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Friday, February 29, 2008

Stupid Cross-Training Tricks: Snowshoeing Edition

Today was a day off for me, a well deserved day of rest and relaxation after several 70+ hour weeks, including last week which ended in a double shift when I was trying to leave early to take back some hours (I am salaried, so if I work over 40, it's my treat. When this happens I try to flex my hours down the next week to even things out... sometimes it works, more often than not I get the weenie.)
I got up this morning after sleeping in til about 8:30. Did some yoga - I need to spend some time on the core again. It worked..... I can feel all of my stomach muscles tonight while just sitting around, which tells me tomorrow they will be good and sore.
After the kids left after lunch, I got ready to do some snowshoeing. Mike's new snowshoes arrived yesterday, but for whatever reason mine got rerouted and hung up in Utah UPS limbo and were rescheduled for delivery on Monday (*sigh*). I decided to give Mikey's snowshoes a try and took off across the cornfields around my house. I learned a lot today, mostly the hard way. Here are a few of the myths I dispelled:
1) I should have no problem running in snowshoes. After all I run all the time!
I had envisioned strapping them on a taking off jogging across the top of the snow, kinda like a gazelle. Um yeah.... about that....
I took off down a gentle downward slope at a little jogging pace. The snowshoes have kind of a flip flop action and before I knew it I was catching my toe on the snow which stops the foot's forward motion and pitches you face first into the snow. But I'm sure I looked graceful as I flung forward full force. Also, when you jog in the snow you sink into it on the downstroke more than walking so each stride felt kind of like a high skipping/striders drill. And it made my heart rate skyrocket. It didn't take me long to change my pace to a really brisk gliding walk.
At one point, I got the back part of the flip-flop hung up in the snow and when I picked up my foot, I flung a huge snowball down back of my pants .... while still standing upright. Quite a feat! There is nothing like a snowball rolling down the crack of your ass to get your attention. Lot of opportunities to laugh at myself today.... I guess the first order of business is to work on technique!
2) I won't need anything to drink!
I was out there running around for more than an hour. I was really thirsty! After a while it dawned on me I was running around is fresh powder undisturbed by anything for miles around. None if it was yellow. I ended up keeping a pristine white snowball in my hand and eating it like a snowcone the rest of the way home. That worked great! I haven't eaten snow like that since I was a kid, so really kind of fun.
3) Patches of burrs are dormant in the winter, so it's not a problem to go trucking through a patch.
At one point, I was coming down into a gully full of brush. Now I know that in the summer I stay away from that kind of stuff because they are full of briars, burrs, and other prickery stuff. But in my mind as I headed into the thick of it, it was winter so all the picky stuff and and burrs had fallen off these plants, like leaves from the trees in the fall.
I ended up spending 10 minutes picking big wads of burrs off my mittens, jacket, wind pants, and out of my hair when I got through the brush patch. That was just the big chunks - I spent another hour at home picking off the little pieces. Just so ya know.... burrs stay on the stem ALL.YEAR.LONG. My little public service announcement. You are VERY welcome!
4) Snowshoes will keep me floating over the top of the snow... I couldn't sink!
So when snow blows around, it pulls the depth off the high point of hills and into the low areas, so everything looks to be about the same rolling elevation. I did great on the hill crests. In the gullies, I had to be sure to keep moving or I started sinking. I had a fair amount of float going, but it certainly doesn't keep you from sinking into the drift a little bit I'm sure if I took the snowshoes off and tried to walk through the gully, I would have been up to my hips, but I still was sinking up past my ankles in several spots.
5) It's winter, the critters are all hibernating.
We had a fresh dusting of powder overnight, so for the most part the fields were pretty much untouched looking. There were several paths of critter prints I found along the way. For a while I was interested and followed alongside their paths. For a while, there was a red-tailed hawk circling over the top of me in a full-on vulture like mode. I imagined it was waiting to swoop in and peck my eyes out when I keeled over. In reality, I think it just thought I was probably disturbing the hiding spots of field mice and other critters and was just waiting for an opportunity to find an early dinner. The further I got into the fields and woods, the bigger and more numerous the footprints got. It was kind of cool for while. Then I ran across a ginormous raccoon that hissed at me for a while from up in a tree. Tough to turn around and put your back to the grouchy little guy to retreat......
A while later I walked through what looked like dog tracks. A lot of them. Like the place where a pack of canine type things had hung out for a while. I got to thinking and realizing that they had to be pretty fresh tracks, I hightailed it out of there. There have been rumors of coyotes around there and I have personally seen a couple of foxes running into those woods. I really didn't want to meet a bunch of them face to face.
So there you have it, my first snowshoe foray. Overall it was pretty fun and something different to do. It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be, but I assume it will only get easier with practice.
Anybody have any tips for my next trip?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You Can Thank Me Later

Well peeps, I have done it. Winter should be over Thursday by about noon. I am talking about no more snow, the big thaw, birds chirping, flowers springing forth from the ground, grass growing, the buzz of lawnmowers...... basically the whole nine yards of the arrival of spring.

You are probably wondering what exactly will bring about this big turn of events. The answer to that is simple. We decided to spend some of our tax refund. What did we buy? I bought SNOWSHOES and SNOWBOOTS, not just for me but for Mike too. The UPS tracking numbers have them arriving on 2/28, so my best guess is that Spring will arrive right about the same time. Once we decided to make lemons from lemonade and found something fun to do in the all this snow, it should all melt and we will never see it again.

See, this year we all did our part to bring about a snowfall that broke the record yesterday for most snowfall in a season with more than 70 inches so far. For our part, we traded in not just one but TWO 4WD SUVs for two tiny Toyota clown cars. Much easier on the wallet at the pump, but definitely put the wintry fix on us.

By my best estimate, once our little packages arrive we should have seen our last snowflake for at least the season, if not for several years. We once bought a roof rake (for raking snow off your roof and preventing ice dams for all you Southern folks wondering what I'm talking about.....). I didn't even take it out of the box and it hardly snowed for the next 5 or 6 years.

You can all thank me later. I knew you'd appreciate it!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Todays Update (SSDD)

Today I was off for the rest of my "weekend" after working and extra shift and a half Saturday night. I slept in, then got on the spinner to watch a movie for 2 hours. The flick was "A Love Song for Bobby Long" with John travolta and Scarlett Johanssen - not a bad film and definitely not the sappy love story I was thinking I was going to watch. When it came in the mail, Mike tossed it at me and said "It says love song in the title, I don't want to watch it." :-)

Other random bits:
- Today I watched a truly inspirational bit of video, an excerpt from Oprah. It was a lecture given by a man named Randy Pausch, a university professor with terminal pancreatic cancer. He delivered a speech to his class that was his "If you were going to die tomorrow, what would your last lecture be" lecture. He reprised it for the Oprah show, and it was incredibly inspirational. You can see it yourself here. Do it - it will change the way you look at life.

- Team EvoTri is taking nominations for the group of regular traithletes that do great things for thier community. These folks will get a year of sponsorship and coaching as recognition for the great things they do every day. One of the top 10 applicants is someone I know. Michelle Alswager is someone I went to high school with. She was a lot of fun way back in the day. These days she is a major fundraiser for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) in Middleton, a cuase near and dear to her as her son Jesse is a diabetic. last year we took part in the first annual Rock N Roll Rookie Run 10K in Middleton which she organized. It was one of the most fun events I've done ever. Oh yeah- she's an Ironman too, doing it again this year I think at Wisconsin. Submit your vote for her to receive sponsorship this year by emailing with "Michelle Alswager" in the title of the email. Good luck Michelle!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Tell Myself the Burn is a Good Thing

I won't hold y'all in suspense - I did not blow off my weekly long run for the first time since Christmas. Mike and I did 2 hours of running at YMCA indoor track at 15 laps per mile. My footpod read 8.6 miles, but it felt like 86, so we called it at 2 hours. We got to see 4 PeeWee basketball games from the track in addition to listening to lots of tunes on the ipod.
I have been using the footpod I ordered for my Forerunner. It has 3 places to attach it to your shoe and up until this point, I only had it fastened at 2 points which i thought was fine and made it easier to switch between shoes. I have been feeling pretty fast lately, but after Mondays run it was giving me 9:30 pace miles and I knew I was not going that fast. So I made a few adjustments, attached the pod with zip ties nice and snug, and Voila! I am once again back to 12 something miles. Bummer. had I left well enough alone it probably would have told me I ripped out 9 minute miles and covered many more miles that I did on that Saturday run.
Today my body is punishing me for blowing off 8 long runs. My quads are killing me. It of course did not help that I had to cover yet another NOC shift (it really blows to be the boss lady these days) last night so my post-run recovery nurtition was off and I have had only a little bit of sleep so the muscles have not had much of a chance to recover properly. And they are letting me know it. All. Day. Long.
Repeat after me: Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Yeah, I'm not sure I buy it either, but whatever gets you through the day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Heart Day

I'd write a book about all the training I have done lately but I'd be a liar. There's always next week!
Ran 5.5 on Monday night, thats all I've done ALL WEEK!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Visit from Snow Miser (or, alternatively, why my husband is a giant tool)

So, anyone out there hear that we got a little snow in Wisconsin and the surrounding states this week? 20 inches in old Janesville to be exact. I am definitely ready for a visit from the Heat Miser again. His brother the Snow guy is a real dick.
My oldest son turned 18 over the weekend, accompanied by some 18-itis drama that has leveled out as the week has gone on. When the hell did I get so old and why don't I feel like it?
Tuesday evening the snow started. I ended up on the night shift AGAIN covering call ins (WTF! Am I the only nurse who works there??). I took with me a lot of caffeinated items and enough base layer and wool socks to be able to manage the 1.8 mile walk home in the snow if my clown car wasn't up to the job in the morning in the throes of a major snowstorm. Thankfully I made it home in the Matrix after a very very tiring night, and the snow was flying hardcore still. There were several inches on the ground already, with many many more to come. School was cancelled. I got my car stuck in the snow in the driveway trying to pull into the garage and needed a push from behind. I finally crawled into bed about 0730. At about 0815 or so, I awoke to the sound of the neighbor on his 4-wheeler. After briefly thinking I must have been dreaming and putting my head back on the pillow, I heard it again. Yep. Since there was so much snow that the plows were on a "main streets only" mission (I live on a 1 block long cul de sac, not exactly a traffic hub....) he had decided that he would work on plowing our street himself on his ATV with the plow mount. Which he did. ALL. FREAKING. DAY. I laid there listening to him until about 10, when I finally realized sleeping was something that would not happen. I decided I would get up and just go to bed super early that night. I got up and looked outside. Holy Snowdrifts Batman. I opened the french door to let the dogs out, only to be met by a hip-high drift across the back yard ending at the door. Daisy gave me a "yeah right ma" look and turned around to head for the living room. Maddy bounded out of the house like her pants were on fire. The snow was over her head, so pretty much all you saw was a dog hopping up from out of the snow looking like Tigger in figure-8 hot laps around the yard. So yeah, I guess the first order of business was to dig the dogs a potty tunnel.
Nick had ordered a pizza delivery and after 2 hours of waiting for Pizza Hut to arrive, they called back and said that just wasn't gonna happen. You can pick it up though. Nick picked up the keys to the Cavalier and said "watch me laugh at them when I can get through and they couldn't." I watched out the back window for him to go up the road, and never did see him. Curious, I went to the front window to find out where he went and there he was, stuck with snow over the wheel wells, spinning his tires in the ice and snow and getting stucker by the moment. I think he made it about 5 feet out of the driveway.... so I guess he really showed them. While Lucas and I put on our boots and coats, the neighbors helped him push his car back into the driveway. I went the door and see Nick made it into the driveway. Backwards. And was now spinning his wheels at the end of the driveway trying to gun it for the house on a patch of ice. We dug for a while then the Beefy brothers and several neighbors got us pushed back further inthe driveway where we were stuck again. Although mostly sideways and definietly still backwards, at least we were far enough back that the plow wouldn't hit the nose of the car on the slim chance it passed. We gave up and decided to atack it later.
Deciding to wait out the snow a bit longer, we went inside. I picked up, mopped, vacuumed, etc for a couple hours then we headed back out to attack the car. It was still falling fast but we had to do something. We quick blew and shoveled from the back of the car to the garage, salted under the wheels and back to the house. I threw her in reverse and the boys pushed. We finally got her back inside the garage. We blew the driveway out. I went out back and attacked making a poop tunnel for the dogs to use. Before long Lucas comes to the back door and hands me the phone. It was work.
"So you're gonna be here at 6 right?"
"Excuse me?"
"Didn't (boss) call you? She said you were supposed to come in. Nellie NOC Nurse lives in the country and they just closed her road. She can't get in."
(I am not sure when I became the only person capable of working something other than my regular schedule, but apparently I am. And I guess now I don't even get asked, I get told, in this case not even told, this time I was to know by TELEPATHY. Nice. Lord knows I AM known for my telepathic powers. )
So, in my clown car, on terrible roads, with no sleep, and having shoveled all flipping day, I headed off for the NOC shift. AGAIN! (That is I think 6 in 2 weeks if anyone is counting by the way. ) A perfect end to Super Gay Wednesday.
One of the day nurses came in at 4 when her hubby got home from work. When I got done kissing and hugging her for saving my sleepy ass, I gave report and headed home to crawl into the nest to sleep. I pull in at 4AM to find Mikes snowmobile in the spot where his car should be. Apparently he couldn't drive home.
Of course, Mike was snowmobiling during all of this. I guess he thinks it's super fair for every one in the house to pitch in and do their fair share of dealing with the plethora of work that needs to be done when we get that much snow. Everyone except him that is. He owns a snowmobile, which gives him the right to play on it whenever he wants to, especially when there is hard work to be done around the house. Man work. The kind he left his wife to do.
As we - the boys and I - were clearing the car earlier for our last run at righting her from the snowbank one of the said "this would be a perfect example fo teamwork, except one of our teammates is absent." Yeah, couldn't have said that better myself.
Today, I got up about 1100, ate a little something and headed outside again to finish up. The snow had finally stopped. The final damage..... 20-21 inches of fresh powder in 24 hours, nearly breaking the record set in 1984. Since we are surrounded by farm fields, we had a lot of big drifts to knock down too, some of them waist high or better. I blew off the big cement porch out back so my doggies can pee. I dug out the exhaust pipe for the furnace. I dug out the dryer vent so I can dry clothes. I shoveled a path to the front door. I blew out the driveway a total of 3 times today. I cleared the approach to the mailbox so the mailman will stop. I dug a path from the street to the fire hydrant and dug a circle all around it to the grass so we are incompliance with code. All in all, I spent the bulk of my day freezing my big fat ass off either with a shovel in my hand or trying to wrangle a snowblower that is too big for me to manage without throwing my whole body into it and using every ounce of energy I have. Hours later, when it was all done I came in the house and crumbled into a broken down heap on the couch.
The phone rings.
"Uh hi, I'm going snowbiling after work."
I hung up.
Of course he is. Why would anyone think maybe he might come home and give his family a hand with the hard work, or at least have offerred? What a giant tool.
So here is the short list of the things I have learned this winter, especially today:
- to operate the snowblower: It's physically hard. It's too big for me. But I can get it started and I can do it. Like a single woman.
- to get a stuck car out of the snow. Not just once, but three -count em- three times. Without a husband in sight. Just like a single woman.
- to manage to work an ungodly amount of sucky hours while simultaneously making sure the kids and dogs are adequately accomodated. All by myself. Like a single mom.
- to fix things that go wrong around the house. Like a single woman.
- to keep myself entertained, during endless hours that I am left alone while the other people that live here find better things to do. I can entertain myself rather well, just like a single woman.
I'm thinking the take home message here is I get better and better at being single every snowy day. Maybe before long I will be. I sure hope riding that bitch Polly Polaris is just that wonderful. And worth it.

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