Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years Resolutions - Concept Evaluated

Buckle up, my friends, it's resolution time!  Actually, for me it's not resolution time.   My ways have changed over the years.  My old way of thinking required that resolutions were done spontaneously and all at once, like jumping into a very cold pool or ripping off a band aid.  I have also learned for myself that there is a false sense of security in resolutions.  Just because I write it down and tell a few people magically things will become simplified and life change will happen?  

For me, this time leading up to January 1st is Reminisce About Resolutions Time or maybe An Old Fashion Resolutions Examination.  Lets see the popular resolutions: battle the bulge, spend more time with family and good friends, drink less, quit smoking, get out of debt, think of better passwords then just "passwords"and do less laundry/wear more deodorant. I look to my good friends Calvin & Hobbes as inspiration for how one might approach January 1st.

I'm in a place where I don't feel the need for a list of resolutions.  I don't desire to buy into the cycle of feeling the need to change just because it is the January 1st; rather I want to buy into the desire to grow and explore.  Changing versus growing/exploring may seem like semantics, but for me there is a difference for me.  Resolutions seem to infer that something needs fixing or is negative.   With a fresh blanket of snow Calvin & Hobbes set out into the unknown for a sled ride that appears encouraging and open ended.  There is a sense of direction rather than inevitable doom or destruction.

It's a magical world, Hobbes, Ol' Buddy...Let's go exploring!

I can view the New Year as a fresh start and a beautiful thing, as the possibilities that await me are endless. Getting out and exploring seems more optimistic and for me allows more room for positive growth.  Don't get me wrong I believe in goals, but resolutions seem to go out the door faster than they come in every year.  If you are a resolutionist then I wish you the very best in achieving what you set out to accomplish, but this year I will be exploring.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

X-Mass Comes Early

It's Christmas Eve Day and most people are out doing their last minute shopping, wrapping presents, cooking or at work.  With all this hustle and bustle I did what I do best; I headed to the mountains.  What can I say, besides that I was treated to an amazing gift this morning on Camel's Hump.  Christmas certainly came early as I was blessed with amazing sunshine, deep soft snow and stunning views.  The trails didn't boast ideal snowshoe running conditions, but on this day dividends were payed out to me in other ways than fast times.

Typically in the winter I look for packed conditions so to run top to bottom as fast as possible, although today there was something luring about the white blanket that covered the trail.  First tracks up the Forest City trail to the summit of the Hump, and it was breathtaking.  I couldn't stop myself from continually pausing to snap photos of the pristine beauty.  With running snowshoes there was frequent post holing, slippage and lots of kicked up snow that found its way down my jacket, but it didn't matter, the smiles and giggles flowed.  

The wind was tame until the summit and then it ripped right into me and gave me the gift of an ice cream headache.  Within a minute I had enough so it was time for a bit more speed and warmth, so down Burrows we went for some faster conditions.  This was my first attempt at taking video with the camera and obviously I need some practice.  

Now off the mountain and back at home, although I find that my mind is still there.  It was just an indescribable day that in all honesty words, images and video cannot do it justice.  I hope that you get a chance to get out there and play over the holidays.  All and all so grateful for family, friends, a beautiful playground and for a vacation from work!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crisp & Cold, I Will Continue

Tell yourself,
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on,
walking, hearing the same tune
no matter where you find yourself 
- Mark Strand
Well winter has arrived in the Green Mountains and the cold temperatures, ice, snow and wind may make me whine and slow me down, but it will not stop me from exploring.  New conditions demand altered gear, more layers and a different sense of humor.  The amount of ice and overall slippery conditions have recently caused me to take many nasty falls, hence it was time for me to go "New England" on my shoes.  My first line of defense for running slippery roads and local trails is screws.  In previous years I have opted for sheet metal hex screws, which are very cheap and easy to find. This year I received some Icespikes as a gift.  These screws are much more expensive and brag to be: simple, lightweight, effective (will not shift, break, fall off, get lost or left behind) and durable. 
Before I  headed out on a long mountain run George installed my new Icespikes into my Salomon XT Wings.  He began inserting each screw with the provided tool, although quickly lost interest with the labor intensive process and completed the job more efficiently with his drill.  Straight off just running in the parking lot to the trail head I could tell that I had much better traction on the packed snow and ice verses no screws at all.  I couldn't feel the screws protruding into my feet because the Salomon outsole is thick enough, so that was an added bonus.  I knew the true test wasn't the parking lot but rather the six mile ascent on the Bamforth trail that is very rocky, rooty and icy.  I found myself confident on my feet on the first two miles of trail, although once on the steeper/long rocks I was sliding backwards and had a hard time getting the screws to grip.  I was just praying not to fall down the side of the mountain or pull a muscle.  Realistically, it was no huge surprise that I was playing Bambi, as a thin layer of ice on a incline is difficult to dig into, especially when you cannot have your weight over your feet.  After arriving at the top, and before beginning the descent, I checked my shoes and I had lost a few screws.  I guess I proved Icespkies claim of "will not shift, break, fall off, get lost or left behind" to be incorrect. Nick, who also had Icespikes in his shoes, had lost a majority of the screws.  To play it safe I decided to put on my Kahtoola Microspikes, which make me feel like a Mac Truck with Hakkapelitta tires.  

I wore my Microspikes for the entire trail decent, even when the ice had dissipated and they didn't bother me under foot.  The only reason I can ever tell that I have them on is because everyone wants to know what they are since I can navigate the conditions so confidently while they are scrambling.  Here is me stating the obvious and I know this from experience, if you catch your ankle with a Kahtoola spike it does hurt.

What works for me?  I wouldn't spend the $24.95 for the Icespikes unless I won the lottery and wanted to be trendy.  I would rather support my local hardware store as I feel better off losing a 4 cent screw rather than an 78 cent screw. As for the Microspikes, from the first day I wore them years ago till this day I have adored them.  In my mind a great investment.  


We just got over three feet of snow this past week, hence great skiing, snowshoeing, mountain running and a very festive atmosphere for holiday cookie making.  So many things to choose from, so the question is what have I been doing for the past four days? Please let me introduce you to my chair.  

Seems like I have been doing a fine job melting into the chair and cannot believe how many television full episodes I have watched on Hulu. I feel pathetic as I can think is that I wish my imac had a remote control. So as my students would say, "what's the 411?" I have been down for the count with a nasty head cold that is now in my head and chest.  Is there such thing as a wandering cold?  If not maybe I will win the Nobel Prize for Medicine with this new discovery.

Anyways as I hold down my chair I find myself contemplating life's major dilemma's such as should I exercise or wait out the storm, I mean illness.  When does trying to do something productive become counterproductive?  I have thoughts about overdressing and going to exercise with the intent to sweat the nasty plague germs out of my system.  Goodness gracious I have even thought about going to the doctors! All I know is something has gotta give. Last night I felt like I had restless leg syndrome. For a change of scenery I moved from my chair to the couch and I noticed once stretched out on the couch that my legs were twitching and moving.  I went to bed optimistic that today would be a new day and I would be on the mend. 

Well it is now a new day and the sun is slowly rising so, good morning, and "cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle." Thus no such luck with my wishful thinking.  Waking up still feeling like I have been repeatedly hit by a large truck carrying x-mas trees leads me to think that maybe my approach of holding out isn't working, although maybe I haven't been patient enough?  Another dilemma to ponder, as I wait for my Nobel Prize for Medicine and for my cold to go away.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things...

Perhaps the title of this blog entry put a song into your head?  I overheard a student singing the lyrics to this song in the hallway at school.  I was reminded that the song "My Favorite Things" is about the things that Maria loves and fills her mind with when she is sad or times are bad.           

Ok, I do admit that I did take out many of the verses because I am not one for 'whiskers on kittens' and 'girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes' but even without these "favorite wonder things" the point is still conveyed.  So this all got me thinking about some of my favorite things.  There are certainly ways I could break it down such as my favorite foods, my favorite places, my favorite running stuff, my favorite this or that.  Although, for or all intents and purposes, I will keep it broad today and just do some of my general favorite things and leave specifics for each category for another wonderful blog writing episode.  I know the anticipation  and excitement may interrupt your sleep or may even kill you, but hopefully worth the wait. 

Warning, please don't get too excited as I am not like Oprah and cannot afford to give all ten of my blog followers my favorite things.  Though in retrospect it would be worth the expense if I did give away gifts just so I could get reactions like Oprah did from her audience.

I am a visual person so photos speak much more to me than words, although maybe a bit of both.  My favorite things include my husband, dogs, beautiful sunrises & sunsets, nature, growing fruits/veggies & canning and of course just straight up good food!  

This was really my first year of canning things from my garden.  I always plant an excess amount of plants with the idea attrition.  That certainly wasn't in play this year so with an abundance of veggies, berries and fruit it was time to can.  At first I saw it as a daunting task, although then realized it was calming (at moments) and almost artistic.  Nature is priceless and I am always in awe of it as is a source for renewal and inspiration.  There is so much to look at, experience and explore that I can just lose myself.  At times I have to force myself to slow down and absorb my surrounding, because I get so focused on just life.   Timber is we call a custom dog, I never know what he is going to do next.  From climbing into the bathtub with me to getting stuck under the shed he keeps me laughing/remembering to lighten up. Ok I could go on and on about any of the listed things, but since I am hungry I cannot get stop thinking of food.  Favorites include vegan burritos, fresh salads, fresh bread (carbs are so wonderful), warm applesauce, chili, oatmeal, nuts, avocado... 

I do also realize that my favorite things are probably considered simple things and many people wouldn't even want them, but that makes them even more special to me.  I also feel good about the fact that I am not putting up images of flat screen televisions, expensive cars or other outlandish things as my favorite things.  I cannot take it anymore I am headed to the kitchen!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Premature Panic?

panique, パニック, pánico 공황, panico,  paniek, паника 

No matter what language I type it in; it all comes down to PANIC. An interesting side note before I ramble about my panic, the word panic derives from the Greek, pertaining to Pan, the god of the woods and fields, who was the source of mysterious sounds that caused fear in individuals and groups of people in lonely places. Pan's tactics would produce in people a sudden sensation of fear that would evoke a fight or flight reaction.

With the North Face 50 mile San Francisco looming, I find myself falling a victim to fear . The race is packed full of those that I will find myself on course with at Western States and I am at home sitting on the couch, eating and doing fast packing/fun runs. The worries start flooding my mind and body and my logical/rational thinking seems to quickly dissipate. Should I be racing? Wait a minute, before I even question that, should I be training? What will my race schedule be leading up to WS? What are my goals? Will I be plagued with illness or injury? Should I do more or could I do more? Am I panicking too early and fleeing the scene? Can I be patient enough to be smart and see this process through?

At this point the unanswerable question is, will all the pieces come together? Like any puzzle I should remember to take it piece by piece, but man I am bad at puzzles.