That Pool Is Saving My Life

 

 

Just about every day this week saw me getting in the pool. But I didn’t merely jump in and get out. No. I spent some quality time treading water and it was fabulous.

 

When I was pressed for time, I set my alarm for only 30 minutes. When I wasn’t pressured by the tick-tock, I set my alarm for 45 minutes. Those days were my favorites because I got in 45 minutes of non-stop, water-resisting cardio and my core temperature dropped a bit. Win-win, if you ask me. You might think I’d be bored by this particular exercise, but you’d be wrong. I usually get the Job Rocker out and listen to the radio while I tread and that seems to make the time fly. Add to that the dedicated focus on my body’s movement and I end up enjoying the hell out of my time in the water. It’s downright pleasurable, I tell ya.

 

If you’ve never spent time treading water, you may think I’m nuts. And maybe I am. But I really do love it and I guess it’s sort of meditative to boot. And I get to do it for at least another month. Which is a good thing, because as much as I hate to acknowledge it, we’ve surely got a load of heat coming. I swear – that pool is saving my life!

The Hitchhiker

 

The other day I was out for a bike ride, getting some cardio in, when I felt something sort of hit my knee. I was in full-pedal mode and a fairly strong wind was in my face. I glanced down and this is what I saw…

 

 

I had picked up a hitchhiker. Because I’m me, I didn’t freak out or anything. (It was just a bug, for cry-eye.) In fact, I started smiling and said something along the lines of, “Hey, little guy! How’s it going?” And I kept pedaling.

 

 

Before the hitchhiker joined me, I was really fighting the ride. I’d been out for an hour already and was just wanting to get home. That strong wind was challenging the hell out of me, no matter which direction I rode. In short, I was done. Only I wasn’t able to be done, as I had about 5 miles to go at that point. Something about the little hitchhiker changed all that. Suddenly I was revitalized. Happy. I don’t know why, but that bug really picked things up. The strong wind didn’t bother me anymore. My tired muscles didn’t nag quite as much. I stopped slouching a bit and rode all the way home with admirable posture and a beaming smile. And to its credit, that bug hung on all the way.

 

 

When I reached the new pad, I brushed the hitchhiker off my leg and left him in a pile of leaves. We’d both made it and the ride was finished.

CitySeat Bike Seat Covers

 

 

Recently I read about a product and knew I had to try it. It’s a padded, washable bike seat cover from a Brooklyn-based company, CitySeat.

 

I ride my bike for exercise and to get around. And though I have a decent seat on “Helen” (my bike’s name), long rides can leave my booty a bit sore. As I don’t wear padded bike shorts when I ride, I couldn’t depend on those for relief. I suppose I could have duct-taped a small pillow to my seat, but come on.

 

Enter CitySeat. I like that I can remove the pads inside and wash the cover, should I find it necessary. And it’s cute to boot! It’s super-easy to slip over my seat and when I took Helen out for a test ride, I can honestly say my booty was thanking me. It’s quite comfortable and I didn’t even notice it was there, other than thinking what am improvement it was over my plain seat.

 

For the record, no one at CitySeat has ever heard of me, y’all, so please know I’m only sharing this in the interest of your booties! If you decide to try a CitySeat bike seat cover yourself, drop me a line and let me know what you think! I’m fairly smitten with mine.

My Just Reward

 

 

Earlier this week I had some errands to run over in another part of town. You know – away from home. So I started mentally planning my trip and realized I could turn it into a bike ride. I mean – I have baskets for cry-eye – why not? So on the appointed day, I kicked the tires and took off.

 

The round trip was only about 15 miles, but that was a nice bit of exercise and I checked something off my to-do list. Right smack dab in the middle of the ride, I started getting hungry. So I began looking around for a little restaurant and a bike rack.

 

I found plenty of places to eat, but bike racks? Not so much. I couldn’t understand that, but hey – this is L.A. We love our cars, people. So I kept riding. I passed place after place, good food after good food, but no bike racks. Finally, I remembered a craft beer joint nearby. I also remembered how the owner is a biker and had bike racks installed out front for his customers. I rode to the bar, secured my wheels, went in and found a spot at the jam-packed counter and placed my order. The ‘tender asked if I wanted to run a tab or close out my order. I looked and him and said, “Dude! I can’t ride drunk! Close that bitch!” He laughed and brought me my check.

 

Now you’d think I was most looking forward to my food – a smoked duck and bacon sausage lunch special. And I was hungry and the food was good. But my just reward for all that biking? A beautiful wild ale.

 

 

I figured that beer would last me through my food and then some, but I started talking with the chick seated beside me and my food took a little longer than expected and before you knew it, I signaled the ‘tender and said, “Dude! Open that bitch! I need another drink!” We all had a good laugh and easy conversation continued. Before long, it was time to go. The ‘tender high-fived me on my way out and the counter chick and I exchanged our good-byes. I walked outside, unlocked my bike and headed home.

 

It was a good day. It really was.

Work That Body

 

 

 

I have complained about the rigors of the Social Season, but I’ve not gone into how awesome it can be.

 

I say can be because the social muscle, much like other muscles, can atrophy after continued misuse. Don’t believe me? I once knew a woman who had spent 2 months with a non-English speaking tribe in a remote area of Africa. She did not speak their language, so all communication was made through signs and gestures. Even her pre-arranged transportation – to and from the village – was provided by non-English speakers. After 8 whole weeks of speaking to no one and not hearing a known language, she just about flipped when she arrived at the airport and found one soul with a decent grasp of English. She told me she talked his ear off and only later did she realize how she must have seemed to him. Over the course of 2 months she had forgotten how to participate in polite conversation.

 

My paint-splattered life leaves me dressing like trash most of the time and, quite frankly, talking to myself. So putting on a nice frock and a little lipstick for an outing is refreshing. It’s also good for me, because I get to stretch those social muscles and give them a workout.

 

But the most important benefit of the Social Season is fun! It’s good to laugh and converse with friends and others. It’s good to hear new points of view. Hell – it’s good to disagree with people. We tend to design our lives to be quite insular. That may give us familiar comfort, but it doesn’t always stretch our minds.

 

So here’s to the fun of the Social Season! I hope yours has already started and that you’re appreciating it. And if you’re struggling with getting back in the swing of social activity, be kind to yourself. Those muscles are still there, still able to carry you through an evening. Just maybe remember to stretch first.

Improvement

 

 

The other day I did something I’ve not been able to do in quite a while. I exercised.

 

I should clarify. I did some P90-X Stretching. There is absolutely nothing cardio about it, so I don’t want to mislead you. But it was a solid session of stretching and y’all – I’ve not had the energy for anything for so long that I had nearly forgotten how to use my muscles. So I’m gonna count that toe-in-the-water as exercise and give myself a gold star.

 

I’m almost terrified to say it – afraid I’ll jinx myself – but I think my health may finally be improving. I’m doing baby steps still, but I’m starting to get excited! It’s a bit of a freak show when abnormal health becomes the norm. Lately I’ve been thrown for a loop when my body has functioned in its old patterns of health here and there, instead of misbehaving and acting up. I never thought I could become giddy over “ordinary” but I clearly am, so there you go.

 

I give tremendous credit to the holistic healer I’m seeing. While the acupuncture may be working wonders, I feel the pro-biotic regimen is truly responsible. As a gal who lives in the modern world, I am so glad to have been willing to turn to Eastern medicine for a change. I believe in Western medicine, too. I just think that for me – in this particular time of ill health – a combination of the two is finally having an effect. A slow effect, but an effect just the same.

 

It’s too soon to say I’m 100%, so I won’t. But I’m on the path and that counts for quite a lot. Again – baby steps. Can you feel me smiling? Yippee!

Observations From the Road

 

 

Yesterday’s exercise equaled me getting out for a bike ride. It was H-A-W-T, but a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do. While I was on the road, I made a few observations (in no particular order):

 

-At one point I found myself behind a trash truck. And do you know what it smelled like? Chocolate. Where, I ask – outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania – does a trash truck smell like chocolate? I was only behind it a few seconds, but it was pleasant. Pleasant, I tell you!

-Did you know that a Birkenstock shoe could be as flat as paper? Neither did I, until I rode over one. I have no idea how long it was there on the road, or how many wheels it took to flatten it, but it was impressive just the same.

-While I was out there in the world, I stopped at a department store to look for a particular item. Apparently, if you’re shopping while wearing sweaty clothes and a bike helmet, you can only be looking for low-rent merchandise. At least that’s where all the sales clerks pointed me.

-When it’s hot outside, it feels much hotter on the road. Thank goodness I remembered to hydrate.

-It would appear that a multitude of people in L.A. are incapable of calling in their discarded bulky items for pick-up. I saw so much old furniture out there, it looked pathetic. For such a fit city, we sure are lazy.

-At one point I found myself behind a second trash truck. And do you know what it smelled like? Trash. Go figure.

 

These were only a few of the observations I made on the road. The rest were either too dirty or forgotten. It was a heat, I tell ya. A heat!

Muscle Memory

 

 

The other day I needed to get some exercise and opted to tread water. I hadn’t done that in a while, so I set my timer for only 30 minutes. I knew the water would be cool (80 degrees). I braced for the shock and jumped in the deep end of the pool and stayed there. On purpose.

 

I didn’t turn on any music or anything, so it was pretty quiet. As I moved my body against the water’s resistance, my mind drifted back to about a jillion years ago, when I first began treading water for exercise. Mister and I were living in Dallas, near “Snuffer’s” on Lower Greenville. I had made friends with another apartment dweller, a gal named Mindy. She and I would tread water for an hour at a time, a few days a week. I don’t recall who came up with the idea, but it was probably Mindy, as she was always full of great ideas. At that time, Mister had a watch that could be programmed to go off every 5 minutes, for a predetermined duration. Mindy and I would set that watch for an hour, and then we’d switch our leg and arm patterns every 5 minutes. We talked and laughed throughout and before we knew it, the hour would be up. Exercise achieved.

 

After 2 years, Mister and I moved from Dallas to Boston and Mindy moved to west Texas. Mindy and I fell out of touch and I have no idea what her life looks like now, or where she’s planted. That happens, friends.

 

Anyhoo, as I wrapped up my treading session the other day, I smiled to think of Mindy and all she brought to my world. I do hope she’s happy. And if she ever finds herself treading water for exercise and memories of me cross her mind, well, I just hope she smiles. Good times.

Beat

 

 

Yesterday morning we did P90-X Kenpo, which is a pretty good cardio workout. Then I remembered I needed to walk 3.5 miles to go pick up my old car (cracked wheel – yikes!), so I hit the pavement. By the time the lunch hour rolled around, I was feeling the pangs.

 

But mostly what I felt was beat. I’m fit enough to handle a day like yesterday, but I’m also old enough to get tired. And I’m social enough to have had evening commitments that did not allow me to hit the hay early. Y’all have got to know – I surely would have been asleep by 7:45 if I’d not had that commitment.

 

Anyhoo, it’s a new day. I will face today’s physical activity with gratitude, as I’m able to be active. And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

You know what else is beautiful? Naps. I vote for yes.

Saint Descenders – 5-Year Anniversary

 

 

Dear Saint Descenders–

 

5 years ago we set out to summit the 3 highest peaks in Southern California. I can hardly believe so much time has passed, but it has so there you go. When I first received the invitation to participate, I was more than reluctant. I didn’t know any of you gals, save for one, and though I tried to exercise on a semi-regular basis, I knew I wasn’t fit enough to handle the 2 highest climbs. In all honesty, the very idea of tackling such an ambitious goal scared the hell out of me. And to do it with strangers? I was mortified. So I did what any frightened, scared-of-new-people girl would do: I signed up for all 3 mountains.

 

I don’t know what you gals did to prepare for the hikes, but I started training. And researching. I knew the first climb – Mt. Baldy – would be 7.5 miles round-trip. I was already doing a 2.5 hike on a regular basis, so I set my sights on growing my stamina for 3 times around that trail. Doing it twice was easy. Wait, let me rephrase that: It was do-able. My body did fight back, and I had to up my walking in order to get used to the distance. The elevation gain was something I’d just have to wing. I had no real way to train for that, so I basically ignored that part of the challenge.

 

As for not yet knowing any of you gals, I guess I ignored that part, too. It isn’t that I’m a total recluse, I just sort of have reclusive tendencies. When I find myself at a party with strangers, I’m more than capable of socializing and participating in various conversations. It’s work, but I can do it. The way I saw it, I’d wing the social aspect of the project, too. I adore the company of women, so I looked forward to meeting some new-to-me chicks. But again, I didn’t over-focus on meeting y’all. I just filed away any anxiety I felt and hit the road. Besides, the greater part of my fear was anchored in the physical aspects of the hiking. I figured the social part would take care of itself.

 

By the time the first hike rolled around in early June, I was mortified. I didn’t tell anyone, but I was. My preparation training had found me walking an 8-mile circuit through some hilly neighborhoods on a regular basis. It wasn’t the same as climbing a mountain, for Pete’s sake, but it was something. When a group of us met at Kimberly’s house on the designated morning, I told myself there was no turning back, that I was committed. It was enough to get me out of the car, down the sidewalk and ringing the doorbell.

 

When I think back on it now, the walk from the street to that front door may have been one of the toughest stretches of the day. I wish I were more confident, but I waiver. And on that morning, I was downright wobbly. Maybe I was comparing myself to you girls. Maybe I was judging me. I’m not sure. When Kimberly opened her front door and smiled at me, I melted. There was an openness and an honest nature in her pale blue eyes. She was kind and excited. Her spirit immediately put me at ease and I even managed to relax. By the time we drove into the wilderness outside L.A. and took our first steps, I knew it was all going to be okay. And it was.

 

Because of varying schedules and the large number of hikers, I didn’t get to meet some of you. Over the course of the summer’s 3 hikes, I did spend time with a few different gals, and that was great. I also saw a few of you again and again. That brought me tremendous comfort.

 

I have no idea how you all felt about the challenge. I know some of you gals are in amazing shape and probably weren’t fazed at all by the 3 Saints. I know some of you went on to summit Mt. Whitney that September. I really appreciated being invited for that experience, but I knew my limits. Thank you for not holding it against me.

 

As we approach the 5-year anniversary of the Saint Descenders, I just wanted to thank you all for helping to make that summer such a vibrant part of my memory. I have not forgotten the snow or the rams at the top of San Antonio, or how Wendy and I came up with the name “Saint Descenders” as we hiked down the side of the mountain. I can still see Kimberly scaling a fence to jump into a closed pool – in her dress – the night before we climbed San Jacinto. I still smile to think of Lisa’s pink tutu, worn the entire 11.5 miles of that hike.

 

And I will never forget walking behind Diamond Deb, as we trudged the final steps of the 22-mile hike that was San Gorgonio. I remember wanting to cry, as I’d never been that wiped out before. The light was just starting to dip in the sky, casting long shadows beside the forest trees. We’d been hiking 11 hours and I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I focused on Deb. She wasn’t talking – none of us were – but she was moving, steadily. Because Diamond Deb has great legs, I didn’t obsess over the exertion. I just watched her legs, step after step, and I tried to follow suit. When I thought I was beyond saving, beyond those gorgeous gams even, I looked up and could see the parking lot. I’d made it. We’d made it.

 

I am very proud of the accomplishments of that summer. I’m happy I met you girls. I’m happy I met me. Some relationships never end.

 

Here’s to a new month, a new season. May we all bag some peaks.

 

Your pal–

Mikki