Sunday, July 17, 2011

51, briefly shining

Again, I know it's been awhile.  It's not like nothing has happened, it's just that I haven't felt like blogging about it.
So...I'll briefly mention a couple of things.  
The other day, several weeks ago probably, I was swimming at the big Olympic sized outdoor pool in preparation for the upcoming triathlon.  I had been wondering if I should really attempt to get in shape to swim the whole tri distance doing the "crawl", or "freestyle" stroke.  It's a harder stroke for me, and I have always thought I have a very strong breaststroke.  And while I've been training, I've been doing nearly the entire 1600m using that stroke.  It's just, more comfortable for me.  And then, the older gentleman in the lane next to me and I came up to rest at the side at the same time, and he said, "you have a HECK of a breaststroke!"  I thanked him, and told him it was good to hear because I wasn't completely sure.  He said, "I can't believe the distance you get with your kick!"  I thanked him again.  That guy made my day!  And maybe my whole swim training experience.
Then really the other day (as in, yesterday) I was out for my bike/run bit.  Side note: I really don't like this combo.  It sucks. In fact, after I finish it for the triathlon, I hope to never combine these two activities again.  Unless I do another tri.  Anyway, a woman came up behind me on the trail on her bike and asked, "how far are you riding today?"  I told her, "not too far, I'm doing a bike-to-run brick today." <pause due to blank stare> "I'm going to ride a short distance, and then run when I'm done."  She asked me more about it, and why I would intend to do such a thing, and we talked about how nice the weather has been and how green everything is because of all the rain.  Before we parted ways on the trail, she said, "You'll do great.  From here, your legs look strong".  Awesome.
Two completely different people, offering me unsolicited support in my endeavors   Thanks, Strangers, for those compliments.  It's more meaningful to me than you'll know.

Monday, June 20, 2011

50 blogs

I thought this past weekend I'd change up my triathlon training a little bit.  Instead of combining two of the events together into a "brick", I decided I'd go for a regular longer ride Saturday, and a longer swim on Sunday.
So Saturday morning, I'm awakened by my darling, starving cat.  She starts her job "as the speaking clock" at about 4:15am.  This means, "Meow!" (It's 4:15). "Meow!" (Now it's 4:30).  And so on.  She also knocks my phone off my nightstand.  And walks on my head.  And licks my nose.  It's actually quite adorable.  And nips on my fingers.  Until I can't stand it anymore and at 5:05am I get up, feed her some kibble, put my sleep mask on, drink a glass of water (I may or may not have had a little too much to drink the night before), and go back to bed til about 7:45.
I then get all my bike gear out, padded shorts and all, and head out on my 30.5 mile ride.  It's a lovely day.  Warm, not too crowded, and I only have some slightly gross heartburn and don't feel too hungover.  And I'm only about 6 minutes slower than usual, which isn't too bad considering it'd been 6 weeks since I'd gone that far.  But, to my displeasure, this is the first time I've noticed my saddle, er, rubbing me the wrong way. 
I will admit to these things: 1) I rolled my bike shorts up to both get that nasty sticky silicone gripping stuff off my bare skin (I can't freaking stand it) and to allow the best possible tan line one could get in bike shorts, and 2) my seat post may have started to slide down because my left knee started to hurt for the first time in many many months on this ride.  And because Badger has brought this notion to mind.  So it could have been either or neither of these reasons that caused these really uncomfortable welts I ended up with in my personal space.
So, swallowing most of my pride and determined to maintain at least some dignity, I headed to Bicycle Village to get some chamois cream.  I can't find it, and I'm way too embarrassed to ask, so I wandered forever til I found one tube, and another little doo-dad of something else.  Then I kind of hovered, waiting until I could find a girl there to ask about it, and she doesn't know, so she's like, "You can ask any of those guys", gesturing to like, six of them standing together in a group by the front counter.  My shoulders slump.  Oh sure, like I'm gonna waltz over with this tube of Chamois Butt'r and a stick of Body Glide and ask, "Hey boys, which chamois cream do you think will best protect my princess pea from my saddle?" So I told her that I was hoping for a girls perspective. She takes me over to the only other girl working there, who is surrounded by other customers. She literally asked me, "What are you going to use it for?" I'm thinking, there's more than one use for ass ointment? I just want to know if it's got menthol and is going to burn...sigh.  So my response of raising one eyebrow then opening my mouth, but remaining speechless, prompted her to just say "Chamois Butt'r".  Thanks.
And my triathlon bikinis arrived in the mail last week.  I tried on the small and the medium each about a million times, and couldn't decide which one to pick.  I finally got on the phone with "team estrogen", talked with a girl there who had just finished a triathlon in one, and she helped me pick the small.  And it doesn't even say "S" on the inside. 
I headed to the pool on Sunday (after sleeping in and magically healing from Tylenol PM), again getting there early, and have a chance to ask that woman if she was able to pill her cat.  She wasn't, but she thanked me for asking, and said she was glad to be at the pool to get some of her nervous energy out.  I was also glad to be at the pool, because I had set a goal of swimming non-stop for 1600 meters, or one mile.
Me and my snazzy new red suit, stopping to soak my hair in the shower, plunked into a lane, strapped on my new shaded goggles, and set off.  I swam breaststroke the entire way, and didn't ever have to stop to catch my breath.  I made it 1000m in about 26 minutes, which was 6 minutes faster than my previous 1000m swim.  And just kept going, back and forth, 32 times. 
I had enough time each lap to tell myself.  "That was 50 meters.  When I finish this distance, it will be 100 meters."  And so on.  Until I said, "That was 1550 meters.  When I finish this distance, I will have swam 1600 meters.  I will have swam a mile without stopping.  I am a total bad ass.  Look at me rock this pool."  And so on.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Swimming is hard. (no. 49)

Alright, for those of you who were concerned about when I'd finally get in the pool, worry no longer.
Sunday morning I went swimming.  I haven't yet received my special triathlon bikini, so I had to choose from my cute ones at home.  The decision was ultimately made on which suit would best complement my swim cap and pink goggles.  So I wore the (kind of tiny) black and white Calvin Kline suit and headed to the outdoor 50m pool that offers lap lanes between the hours of 11 and noon on weekends. 
I got there early because I was feeling like I needed to claim a lap lane before anyone else.  I didn't know how crowded it would be.  Anyway, hanging out for 15 minutes in front of the locked up pool, I was able to get someone to spray sunblock on my back for me, and overhear a conversation between the elderly ladies that were waiting for their morning pool time.  One lady was lamenting having to start pilling her cat for a UTI.  I can't help but offer my advice, having just learned how to pill my own cat this week.  I try to explain it using words, but end up having to mime holding the cat's head up and dropping the pill into her mouth by using my own head as an example (I can only imagine how that looked).  And when I suggest blowing on the cat's nose once the pill is in their mouth to get it to lick it's nose and swallow, she's SO grateful.  Can't stop thanking me.  I feel pleased I can help.
Then the pool opens up and I head in with the ladies, stopping briefly in the shower to soak my hair as per my stylists suggestion. "Hair is like a sponge, soak it with water before you get in the pool and it won't absorb as much chlorine and won't get as damaged".  Brilliant! 
Hair soaked, swim cap on, I plop myself into a lane.  I then put on my pink goggles that I haven't worn in years, and they are uncomfortable.  They are child-sized, literally, because apparently the other pair I had would leak (this is a faint and foggy memory).  It's like they are smashing my eyeballs, it's awful.  But I can't not wear them, you know?
Alright.  I set my watch up on the edge to time myself, and start the swim.  I only have to go back and forth 15 times (7.5 laps) to go the tri distance of 750m.  How hard could that be?  I have to keep alternating between my stronger breaststroke and the crawl.  The crawl is hard.  In my head I'm thinking, I have to do the crawl for the whole tri, so I should keep forcing myself to do this.  I had a few moments where I'd feel like I had been swimming forever, stop to rest, look at the other end of the pool, and it was like one of those trick camera shots where the distance is skewed.  You know, like in Vertigo or something?  Soooo far away.  But I made it 1000m for good measure, in just over 32 minutes.
Lessons learned:
1) A CK bikini is not made for lap swimming.  It is designed specifically for lounging on a beach, and perhaps for easing one's way over to a swim-up bar.  This was unfortunately discovered after swimming at least 200m with the top twisted over to one side, no longer doing it's job at all.  At least it's just me, the lifeguards, and a few older women.  Maybe no one noticed my inadvertent indiscretion at all...tee hee.
2) I need new goggles.  Preferably with tinted lenses to shield my eyes from the burning bright sun.  (I went and bought some.  Tried on at least ten pairs too to make sure my eyeballs would not be smashed).
3) I should probably swim every weekend I can before the tri.  It's harder than I remembered.  It was different than how I felt after biking or running.  My body was totally fatigued, but it didn't feel like I had fallen out of a moving car.  Well, until today.  Today I feel like that.
Last night, on a spur of the moment trip downtown to enjoy some cake, I saw someone had put a tiny purple party hat on the nose of this flying horse, and couldn't stop laughing. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The T2 Transition (48 and counting)

I'm still working on my checklist of things to do in preparation for this triathlon.  I have now completed the bike/run portion twice.  Today's went waaaay better.  I tried the suggestions I read to help make that easier.
I stood up to pedal in a big gear for about a quarter mile, about 3/4 miles from home.  Then I switched to a tiny gear and spun my legs like crazy for not very far, because it felt ridiculous and I was barely moving.  Then I prepared myself mentally for the run, visualizing what I would do when I got home (remember to pee) and heading out on my run.  I remembered to eat first.  I realized I should add "apply chapstick" to my list of things to do during the transition.
I got home, saved my heart rate monitor data for the bike, went inside, changed shoes and headphones (long story), and took off.  Immediately I felt a difference and the run was pretty smooth.
Earlier this week, I went to a "Tri 101" lecture hosted at Bicycle Village, and presented by the official Tri for the Cure coach, Melissa.  She was great!  She answered a lot of my questions, which I asked without hesitation or embarrassment in front of a fairly large group.  I even made everyone laugh a couple times.  And I learned a lot.
One of my concerns was about the bike ride course being narrow and perhaps requiring some finesse on the turn around points.  I'm great going straight and around gentle curves, but this course appeared to have a few sharp turns and I was envisioning myself teetering around these precarious corners at a slow rate of speed, getting in everyone's way and perhaps unclipping in a panic.  I asked if I should be worried about that if I'm not the most graceful, natural athlete on my bike, and she insisted I'd be fine, and everyone else looked relieved as well.
The other question was about what I should wear.  Let me back up briefly to the hour or so before the lecture, which I spent trying on "triathlon apparel".  This was an unenjoyable experience, to say the least.  First, I was handed a pair of bike shorts with a tiny chamois and pockets.  Yes, pockets.  And for the top, I was handed a tank top with a shelf bra.  Each of these items was over $70.  I asked, what about a bathing suit?  I was told, you swim in the shorts.  Snarling a little, I took them to the fitting room to just see what this was all about.  And it was awful.  The shorts had that silicone grippy stuff around the leg and waist opening.  So it was like, stuck to my body, too tight, squishing every little bit of cupcake up out around my waist, revealing what did not appear to be a triathlete's belly.  Pouting a little and trying to save my pride, I pull on the tank.  Immediately my waist disappears, leaving me looking much like I had no waist at all.  Adding to this "not what I had in mind" vision, was the fact that it was completely uncomfortable.  Even the mediums, I swear.
Anyway, I asked Coach Melissa what I could wear, and if anyone thought I really needed some expensive quick-dry mini chamois for an 11.4 mile bike ride.  The answer from the crowd was a resounding "no" (which I now know to be true, having ridden today sans chamois), and she said, you can do the whole thing in your bathing suit.  Do you have a bathing suit?  The answer: I have one with flowers and crap hanging off of it, it's super cute.  Ha ha ha.
So I spent arguably too much time on line hunting down the ideal racing triathlon appropriate bikini.  I found one that was highly rated by someone who had just finished a triathlon of the same distance through a cute website called "team", and what appeared to be an identical one on "", which offered 15% off for new customers.  Sold.
Team Estrogen 

Upon further inspection, the next day, I notice these suits are not identical.  Close.  I like the one on team estrogen better, and no, I can't explain exactly why but I do.  So, I've ordered three total suits (I've even admitted to a friend that they will all show up and likely be the exact same suit, but they just look different to me in the pictures, don't they??).  One small from trisports, and one small and one medium (realizing I may not be as small as I thought) from team estrogen.  Let's hope one fits, and that it too, is super cute.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

47, and I can do it!

So, item "Complete bike/run portion of the tri" has been completed.  I got up Saturday morning, had Husband check the tire pressure on my bike, laid out my running shorts, socks, and shoes, and took off on my bike. There has been some fires in the area lately, leaving a strange haze in the air.  The light of the morning sun coming through this haze was unlike a sunlight I had seen in Colorado in awhile.  It almost seemed...beachy.  Like the sun was shining through smog and humidity in California, instead of shining through ash and smoke of fires in Colorado.
Anyway, I ended up going 12.47 miles (at a reasonable place to turn around on the trail).  I got back home, ran inside, changed my bottom half attire, and headed out on the run.  And it felt...weird. Like, my legs were heavy and not moving the way I wanted them too.  I felt all shuffly and wonky, and slow.  But, I plugged along, wishing I had both thought to eat something before I left on the bike ride, and stopped to pee before the run.  Notes to Self.  I ran 3.1 miles.  And you know, I felt OK.  I didn't feel, like, normal or anything, but it felt fine.  I can at least do that much!!
That night I used the most fabulous vibrating hand-held back massager on earth for the entire 20 minutes it will run before shutting itself off to prevent overheating.  Add some Tylenol PM, nearly 11 hours of sleep, and Sunday I felt pretty damn self-satisfied.
I met a friend for lunch and some shopping, and we ended up going downtown to see the Street Chalk Art festival.  Wow wow wow!  
After walking around in the afternoon (pretending to be beachy) haze, looking at this art on the street, we found dinner on a patio, and found life to be...just very enjoyable.  :o)

I have done a little google research on bike/run transitions.  Apparently, what I experienced is completely normal.  The article I read had some suggestions on what to do on the bike towards the end of the ride to help ease into running without freaking your body out.  Some standing up in the saddle to pedal, some over-spinning in a small gear, and stretching your legs and back as much as you can.  Also preparing mentally from pedaling to running.  I can do that.  I'll try again next weekend.  I'll eat first, I'll transition physically and mentally on the last mile or so of my ride, and I'll wobble along another 5k run.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

46th, and my "to do" list

Since this triathlon endeavour is likely the most interesting thing in my life right now (or at least, the thing most on my mind), I'll be sharing my experiences and thoughts about it with you all.
First, I have come up with a list of concerns I have about this event.  Let me enumerate my fears:

1) I'm actually pretty worried about what the chlorine will do to my hair when I finally go swimming.  I'm growing it out, and I don't want to ruin it.  I'm feeling like a princess about my hair.  I am planning to ask my hairdresser what I can do to protect it when she gives me my trim next week. 
2) I'm very concerned about wearing the same bikini thing that I will be swimming in for the entire race.  This idea is gross to me.  It's wet, I have to pull on bike shorts over a soggy wet bikini bottom, and then ride my bike sitting on my soggy butt for however long it takes me to ride.  Then I pull off the soggy bike shorts and am supposed to run?  In my bikini? 
3) I'm scared someone will kick/hit me in the face during the swim.
4) I'm scared I'll swallow the gross lake water and get a weird intestinal infection.  In fact, I not only don't want the water in my mouth, but I would prefer it not touch my skin at all.  It's dirty.
5) I'm nervous about being able to unclip without fail in case of bike emergency.  I've ridden on the crowded bike path, but what if this is more crowded?  How do I successfully negotiate a crowd (or let someone who is more badass than me pass me) without falling into a big collective bike heap that is entirely my fault because I am clumsy on my bike?
6) What if I get sunburned?  Is it appropriate to leave a can of spray sunblock and a towel in the "transition" area?
7) Do I really need to practice my "transitions"?  Isn't that just a measure of how quickly I can change clothes, and not a measure of my fitness?  And we're not talking about a lot of clothes here.  Remember the bikini?  I'm working on feeling confident running in this item.  

To better assist myself in getting over these fears, I have come up with a list of things to do that may help me chillax.

1) Purchase the special triathlon bikini, hoping it is comfortable, quick-drying, and will stay in place.
2) Run and bike at least once in this bikini, perhaps while it's wet, so that I know it will stay in place and not do anything terrible to my body.
3) Complete bike/run portion of the tri (on my "to do" list this Saturday).
4) Complete swim portion of the tri, preferably several times, both in a pool and in the disgusting gross icky murky reservoir.  Maybe I'll even ride my bike in the bikini to the swimming destination.  Maybe.  It will depend on the bikini.  And my self-confidence.
5) Start to think about learning how to fix a flat tire on my bike.  Because that's the kind of luck I have.

So as I come up with new concerns, and as I complete the items in my checklist, I will report back.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No. 45 (or 15337th place)

So I decided a little while ago that I should run the Bolder Boulder this year.  I had done it the first time back in 2004 with a couple friends of mine.  I had started running "for real" maybe in 2003 or 2002, and was enjoying doing local 5k's.  I was really enjoying being able to run, so I entered the BB10k and started training.  I ran 6 miles once, which was two laps around City Park, and felt ready for it.  And I was!  My friends and I ran the whole thing without stopping (which was our/my personal goal).  We kept a slow and steady pace, finishing at a reasonable, if not humble, 1:10:58.  I ran it again in 2005, finishing in 55:53.  In between these two races, I ran a half-marathon in Carlsbad, CA in January of 2005.  I trained in Denver through the winter, which meant that the actual race at sea level at a comfortable 60 degrees was pretty fantastic.  I can't remember my actual finish time for the half, but it was nearly dead-on 10:00 mile (I honestly think something like 131 minutes, 28 seconds).  And I haven't gone farther than a 10k since then. 
I was so glad that the same friend I ran with in 2004 wanted to run with me again this year.  We have always had fairly similar paces, so I felt good about being able to run the whole thing with her again (without stopping ha ha).  And we did!  She set a strong pace, and we finished in 1:00:53.  I came in 15337th place out of more than 50,000 people.  It's a HUGE race.  On the course, there were no fewer than 3 slip-n-slides in people's yards that a runner could choose to dive through (I chose no).  One appeared either filled with beer, or really dirty water.  At mile 2, there was the unofficial "marshmellow station", with a guy tossing marshmellows out into the runners.  I didn't get one, and I'm still a little sad about that.  There was an Elvis impersonator, whom my friend high-fived.  [To make it easier for future reference, I'll call her the Pie Girl, since that's how we became friends.  I am aware all my personal business is out there in
 this blog, but I don't see the need to bring any unwanted attention to the Pie Girl.  Also keeping in mind that being called the Pie Girl is not a reflection of her appearance in any stretch of the imagination.  She is quite petite and fit.  I will be mentioning her again in future blogs.  Back to the race.]  
Somewhere around mile 4 was an elusive donut stand.  I saw a girl running with a donut, and I told the Pie Girl with undisguised envy, "that girl has a donut".  She had seen the stand, but somehow, I missed it.  People come out to the neighborhoods and eat their breakfast in their pajamas, and at least once the smell of bacon was overwhelming.  Nearing mile 6 was a girl with a plate of cupcakes.  I applauded her (literally), but declined.  I wasn't feeling like eating a cupcake just then.  Weird, I know. 
The BB finishes with a run through the CU football stadium.  It's super fun (?) to sprint this last little part.  It's loud, there's music playing, the stands are full of people cheering you on, and you're almost done!  So I sprinted (read: accelerated from a jog to a run) to the end.
And as an aside, this race is always run on Memorial Day.  I had always thought of Memorial Day as a day to honor fallen soldiers.  However, the BB gives you a free bib to honor any and all people who have served/are currently serving.  And I was so excited to put two people of whom I am quite proud: my currently serving Sergeant First Class super secret squirrel brother-in-law, and friend from previous job who was apparently a major bad-ass in the Army at one time.

The Pie Girl and I had a great run.  On the drive back from Boulder, we talked about triathlons.  She's done one, I haven't.  It's something I kind of always wanted to do, but a) didn't have a decent bike and b) didn't have consistent pool access.  I now have a more than decent bike.  So, before I lost my nerve, feeling all super confident and mighty, we registered for the "Tri for the Cure" in Cherry Creek State Park on August 7th.  That gives me just over nine weeks to find a pool, and see if I can even swim 750 meters. 
I feel pretty confident I could do the whole race without training any harder than I ordinarily would do over a summer.  But all bravado and braggadocio aside, by "do" I mean “finish”.  Not heroically, not without a lot of discomfort, and likely not without feeling pretty miserable the whole time, and perhaps with a dramatic crawl to the finish line.  Soooo, I'll find a pool (I already found a couple at rec centers I can pay through the nose to use), and figure this thing out.  And perhaps, eat my words.
I'll admit that the swim part makes me nervous.  It's in a yucky reservoir (one year participants in this same tri all got some horrible skin rash from a parasitic snail or something godawful), it's in open water, there will be a bunch of other swimmers with their arms and legs all kicking out everywhere, and I've never done anything like that before.  And I have literally no concept of what it means to swim 750 meters.  It's like, half a mile.  Is that far?  I don't even know.  It sounds far.  I suppose I'll find out soon enough.
And just to see if I am over-confident or actually capable, this weekend I will attempt the entire bike/run portion.  So I'll ride my bike 11.4 miles (maybe 12 to call it good) and then run 3.1 miles.  My logic is that I can ride 30 miles and be OK, and I just ran 6.2 miles and was OK.  I can probably do half of each at the same time and be OK.  Right??  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Eeek a mouse! XLIV

The other day (like, two days ago), our cat became unusually fascinated with our oven drawer.  Riveted.  So much so that she had managed to fish out a Tylenol PM with her paw while attempting to get at whatever had caught her attention.
And naturally, we had to open the drawer to find out what was going on.  And there it was, scrambling over every piece of bakeware that I own, a mouse.  Soooooo gross.  It's grubby little nasty mouse feet touching all my stuff.  Ew ew ew ew ew.  And somehow, in the brief moments that I saw the damn thing, it seemed deliberate.  Like it was trying to literally touch everything in the drawer.  Husband mimed the mouse licking its paw and purposefully touching my muffin tray.  Funny!  And gross.  Yucky filthy mouse.
The bakeware was removed, and a peanut butter baited snap trap was set.  Four smashed mice later, we're hoping to be nearly done taking down the mouse metropolis within our walls. 
Now, you'd think a cat would be an asset in this kind of situation.  And as interested as she was in getting under the drawer, she can't really fit.  And then, she has no claws.  But she is marvelous at alerting us to the presence of mice.  And really, I'd rather a snap trap catch it anyways, and not have some mutilated chewed on mess in the middle of the kitchen.  Or in my bed.  You get the idea.
And besides, after she realized she's never getting into the drawer, she appears to be quite at ease and relaxed, knowing the mice situation will soon be under control.  And I'm still very very proud of her for trying.
Mice: Fear This!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A tisket, a tasket (this is my cat Basket). XLIII

I've really just been waiting for something to say before I blogged again.  I guess I don't have a whole lot, but here's a few things:

I had a fun bike ride last weekend on the first nice day (occurring on a weekend) in months.  Everything about it was ideal, except that the breakfast bar I brought with me to eat at my turnaround point somehow wormed it's way out of my bike fanny pack.  So no food for me, for 30.5 miles.  But it was fine.  And my smashburger that night was delicious!

Also, my cat has returned to spending time on my lap.  Usually only in the mornings, but occasionally in the evenings.  Mostly when she's picked up and placed on my lap, and coerced into staying there with attentive ass-scratching.  Look at that face.  And that belly!
And, we had a great time renting kayaks and paddling around Cherry Creek Reservoir with some friends.  Husband wanted to explore a new hobby, and invited us all to join him.  Besides the swarm of bugs that followed us around the lake, and the blister I got between my thumb and forefinger (which I have been made aware is both barely noticeable and not dramatic in this picture), it was a fun experience.

And finally, I am keeping fingers crossed and holding breath that maybe, maybe, my nerve thing is on it's way out.  Not gone, still get little reminders here and there, but I am definitely spending less time thinking about it, and that must be because I am less aware of it.  And, I'm off the seizure meds altogether.  My sleep sucks, but it's all an adjustment, right? 
So, I am hoping to plan a "Whatever Was Wrong With Me, It's Gone Now" party very soon.  And with any luck, my hair will look fabulous.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

42. Deep breaths.

Gah, alright.  This blog is a bit personal, but hey.  I trust you all to "do no harm".
So in my gradual weaning off the Klonopin (the anti-seizure, tranquilizing drug that had been "easing" my nerve deal), I have encountered, er, difficulties at each stage.  Both physiological and psychological hiccups. 
Physiologically, each time I cut back, I enjoy multiple sequential sleepless restless nights, followed by several days of general jitteriness and creepy drug withdrawal feelings.
Psychologically, it's a whole horror show inside my head.  First, not sleeping, as we have learned, makes me emotionally labile.  Add that to feeling jittery, and my need to attribute this jitteriness to something actually happening in my life, and I am practically seeking out things that perhaps ordinarily would upset me, and assuming that's why I'm jittery and antsy and otherwise edgy/irritable.  For example, last night we had our annual HOA meeting.  Husband is the President of the board, making me First Lady, and requiring my presence.  Booo.  These meetings are just an opportunity for home owners to show up and yell about this or that, hear a satisfactory answer, then repeat themselves ad nauseum until eventually, the meeting is adjourned.  Not excited about it.  Feeling generally meh about it, but turning into some bigger deal than it needs to be in my head, because I am already in like, junkie medication withdrawal and feel like poop.
But then, I get there, and although there was one brief moment with several people yelling at once about the inefficient snow removal we experienced this past winter where I wanted to die, it really wasn't too bad.  I practiced self-calm techniques.  Which for me, are not some highly sophisticated technique of relaxation, or cognitive behavioral therapy of some kind.  They involve seeking out the humor in the situation (perhaps by judging others in my head, yes, I admit it), and realizing that eventually this meeting will be over, and I can share my funny thoughts with my neighbors later.  So, the table with all the yelling Grumpy Gills, suddenly became known to me as "the HumDrum-V", whereas the table I sat at (with the board members) was "the Fun-V".  This is from Iron Man, a pun about the Hum-Vs they were riding in.  Hah hah hhhah.
But back to more of what else is going on in my head.  I'm completely off the Klonopin as of two nights ago.  I've been hoping to be able to do this for MONTHS.  What's stopped me?  Fear.  Fear that if I stop, I'll feel worse and have to get back on.  Fear of what that might mean if I do feel worse, will I ever fucking just get better?  But you know, it hasn't been too bad.  At least, it's better than it was this time last year.  And for as incredibly impatient as I am, calculating recovery time in months or seasons is almost offensive an idea.  But, it's the only measurement in which I can see an improvement, so I have to accept it.  I would've loved to have said, yeah, just the other day my nerves were doing this crazy weird numb/tingly thing and it was kinda annoying, but this week it's completely gone and I feel awesome.  Instead, I'm stuck with, last April I had a spinal tap and my brain leaked fluid for a week.  I feel better than that now.  Even slightly better is that, last July I said I'd be OK if this was as good as it got for me, because at least I feel better than I did two months ago, and I feel better now than I did in July.  I can EVEN say that I feel better now than I did in March.  And that's almost miraculous.
And somehow, through all this crap, I can still enjoy a nice puffy cloud in the sky.

So, please, keep your fingers crossed I make it through this week on sub-par sleep without totally flipping out.  And that I don't start to feel worse.  And that I can adjust to life without the constant sedation I've experienced the last 13 months.  And, please, be impressed that I have made all these incredible observations about myself and shared them all with you (self-mocking tone there).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No. 41

Alright, so although these topics may seem inane and superficial, I'm going to try and tie them into mindfulness and gratitude anyway.
First, I've been into getting manicures lately.  It was a luxury I couldn't really indulge in with my previous job, as not only were long nails not allowed in my profession, they would've been ruined within days.  So on a whim, I went to the salon where I've gotten many pedicures and asked for a manicure.  Husband had requested "those French tips" (it actually still baffles me that he knew what those were), so that is what I requested.  The manicurist suggested I try the "gel" polish, since it was new and would last longer.  I'm convinced, sure, what the hell.  Gel it up.
And honestly, I didn't really realize how nice manicures are.  Or that I apparently have really nice natural nails.  The few times I've gone, the other women in the salon have commented on them, and the manicurists there just rave about them.  Actually, there have been several similar conversations that were a bit strange to me: "are those yours?" (in reference to my nails), which gave me pause "whose else would they be, seriously?" and to which the manicurist replied, almost proudly, "yes, those are her real nails".  Which is received with something like awe, and nods of approval.  So, I guess my "real" nails are a bit of a rarity in salons where most are acrylic. 
So, one day when I was just buzzing with nervous tension and restlessness, I went in after work for a manicure.  I struggled with it for awhile, because they are expensive and I didn't really need one for another few days, but I just wanted to indulge myself.  And it was lovely.  I was pampered and complimented for over an hour.  I was called "honey", all my fingerly flaws were tended to (some polish chips, cleaned up cuticles, nails reshaped, etc.), and I left after a nice hand and forearm massage with beautiful nails and higher spirits, and less of that "bleck" feeling.  I was thankful for that, and mindful of the pampering and self-care I had allowed myself.
And one more thing: I'd like to give a "shout out" to Tylenol PM.  I sort of feel like it's a bit magical.  I don't know if it's because when I take it, I can sleep forever, or if it has anything to do with the "PM" part (which is an anti-histamine; Benadryl), but the mornings after I take it, I wake up feeling almost healed.  As if, during the night, the anti-histamine has gone into my body, sought out and healed all the inflamed and irritated parts, and let me sleep for ten hours to wake up restored.  It's like a magic bean, coated in EZ swallow blue. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forty? Who knew I had that much to say...

I'm still a little hung up on my little union of gratitude and meaning that came to me last week.  So much so, that I am merging in a third idea: mindfulness.
This word has been the topic of much discussion at home lately.  I can't claim to know very much about the idea, but I can share a little bit about what it means to me.
First, mindfulness in regards to eating.  A mindful eating experience would include being aware of how the food feels and smells as you prepare it.  The sensation of the food in your hands, the aromas of it cooking, the sight of it on your counter/in your pot/etc.  Using all your senses before it even gets to your mouth.  Then, mindfulness of the food on your fork, or in your hands; feeling it's weight, noting the texture, inhaling it's scent as it nears your mouth. 
Once you take a bite, be aware of all the sensations you're experiencing.  How good it smells, the feel of the food in your mouth, how it tastes.  Maybe even enjoy the subtle mixing of flavors as you chew and enjoy, using all your senses.
This donut, for which I was very grateful last week, was an example of a mindful eating experience.  First, it sat on my desk for some time before I ate it.  So I could smell the sugary coconut for awhile.  Then, I picked it up, noted it's weight, the feel of the coconut flakes kind of smashing into the icing as I held it, then took a bite.  The awesome and kind of surprising thing, was that it tasted much like it looked (heavenly), but with a hint of lemon.  Interesting, right?

So, let's bring mindfulness into this marriage of gratitude and meaning. What do you think?  I think it's fantastic.  Feeling more present in your moment, more aware.  Experiencing your gratitude with all your senses.  Finding meaning in that moment.
And, eating coconut donuts.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Blog no. 39

I'm apologizing for the length between blogs.  I've meant to everyday, but just didn't.  No reason, other than maybe now I'm feeling more self-conscious than usual, because I have some new followers?  Maybe not, maybe I've just been lazy.
I did have some moments this week of self-awareness that were a bit insightful.  The first one having to do with being tired.  Since I've been weaning myself off the Klonopin, I haven't been sleeping well.  Worse than usual, even.  This insomnia has been the, hard to fall asleep, wake up earlier and earlier each day kind.  So last week, Wednesday night, I barely slept at all.  I had to wake up early Thursday for a doctor's appointment, and I was thinking, "Great!  Since I'm so tired, I'll be really relaxed for this appointment.  Perfect." 
It occurred to me a bit later, while walking across the breezeway from my office building to the hospital where my appointment was, that tired and relaxed are two ENTIRELY different states of being.  Tired is like, the opposite of relaxed.  (These are thoughts I'm having across the breezeway). 
Tired is thin, fragile, weak, and unsupported.  Events that occur while tired are magnified on a logarithmic scale, amplified by a brain that just can't process them correctly.  Things feel personal that aren't.  Stressful things are just too much, leading to tears or fits of anger that are entirely inappropriate to the situation.  Tired does NOT equal relaxed.  It's SO obvious now.  Like, hit your head with your hand obvious.  Duh!  But up until then, I think I forced myself to relate the two states (tired = relaxed) so that I could function better while exhausted and sleep-deprived.  But it was actually just making things worse!  Why am I crying?  Why am I so hungry?  Why does nothing sound good to eat except M&Ms?  Why can't I sleep?  Why are all these awful horrible things happening to me? (read: awful horrible things such as, I forgot my fork and/or water bottle at work, so must use plastic fork and/or plastic cup).
When really, I must just acknowledge, I am *tired*.  Things are harder when I'm tired.  But, I *know* this, and can deal with being tired.  I can also try to feel more relaxed about being tired.  One does not equal the other, yet one can occur within the framework of the other.  Meaning, I can be tired, and become relaxed.
Anyway, like I said, duh.  And yet, profound to me, on a Thursday morning, on the breezeway, to the hospital.  A life lesson learned.
So thank you, Moment of Clarity. 
And here, a quote from the author of the preface to my gratitude journal, Catherine Price; "...I felt something deeper inside me begin to change: I was training myself to appreciate the everyday beauty and joy that already existed in my life, and I was beginning to understand how I could create more of those experiences."
So this week, I feel like I have united two ideas - the original blog idea of finding meaning in the everyday, and gratitude.  I will find meaning in what already exists in my life, feel grateful, and learn how to continue to practice this idea.

(I just like this picture because my hair looks really red (it's brown) and I have makeup on.)  So here's me, looking into the future with a mindset to be more forgiving of myself when I am tired, and to find gratitude in my pretty amazing life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

38 blogs! Wow.

This will be a summary of events from Friday afternoon through this evening, for which I am thankful.
Friday afternoon I was invited by my co-worker to hang out with her while she got a patient enrolled in one of the clinical trials going on at our center.  One of the enrollment criteria required a "6 minute walk" (6MW) test.  This is an important measure for patients with pulmonary hypertension, because they often become out of breath during actitivity, so the farther they can walk in 6 minutes, the better they're doing.  It's used in clinical trials and clinical practice as a measure of improvement/worsening.
So this wonderful woman set out on her 6MW in the hallway.  We mark each end of the corridor with orange cones, and distance in meters is marked on the walls.  I'm at one end, making sure the path stays clear of foot traffic, and the study nurse is at the other.  The patient sets off at an impressive clip, carrying her portable oxygen tank with her.  Back and forth, doing great.  She starts to slow down, gets to my end to rest a moment.  Now, we're not supposed to coach or interfere with the walk in any way.  But when she looks at me, and I notice she's not really seeing me anymore, and her oxygen tank falls off her arm, I go over to her.  Just in time to barely help her slide down the wall into a crumpled heap on the floor.  The study nurse is running towards us with the wheelchair, and I can barely hold her up.  Anyway, brief drama as I fetch the doctor, and the patient is fine.  Just had a "pre-syncopal epidsode".  Don't I know it.  Having had several recently myself, I get it. 
Thankful that I interfered with the 6MW and kept her from totally keeling over.  Thankful that I got to talk with the doctor that came to help, I've only spoken with him once or twice since I was hired.  And he's funny!  I asked later that afternoon him if I could go into his University physician profile to add "pulmonary hypertension" to his list of specialties, and he suggested I also add "male model" and "humanitarian".  I quickly replied I had been coming up with a list of things to add to embelish/enhance his profile, and just had been waiting for the "green light". 

The weekend starts off nicely.  It's a crazy warm morning, so I get to ride my "mycycle" wearing the least amount of clothes ever!  It felt like flying, as usual, but this time it felt like flying...neked *tee-hee*.  Until I reached my turn-around point and rode 15 miles home uphill into the wind.  Boooooo.  Then it felt like, uh, like I was going to enjoy the hell of the bacon cheeseburger I was going to eat that night.  That's right, thank you, Smashburger.
Sunday took a turn and dropped over 50 degrees and snowed.  Still a productive day, re-learning movie editing software I hadn't used in months.  Today was also a fine day.  During the lunch meeting where I was supposed to show off the changes I had the web-guy make to our website, my supervisor did instead, so I could just hang out.  Then the funny doc kept making jokes about his profile picture, that was taken er, awhile ago, and was the only one in black and white.  So he looked "pasty", everyone else looked "healthy and vibrant", and finally, what made me laugh quite a bit, that "he looked like one of those Twilight guys".  Ha ha haha!! 
And this afternoon, while gathering ingredients for the Barefoot Contessa's mocha icebox cake at the grocery (man, mascarpone cheese is expensive), I snoop at the coupons the previous self-checker-outer left behind, I find a $10 off your next grocery trip!!! coupon.  So thanks, Coupon-Rejecter, for saving us $10!  The Morehouse in me was tickled pink.
And for the record, I *will* be thankful when this wretched, awful wind stops blowing.  On my bike ride into 40mph gusts of it, I thought of it as "the devil's breath".  Yeah.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's April!! Thanks for that.

It felt weird to not be posting daily Items of Gratitude.  I know it's only been a few days, but it seemed longer. 
I had a fun week.  I got slices of pizza for lunch *twice*.  Both times with friends.  The first time with a group of the Good Apples from my old job.  Sooo nice to see them.  The second slice was with a girlfriend who also works on campus.
We were invited over to dinner this week as well.  Delicious, authentic fish and shrimp tacos.  And an introduction to the newly available in Colorado "Blue Bell" ice cream, with Nutella and crushed up cookies.  And last night, over for the pastry-chef's "Chocolate Dream Cake".  This was a chocolate cake, with mousse filling, in a chocolate cookie crumb crust, that she dreamt about, and then created.  Hooray for dream cakes!  And hooray for leftovers of this in my fridge.
I lifted weights again this week as well.  It had been awhile, because I was taking a dance class that somehow threw off my workout routine.  It was an intense dance class!  I lifted on Wednesday.  My body has been making it fairly clear to me that it was not pleased with this decision.  "Oh, you didn't think you had a muscle there?  Well, you do.  And it hurts, and it's going to ache whenever you move.  And how about this muscle here?  This one is going to hurt even if you just sit there.  Don't even think about trying to rub it because it's going to feel like you got punched there.  And yeah, you're being punished." (That's my body talking to me).
So this morning, 48 hours after this really wussy weight lifting session that still managed to leave me damaged, I decided I'm going to punish back and trot out for 3 miles.  Take that"Oh hell no, this isn't going to work for you at all.  All those muscles in your legs that serve only to move your body forward?  Well, those are going to be weak and wobbly.  And all the other ones that just seem to jiggle with your momentum?  Yeah, that jiggling is going to hurt."  Oooooof.  Jog jog wince jog ow jog....and then endorphins.  Thanks endorphins.  It's all good til I stop.  Then..."REVENGE!!!!  What were you thinking???? You suck. Prepare to suffer the rest of the day.  And now your back hurts too, way to slack off on buying new running shoes.  Jerk." I am thankful for: inner dialogues, Tylenol, that it's Friday, that I know my body is just talking sassy but that it actually appreciates the efforts, and that it's Friday.  And that I have new running shoes on their way to me in the mail.  And that I get to eat more of that Dream Cake tonight.  And that I have two new blog followers that hopefully enjoy my stories.  And that I have good friends to eat pizza with!  And good friends to eat fish tacos and dessert with.  But my ass is still sore.  Good lord.
And that my cat seems to like Disney Princess movies.  She's so damn cute.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 1, blog 37

So it's now been a week of daily gratitude.  Some days have been easier to find things to be grateful for than others, but even on the challenging days where I'm forced to find things to appreciate, I've enjoyed the exercise.
Today on my run, I encountered the pole waving gentleman again.  He smiled and waved at me, which was nice.  I prefer to encounter him on foot, rather than on bike. 
So I suppose my first item is,
1) that the ski pole did not enter my personal space today.
2) that I had a delicious brunch/lunch with a friend today, who brought me daffodils from her garden.
3) that I noticed these trees starting to bloom, as I looked up and out of my sunroof this afternoon.
4) that this week we have been invited to dinner with friends *twice*.  I am thankful to be building and maintaining meaningful friendships
5) that today, I didn't have a flare up of my nerve condition.  That's something I should appreciate (and acknowledge) every day that I don't have a flare up. 

I have really enjoyed reading other people's lists.  I too, am thankful for cheese, and my brain, and for the father I was dealt, and for other human beings who love me.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 6 of gratitude

After today, I have committed myself to only one more daily blog of thankfulness.  I will do it occasionally after tomorrow.  I hope I get in the practice of at least thinking the list to myself at the end of each day, if not writing them down with my awesome alien pen in my gratitude journal.
I've taken half my usual dose now for the last four nights.  Until this afternoon, I hadn't noticed too big a difference in my numbness.  It got more noticeable this afternoon.  I felt all frumpy and mad about it, but briefly.  I took a quarter dose (I've done this before) to calm things back down, and I feel better (although I'm having a hard time typing). 
So today's list:

1) That cookie last night was, to quote my friend and the giver of said cookie, "a spiritual experience".  So thank you, Ghirardelli, for making such damn good cookies.

2) Free birthday lunch coupon with a really long expiration date.  Thank you, Spicy Pickle, for the free birthday lunch nearly two months later.
3) P-traps under the sink.  I got it in my head to finally change out the little captive bead ring in my belly back to the barbell.  We like the barbell better.  But, standing only sort of near the sink, somehow the ball flew up and out, landing in the sink, dodging my grabs not twice but three times before finally clinking down the drain.  So thanks, P-trap, for catching the ball and letting me put the barbell back in.  Looks good (and a little red and irritated).
4) And because I'm posting early and running short on gratitude today, I'm stealing some from other bloggers' comments.  Thank you, brain, for still being relatively sharp and making my life easier in general, than it would be (I'm assuming) if I were not bright.
5) And finally, I'm thankful that I can get what I need at the grocery.  If I can't find it at one store, surely another will have it somewhere.  It's nice to have so many options offered to me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

34th and Thankful

Today's list came easily, so it's posted early.  I have some things that may happen tonight that may make tomorrow's list, but I wanted to get this up for the day.  Today I have gratitude:

1) That I could make it out for a run this morning.  I hadn't gone all week.
2) That despite cutting back on my seizure meds the past few days, I haven't felt noticeably worse.  About the same.  Trying to stay positive.
3) That I received a *really* neat new pen in the mail.  :-)

4) That it's finally the weekend!!!
5) That I have nothing to do all day tomorrow, except enjoy it.  And clean the house.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

XXXIII - Thanks

This morning, I was thankful to enjoy my coffee on the couch, cat in lap, watching the news again.
I was thankful to notice the buds on the trees, just starting to come out.
I am thankful that my neighbor and friend who is in San Francisco today will be bringing me a cookie from Ghirardelli Square tomorrow.

I'm thankful for my small rice cooker/steamer from Cuisinart that allowed me to steam salmon and cook rice with edamame at the same time for dinner.
And thank you, oxygenating facial spa from Bliss, for a lovely citrus-scented treat tonight.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The third thankful list (# 32)

Today I am thankful for:
1) my coffee still being hot nearly 2 hours after pouring it into my thermos.  I had to get a fasting blood draw this morning, which meant no coffee with sugary creamer until afterwards.  I enjoyed every still warm sip.
2) that my cat spent some of the night curled up next to me in bed.  This is a first in many many months.

3) the discount provided to me yet again today at the car dealer, by the same man who extended me the loaner car without a valid drivers license.  Thank you, really nice service man for now saving me literally hundreds of dollars.
4) that the wind died down enough for me to enjoy a walk after work with Husband.
5) my boss.  He gets shit done.  And in the nicest way possible.  To make a longish story shorter - I'm working on updating the Pulmonary Hypertension website at the University Hospital.  There are apparently two PH websites - one through respiratory conditions and one through heart/circulation conditions.  I caught this today, made the webmaster aware, and he hesitated to make any changes without "Director level MD instruction".  I innocently email back, "How about an email authorization rom Dr. B"?  Moments later, an actual representative from UCH marketing shows up at my cube asking what he can do for me.  Bam.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today I am thankful for...

Today's List of Things I am Grateful for:
1) A rare chance to sleep in this morning.  Nowhere to be until 9:30.
2) Basket's cat nap on my lap while I drank coffee and watched the morning news.
3) Cupcakes.  Specifically, Gigi's new Spring flavor, Coconut Cream Pie.
4) That I remembered the dream I had before my alarm went off.  Like, all of it.  In detail.  There was a coconut cream pie cupcake in my dream.  Somehow, while gesturing with it in my hand to a large group of beautiful bridesmaids standing in the snow, I got frosting in my eye.  I was wearing a strapless white dress and delicate heels, being careful not to slip in the ice.
5) That daffodils are $2 for a bunch at Safeway.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blog-grrrrrr (no. 30)

Although I knew going into this appointment (and have known for months, because that’s how long it took me to get the stupid visit) that it wouldn’t be at all special or different or life changing, I’m still feeling…deflated.  Disappointed.  Discouraged.  For like, the hundredth time.
After again passing the standard neurological tests (does this feel cold, does this feel sharp, touch your nose with this finger) and explaining my symptoms, this new University neurologist “can’t say for sure what’s causing my symptoms”.  We know what it isn’t, but we don’t know what it is.  I’m really trying to cling to what should be the important items: “It’s not progressive, it’s not MS, it’s not my central nervous system, there is no evidence of permanent damage” but what’s ringing most loudly in my ears is “it may never completely resolve, there is no way of knowing how long it may take, the only medication we can offer you will only help you deal with the symptoms”.  And annoyingly, “there seems to be some component of anxiety involvement”.  To which I hear “this isn’t real” and want to reply “oh, so I’ve been anxious enough to hyperventilate and cause numbness and tingling for the last 15 months straight?  Every day?  All day?  That’s the best you can offer?  I’m anxious?  Of fucking course I’m anxious.  But not all the damn time.  Come up with something better than that.”
So my options are apparently to continue with the seizure meds that make me clumsy and affect my short-term memory in ways that are only occasionally amusing, or start an anti-depressant that causes nausea in 25% of people, insomnia in 10%, and diarrhea in 24%.  That sounds awesome.  Why don’t you take away my libido too (5%)?  Just find all the things in life that are fun and enjoyable (eating, sleeping, solid bowel movements, and orgasms) and fuck those up with a pill that may or may not have any effect on my nerve condition.  I am choosing…none of the above.  I’m done with this BS. 
True, I feel like a pouting, whining, angry, spoiled patient.  And tomorrow I may feel differently and eventually end up taking one or more of these ridiculous pills.  But right now, I’m over it.  I’ve just been told that I may get to live with this crap the rest of my life, but we’ll “never really know for sure”.  Fuck you, Medicine.
Gratitude should follow the arrows.
In an attempt to end this on a positive note…I really *am* ….grateful?  Not initially.  That’s not the first word that comes to mind when I am in my little black storm cloud (like right now), but it’s there somewhere.  I sometimes have to force it when Deepak Chopra tells me to “experience gratitude in your heart.”  But I can feel it, and I can experience it.  My life isn’t over, that’s ridiculous.  It’s just changed and inconvenienced.  I have plenty to be grateful for.  Not having permanent nerve damage, for one.  I suppose.  *forcing gratitude into heart*  
So for the next week (arbitrary) I will find, reflect upon, and recognize five things in my life each day for which I am grateful.  And I’m just saying right now they’re not all going to be deep and profound.  Some will be superficial material things.  Just so we’re clear.
Today’s: (in no particular order) Basket, my Husband, my bank account, Golden Oreos, Pandora.

(Twenty minutes later) I've been sitting here, staring at this picture of Basket, wondering if I should perhaps expand upon today's Items of Gratitude/Things for Which I am Grateful.  Thank you, Basket, for being the most orange and adorable pet I've ever had.  Thank you, Husband, for dealing with my storming Pout Cloud.  Thank you, bank account, for not yet running out while I pay through my reconstructed nose for finding out absolutely nothing about this condition (whatever it may be).  Thank you, Golden Oreos, for being a sweet delicious vanilla version of your equally delicious sister cookie, the Oreo, (and for being my afternoon snack).  And thank you, Pandora, for keeping me from going absolutely nuts in my cube all day, and for introducing me to fantastic new music. 
I feel better already.

PS - Maybe you all can do the same, if you'd like.  Post your IoG/TfWyaG as comments, and we can all enjoy them.  Let's make a happy little cloud.  :^D

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon! (XXIX)

So you may all know by now I kind of have a "thing" for the moon.  Last night, the full moon rose at 7:37pm.  I had already wanted to go outside and watch it rise, but it was sealed when I learned from NASA that it would be a rare "super moon", happening once every 18 years or so.  Apparently, the moon will occasionally be closer than usual to the Earth during it's orbit, but rarely will it be closer when it's full.  This coincidence made the moon appear 14% larger than usual.

Husband and I headed outside about 7:50 last night to see it for ourselves.  We don't see it right away, so I refer to my google sky map app to locate it.  And it's right in front of us.  Immediately we are struck.  We run across the street, and start walking towards in the field.  We suddenly realize that's silly, we were walking towards the moon, as if we'd actually reach it at some point.  We collapse in giggles, and then just stand and stare at it for awhile, me leaning up against him, caught up in the moment.  It was pretty freaking cool.
So I don't know if the weirdness of my ride today had anything to do with the "super moon" or not, but I wanted to blog about both today.

First, I'd like to preface this by stating, every time I head out for a ride I wonder a little bit if I will get a flat tire.  Today I felt it stronger than usual.  So much so, that I pretty much expected to get one.  It could've been the odds.  I've been on enough rides now where that didn't happen that it was inevitable.  Anyway, I make sure I have my phone, my license, and my credit card, just in case.  Husband would not be at home today to come to my rescue.

I headed out.  Yesterday on my run I was thinking to myself, "you know, I haven't seen that guy with the ski pole on the trail in a long time."  So today, he's one of the first people I see.  He doesn't use the ski pole for anything that I can tell other than to hold it out away from him, into the side of the trail where people would be passing him on the left.  It's kind of an annoying hazard.  I don't understand it, and it rubs me the wrong way.  What's he thinking?  He needs to be waving some three foot pointy pole out towards people so that we are sure to give him enough space?  Like if he wasn't holding the pole, I'd fly past him on my bike with less than three feet of space between us?  Whatever, dude.  Wave your stupid pole.

Then I make it to the busier, downtown part of the trail.  I only catch a piece of this woman's complaint, but the bit of irony it had made me smile.  This is what I heard: *wind in my ears....*  ..."these cyclists need to SLOW DOWN ON THIS TRAIL OR...."  *wind in my ears*....This is what was happening: She's pushing a parade-float sized stroller in the MIDDLE of the BIKE PATH, with a jogger attempting to pass her on the left, causing me to slow down behind the jogger, and an oncoming cyclist to stop and wait for both the jogger and myself to pass her absurd SUV stroller at a very slow/safe rate of speed.  The wind in my ears was before and after her obstacle was safely avoided, with no real danger to herself or her child. 

Sigh.  Then, about 3/4 into my ride, I stop to blow my nose.  It's a mess, and some guy is seated at a park bench next to the trashcan I'm standing by.  I'm slightly self-conscious about blowing my nose in front of him.  Then he asks me "do you want to buy a Pepsi?"  I pause, "I'm sorry?"  He repeats the question.  I gesture to my water bottle and say, "Thanks, I'm good".  *quietly cycling away....*

And finally, it happens.  I'm about a mile from home.  I again safely avoid a loose child running all over the trail, and feel it.  My bike tire gets all...wobbly.  I peer down through my legs at it and see it flopping around all over the place.  Damn.

Now, this is shameful, I admit.  I have *no* idea how to fix a flat tire.  I have never done it myself.  I have the little patch kit and levers in my bike's fanny pack, but it's a front.  I wouldn't know what to do with them.  Even if I did, it would still be flat.  I have no pump with me.  I have two options.  Dismount, ruin my cleats and walk home, or just ride home on the flat.  I ride home.  It feels gross.  It's all wonky and vaguely nauseating.  But it's only a mile.  And now I have the bike hanging in my garage because I am too embarrassed to go to the bike store and have them fix it, because I want to learn how to fix it myself...just not today.  I might chip a nail, and they're looking really nice right now.

Something neat that I observed this weekend: the seasons are starting to change.  Yesterday morning on my run and this morning on my ride, I could literally *feel* the change.  It was in the air.  There were little pockets where the sun was starting to warm the frost out of the air, so I'd run/ride in and out of these little micro-climates of Winter to Spring.  Pretty awesome.  It was my first run of 2011 in shorts, and my first ride without a hat or jacket.  I could even take off my gloves (as seen in the picture above - they are threaded through my seat).