TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Love for the Suffer is Gone

What is the matter with me? I just do not like to suffer anymore. I despise it. It used to be that there was some kind of perverse joy in suffering – trekking through the wilderness in 100+ degree weather, covered in gnats, dirty, exhausted, low on fluids – that kind of stuff, it was strangely fun. Re-telling the story of that time I almost died – those were the days! The defeats, the agonizing, those were things that put my life into perspective. They were my “chill pills.” It seems like now that love for the suffer, it’s gone. Suffering makes me angry, makes me feel inadequate. I hate it.

The day after my treadmill quest, I went out for a short, flat run in the evening. And it hurt. I was miserable. I am so out of shape that there was no “easy” in any of those 3 miles. I hated it all. And quite frankly, it made me angry. And so I have to ask, what happened to me? Why can’t I take even the slightest bit of suffering anymore? Is it because of my age? Is the the extra weight? Is it because I’m just too dang tired? Maybe it’s because I’ve lost my patience. I’m immature. My focus is gone.

I arrived home after that run, really just spitting mad -- mad as in angry, and mad as in a little bit insane too. It was my husband who said to me, “This is right up your alley. Take on the challenge.” But it sucks, was all I could manage to seethe in my anger.  

My husband really got me thinking (even though he just pissed me off at first). This getting back into shape really should be up my alley. I’ve always been for a challenge. Countless people have been in good shape, and then had to start it all over again. Why should I boo-hoo all the time about it. And then I remembered one of my students and the lesson demonstrated to me just recently.

I was teaching a semi-complex, multi-step algebra problem. And he just couldn’t get it. I saw the frustration in his body language. He left for frequent cigarette breaks. He threw his hands over his face. He slumped his shoulders in surrender. “I just don’t get it,” he said. I told him, that it was all right if he didn’t get it right now. I told him that he should keep working on it, even if he didn’t “get it.” I told him if he kept working on it, kept thinking about it, that he would eventually get it. He needed to have patience. It would come in time.

Some time went by in class, and the students were working independently now. And then suddenly this student exclaimed, “I get it! I totally get it!” How lucky can a teacher be that a frustrated student “gets it,” within the same class period? I was that lucky.  And this is what he said to me: “I just had to stop being angry and work the steps. Once I did that, I got the answer.”

OMG, I just wanted to hug the guy (but I didn’t because that would just be weird). I mean, how brilliant were his words? Super brilliant! If he could remember that lesson and fall back on it for the rest of his life, he would be set. He was with that math problem where I am with my running. I just need to stop being angry and work the steps! So, let’s see if I have the patience to do that.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Treadmill Gives Me a Bad Attitude

I slept in relatively late this morning (Saturday). 8:30 about. I was out the door around 9:30 am for a hike in the my local coastal hills. Around 10:00 am I was parked, had paid for my parking at Aliso Wood Canyons, and had already paid a visit to the outhouses where I noticed that my back was drenched from my pack. Originally, I thought that it was just condensation, as I had packed ice into my pack (I heard it was going to get to the mid 80s which is still way too hot for me). But then, when drips of water ran down my legs I knew that I had a problem.

So, let me begin with this. I hate, no . . . I despise and always have despised the Camelback bladder. It really sucks. It requires some kind of crazy engineering just to seal it correctly so it doesn’t leak in the first place. But I had already been through that ritual in the morning, so I knew that I had the seal right. What I had at Aliso/Woods was a genuine leak. And frankly, I was so glad. I wasn’t glad about wasting my money on parking, though minimal it was, and I wasn’t glad that I was going need to postpone my hike-run. I was glad to finally end this relationship with a crappy-ass bladder that Camelback produces. (Sorry to insult Camelback buyers)

I put the parking ticket that I had just paid for at the Kiosk, hoping that someone else could use it, and headed off to Road Runner Sports in Laguna Hills, hoping that they had something better than a Camelback bladder. Turns out they had an Ultimate Direction bladder, which is what I used for years. They leak too. And contrary to their claim that they replace leaky bladders, they do not (I submitted claims twice and followed-up with emails, to no avail). Still, the Ultimate Direction bladder is about 100% better than Camelback. So, I happily purchased the 70 oz. for approximately $33, knowing full-well that it would eventually leak, and that Ultimate Direction would do nothing about it. Still, my new bladder was not a Camelback, and that was worth something. I also threw in two tubes of Nuun tablets for another $12.

On my way home, my middle son texted me, asking if I wanted a breakfast burrito -- he was cooking. I said yes to that, which put off any further notion of a hike-run today. At that point, being close to noon and  because I’m such a wuss when it comes to heat, I decided to get my workout at the gym (though I prefer gym workouts during the week, when I cannot get to the trails).  I must say, the burrito was delightful. Afterwards, I took the extra time to do my husband’s billing, some laundry, and other chores. It was about 2pm when I finally made it out to the gym.

Because I had intended to run-hike today, I decided to first off, run an hour on the treadmill. I cannot tell you how painful this was for me. Within the first five minutes of the dreadmill, my thinking was, “Oh fuck man!” Well, being as old as I am, I have learned a few things that there is absolutely no denying. First and foremost is this: I cannot focus on how fucked something is, or how much I hate something, while trying to get through it. I HATE the treadmill. But there’s no way I’m gonna get through an hour of it focusing on how much I hate it. And so, I play the mind games because I’m not doing this because I enjoy it -- I’m doing it because I want to get into shape. So, I blasted my Ipod to loud. Not just a little loud, but LOUD. And I put on the hard stuff, the rough, I’m tough as nails music. And then I forced myself, FORCED myself not to look at the clock or any stats for an entire song. I was barely able to do that. Constantly did my eyes stray to the stats. It was terrible. Really. Just terrible.

Hitting the 30 minute mark was a huge relief. I only had to do again what I had already done up to that point. At the 45 minute point, I lied to myself (and I believed myself) that I could start walking at the 50 minute point. When that hit, I lied to myself again and said, “No, just five more minutes and you can knock it off five minutes early.” But then when 55 minutes hit, I just grossly chuckled and said, “No, I lied again. You HAVE to do five more minutes.” And five more minutes I did, allowing myself only to walk during the five minute cool down period.

Happy was I to have that hour completed. I spent the next 60 minutes on the stationary cycle, which was relatively easy, though not actually easy. I got a bit of reading done and some games played on my phone during this period.

And that was my day at the gym, which had I had originally planned to be a run-hike day.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Maple Springs in the Autumn

Went up Maple Springs Road to “Four Corners” last weekend. 8.77 miles travelled (of which I ran a good deal), and 1,623 feet of elevation gained. The weather was cold enough at first that I started off with a beanie and long sleeves. Those were promptly tucked away after about a mile. At the top (Four Corners) a cold wind blew, and it was lovely. Truly lovely. Then I was as was nearly spooked out of my shoes as I gazed off toward the San Gabriels when a deer mere inches away, jumped up and brashly hopped away. Her noise was so loud and tremendous, my mind immediately thought mountain lion, but in reality, a mountain lion is probably very quiet being a cat and all. Anyway, I think there were actually two deer, as I saw one very soon after that, but I can’t be sure if she wasn’t the same one who scared me so abruptly minutes before.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Meadows/Rockit Loop

Well, it's taken me nearly a week to write this one up. It’s 8pm Friday night now, and the only reason I’m still awake and not in bed is because I’m waiting for laundry. The shirt I want to wear to work tomorrow was at the bottom of the hamper. So, awake I will stay for another good hour or so. :( Heck, now is a good a time as any to do up a quick blog post.

As I mentioned, it was nearly a week ago that I last hit the trails (9/30). I took on the Meadows/Rockit Loop at Aliso Wood Canyons. I wanted at most ten miles, but I miscalculated, or rather forgot that this loop comes in over eleven! Oh well. I ran some. I didn’t fall. All was good. The park was crowded with high school cross country teams in the canyons, and up on the ridge, lots of hikers and runners. But on the Meadows portion (a difficult climb) and the Rockit portion, I had the wilderness all to myself. Wait, I take that back -- there was one other person going up Meadows. It was a guy pushing his bike. Did not look fun. Coming in toward the final stretch, I met up with much needed shade, and also bunches of cyclists on Coyote Run Trail. As I pulled over into the brush to let one group pass, one of the cyclists said, “Thank you Sir,” and then when I came into full view said, “I mean ‘Mam.”  His friend riding closely behind him replied to the incident, “What a dick Chad!” I got a good chuck out of that.

After that day on the trails, all my runs have been on the treadmill at the gym. Starting out small, like I’m starting over. Cuz I am.

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