Monday, May 31, 2010

Free-For-All or Month-End Review, May

I enjoy taking a look back at the month that was. Now, this enjoyment typically refers to exercising but, in all honesty, there were other non-exercise joys.

And you are enjoying your exercise, aren't you? Exercise is the icing on my cake, the non-fat cream in my coffee, the full moon in my sky, the water underneath my boat and the wind beneath my wings. Okay, it also makes me quite goofy...

I usually have a couple of set days for a certain exercise; otherwise, it's a free-for-all. I'm in Kate's Cardio and Muscles class on Tuesday and rock climbing on Saturday or Sunday unless I'm lucky enough to get in extra climbing.

I didn't go to Cardio and Muscle since my girl Kate was on vacation. I took this opportunity to shake up the routine. I also plan to kick things into a higher gear. Gingersnapper had this post about getting in extra exercise that resonated with me. She talked about how the back of the parking is seldom populated and the irony of trying to find the parking space closest to the gym door was not lost on me. Now, you'll frequently find my little Mazda at the far end of the lot. Join Gingersnapper and me at the back of lots?

Here's how I got physical this month:

10 Minute Solution: 5 Day Get Fix Mix

  • Power Yoga, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Dance your body Thin!

  • Dance Toner, 1 x

  • Smooth & Sexy Moves, 1 x

  • 10 Minute Solution: Tone Trouble Zones!

  • 10 Minute Stretch, 6 x's

  • 10 Minute Solution: Quick Sculpt Pilates

  • Buns and Thigh Sculptor, 1 x

  • Standing Pilates Sculpt, 1x

  • Bicycling, 13 x’s

    Mowed the Lawn
    , 3 x’s

    Personal Training with Jackie: Power Circuit Training

  • 40-Minute Total Body Circuit, 2 x's

  • 15-Minute Upper Body Circuit, 3 x's

  • Rock Climbing
    , 4 x's

    Rowing, 1 x

    Stair Climbing, 5 x's

    Step Interval Class (with Stacey), 1 x

    Swimming, 4 x's

    Treadmill, 2 x's

    Walking Outdoors, 6 x's

    Yardwork, 1 x
    How was your May and what are your plans for June?

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Something Amiss

    I did something to my shoulder while rowing and, while the pain is not intense, there is something amiss. I took Aleve for about three days which didn't alleviate the tenderness. Actions that cause me to move gingerly include:

  • Belaying (taking out slack with left hand/arm)

  • Lifting my bike out of the basement (duh)

  • Parallel parking

  • Putting on an article of clothing

  • Towel Tug of War (left hand at lower back, soap in the middle and right hand at upper back)

  • You really don't miss your water until the well runs dry.

    When I went swimming on Tuesday, I didn't stay for very long since any stroke that involved back (crawl, elementary backstroke...) was out of the question. If I were more confident with the front crawl, I would have stayed longer.

    I'm assuming that I tweaked my shoulder because I was port side while rowing and my left arm is unaccustomed to handling a heavy load.

    I went rock climbing last Sunday and I went again today. It's a very weird situation in that I can climb without feeling discomfort unless I'm over gripping.

    I guess this is just another reminder to fully appreciate when the body is working in concert.

    If you look closely, you can see that Patti has her right ankle wrapped. She sprained it during an encounter with a brick while gardening about two weeks ago. I joked with her that gardening is far more dangerous than rock climbing. Patti, if you're wondering, got her doctor's permission to climb. I also know that Diane's Training... has been exercising while not completely up to par. So, I'm going to keep on keeping on and if something doesn't feel right, I'll just stop.

    A newbie, fresh out of class, walked over and introduced herself and climbed with us for awhile. Patti provided back-up belaying while Susan (the newbie) got some practice. I love rock climbers; they are such a welcoming bunch or am I biased? :)

    Route Tally:

    Beware of Bats, 5.9
    Bright Idea, 5.8
    Chag, 5.8/5.9 (hunh?)
    Face Plant, 5.8
    Hallelujah, 5.8
    Rainbow Bright, 5.8
    The Seven, 5.7

    Hope you all are having an active and enjoyable weekend...

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    The Gospel According To Juror #612

    Jury duty was another reminder to take care of myself. The case centered on a 69-year-old man who, in the words of the defense, had a complicated medical history, smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day in addition to being a frequent consumer of beer. His last stint in the hospital was for femoral bypass surgery. He had several diagnoses including, peripheral vascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had previously undergone surgery for carotid stenosis.

    I spent seven days with people who, before that point, had been total strangers. If I had to be on jury duty, this crew was the one to endure civic duty.

    I leave you with some words from the woman who sat next to me in "the box:"

  • I zoom past the produce, Juror #612 informed us as we talked about blueberries and mangoes.

  • She has four or five cans of sweetened condensed milk on standby.

  • Kids make own grocery list and will not be allowed to consume anything purchased that did not appear on said list, including lemon meringue pie made from items on mama's list.

  • Dislikes even one brown spot on bananas and is not crazy about soft apples either.

  • Strawberries are the bomb as long as they're at room temperature.

  • Lunchbox: Spiderman (only one available at the time)

  • Inside of lunch box: small bottle of Tabasco Sauce along with fried chicken et al.

  • Comment of the week: "You apple eaters are getting on my nerves," Juror #612 said as she took care of her Papa John's slice.

  • I don't do alone -- thoughts on Division 12's solitary cell that we walked past on the way down to the courtroom.

  • I'm going to the zoo this weekend just to get a funnel cake; that's it. Going to the zoo and not getting a funnel cake is like going to Six Flags and not getting a turkey leg. It would be like going to Louisiana and not getting crawfish.

  • Just like milk, we all have an expiration date.

  • After we were dismissed from the trial, there was a brief break in the rain as we walked to the parking garage. I told juror #612 that, if it started raining again, we could make a run for it to which she responded, "Now we sat up there and watched you eat Greek yogurt; I'm not running. I don't even run to the bathroom when I have to use it badly."

    Another juror, #635, told me that if anyone dies of soda consumption, she might just be the one and she would, happily, go gentle into that good night if soda is the cause...

    During our last meal together, I asked Juror #635 if she were an abuser since she told me that her husband had scrambled to cut the grass the previous day when she arrived home early. He thought she was angry because she didn't kiss him before she left. Only, she was running late and, therefore, no time for a parting kiss.

    I had my suspicions that #635 might be a nipple-twister à la Carrie in The King of Queens (03:25) but, really, the cross-examining had just gotten to me at this point and I was starting to suspect people of all manner of crimes and I had so many objections that it wasn't even funny.

    Farewell fellow jurors and goodbye Citygarden...

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Kras: A Milk Chocolate Tale

    I've been cleaning up but I have a long way to go because I have so much clutter of which the main source is paper. Since I like to read, I tend to find something that moves me, clip it and, even though I may never refer to it again, I keep it around.

    Decluttering, my friends, is hard work. In the process of decluttering, though, I've found some interesting items including these stickers that came out of Kras' Animal Kingdom milk chocolate -- intended for kids, mind you.

    There are 50 stickers in all and I'm sure that I threw some away. To say that I overindulged is an understatement.

    I thought I was oh so efficient too -- having a treat and also incorporating the stickers into my quest to learn Bosnian/Croatian. I only fooled myself...

    What food item makes it hard for you to practice moderation?

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    You Find The Strength Somehow: A Look Behind The Rock Climbing Scene, Part II of III

    This interview is part two of one that I conducted with Jessica and Patti, two of my belay partners. I wanted more information about rock climbing and I couldn't think of a better place to start.

    ‘Drea: What would you consider your climbing style?

    Jessica: I like to go side to side. I like to flag a leg out, do drop knee, do a lot of – kind of almost contorting…twist my body. I like the logical routes that are built for people who are about my height. Yusuf (former Upper Limits employee) is a really soft climber and I really like his routes because they force you to climb like him where you’re doing that reaching but you can kind of twist and you can get it.

    ‘Drea to Patti: And what about you? What do you consider your climbing style?

    Patti: I don’t have a style. Brute force.

    Jessica: That’s not true. You like to push and pull -- get into corners. You also tend to keep your body straight onto the wall. You like to be more stable. You’re also more daring than I am. I’m using more techniques and kind of tricks to get there and mom is using technique but she also jumps for things more often than I would. She goes for it and commits to a move that I find hard to commit to.

    ‘Drea to Patti: So, are you a jumper?

    Patti: Usually, I’m a faller. (all around laughter)

    Jessica to Patti: But you’re more willing to do that. I’m still working on that.

    'Drea: What kind of books would you recommend?

    Jessica: I haven’t read it yet but The Rock Warrior’s Way; it’s about the mental part of climbing and pushing through. Training for Climbing is a book that we've read.

    ‘Drea: Any reason why you chose Evolv shoes?

    Jessica: Mom and I both have wide feet so we went with Evolv men shoes. Steve is a good person to talk to about shoes. Every time you see him, he has on a different pair of shoes.

    Some people actually have, if they're hardcore about it, they'll actually wear one type of shoe on the right foot and a different type of shoe on their left foot. They'll have a crack up on the left side and a certain shoe is good for crack climbing but the other shoe is good for smearing. The Evolv that we have is just a good multi-purpose shoe...

    I went shopping with Kam for shoes and he said, “Oh, I like this color.” The woman was like make sure it fits your foot; it doesn’t matter what color it is. So, I wouldn’t order online the first time.

    ‘Drea: Did you both take lead climbing class?

    Jessica: Well, you have to be able to climb a 5.9 lead test up front. So, you have to climb up to the fifth clip without falling, clip in, climb above it, fall and then climb back up and finish the route without any problems and we were not climbing 5.9s consistently for awhile after we got through with the class.

    And people’s definition of what the ratings are is very different from person to person. It depends on how tall you are, what your style of climbing is. So, we actually waited until there was a lead route that we could climb consistently and was relatively easy so we weren’t going to be freaking out. The two routes that are up right now, I don’t think that I would have passed the test.

    It was good to hear what Jessica said about the lead routes because I attempted that 5.9 lead route this day, struggled mightily and barely made it halfway up.

    ‘Drea: How many times have you been lead climbing?

    Patti: About two dozen.

    Jessica: When you talk to different people, they have different attitudes about it (lead climbing) and I don’t think a lot of people would appreciate the attitude that I have towards lead climbing. It’s uncomfortable and that’s not what I feel like I want out of climbing – to feel that uncomfortable and to pursue it. Mentally, I think that could be a very good exercise... I think it’s more dangerous and, for me, I don’t feel like it’s necessary. I don’t like having my heart pounding the whole time. That being said, when I did lead climb and it was a route that was harder, I did feel really good when I pursued it.

    Patti: …You know the consequences of not doing it (a lead route). As you’re climbing and you think, I don’t know if I can do this then you think, Oh my God, I have to or else I’m going to fall; you find the strength somehow.

    Jessica: Yeah, you can’t ask for take just anywhere on the route or if you do ask for a take, you’re going to fall.

    ‘Drea: What about bouldering?

    ‘Drea To Patti: I know that you fell in a love with a little red route.

    Patti: I don’t like bouldering because you climb up 12 feet and then you have to get down and I know that on my delicate ankles that would not work.

    Jessica: And bouldering is more dynamic. So, it’s putting the five or six hardest moves right together. Whereas climbing is more about endurance and I don’t really like doing all of the hard stuff back-to-back. I like that it’s a puzzle where I’ll have a hard moment here and there that you have to figure out then trying to get the endurance to get through the rest of it. Bouldering is harder on your body; it’s harder on your tendons. It’s usually more of, like, a young man’s power through game but there are some women who are excellent at bouldering; there are some older people who are excellent at bouldering. It’s not my cup of tea.

    ‘Drea: What's the highest route you’ve climbed?

    Jessica: A 5.10+ (inside). The routes are longer outside. I’ve lead outside once and it was terrifying and I vowed never to do it again. The only way that I would do lead outside again is if it were super, super easy – like grips all over the place. Here the clips are maybe about five feet apart. Outside, it’s usually about ten. If you get up to the next clip and you botch it, you’re falling 20 feet.

    ‘Drea: That doesn’t sound very good.

    Jessica: Not my cup of tea. (laughter)

    Patti’s highest route inside is a 5.10 and a 5.9 outside.

    ‘Drea: What do you think is good supplemental exercise for rock climbing?

    Jessica and Patti: Yoga.

    Jessica: I think swimming is good. You do need a certain level of strength but, at some point, muscle becomes more weight that you’re taking up. Pilates, I bet, would be good...

    Note: Steph Davis just recommended Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind for someone who wanted to increase their resistance to fear.

    Part I of Interview with Jessica and Patti

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    There Is No Backseat

    Awhile back, I saw an article that featured several Olympians including a rower. I immediately put rowing on my list of things to try. Then, one of my former colleagues took an introduction to rowing class which further got my attention.

    Fast forward to March of this year. I was looking for a kettlebell class and came upon CrossFit Valley Park's website. They were going rowing and anyone interested was to contact Dan which I did because I wanted to make sure that newbies were welcome.

    Our outing had been canceled once because of stormy weather and was almost in danger of being canceled today because the water was high which gave me enough time to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

    I arrived and I'm out there with some pretty elite-looking athletes. I silently tell myself that I can hold my own. We got on the indoor machines and the instructor said "You all know what erging is..." I didn't say a word. I had no clue what it means to erg. Anyone?

    We practice a few moves -- arms only. Arms and back. Arms with slight knees. All out rowing. Then, we practice rowing in synch. Next, we move to the boat storage area where the instructor encourages us to come up to the front because, as he said, there are no backseats in the boat. He goes on to explain the difference between the oars. Next, we divide up into groups of men and women so that the teams will have some kind of balance. We line up shortest to tallest. I'm the second shortest at 5'3 and a half. I get assigned to Ron's boat. Eight of us go over and get an explanation of how we're going to carry the boat. We're going to lift it up to waist level first then on our shoulders and then we follow Ron's marching orders. By this time, we've already taken our oars out to the dock.

    At the boat ramp, we take off our shoes. We are told that everyone should put their left foot on the white line next to their seat. I'm number three which I will hear called a lot as we are getting instruction on the water.

    The water is so high in the lake that when we get to the bridge, we have to lay all the way flat or risk decapitation. I am more than tense at this time because I'm also supposed to keep my oar in a certain position while we're laid out.

    I seldom get something right on the first try that requires coordination and I, at times, felt like I was screwing up my teammates' chances since we had a race at the end with two other boats. Overall, though, I'm glad that I took Introduction to Rowing and I love that it is a team sport. Even when you're not rowing, you have a responsibility to keep your hand on the oar and contribute to keeping the boat set.

    Things I learned while rowing:

  • The Coxswain is the boss.

  • There is no backseat.

  • Relax (recurring theme that I hear across disciplines).

  • If you're not working together, it's not going to be any fun.
  • It was so beautiful at the lake that I wish that I had thought to take my bike but I was in desperate need of sustenance by then since the class went from Noon to 3:30 p.m. and the intensity of the sun only added to my hunger.

    Have you tried something new recently or done something outside of your comfort zone?

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Pulling A Muscle...Card

    I've been doing my civic duty -- the same phrase that the judge used as an explanation to one rowdy juror before he sent the rowdy one to timeout. "You know what to do with him," said the judge to the deputy.

    I've been spending most of my time in Citygarden for lunch. It is, as advertised, an oasis in the middle of the city.

    This one juror (#612) who, at first, didn't want to go joined me then said, "It is peaceful..."

    Yogis near Citygarden

    When I started dipping into a little container, Juror #612 asked me what I was eating (hummus and Crisp 'N Light Wasa crackers). After her quizzical look, I explained that I was trying to eat healthier and she said, "Congratulations but I'm not doing that." Number 612 had me cracking up. She congratulated me several times but ended on that ...but I'm not doing that note.

    We are provided coffee and donuts every morning. This one girl picked up the long john with white icing and, like, I didn't want the donut but envied her laissez–faire attitude about the whole matter. She doesn't have an ounce of fat either but as Dr. Phil told Oprah about her slow metabolism that ain't you...I don't have that body type so I just moved on in my mind.

    Here are some more pictures from the Citygarden.

    Diane Fit... left me a comment once and mentioned that when her scale was stuck, it was usually food and I'm sure it's the same in my case. It's tweak time but it's also non-scale victory time. The scale has moved a smidgen but then it took one pound back this morning. However, when I saw this picture that I snapped in Citygarden, I was surprised by how lean I look. I'm going to have to say it's muscle and I'll take whatever I can get.

    And, finally, I leave you with Garfield. Happy Friday...

    Any non-scale victories in your neck of the woods of late?

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Outsize Me

    Back in March, I was reading Fattie Fatterton's Blog and she mentioned The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. I was intrigued. At almost 400 pages, it took me awhile to make my way through it but the book was definitely worth reading.

    What does the author say about the 145 pound grandmother who was able to lift a Chevy Impala off of her son?

    In other words, we’re more powerful than we realize but we’re rarely – if ever – required to summon that force. (30)
    The survivor's list includes the legendary Vesna Vulović who is known as The Woman Who Fell From The Sky. Vulović was a flight attendant on her first trip from Copenhagen to Belgrade when a bomb tore the airplane apart. As you can imagine, she had extensive injuries. As Sherwood writes:

    To this day, her name appears in Guinness World Records for surviving the longest fall without a parachute. (82)
    Other survivors include Katharine Decker Johnson who was hit by a 43,000 pound Volvo truck. Her Specialized bike was no match for the Volvo. (85)

    Another survivor is Anne Hjelle who was attacked by a mountain lion. (130)

    Doctors quickly determined that the lion’s fangs had nicked her spinal column and sliced within a hair of her jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe. They immediately treated forty deep bite marks in her neck and reattached her face using more than two hundred stitches and staples. (134)
    What I love about Hjelle's story is that her friend (Debi Nicholls), you know another regular human being, grabs her and won't let go. Are you kidding me? Sign me up for five more friends just like that -- friends who will stay with you even when the lion might mistake you for the next entrée.

    Other survivors include Tim Shears who fell off a cruise ship (210), the woman who became known as The Central Park Jogger (234), Cassi Moore whose personalized plate reads ONETHMB because out of all of her fingers and toes, she only has one thumb left after a flesh-eating bacteria wreaked havoc on her body. (279) Ellen Klor was going to meet some of her knitting buddies, stumbled and ended up with a wooden knitting needle through heart. (11) Her horrified friends wanted to remove the needle but Klor's instinct kicked in and she told them to just call 911.

    When asked who survives in a plane crash, Cynthia Corbett, an investigator in cabin research at the FAA, responded “Young, slender men.” (64)

    Sherwood went on to say that agility and strength make the biggest difference when you’re trying to wiggle through airplane wreckage or slip through a twenty-inch-wide emergency exit. Furthermore:

    Women should travel in flats – no high heels – and they shouldn’t wear stockings or synthetic fabrics that can melt on the skin. Short pants or skirts are another no-no. In a fire, you’ll want your body covered. (76)
    A lot of the survivors say that family, friends and love was crucial to their recoveries.

    Sherwood interviews many folks including Professor Richard Wiseman who believes that only 10 percent of life is purely random. The remaining 90 percent is “actually defined by the way you think.” (190)

    Other random gems in The Survivors Club:

  • Dr. Kamler, vice president of The Explorers Club, says that “All of us are descendants of survivors, he says, “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.” (122)

  • In other words, if you’re exposed to enough hardship and pressure, you’ll build your immunity. It’s a variation on classic psychological conditioning: The more shocks to your system, the more you can withstand. (296)

  • Peanut butter is “the best survival food” in terms of cost per calorie.(297)

  • Dr. James Vaupel, an authority on aging, says there are modest changes that you can undertake in order to prolong your life like moderate exercise, eating fruits and vegetables and limiting saturated fat.(256)

  • Finally, I like how Sherwood describes Holocaust survivor Edith Eva Eger: she’s five foot four but her charisma is outsize. (162)

    Tell me. What about you is outsize? Your heart? Generosity? Tenacity?

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Meeting At The Top Of The Stairs

    I reported for jury duty at 8:00 a.m. but not a single name had been called by 9:45 a.m. I was tired of reading and coveting the laptops and fancy phones of those around me when I decided to get up and move around. Then, it hit me. I had my MP3 player and access to water. I headed toward the stairs.

    My goal was to do 42 flights to mimic the Master the Met stairclimb. This guy sees me trekking up and down the stairs and asks How many times are you going to do this? I tell him that I am unsure.

    At some point, I see a woman in the corridor on her cell phone. She is near the banister. I see her and she sees me. I think that I'm about 28 flights into this quest and as I'm heading up again, I'm getting ready to head to the bathroom to get rid of some sweat and she meets me at the top of the stairs with some tissue. I was unbelievably touched. She doesn't stop her conversation. She just matter-of-factly hands me the tissue. I keep going.

    I also realize at this time that I am carrying goats under my arms. Goat carrying has become a running joke between Jessica, Patti and me. When we were rock climbing once, Patti said something about suspecting that her deodorant wasn't holding up. I was reading a back issue of Mental Floss and, unbelievably, came across an article about deodorant about a day after having the conversation with Patti.

    3. The Roman poet Ovid preferred a more proactive solution. In Book III of the “Art of Love,” he cautions women against carrying goats under their arms.
    Now, we joke about carrying goats under our arms because rock climbing will put your deodorant to the test.

    I didn't care about the goat thing though. I kept climbing and, eventually, climbed 44 flights. I could have gone further but I was a mess. My back was wet. Sweat was dripping off my face. I did not have on wick away moisture clothing and it was chilly outside. As it turned out, the courtroom ended up being completely frigid. Really, I wanted to object -- big time.

    While my clothing might not have been ideal, I did have on my very comfortable BOC shoes which allowed me to trek up the steps without discomfort.

    I did reconnaissance for lunch and decided to go to Culinaria, a relatively new grocery store downtown that has gotten rave reviews. I almost freaked out when I saw how long the wait time was but it ended up being a much, much shorter wait. I was so glad that I took an apple and Greek yogurt to snack on because I was ravenous after the stairs.

    I enjoyed being downtown as I usually do. I love the architecture and seeing one of my favorite landmarks from different angles. So, I had jury duty but I didn't take it sitting down. Yay!

    (View from courthouse which had some strange barbwire-like covering over window)

    Civil Courts from Citygarden

    Side of City Hall

    Old Post Office

    What was your last encounter with random kindness?????

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    A Hard Moment Here and There: A Look Behind The Rock Climbing Scene, Part I of III

    It unnerves me when I'm not well-armed with information. I have a need to know and, when I really started getting into rock climbing, I read a few primers and I scoured blogs. I came upon The Chalk Bag (infrequently updated) and Steph Davis' blog in which she typically responds to people who have questions for her. I was left wanting more. I wanted to get behind the rock climbing mystique. What better place to start than with two of my favorite rock climbers in the whole wide world? Here's part one of an interview with Jessica and Patti who were gracious enough to sit down with me after climbing today.

    'Drea: How did you get involved with rock climbing?

    Jessica: It’s something that I always wanted to try…When I was in college, a lot of my friends would come down to Upper Limits and go climbing and it never worked out; I’d be doing something and I couldn’t go at the same time they were going. Classes got in the way and I would say I’ll do it next year; I’ll do it next year and, finally, when I graduated, I really wanted to get into it and I was tired of waiting and I was like, you know what, I not going to wait for someone else to take me, I’m just going to go. So, I found out about a deal that was going on at the gym. It was a six week course, rentals included; you could climb as much as you wanted in between the classes and then you had a class every week that would teach you how to belay, climbing techniques and, ideally, would have you up to a level where you could do 5.9s which was pretty optimistic. We were doing 5.8s, I think, by the time we got done.

    ‘Drea: How did mom (Patti) come into the picture?

    Jessica: I wanted someone to do it with me.

    Patti: I guess I’m the gullible one.

    Jessica: I was gonna do it no matter what and, so, I get along well with my mom...

    ‘Drea: Did you think she was going to participate?

    Jessica: No, I didn’t think she was going to do it...

    Patti: Really?

    Jessica: Well, I thought there was a chance that you might try it but there was no way that I could have predicted that you would get into it and you would still be climbing three years later.

    ‘Drea: What did you say when she asked you?

    Patti: No way. But then she said, Mom, mom, I only have fifteen minutes and there are only two spots left and then they’re going to give the spots away. We have to do it. We have to. Come on mom. I really want you do it with me. Come on, please. I said, “Okay, let me think about it and Jessica said, no, you only have 15 minutes.”

    Jessica had signed up to be on a waiting list and a staff member, Aaron, notified Jessica that there were only two spots left and wanted to know if she was in or out.

    ‘Drea to Patti: Did you feel any pressure with fifteen minutes to decide?

    Patti: Yes, yessssss. And then I thought, well, it would be some fun time to spend with Jess... I don’t care what we’re doing as long as we’re doing something together.

    ‘Drea: So, you said “sign me up.”

    Patti: And then I paid for it too.

    ‘Drea: Such a nice mom.

    Jessica: She is…

    ‘Drea: You paid to be tortured.

    Patti: Yes, I did and I paid for her to be tortured too.

    Jessica: And we walked in the first day and the first thing we see is someone climbing lead on the overhang and we don’t know what lead is. We don’t know what top rope is. We think it’s all the same and we’re doing what everyone else is doing and the guy falls and he swings through the middle and mom grabs me and goes “Oh my God.” Our class met upstairs where the walls aren’t quite as high and the first day was just talking about it and, the whole time, mom is just looking around.

    ‘Drea: And you were afraid of heights when you first started to climb?

    Patti: Yes, you can feel your stomach in your toes...

    Jessica: We stayed after the first time and John was working here and we started climbing and I climbed up once and got to the top and I was shaking and it was really hard to get up. I didn’t know the technique. Not the same muscles that I had been using before. It’s just something that’s really different. I’m gripping the rock…I’m gripping with 110% of my strength.

    ‘Drea: That was me.

    Jessica: It’s normal. That’s what people do. I came down. My arms were shaking. I was like I’m done. I’m good. John came up to me and said “That’s not all you’re doing, right?”...“Well, I guess nottttttttt...”

    ‘Drea: What all did you learn in class?

    Patti: Quiet feet (climbing with bells), all about belaying, belay devices, fireman’s rappel and we learned about using our arms, hanging low, stretching out…

    Jessica: Paul was our instructor and he was really good at explaining like what’s going on where. Telling us things like if you have a two finger pocket, you don’t want to actually use your pointer and middle finger; you want to use your middle and ring finger to put in there because, even though it doesn’t feel as strong, those are tendons that go straight back into the arm whereas your pointer finger kind of curves a little bit. So, it’s not as hard on your body and you’re getting more out of it if you hang on like that.… Lots of little things like that: drop knees, gaston...

    ‘Drea: How long was it (rock climbing) hard?

    Patti: It’s always hard. (We all burst out laughing.) That doesn’t change…

    Jessica to Patti: Now, what was the point that it became less of something that you were just trying and something that you wanted to do regularly?

    Patti: I’m still not sure. I guess when I figured that I’m 49. We started, I think, two weeks before my 49th birthday because then the next fall we went out (doors) for the first time and that was my 50th birthday.

    ‘Drea: So, it was like a birthday gift that you gave yourself?

    Patti: Yeah, and I could do it. There have been people who’ve come in and couldn’t get to the top the first time and I could…and it uses all of your muscles and it’s engaging; it’s not like spending time on an elliptical and you’re going, Oh my God, it’s only been two minutes.

    ‘Drea: So how long did it take you to not be sore?

    Patti: About three months.

    Jessica: I don’t remember what it was for me.

    Patti: You know the older you are the longer it takes you to recover...

    ‘Drea: What were you doing before climbing?

    Jessica: I was going to the gym. My lower back has bothered me since high school…I carried tenors (five drums). The elliptical really helped with loosening my back up. I did some weight training, swimming. I get bored easily so it was a lot of flipping to different things but never really finding anything fun -- always being active… This is the first time that I found something physical that I looked forward to doing because, mom’s right, it is really mentally engaging. If you’re figuring out the puzzle all the time, you’re always constantly gauging can I do this? Can I not? It keeps you on your toes…

    Patti: I always walked and kept active that way and I would do tapes but just before that I had started on the elliptical and I had done that for, I don’t know how many months, and I got plantar fasciitis and, so there goes walking, there goes anything. So, for awhile there, I wasn’t doing anything and it slowly came back to where I could do some stuff and I would periodically do a tape but that was about it...

    Part II of Interview with Jessica and Patti

    Part III of Interview with Jessica and Patti

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    The Striker's Guide to Dinner

    After weeks of not cooking, I finally got into the kitchen, chopped a few vegetables and made something happen.

    In all honesty, I haven't felt like cooking.

    In my old life, I had a lot of go-to recipes but I've been too lazy uninspired to adjust the recipes and, frankly, I find looking through cookbooks exhausting and, if it's a cookbook without pictures, spare me...

    Did I tell you all that I was a picky eater as child? Big visual, temperature and texture issues. Big drama. Like, you're not leaving the table until you eat drama. I sat with my legs dangling until I was excused. My 'rents had long caught onto me slipping the dog my undesirables. Did my parents ever once consider that it might have been their cooking? Nooooooooooo.

    To this day, if something tastes good but is mushy, I'll taste it but won't hang with the dish for long.

    When I do find a recipe that calls my name, it usually involves a lot of chopping. For some reason, the labor intensive recipes beckon me.

    I was flipping through the March Prevention when I saw a recipe, More-Vegetable-Than-Egg Frittata that I instantly liked. The recipe was a contribution by the one and only Mark Bittman.

    I used a red bell pepper, spinach and squash for my frittata. And my verdict -- not bad at all and quite clean tasting. I wasn't doing that Al Green moaning thing but I liked the frittata and will make it again. The frittata doesn't stand alone and it doesn't make a lot. If you have more than three folks to feed, double up on the ingredients.

    What I ate while on strike:

    Steamfresh Veggies with Trader Joe's Marinated Chicken Breasts

    Ironically, that same Prevention featuring Mark Bittman also had an article, 50 Healthiest Everday Foods, which had a very nice chart for folks, like me, who need visual cues.

    For example:

    Natural State, 1st Choice: apple
    Somewhat Processed, 2nd Choice: strawberry preserves
    Highly processed, limit: strawberry gelatin dessert
    What is one of your favorite go-to recipes and what food do you resort to when the cooking comes to a halt? If you don't halt, kudos, and may I come over?

    P.S. Another promising Bittman recipe in that Prevention was Chicken Not Pie.

    Bon appétit, you all...

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    One Second Flat

    I couldn't remember how to release the brake cable on my bike and I could have kicked myself for leaving the store without knowing definitively.

    I'm thinking to myself -- I'm relatively smart; I should be able to figure this out. The mechanism is not that complicated but, eventually, I loaded my bike and headed to the store from whence the bike came.

    This young man wanted to know if I had been helped and as soon as I said brake cable, he reached down and, in one second flat, had the cable apart. My face got so warm.

    I mimicked the young man's action and, of course, it wasn't as easy for me to disengage the brake cable but I did it.

    Brake Cable Unplugged

    Today, I reenacted the disengagement of the cable and took my front wheel to REI to participate in a Fix A Flat clinic.

    I learned a lot including the fact that changing a tire is time intensive. I also learned that triathletes prefer co2 pumps unless you're a wannabe triathlete such as myself with one sprint under her belt.

  • A dollar bill is effective for temporarily patching the sidewall of your tire

  • A little baby powder on the inner tube helps it slide back into the tire

  • A sock is helpful for handling a bike chain

  • Don't use a lever to put the tire back on

  • I have directional tires

  • I bravely took the tire levers and mimicked what the REI instructor had done. I have to say that my tire came off fairly easy. Then, I put some baby powder on my inner tube, put the rim back on etc. etc.

    Do I feel completely at ease with my tire changing knowledge? No. But I do feel like I'm capable of gutting it out and getting the deed done.

    When I got back home, I had quite a time putting my wheel back on. It was so frustrating until I remembered Paul saying something about hitting the seat. So, I hit the seat and, sure enough, my wheel lined up. I put the doohickey bolt back in, made sure it said closed and prayed that my tire was going in the right direction.

    Have you attended any workshops to keep you on the real or metaphoric road? I sometimes think about taking a Total Immersion freestyle workshop but I'm just thinking about it...

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Picture This: Along The Trail

    Saw these cyclists as I was loading my bike and later on as I was heading to meet Ena at the STL Riverfront Trail. The cyclists were in such a good mood and why not? It was a gorgeous day for a ride. Ena and I had not set out to do 22 miles but the weather was perfect and the sun was showing off and there's just something magical about being on a bike and being by the water.

    I Hang Back While Ena Tackles The Hill

    Chain of Rocks Bridge

    The Arch from the Chain of Rocks Bridge

    The Arch from Lenore K. Sullivan Blvd

    Detour Takes Me By Busch Stadium -- So Far The Cardinals Are Winning 6-2, Top of the 5th

    I sure don't feel like doing anything right now -- not cooking or anything. Bring out the proverbial fork -- not to eat (unless you've cooked) because I am done.

    What did you do today? And a curious mind wants to know what's the longest you've ever bicycled or swam or...? Any Ironwomen or Ironmen out there among us?

    Postscript: Ena got some great shots of the bridge. I like her photo of me riding for two reasons: she took it while riding her bike (Ena, great coordination) and the picture also allows me to see the progress that I've made.