ten minuts, but then my body miraculously woke up and the rest of the ride was smooth sailing. Okay, ‘smooth sailing’ might be an overstatement, but it was okay. I was also pleased to see that yesterday’s laser treatment  seemed to have taken the edge off my SI pain.

And so the week has come to a close, and I am left feeling disappointed by my progress yet again. I am certain that my fitness is regressing by the day, yet I feel minimal motivation to change that. On weekends, in particular, I want nothing more than to lounge aimlessly, clutching a glass of wine, and dream of the day when every day is the weekend. Happy Friday.

 

Trail Tuesdays: Hiking in Herds & Finding Trail Joy Anyway

Many of us hit the trails because they offer reprieve from the noise and stress and busyness of daily life.  In nature, we find quiet, often solitude, and the ability to hear nothing but our own breath and footsteps.  The calming effect cannot be denied.  Research has shown that being in nature can lower blood pressure, stress hormones, heart rate and muscle tension. In other words, nature for the win!

Sometimes, though, we don’t find quiet and solitude on the trails. As an example, this weekend we tried to take my mom into Kananaskis to get her nature on. What we encountered en route was a highway jammed with traffic care of long weekends, and three accidents in a 50 kilometre stretch. A plan B was in order but, unfortunately, that plan B involved swarms of other nature seekers.

Instead of tranquility and solitude and the peaceful hush of nature, we found:

-a crowded parking with illegal parkers blocking valuable driving territory and hikers wandering aimlessly mid-road

-the constant drone of loud conversations

-trail “traffic jams” (i.e. getting stuck behind large groups and a steady stream of slow walkers)

-a canyon floor full of hikers milling about like cattle on the range, rendering humanless picture-taking a near impossible task

Sounds awful doesn’t it? It’s certainly not my ideal. The reality is that more of us are trying to escape to nature and you don’t always have the time nor energy (nor fitness level, in my case!) to seek out the more remote and lesser known trails. Never fear, though, for you can still enjoy the well-travelled trails even when they’re crowded. Here’s how:

1. Shift your mindset: When we arrived and I saw herd upon herd of hikers swarming the parking lot, my first thought was ‘get me out of here.’ But then I realized that we were out for a family day of fun, a little bit of fresh (albeit slightly smokey) air, and to celebrate my mom’s birthday. All she wanted was to be outdoors with her family. This trail met all those criteria. I had to get over my attitude.

2. Enjoy the company: If everyone else around you is going to be talking and yelling and laughing and hollering, join in the fun. Talk and laugh and drown out everyone’s noise with your own.

3. Whenever possible, choose the lesser-travelled path: Along the route there were numerous places where the path split and rejoined later. We always choose the lesser travelled trail and, in those moments, you could almost forget that there were upwards of a hundred other hikers within a kilometre of you.

4. Look up (waaaaaaay up…okay, that reference will be lost on anyone who isn’t a Canadian child of the 80s who watched the CBC classic the Friendly Giant):  It was next to impossible to take a picture without people in it, unless I looked up. But there was so much to see that I would have missed otherwise: canyon walls (even some hieroglyphics!), blue skies, spired peaks, and even the odd hoodoo.  Looking at things from a new perspective really can make all the difference.

And so, even if you’re forced to hike with the masses, you can still connect with the joy of nature. Get out there!

Looking up and finding a peak peeking out (see what I did there?)

Monday Musings: never say never

I’m occasionally a fan of being overly dramatic. I have a particularly high tendency to say things like “Ugh! I’ll never {insert any totally plausible action here]!”  The expression never say never is designed for people like me. More often than not, I do exactly what I say I’ll supposedly never do.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m with you on this one Bieber.

Over the last few years alone, I have a lengthy list of never-do’s that have turned into my reality:

  • I’d never be interested in golf and I’d certainly never choose a round of golf over hiking
  • I’d never date someone in the suburbs (it’s true! my entire relationship right now is based on a major oversight on my part)
  • I’d never live anywhere but in the city centre
  • I’d never move to the Okanagan
  • I’d never quit my job without something else lined up
  • I’d never buy real estate when I could just rent
  • I’d never go back to working in a traditional, corporate environment
  • I’d never be willing to do the rush hour commute from the ‘burbs

See? I told you it was a long list. This is the danger of saying never. What I’ve realized for me is that “never” really means “not right now”. I could never (see? there’s that word again!) have predicted my circumstances would shift so dramatically over the last couple of years, and how much that would impact my priorities. Everything from my relationship to my injury to my career insights to the real estate market have caused major ripple effects.  Suddenly the things that used to be never’s seem not only perfectly logical but also overwhelmingly exciting.

There’s so many other never-do’s that I still live with, yet I’m considerably more cautious with them than I used to be. I cannot predict how my priorities and goals will continue to shift. What seems like  a never-do today may once again be the most compelling of choices a year or two from now. So while I may still utter the words from time to time, I’ll do so knowing that it’s pure drama and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do just that thing when the mood strikes me.