Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yoga

Yoga, Yoga, you are no fun; But my doctor says you are the one?

I don't want to believe him; but alas I will try...
But understand at some point, I will breakdown and cry...

I tried a nice video, cause those people were pretty...
But I thought better lessons would have come from my kitty...

My cat thought it funny that I stretched like a dog...
So she taught me new poses that made me look like a hog...

During my yoga, sweat suddenly appeared...
I thought this was just stretching!!! now I'm 'a feared...'

Cow pose, dog pose, frog pose, OH MY!!!!!!
Fish pose, monkey pose, locust pose, SIGH!!!!

Why, oh why, can't we call it what it is...
Flatulence inducing, hard exercise schiz!!!

Many props to the yogis, who are limber and strong...
If your expecting me to join you, please don't wait very long...

Namaste


Funny, this pose was NOT on my yoga pose.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Auntie Sarah's Incredible Gobble Gobble Home Grown 5k

The medals
In my opinion, there is nothing better than a little running prior to indulging in a huge Thanksgiving dinner! In my opinion, there is nothing worse than paying 40 bucks to run a race, prior to indulging in a huge Thanksgiving dinner... In this situation, what is one to do?

Here are the various options...

Don't Run! I mean, is it really that important to get a bit of exercise in prior to eating? There are so many things that have to get done on Thanksgiving, that honestly, there really isn't enough time in the day to cook a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries AND set the table, AND clean the bathrooms, AND do the dishes, AND make appetizers, AND run a race... Or is there? Well I can't answer this question because I typically don't do that much stuff, but my mom does...

Run alone! Why would one do this? All the family and friends are around, and so it seems silly to spend time alone. In this case, it might make sense to go back to option one, and just stay at home. But even still, if you are interested in getting that exercise in prior to a big meal, you have to do something, right? And so there is option three...

Run with a family member! Now we are talking. Someone with a personality like mine, would much prefer spending time with others than run alone, so why not take a family member along for a quick run. The problem is that it is easy to cancel last minute because you get caught up in the chores associated with option one. Those messy bathrooms can easily trump exercise.

OR you can...

Arrange a 5k for Friends and Family!!! How much fun would it be to arrange a 5k for family and friends? Something totally free, you can not cancel, you can hand out home made medals, eat home made snacks and enjoy every person who shows up and finishes the race.

So what did I do this year? I arranged Auntie Sarah's Incredible Gobble Gobble Home Grown 5kThis race was totally free for those who chose to participate, it was timed (if you chose to bring a watch to time yourself), there was water on course, lots of cheers for family along the way, a local nonpartisan city official handing out medals, oh and the medals were all hand made by the race director. There were even amazing spectators who came out to cheer us on, and take pictures.

To say this was the perfect 5k would be an under statement. We had the perfect participants, the perfect course, the perfect support, the perfect range of participants, and the perfect time together in the end. I honestly can not say enough about this particular event. Here's to future Gobble Gobble 5ks!!!

Me, and our local celebrity

The Brady Crew

The best spectator!

The race crew, pre-race.

The fantastic ladies!

Another finishers photo

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanksgiving

My favorite holiday is right around the corner. There is nothing better to me than enjoying my family without any expectations other than just hanging out. Next week, I will get to see all SIX of my nieces and nephews, my parents and all of my siblings in one place. The together time will be short lived, and that is why it is even more important that I enjoy every moment I have with them over the weekend. The next time we are all in one place at once might not have for a year or more.

Anyway, I know many people who feel as though being outwardly thankful in November is silly because you should technically be thankful all year round. I would agree with the spirit of that statement, and although I am thankful all year round, I don't necessarily shout from the rooftops because being thankful doesn't have to be public. Just because people choose to be thankful individually, doesn't mean they aren't thankful, they simply are choosing to do it behind the scenes. I like to take November as my opportunity to be very intentional and let people know how truly thankful I am, and so that is what this post is all about. Check out who I am thankful for:


My Parents: Mom and Dad are the most compassionate and caring individuals I have ever known. I have had tough moments this year, tougher than I have experienced in a long time, and rather than judge, they immediately go into support mode. The gift of unconditional love is one that is not offered frequently, but my parents demonstrate this gift every time they pick up the phone to their crying children on the other end, who just made the mistake of a lifetime. How fortunate am I to have such loving parents.





My Siblings: They are so uniquely perfect... My brother is ridiculously sarcastic, but in a pinch the most concerned and compassionate person I know. One sister challenges me to never give up, while my other sister encourages every challenge I take on with unwavering support. They all love me and care for me with an intensity that can not be duplicated.



My Kiddos: OK, so you might be asking, what kiddos? Well, I have six of them... Six of the most impressive nieces and nephews keep me on my toes. Between their love of pickled okra, to their artistic tendencies, their phenomenal swimming and running feats, their musicality, their kindness and sassiness, their love for nature, selflessness and kindness are all gifts that they give to the world and also share with me when I get to spend time with them. I'm very thankful for what I learn from these kiddos, because every time I see them I walk away with more wisdom.


Chris and Jorge: I've never really had friends who texted and/or called because they ran into a homeless dude in a parking lot, and do not want to abandon him with no resources. Chris and Jorge are perfect examples of what it means to take care of their community, and I'm blessed to know them.





My Colleagues: I believe and stand by the fact that money can not replace happiness at work. I am fortunate to be part of the greatest team. We perfectly compliment and challenge each other; we work hard and play hard. I am so very thankful to have colleagues that don't only make work tolerable, but exciting.

Sue: How many people can you talk with about your cat's litter box habits, and quickly shift into world affairs? How many people will come over and caulk your bathtub? How many people will let you be a jerk and then willing to be your best friend the next day? Well, those are very small examples of the kind of friendship that has been extended over the years by this amazing woman. How lucky am I?

All of these people deserve shout outs for everything they have given me this past year through kindness and support. I could NEVER properly thank these people for their friendship and support... But I will always try!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stuck in the Future

What? Stuck in the future? Is this even possible?

Well, let's take a step back here... 

Last week, I was cleaning out another section of my house. While cleaning out, and purging, it is not uncommon to run across old memories. To that point, I happened to run across a CD that was made for me by an ex several years ago. The funny thing is I have never listened to this CD until this past week, in fact I didn't even know it existed until last week. It was a fun find that I have listened to several times at this point. What made me even more curious was that several people asked me if I was going to contact my ex to say thanks for the CD. Why the heck would I do that? It was the past, and it was a wonderful and no so wonderful time all at once. I'm thankful for the time, but reaching out is only something I would do if I were still hanging on to that relationship. At some point you just have to let it go, and let it go I did, several years ago!!! I can certainly be thankful and nostalgic, I can enjoy the memories, but I don't need to drag my past into my present, or even my future.

In speaking to the past, what I've also learned is that being stuck in the future can be just as detrimental to being stuck in the past. But what exactly do I really mean by being stuck in the future? Well, I'm speaking about all the times I have thought about the possibility of not being able to be physically active in the future. Today tells e a different story, and why not appreciate today's story?

Anyway, you got the personal stories as a way to parallel the athletic perspective. Athletically, I've been living in my past AND living the many ways my brain envisions the trajectory of my life.

Let's start with the athletic piece... Athlinks is a cool tool for any individual who does a lot of races. Imagine ALL of your race results in one place? Super cool, but also super sobering. Looking at my past race results I can tell you I have gotten super slow at this whole athletic thing.

Now, what does my future hold? Well one story tells me that I won't be able to walk in 15 years, let alone run... Well, if I keep thinking that, guess what? It will come true.

One story tells me that I am going to hike Mount Everest. If I keep thinking this, guess what? It will come true (although it won't because that isn't even a dream of mine).

Another story tells me that I'm going to continue to almost fall over after every run, every race, every athletic pursuit. If I keep thinking that, guess what? It will come true.

And yet another story tells me that I am going to be able to finish every race in an upright position, without having to hold on to the ground, just to keep myself, oh wait, on the ground equals horizontal, not vertical... You get my point...

Here's the thing, on any given day, any of those future stories can dictate what today might look like, just like any of those past race times might dictate how I feel about today's performance, and neither of those stories/reflections even come close to what is going on today. Remember folks, the only thing that is predictable about tomorrow, is that what happens tomorrow is mostly unpredictable. So, the true danger is figuring out what tomorrow is going to look like, basically means that the reality of tomorrow can be hugely disappointing. So let's focus on what we can do today, or reflect on what has happened in our very recent past, as those are the only true predictors of our tomorrow.

With that being said, my running buddy and I had some super speedy miles on Sunday, and although it would be nice to have a repeat performance tomorrow, I know I will appreciate every step for what they are, in that moment. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

How to Finish Upright...

We all have had those moments when we literally feel like our legs have been knocked out from under us. I'll never forget the time I had to do a reading at church, during the most revered priest's funeral mass, with a full house. I felt honored to be chosen to do a reading, but something about that moment gave me weak legs; I literally thought I was going to fall over while walking back to my pew.

And then there was that other time when I did my grandma's eulogy... Quivering voice, short of breath, shaky legs, thinking I was going to tip over at any given moment. Maybe it is just funerals that make me feel that way, some could argue, however there have been other random moments of shaky legs...

A surprise breakup several years ago, a car crash a couple of weeks ago, a MS diagnosis a couple of years ago, being selected to serve on a jury for a murder trial, forgetting to do that important task at work, having to tell my dad I screwed up (and this has happened countless times through life), and the list could go on forever!!! I think most people can relate...




Because I struggle with walking after running, and because I've been having more problems getting up and down stairs once I get extremely tired, I have decided that I am going to make a new goal for myself...

What does this mean?

Well, with every race, I make a goal for myself. Typically this goal is to finish the race. Every once in awhile I decide that I am going to try and go a little faster, but most of the time the finish line is enough. If you have been following along, you know that I am familiar with last place, and when the goal is to finish, placement shouldn't matter, and so I am certainly not going to make a goal to win a race!

I feel like it is appropriate to make some goals for the Half Ironman I am going to do in June. With that said, I found myself messaging my friend who is going to do this race the following three goals:

1) Finish
2) Finish one minute faster than my last half Ironman
3) Be able to walk, after I cross the finish line...

So, with that being said, I'm trying a new tactic at this point! I have decided that after every run I do, I have to figure out a way to not collapse.

Have you ever heard the term, he/she/it can cut you off at the knee? I know this is probably an offensive statement, and so I do apologize because I don't mean to offend. I'm trying to illustrate my point. It basically means that whatever 'it' is, can potentially be crippling; but whatever it is can be fought off, as long as you have the will. And so, I have decided that I have the will, and from now on I am going to learn to finish upright!


Monday, October 26, 2015

The Girl Who Came in Last

DLF, ever see that acronym before? No, seriously it is a thing, it means Dead Last Finish. I don't think I have ever heard of it before, or if I did, I simply forgot about it.

My friend and I were talking about what it feels like to come in last place at a race, especially when you know you are last from the start. I can say so many things about the feeling of coming in last place, after all, it has "happened to me" a handful of times during this short athletic life of mine.

Let's first reflect on one of the 'greats' who came in last place...

Remember this guy?  He was the amazing dude who kept going for 17 hours, just to cross the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in 2013. He was determined, and simply kept going... I heard he has finished other marathons over the years, which is amazing to me, because at what point do you give up?

Today, I was talking to a colleague about the 5 mile race this weekend, in which I tied for last place with my bestest buddy. During this discussion we started talking about the difference between a 5k and a 5 miler. This conversation came up because I was telling her that the race director for the race I did this weekend were debating turning the 5 miler into a 5k. His reason for such a switch? To make it more accessible... Basically 5k is easier for people to wrap their heads around, and so larger crowds will show up to the start line of a 5k. My colleague and I pondered this for awhile...

Anyway, let me tell you a story about a girl. This girl was determined, she was determined to do some triathlons, ride a bike like she did when she was a kid (meaning for hours on end without even realizing she was exercising), she wanted to be 5k ready at any given time, and so this girl began her journey. Her first big roadblock was a metric century ride that she did with her cousin. Because of some bicycle debacle, and because she was just not used to these types of events, and because she was out to have fun, and because she is slow, she was the last of the riders to finish the metric century.

A couple years later, this girl decided to do a half ironman. During the training, it never occurred to her that she might be the last person to cross the finish line, yet she obsessed about being the person who wouldn't cross the finish line. Race day came, and while she was on the run, the course rider kept coming up behind her telling her that there were 5 people behind her. Suddenly a couple people passed her, then there were 3 people behind her, and then another person passed her. The next, and final time the guy rode by, he told her that there were two people behind her... yet no one else passed her. She was the last person to finish, what happened to the other two? They didn't cross the finish line.

Fast forward two years, and this same girl thought her running life had ended. She was so fatigued and tired all the time, plus it was so damn hot outside, and she just wanted to give up. Then that determination kicked in. She remembered her half ironman, and her bike ride, and her marathon, and her ten half marathons, and she started to consistently run again. She wasn't fast, but knew that she wanted to get faster, especially if it was going to help her running buddy. She new that, even though she had run significant races in the past, a five miler was going to be hard on her. She new that five miles is a huge difference than 3.2 mile, but she knew if she kept her head up she could do it.

She showed up to the race, ran that race, struggled through that race and crossed the finish line tied her best friend for LAST PLACE! I'm not going to lie, she thought it sucked that she was in last place. I'm also not going to lie, she felt extremely blessed to have had the journey with her friend and immensely proud that she crossed the finish line.

So, next time you are faced with last place, remember there are people with no place!!! Then go and eat some donuts to celebrate...

A Nike commercial that says it all...


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Who Inspires?

Everyone is inspired by different things and people, which is natural, because let's face it, if we all liked the same things, life would be pretty boring. While watching all of the people who went out to see an Olympic Athlete in Columbus this week, I learned that I am absolutely not inspired, nor interested, in spending my time going to see a professional athlete who has spent her life as a career runner. Career runners just don't do it for me. Is it cool that they are fast enough to run in the Olympics? Yep. Is it cool that they have won several marathons? Yep. Is it cool that they traveled the world? Yep. But watching career runners, who spend their life chasing after the fastest finish line, simply doesn't do anything for me... If it does something for you, enjoy the experience!!!

So, what/who inspires me? Well, let me tell you...

Kayla Montgomery - HS runner who has MS - This is a girl who doesn't hold back. She runs despite the difficulty she experiences post run. She was diagnosed with MS in her HS years, at which point she decided to join the track team. She amazingly was one of the fastest runners at her HS, even her state. People claim she had an unfair advantage because she couldn't feel her legs while running, but I would argue that those same people simply couldn't handle they were beat by a girl with MS.

Dick Hoyt - Retired military man who makes triathlons possible for his son - He has a son who has cerebral palsy. His son wanted to be a runner, and Dick took up the sport so that he could push his son during races, thus allowing him the experience. Over the years, Dick's son wanted more, and so Dick took the leap and began training for marathons, triathlons, even ironmans. He had no personal motivation, but instead a selfless motivator, his son.

Rose, Liam, Toby - My little people - These three kiddos have taken on running and/or swimming at the ripe young ages of 12, 10 and 8 respectively.

Sue and Chris and Janell - My various buddies - Well, let's just say Sue puts up with me for miles on end, whether running or cycling. But the real thing that inspires me about her is that she pushes relentlessly through, even when times are tough. Chris has been a bit of a silent cheerleader for me, and an active cheerleader for her local people. She is a sports enthusiast, who will take on, even a half ironman. I've admired her athleticism for yours. And then there is my sister Janell. She is is at every race, especially those that support her friends, and their families. The thing about all of these three ladies is that they are not out to win the race, but experience something new and simply better themselves with their athletic pursuits.

Katy - One of my colleagues - This woman can swim! Not only can she swim, she has accomplished feats that many of us only have nightmares about. I think of swimming the English Channel and I envision swimming in a pool treadmill that NEVER stops. She thinks of swimming the English Channel and says 'why not'? And so that is what she has done.Although she proves to be one of the most accomplished athletes I know, she is still always there to lend a hand to the new participants in her sport. Not judgement, just acceptance.

That girl who crossed the finish line LAST! Gasp, yep, she is more inspiring to me than the person who crossed the finish line first. The runners who lead the pack are fantastic; most are supportive, some stick around to cheer on the final athlete, they want to share the excitement of their sport. Unfortunately, there have been a few middle of the packers, who have decided that back of the packers are lazy, not interested in training 'their way' which is apparently the right way, shouldn't 'dumb down' their sport. Those back of the packers inspire me even more, because they literally have to run through some of that negativity; and they do it.

I guess what I am saying is that the humble, kind, dedicated athletes, who have either dealt with adversity or are real humans that infuse their athleticism in their lives, are the people who do, and will always inspire me!

Need a little inspiration? Go and watch of of these people at their swim meets, runs, triathlons, and you will officially understand why they inspire. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Complaining

I'm so determined right now. Determined to make excuse after excuse for my current condition.

Up 25 pounds of the 100 plus pounds I originally lost. Unable to comfortably run more than 4 miles. Skipped a big race several weeks ago because I wasn't ready. Why, you may ask? Well I'll tell you... I'm tired, had personal trauma, enjoy cookies (especially when I am having personal trauma), not comfortable running alone, couldn't get to the gym, and have been uncomfortable for weeks.

A friend of mine just texted me and said something like: 'Your body doesn't do heat. Apparently mine doesn't do cold.' I totally understand what she is feeling!!! It sucks when your body doesn't react as intended. Here's the thing, my body does do cold, so much so that I keep my house at a frigid 65-68 degrees all times of the year; and then all of a sudden it doesn't, do cold that is. This week for example? I walked around thinking, 'damn, I'm uncomfortable'. Guess what? It never made it above 50 degrees in North East Ohio, but I was still uncomfortable. Was the discomfort because of the quick change in temperature? Or because of the before mentioned excuses...  

Anyway, today I went out to spectate the Columbus Marathon and wondered why the heck I was internally whining all week? What you see while standing on the sidelines of a marathon, are a group of people who have true grit. There is no time to complain when you are running a marathon, because the energy used to complain could take away from the energy needed to finish the race.

I need to apply that theory to my excuses. Sure, I've been uncomfortable all week, and I mean really uncomfortable. I've basically been feeling like my body has been in a vice that is being squeezed, but every time I give that discomfort attention, it takes a little energy away from what needs to get done.

If you've been following along recently, I have officially decided that it is time for a half ironman encore, and I finally pulled the trigger. It is now time to make myself a different type of uncomfortable. I'm going to literally push my boundaries beyond this current place of discomfort, hopefully lose more weight, eat normal food again, and quit complaining...

Sunday, October 4, 2015

One More Step...


What do you do the day after your best run in a long time? Or when you don't have a car? Or when you are hiding from your cat because she has decided to aggressively nibble on your toes? Or when you are avoiding a mountain of laundry? Or when you just finished reading a book? Well, one might hang out on the couch and watch TV, but instead I've decided to start thinking about an event schedule for 2016.

It has been a long time since I have intentionally planned a race schedule, and I figured it is time. It is time to get off my butt. It is time for me to make goals again. It is time for me to get athletically organized again. It is time for me to acknowledge that MS isn't holding me back, I AM holding me back.

When my best buddy told me recently that she wanted to start running a little faster, I said No Problem... Let's do it. Low and behold, we took the challenge to heart without even knowing it. Thirty seconds faster per mile, and we both have survived. Ask me if we kept it up for our 5 miler... If we did? Well, I will congratulate us both with a pumpkin donuts (whoops, not supposed to reward with food), or a big hearty pat on the back! Or a trip to Australia (need to win a million dollars for this one)!!!

This thirty second change in pace doesn't make us award winning runners, but it certainly gave us some confidence. And so here I sit writing some goals.

Because I need to be mindful of the cost related to these events (registration fees, bike tune ups, gym memberships, running club membership, new shoes, travel to, hotels for a couple of nights, replaced bike gloves, new sunglasses every week, new wetsuit if I lose weight, new swimming suit, etc.), it is best that I begin my planning now!

My best buddy and I have already talked about doing the Cap City half marathon again. This is a great race, and even better because it is close to home!

I was also talked into doing another half iron distance tri in 2016 to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday. And because I have some awesome supporters in this world, another friend of mine has agreed to do the race!!! And others have committed to cheering me on in the process. The event and date are yet to be determined, but my mind is committed to making this happen! Shoot, I was training for a half iron distance race through being prodded and tested for MS. I did my half iron distance race less than two short weeks after being diagnosed... It is time to prove that I can still do it!

AND, no summer will happen without a significant bike ride. This too is in the planning phases, but I'll be planning to do another ride in 2016. Because I don't run in the summer, that much, I'll be looking for a ride late in the summer.

I realize that my best buddy will probably read this and jump up for joy, because she knows she is going to be recruited for the bike ride, too. But I am also sitting here, jumping for joy (that was supposed to be funny) because this planning is one more step to taking back control of my athletic life...


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Never EVER Give Up

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide.
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies, and see...
...
Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see...
Nothing really matters to me...

If you are not living in a hole, you probably have heard those lyrics. There are so many interpretations of the song Bohemian Rhapsody but the best interpretations is always your own, right? So, I've had a tough week, with glimpses of amazing, and I'm sure my perspective will flip eventually to amazing week with glimpses of tough. 

So many things that can't be summed up on this blog, but one of the lessons I was constantly reminded of is that regardless of the situation, you have to charge on. There is never a circumstance that warrants throwing in the towel. What does this mean? Well, I had a miserable run on Tuesday, one of those runs that made me wonder how in the heck I was able to do a marathon in this lifetime, one of those runs that was so miserable, I didn't want to remember it happened, and so I simply forgot about it when my friend and I were talking about running yesterday. On Tuesday I could have thrown in the towel and given up all together, but I didn't... Instead I got up on Saturday morning, went to the trail and had a strong run.

With that being said, I am was constantly reminded that stretching myself is the greatest gift I can give myself. If I think I can't take one more step on a run, then I should push myself to take two more, because you just never know what might come after those two steps. A wise woman is always saying something along the lines of: take the first step, it is only new ground once. Being a shy extrovert, I can tell you the first step IS the hardest. Take the day I decided to run a marathon. I'm pretty sure I signed up for the marathon and then went outside and smoked a few cigarettes. I'm also fairly certain, the next day, I went for a run to show myself that I could run.

So, I used to think of Bohemian Rhapsody as an anthem of which the lyrics were never heard. What I realized when I listened to the song yesterday, I heard a sad boy telling his story of giving up. It actually pissed me off. Seriously, based the lyrics, he did something unmentionable, however he could have chosen to change the trajectory of his life, not just throw in the towel. As I was OVERthinking the lyrics it made me reflect back on the dance routine my friend and I made to the song when we were kids. It was a dramatic routine in which we acted out the lyrics, probably never understanding the depth or implications of our actions.

Very recently, my sister posted on Facebook about the sleepover her daughter had in which the girls were dancing around the house to Fight Song all night. The juxtaposition of Bohemian Rhapsody's lyrics and Fight Song's lyrics are the perfect example of how different people can react to a tough week. I am happy that my niece and her friends chose to walk around singing fight song, because it is a song of strength and personal power. As silly as it sounds, I have officially decided to adopt Fight Song as my anthem because there is never a reason to stop fighting to be better at everything we do... better friend, better pet owner, better employee, better gardener, better runner.

With all that being said, I challenge you all to stretch yourself every day... I'm going to continue taking the first step regardless of how difficult that step may be because "I've still got a lot of fight left in me."

The following lyrics can be found in Rachel Platten's Fight Song:

And all those things I didn't say.
Wrecking balls inside my brain.
I will scream them loud tonight.
Can you hear my voice this time.
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me

Video may not be accessible on a mobile device. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Celebrate

I'm always working on something. The projects might include organizing my house, training for a half marathon, cleaning out my car, doing my dishes, organizing my cat toys. I also spend a lot of time creating stuff. For instance, last Christmas was the year of the homemade gift! I spend so much time making things for other people, and I love the joy I see (or the eye rolls) when I give someone one of my home made gifts, but I never make anything for myself. And then, every once in awhile I do work on little 'gifts' for myself. When I do, it gives me so much satisfaction. 

Most recently, I decided I needed to do something for myself. In the interest in also organizing my race stuff, I jumped into a medal 'rack' and framing some bibs from various races. You see, I keep my bibs for no good reason. I knew they would just end up in the trash some day, and then I decided they couldn't. I mean, they must have meant something to me if I have kept them around this long!

You see, every medal, every bib is a reminder of my accomplishments over the years; accomplishments that are meant to be celebrated, not ditched in a junk drawer waiting for the inevitable trip to the garbage dump. If it were someone else's junk drawer, and that someone else was about to throw away all of their medals, I would be doing everything in my power to make sure their stuff wouldn't just be tossed to the side, and forgotten forever! And so my projects began for myself.

Here are a few of my masterpieces:





All this to remind myself to celebrate what I have accomplished.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

An Extrovert's Dilemma

I've talked about the difference between an introvert and an extrovert before on my blog. The topic resurfaces in life from time to time, and the past week is one of those times. Someone shared a shirt that had a reference regarding how to treat an introvert. In this email exchange I stated that there needed to be a shirt for the extrovert, but they pointed out that an extrovert doesn't need a shirt because everyone knows everything about an extrovert from their feelings, down to what they ate for lunch. I responded stating that the comment was proof that a shirt needed to be made for the extrovert that says something like this: 'Just because I'm an extrovert, doesn't mean you know me. All you know is what I ate for lunch!!!' I should mention this exchange was in jest because we all know each other well, and we were poking fun at our differences.

This exchange got me thinking and researching again about the extrovert, so I hit google to find out if anyone has decided to take care of the extrovert since the last time I blogged about the difference between the introvert and extrovert. Not to my surprise, there was nothing new out there for our loud, outspoken souls...

Anyway, I'm not going to dissect the relationship between introvert and extrovert in this post, I'll leave that to the researchers out there...

I do want to take this opportunity to instead identify the struggles that one might have, as it relates to exercise, if they are an extrovert. You have likely noticed that I have been fairly lackadaisical about my workout regimen this summer.  It is impossible not to notice that, since my bike ride, workouts have been inconsistent, or should I say, semi non-existent. With a lackadaisical routine comes weight gain, lethargy, exhaustion, inconsistent diet, etc. It is so bad that I have literally skipped bike rides because I didn't want to load bikes in my car. I mean, come on!!!

Why did I just give up? That is the million dollar question... I have some theories (excuses), and they all point to yes. You see, I took a running break, although I've still been running at least once a week, because it is too hot outside. Again, I'm going to say, COME ON!!!!! Yes, I have MS. Yes, it is hard to walk after I run sometimes. Yes, it is scary to be alone after a run, when struggling. But really? Is that a good enough excuse? Some would say yes, but I'm starting to think no. I know after a 5 minute cool down, I'll be able to walk unassisted again. So then, what is the true problem? Some would say I don't want it bad enough. But, talk to me when I'm an emotional wreck because I haven't exercised and you will understand I want it, and I want it BAD!!! But, who likes to be on the trail, running alone in silence. Who gets energy from this alone time? Not the extrovert. And so the dilemma begins.

Luckily, my exercise buddy has been willing to ride this summer, so I have had that outlet, THANK GOD. But, you see, I have spent this weekend alone and it has exacerbated the extrovert dilemma in my mind. I have had every opportunity to go out and exercise, but instead I have been focusing on other activities, because I'm no longer in the habit of daily exercise. I have no one to blame but myself. I'm either going to have to try and beg my exercise buddy to get back to running with me (we are signed up for a 5 miler soon), or I'm going to have to learn to run solo again. OMG, the extrovert in me is tearing up just saying that!

I'm going to have to throw myself some kind of bone to get myself going again... The only person who can take care of yourself, is yourself... except when you are an extrovert??? Not quite, but part of taking care of yourself when you are an extrovert is having consistent, dependable people who you can recharge with, and when that person is an introvert, they soon understand that their simple presence in the same room as an extrovert can be enough. A perfect example. This week I simply needed time in the presence of a good friend to relax and so I asked my friend if I could come over and watch TV. I simply wanted to sit there, stare at the TV and know that someone was there. As an extrovert, it is extremely lonely spending a weekend by yourself, without a bone from the people who are closest to you. It is kind of crazy, but when you are an extrovert, your phone never dinging can literally feel like you are non existent to people. I'm going to say this again though... extroverts don't need people to take care of them, they just need people around to recharge and acknowledge them from time to time.

So, when you are talking to an extrovert about starting an exercise program, tell them to find a really good exercise buddy, because they will need it! I'm lucky to have found one... 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Camp Auntie Sarah

I had the pleasure of spending the past ten days with two of my nieces and nephews. Four of those days, the third of the Watts clan was part of the fun. My sister has named this week Camp Auntie Sarah. Because this is my second year hanging out with the kids, she must have decided to formalize the name. What a fantastic ten days!!!

I learned a lot during camp because I feel like I got to take a look at my life through a child's eye. It reminded me of some of the most important lessons that I have learned in life so far.

Here are the lessons:

Treat people how you want to be treated: When I was a kid, I was relentlessly teased by my siblings. I'm certain I annoyed the crap out of them, which is likely why they teased me. They had me stick my tongue to D batteries, vacuumed my back, gave me 'sprite' or some mixture of baking soda and vinegar to drink. While watching my niece and nephew relentlessly tease each other one minute, and play games the next, that actions really do speak louder than words. They knew that when they told each other that they suck, that neither of them really meant it, because when it came down to the tough moments of getting on roller coasters that were scary, they anxiously encouraged each other (by calling the other a wimp) and then climbed on and high fived afterwards while saying, 'see it wasn't that bad.'

Stay away from the edge of cliffs and Double Sclerosis: While at Great Falls we hiked around, near cliffs. I'm not the steadiest on my feet anymore and so I choose to stay away from edges that don't have rails. Rose turned around and tried to encourage me to come to the cliff, at which point I gently stated that I fall over too easily and so I wasn't going to get any closer. I heard my sister chuckle, and I didn't quite know why. Several minutes later as we were walking back to the car, Christina asked me if I heard was Rose said. I hadn't... Apparently after I said I wasn't coming to the edge, Rose asked if I wasn't going to come closer because of the Double Sclerosis. I got a nice chuckle and then walked right off the edge of the trail almost falling over!

Stop to enjoy the little wonders of the world: There was a bug, a big bug of some sort near the trail at Great Falls. I would not have noticed this bug because I was too anxious for the boat ride. I turned around and squatting next to the trail are all the kiddos and their dad. They were obsessing over the dirt, so I thought. Next thing I know, Liam is walking over with a big ole bug on a leaf. That bug turned into his center for a few minutes. He examined, and was fascinated with the bug. He took the moment to forget about the boat ride to watch a bug! Seeing that wonder while he explored was a great reminder that the small things are the things that matter.


Be nice to your parents: Someone who must have been smart pointed out that we treat the people we love the most the worst. It is true!!! Mothers get the worst of it because they are the one's who love you most unconditionally. I made the kiddos call their mom every morning, and before calling they would groan, they would say that she asks too many questions, etc., and the minute their mom would answer the phone they would dive into long stories about their day or the cool thing they saw. While spending this with the kids, they started treating me like a person who unconditionally loves them. Because of that there were some harsh words, but it didn't make me love them any less, just appreciate them more for their honesty! It made me think of the times I'm sure I made my mom cry when I was young, and I wanted to pick up the phone and say I'm sorry!

Adulthood does have it's advantages (outside of bill paying): Parents monitor what their kids eat for good reason. As an adult, if I want to eat Trix for breakfast, I don't have to ask. As a kid, if you want to eat Trix for breakfast, you have to beg. I have to appreciate my Trix eating freedom!

People are going to disappoint you: I heard a few stories from the kiddos about their friends, and how their friends hurt their feelings in one way or another. It was interesting to hear about this from a kid's perspective... I can go on about this, but I'm not going to... All I know is that adults can learn a lot by watching how a kid deals with hurt feelings.

Stop and just have fun: During our drive, we listened to a song on repeat for over an hour. The entire hour, Rose sat in the back seat singing. Her singing got a little snarly at the end of the hour period and that is when the video camera was pulled out for recording purposes. All three of us sat in the car and laughed heartily at Rose's rendition of Cheerleader while Liam video taped my dancing and Rose's singing.

Take some time to exercise: I needed to clear my head and have 'alone' time, of which you get none when you are a parent. I now understand why parents exercise... It is their freedom to just be!!!

I realize this isn't my typical post, but I did want to make sure I remembered some of the take aways from the kiddos. If you want a more detailed look at Camp Auntie Sarah, feel free to continue reading. The following recaps all of the activities from Camp Auntie Sarah, with additional pictures.


A chronicle of the week

Unfortunately my exercise regime was somewhat impacted, or was it? So, what does Camp Auntie Sarah entail? Here's the breakdown, with some of the fun stories that go with each adventure!

Drive to Ohio from Chicago - The first Friday of our adventure included a 5 1/2 drive from Gramma and Grampa's house to hang out in Ohio for a few days. On this drive I was tricked into a candy stop. I didn't realize how cheap some candy still is and so I gave them a budget of ten dollars a piece. Well, at Albanese Candy, ten dollars gets you a huge back of random candy that had to be monitored for the remainder of the trip.

Movie Day - We wanted to have a relaxing day before our two big adventures, and so the kiddos decided we needed to go and see Shaun the Sheep. If you haven't seen the movie, you must know that continuous sheep jumping over a fence really can put a person to sleep. No kidding, I am living proof!!!

Zoombezi Bay - Welp, on Sunday, the extreme adventuring began. The three of us went to the water park, applied sunscreen, ran around the park for seven hours, which had to amount to miles of walking around on hard concrete and no shoes. We all left a little cooked lobster like, I had a bit of plantar fasciitis, Liam with a tarnished ring, and Rose with more energy than she had when we got to the park.




Cedar Point - After a day at the water park, we decided it would be a good idea to drive two and a half hour the next morning to walk around an amusement park for ten hours. My amazing aunt sponsored this trip, and boy were we thankful for the day!!! In the ten hours we were at the park, my fitbit told me that I walked almost eleven miles. We went on many roller coasters, and my niece and nephew may have heard more expletives come out of my mouth than any parent would have approved of.

Rest Day - We decided a day of rest might be a good idea, and so the kids and I rested on Tuesday by making home made taffy apples and brownies, purchasing some fish for my fish tank, We also made dinner, packed bags, watched TV and played with Piper.

Drive to Virginia - I then had to get the kiddos back to their parents, and so after packing some more, making more brownies, vacuuming the kitchen for the third time, we headed out for their home. We stopped at the promised Cracker Barrel and then made the six hour journey take about nine hours. We danced, they argued, we discussed how the world works, I explained Multiple Sclerosis for the third time on this trip, we talked about cell phones and danced a little more, all while listening to the song Cheerleader on repeat for over an hour. Yes, I am that good of an aunt!!!

Hang out with Brady and Tie Dye - Since Brady didn't get to spend the week with us, we knew that Thursday would be the Brady day. So, Brady decided he wanted to go to a movie and have Sushi, and that is exactly what we did. Movie, lunch, tie dying blankets, shirts, bandannas, hats, aprons, socks, our bodies... and then a Sushi birthday date with Brady. My sister also convinced me to go out for a three mile run. Thank goodness because I was certain that I wasn't going to know how to exercise when I got home!

Pool and Pizza Suckered - On Friday, we once again didn't have any plans so we rinsed out the Tie Dye, and the kids in the house multiplied. Suddenly there were friends and kids running between houses. I had no clue what had happened when I turned my head! Next thing I knew it was lunch time, and one of the add-ons for the day recommended a pizza lunch. Someone told me I needed to order two pizzas, of which we only ate one... But it was pretty good pizza. We then went to the pool, I started Brady's birthday cake, had a fantastic time catching up with a dear friend, and got home to watch TV with my sister and brother-in-law.

Great Falls - On Saturday we took a family trip to Great Falls National park, hiked around and took some pictures. We also went on a fantastic boat ride on the canal in which mules pulled us up and down the canal. I also learned a song about donkies, mules and mares. Catch me on a good day and I might sing it for you! We then got home, I finished Brady's cake, made ginger cider with Liam, went out for Thai for Brady's birthday and then sat around the fire while munching on cake and pie.

Drive Home - All good things have to come to an end, and this is when it all ended... This morning I had to hop in my car and drive six hours back to Ohio. I literally drove the entire way in silence. I stopped at another National Park on my way home, but it just wasn't the same without Liam and Rose picking up the bugs and bringing them to me for show and tell...

So folks, that sums it up. We are already planning Camp Auntie Sarah for next year. It looks like a camping trip with fishing, s'mores and camp fires are the desired activities. I think that sounds like a great plan!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

21 Days

I dream of the day in which I get all my chores done. I dream of the day when I get home and Piper hasn't put socks in her water bowl, clothes on my living room floor, and toys at the bottom of the basement stairs. I dream of the day when I treat people how THEY need to be treated. I dream of the day when my association fixes my basement, like they should have back in January. I dream of the day when there is no pain felt by me or my friends. I dream of the day when getting out the door for a workout isn't a chore, again. .

I think I need to keep living, because one of these days, all those dreams will come true, but at what cost?

Dreaming is awesome. I love dreams because they are your mind telling you what you can do, if you put your mind to it. Certain things come at a cost though. For instance, if I want to come home to no socks in my cat's water bowl, that means I have to put all my socks away. See my first dream? That has to happen first.

Similarly, I dream of the day in which I get my chores done, AND laundry is one of my most annoying chores in my world. My mom used to tell me that I needed to bring my laundry down to the basement if I wanted to have it washed. Well, I didn't listen all that well and one day she walked up to my bedroom, saw the mounds of laundry and forced me to go to the laundromat to wash all the stinking clothes myself. I spent hours there, washing, drying, folding, man she was a cruel mother... Making me do my laundry myself... But you know what? I don't think I ever had a laundry problem like that again while I lived under her roof, and still don't when I visit. I've gotten so good at that lesson that when I go home to visit, I know that the dirty laundry I bring home needs to make it to the basement if the laundry fairy is going to clean it before I head back to Columbus. By the way, I don't think that she was telling me that I should bring dirty clothes home at the age of 35, but I still remember the actual lesson that was being taught in those moments years ago, laundry in basement equals piles of clean folded laundry on the stairs.

I hate that we sometimes have to royally screw up to learn lessons, but I also know that repetition is the best way to tackle the lessons that will allow us to achieve our dreams. Two other stories? I try to give people what they need, but I end up giving them what I would need in that situation instead. That's just crappy, and I know it. This is kind of an elementary example, but at work, someone could come to my office for advice, and what I might need to hear if I were asking the same question may be as simple as 'suck it up', and so I'll say that... But what they need is to talk it out. I finally realized that my dismissive nature wasn't helping, after several instances of my friend walking out of my office ticked off at me,

Here's another big example of a screw up. I was registered for a triathlon this morning. My training sucked, I blamed it on everything under the sun including exhaustion, pool access, the heat, etc. So what did I do this morning? Totally 'forgot' that I was even registered and went about my day doing laundry, running errands, antique browsing... The only way I will be able to get out of my disappointment in myself is to get out the door tomorrow for a workout, and throw the excuses out the window.

So, I'll apply the 21 day rule to my life and see what happens. Don't know what the 21 day rule is? Well here you go... If you know anything about me, you know that I am a recovering diet coke addict. I think I will always be recovering from this problem, but I learned some time ago that if you can stick with something for 21 days, it then becomes a habit. It is that three week rule. So, several weeks ago I decided to take up the daunting task of ridding my body of artificial sweeteners once and for all. I convinced myself that I only needed to get through the three weeks, and then I could decide if I wanted to have a diet coke. I made it three weeks, and now I only think about ordering a diet coke twice a day, but you know what? I don't and won't because I feel better.

My point in all of this is we can retrain ourselves to do our chores, treat people how they need to be treated, be patient with our association, enjoy leaving the house for a workout, etc. if we invest the time and energy. And you know what? It only takes 21 days...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fixation

I'm told that I can get fixated on things, and simply not let them go. These fixations come and go, but I typically have a couple of days every four weeks or so in which I'll grab onto something, and latch on.

I remember my sister once likened certain people who were dating to a fish hook and a fish. Important background is that there are two types of fish hooks, one with a barb, the other without. Hooks without barbs are easier to remove from the fish; hooks with barbs can get stuck and can sometimes damage the fish when removed. The situation was this... We knew a girl who was dating a guy, guy broke up with the girl, girl latched on and wouldn't let go. This was way back in the days of pagers and home phones, so she would call and page. It was like she was a fish hook with a barb, and the poor guy was stuck, and he didn't even realize it. He would start to shake her off but the barb would reengage the minute it started escaping him. This went on forever!!!! Well, at least what seemed like forever to high school kids...

Anyway, I bring this up because my fixations are like fish hooks with barbs, they get stuck, until I decided to just cut the hook above the barb and walk away with that little bit of barb still in me. I'm OK with the residual piece of barb because that is basically a story, that I get to carry with me, but no longer controls me. The thing is, if you never live these lines from Invictus:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

that hook and fishing line will continue to try and pull you back in when you are least expecting it, and when it isn't your choice.

Where am I going with this? Well, I think I am saying this... I'm super fixated right now and trying to cut the string. One of the current fixations is on my very easy ability to shrug my shoulders at exercise when I know a more consistent schedule would help me both physically and emotionally. I am dying to ride my bike tomorrow, and so I am going to ride my bike! I'm going to cut away that fishing line/hook, and I'm going to swim upstream, because it's a better workout! And then my fixation will be gone.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sail Away

One of my greatest friend always reminds me that the past is the past. I'm so glad she has taught me that, especially since I have recently been going crazy thinking about my physical aptitude from the past. For instance, I had the endurance to run a marathon! That was a six hour feat that was super intense and rewarding. And then there was the half iron man which was an 8 plus hour adventure through the woods of Wisconsin. I NEVER felt so accomplished...

So, why is it that today I can't do those things? If I continue to focus on that fact, I would likely never be able to move forward. It would be like an emotional attachment to what I used to be, and guess what? That is my past!!!

This doesn't mean that I can't do it again in the future, as a matter of fact, I will... Here's the thing, it will be totally different because I'm different. I refuse to attach myself to one moment in time and expect it to be the same. I'm not going to attach myself to that because what worked back then most likely won't work today, and what didn't work back then, might work today.

I was listening to Styx yesterday, well, because I can, and some words struck me from 'Come Sail Away', and it reminded me that I started this post a couple months ago and never finished it. Here I am finishing it because of these lyrics:

I've got to be free, free to face the life that's ahead of me.

These lyrics are especially powerful to me because there is only one way to be free, and that is to focus on what today is, rather than what yesterday was. Today I rode a very solid 15 miles, at a great pace. You know what? That is a huge accomplishment. If I focused on the 100 miles in one day last year, that 15 miles might not be so impactful.

So, today I'm going to be proud of who I am, what I've done, and recognize that I have the ability to dive into some crazy training when I'm ready. I'm going to take what I learned from the past, and recognize that today is not yesterday so my abilities are different. It gives me the power to understand that next time it won't be the same because it is like a brand new relationship, and the players aren't the same...

And so now I'll 'SAIL AWAY' and enjoy the ride!!!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What is a Burpee?

When I first heard the term burpee, I smiled because it made me think of how I talk to a little baby when they burp. I say in a cute little baby voice, "oh, you just had a burpee" and the baby coos and smiles because they feel such great relief! Hmmm... Or is that my sister in law? (I would totally link a video, but I don't want to embarrass her.)

I also imagine, when I hear the word burpee, a beautiful large garden with all the tomatoes, beans, strawberries and blueberries a person can eat! Just thinking about it now makes me want to make a blueberry pie! That lovely seed company can produce food infinitely.

Then I was introduced to exercise for fun and learned that a burpee is an exercise that includes pushups, jumping and squatting. I heard of these things and couldn't figure out what was fun about this exercise. Perhaps it was simply created because trainers needed to create some sort of new exercise that would keep people coming back for more.

My MS class instructor's definition of a burpee is that it is pure entertainment mixed with torture. I mean, it is kind of hilarious watching a bunch of people with balance and strength problems squat, pushup, jump, squat, pushup, jump, squat, pushu... you get the point!!! On the torture front, my instructors have us do a MILLION burpees, and for what? I mean seriously, what good are they? They are good for fatigue, exhaustion, and misery...

But, you know me. I have to turn everything into a positive, so I've taken on the burpee challenge. My MS instructor has challenged our class to a challenge in which we try to increase the number of burpees we can do in a 5 minute period of time. The baseline test was about a month ago, and I was able to do 52 burpees in 5 minutes. How many burpees will it be at the end of the challenge? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

By the end of this thing, I might be like a baby and coo and smile because I feel so good, after the darn burpee!!!




Monday, July 20, 2015

This is Real... Real Life...

In my world, with every good plan comes a slump... We'll call this the exercise slump! First it was the rain, but I managed to semi-train for the bike ride through that. Then it was the heat. OH. MY. GOSH. the HEAT!!!!! It took my breath away this weekend. I did everything I could to stay inside, except for when I didn't. For example, my neighbor's weeds were about to make me crazy, so I pulled them!!! (Not before I pulled my own though, for those who are shaking their heads right now.) I also found myself at the Jazz and Ribs Fest, and today at the Franklin County Fair. Really, at both fest/fair outings, I was on the hunt for roasted corn. Would you believe the Fair didn't have any? It was so shocking...

I'm not a winter weather complainer. I save it all up for the summer because, well, the heat is icky to me!!! I only wish I could blame my slump on the weather. If I'm being honest, I just haven't had the desire. I could say it is lack of energy, but I know that is only partially the truth. I could also say that it is because I've been busy, and that is true, but there is always time for a good workout! I could also say that my MS is flaring up, and while that is definitely true as it relates to the heat, it certainly wouldn't be giving me a whole lot of credit! I know I am better than all these excuses.

So, what is it really? Every day, as I find myself on the couch before the workout is done, I am shortly thereafter beating myself up for not getting out there. My true saving grace include all the workout plans I have. I love that I have standing plans, whether it be workout or otherwise, four days a week with one of my friends. I also love that I have my MS exercise class two days a week. Both of those standing plans keep me somewhat motivated. But what about that triathlon I am registered for in 5 short weeks? How am I possibly going to cross that start line, if I haven't been able to cross the training starting line? I was doing well for a day here and there, but getting out for the dreaded hot run, and getting to the gym for the swim has been a challenge.

AND, what about that healthful eating I used to do? I think my doctor might have a heart attack when I go in for my annual physical this week, that is if I don't have a heart attack first.

Despite all these slumps, I have had a pretty productive "event" summer thus far: one half marathon, one ten miler, four 5ks, and one fifty-five mile bike ride. Yet, I sit here wondering what happened to my triathlon plans... I've done one half ironman, and am shooting for another next year, but am not progressing as I would like.

I refuse to beat myself up, and fall into the social media hole of discouragement from those who seem to never have a struggle because THIS IS REAL!!! REAL LIFE!!! Sometimes plans do not work out as intended, so you have to pick yourself up and move forward...

And that is exactly what I'm going to do. I'll likely change my next triathlon to the sprint distance race, and sign up for a different Olympic distance race in September. I'll make new plans and try to move forward knowing that life may have different plans for me, but also knowing I didn't throw in the towel. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

God Stopped Crying BUT Forgot to Iron the Earth

Sue and I had another fantastic adventure this past weekend. We took on another MS ride for which we raised over $1700 between the two of us. Thank you to those who have donated. If I haven't sent an email to thank you yet, I'm sorry, but you will get one soon!!!

When Sue and I signed up for this ride, I personally thought it would be a rolling hill kinda ride; not a pounding hill after hill, leg cramping, 50 mile up hill vs. 5 mile down hill kinda ride... We got the latter. And you know what? We cranked it out!!!

Sue and I headed out around 7:15 to embark on our 50 mile journey. What they don't tell you when you sign up for these rides, is that the mileage is a rough estimate. So, you may have paid for 50 miles, but then the race organizers decide to throw in 5 extra for free. Not something you asked for, but were graciously given... Do you say thank you? Or expletive you? It really depends on the ride. This weekend, had I not been in a very positive mood, I would have said expletive you, simply because of the terrain.

We had quite a nice ride for the first couple of miles because it was all down hill. Then Sue pointed out that we were going to have to ride up those hills on our way back. Oh boy!!! Why did she have to point that out? I was still enjoying the cruise down the hill!!!

AND then the hills started slamming us, one after the other, after the other, after the other until one rest stop down... Then the hills again, one after the other, after the other... rest stop and repeat!!! The hills were relentless, but so was our effort!!!

We met several interesting people along the way. People who asked questions that still perplex us today, people who had no boundaries, people who were kind. It was all sorts of fun!!! In true Sarah and Sue fashion, we took our time and stopped at every town to take a picture; stopped to read every historic marker, stopped at every main street sign, stopped to eat snacks, and stopped just to laugh...   We ate little Debbies, snow cones, trail mix and more!!!

All in all, it was another very memorable experience, with my very awesome friend!!!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why is God Crying?

As the skies opened up on my way home from work today, I started wondering why it won't stop raining, like, EVER!!!!!!!!!! Not only was the rain torrential, but the thunder and lightning was of the variety that you have to swerve while driving down the street so as to avoid the lightning bolts from hitting your car. OK, OK... that is a slight exaggeration, but still, I think it helps you understand my point... All of this made me think of the days in which I was petrified by storms, and I would sit on the couch with my mom in the middle of the night talking about why it rains. She was equally scared of the thunder storms at the time, so it is likely that my presence was just as comforting to her, as hers was to me! Regardless, in her many explanations of why it rains I heard reasons that included Mother Mary was crying, the thunder was because people in heaven were bowling, and the lightning happened when someone got a strike. I have heard so many reasons why it rains, but the one that really stuck was that God was crying.

Science, schmience... When you are six years old, it is much easier to understand the God explanation than being told that it is raining because warm moist air has cooled and condensation has occurred.

Anyway, my friend and I have been trying to train for our 50 mile MS ride this weekend. I'm impressed by our perseverance, but the rain has seriously hampered the whole training plan. We have gotten in a lot of miles because we have been sticking to it, but days like today are still frustrating. I drove up to my friend's house in no rain, when I got there I realized I left my helmet in Chicago, we went to buy a new helmet, and while we were in the store the skies opened up again. To Chipotle we went for dinner instead.

And since we are as ready as we are going to be, we know we will complete this ride, especially because we will be riding for people who have MS... People who have much more progressed MS than me, people like me who wish to ride forever, for people who can only ride with hand propelled bikes, people who have never been able to get on a bike because their MS began at a much earlier age than myself, people who never knew they could ride and then were diagnosed with MS and then their attitude/mind/depression made riding impossible. It is for all those people we will ride...

So, as we get closer to the date of the ride, I can't help but beg God to stop crying, at least for several hours on Saturday morning for our ride.

If you are interested in donating to support programs and research for MS, consider a donation to me or Sue.

My donation page can be found here. Help me reach $1,000!!!
Sue's donation page can be found here. Help Sue reach $600!!!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Damn Birds

I finally have a working computer again!!!!!!!!! Who knew that a new power cord could be so hard to find? My computer is not that old but turns out, if a newer version of a Microsoft product comes out, Microsoft makes it very difficult to procure replacement cords for older products. 

I've been absent from the blog the above mentioned reason. I don't find it an easy prospect to write a blog post on a touch screen phone with a 3 inch cell phone screen. I have so much to post from birds, trail angst, and general stories from the trail. Where to begin? I don't even know...

I'll keep it simple... 

Take a look at this picture, they are cute right?


Don't be fooled, they eventually turn into this, keep reading to hear my stories.



If you know me at all, you know that I have bad bird energy. Birds hate me; I hate birds. If there is a 'bird house' at a zoo, I will loudly decline walking through the bird-itat because all those darn birds will do is poop on me! I was actually telling some of my bird stories at work this morning. Where does my disdain for birds come from? Well, it could be that time I was on a ferry to Alcatraz Island and the birds flying over head decided to take several craps down the front of my shirt. Or could it be that time at band camp (actually a band trip to Florida) when I went to a 4D viewing of a portion of the movie Birds. Birds were flying in my face, water was falling out of the sky, birds were pecking on my legs; or so they made it seem. Or maybe my disdain comes from the dinner table? When I lived in Colorado, I was having dinner on a restaurant patio, suddenly the middle of my head was wet. Why you may ask? Well, I asked the guy who was sitting next to me, and he looked, it was a big pile of snotty bird crap slowly soaking my hair.

DAMN BIRDS!!!!!!!

So, here are a few more recent bird stories...

Last year Sue and I were riding around the state, and stopped for lunch 35 miles into, what was probably meant to be, a 35 mile bike ride. We were sitting on a patio at a restaurant and I pointed out the exotic looking bird on the patio fence. I think Sue about busted a gut because the bird in question was this lovely bird:


Apparently it wasn't a real bird!!! 

Most recently, my friend and I were riding on the local trails, when we came upon geese crossing the trail. I swiftly stopped in my tracks and asked my friend to part the way because I knew the geese would hiss and chase me. Several years ago, when I was riding my bike to work all the time, I would take the trail to work. After several rides in which geese waddled faster than I thought birdly possible, chasing me and trying to bite me, my fear and disdain for birds began!!! I am known to run away from geese because they are evil creatures that are out to scare the human creatures who 'cross their path'. 

So, last week, on another bike ride, I was minding my own business, chasing Sue up a hill, well actually more like trying to keep up with Sue while climbing a mountain, and I heard a squawk. The bird didn't stop there, it instead flew right up to my head and slammed its' beak into my helmet, knocking my head forward and almost knocking me off my bike!!!

And you wonder why I dislike birds!!! Oh, and most recently, geese were put on the list of the top 10 most dangerous animals for runners. Beware the stinking geese. 



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nature

The Trail
The bicycle is a great way to explore this world. As I ride around I am continuously taking in the sites and sounds of the world around me. My friend and I have certainly taken note of the various wild flowers, and have gone as far as digging up some of the wildflowers to transplant into my friend's backyard.

It is awesome to see the Ohio 'country side' such as the wetland areas, the farms, the woods, the flat land, the hills, the small towns, the big cities, etc. You also get to see nature take it's course: turtles sunbathing, beavers snacking, snakes creeping, toads hopping... And on some unfortunate moments, birds snacking... ON DUCKS!!! Made me weepy today.

I have the energy of a person who spent the entire day in the 90 degree heat riding my bike and gardening, so you will get a snapshot of some photos from our bike rides yesterday and today.

Enjoy:

The Beaver






Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Curse is Broken, OR is it?

There's this trail in Johnstown, Ohio and every time we ride this trail there is some story... typically not a good one. As a result I call it the trail of doom!!! Basically, the trail is cursed...

Once again, my friend and I headed out to the trail of doom for a ride, not even considering the curse! It wasn't until we were almost to the trail head that we reconsidered our trail choice. You see, it was overcast and cloudy with a 100% chance of rain in about an hour, we were frantically checking our cell phones to see if the ride was even going to be worth it when I looked down and noticed I was almost out of gas. This should have been a sign, right? Wrong...

We trudged on, got to the trail head and unloaded our bikes. A nice gentleman in the parking lot made note of the clouds and casually asked if we thought we would get rained on. Of course!!! So, off we went, trailing behind the speedy dude, while chit chatting about the trail, weather and cow crap we could smell everywhere. We made note of the trail and simply rode. Next think we knew, we were half way through the ride. We stopped to snack and have a drink, while we sat there watching the clouds role in. It was like we didn't even care that the clouds were about to open up and dump their contents on everything. We simply continued snacking and then hopped on our bikes and headed back to the car.

On the way back to the car, I noticed a sign for a nursery that I heard was a must if you enjoy gardening at all. I'm now always in search of the delicate flowers with little petals, and especially enjoy walking the isles of a nursery that has unique finds. I asked if there was any interest in stopping there after we got back to the car. Thankfully my friend said yes!!!

Next thing, we were back to the car, loading our bikes. There happened to be some wild flowers near by, that I have been cloning (in other words cutting pieces of to plan at my friend's house), and I decided to take a walk to those flowers and dig a couple up. The flowers were back in the woods about 10 feet and I had on flip flops at this point, but I NEEDED to get some more (although others may have differing opinions). Anyway, we then got in the car and went to town for the best breakfast EVER! We went flower shopping, and enjoyed the uneventful ride in Johnstown.

After our ride this morning, we were commenting on how the curse must be broken because we didn't have any problems out in Johnstown yesterday. All the while, Sue was telling me to stop scratching. I had been scratching these bumps on my hands and legs since yesterday afternoon, after our ride on the trail of doom... I scratched and scratched!!! I sprayed calamine lotion on every itchy part of my body several times throughout the day. Over dinner tonight, I threw out the idea that I might have chicken pox. After all, people with autoimmune diseases can get chicken pox more than once. We laughed about my flare for the dramatics and decided that I just had some bug bites.

Well, on my way home tonight, I stopped at the store to pick up a couple of items, one of which was cortisone cream, and I decided to stop at the pharmacy counter to ask the pharmacist their opinion on my bumps. The pharmacist said, with 90% certainty, that I have poison Ivy... My reaction... WHAT!?!?!? That damn trail really is doomed...