Monday, April 30, 2012

look who's next...

 Just like his big sister...
 Reed is now on two wheels.

portraits of a weekend and a long run

Our weekend was uneventful in an eventful kind of way: listening, lounging, biking and going to the circus.

Jackson runs up and down our street next to Skyler on her bike.  Jackson looks out for her/ Jackson gets a ton of exercise:
 win/ win.

For the love of my children, I endure the overstimulating environment of blinky-flashy light-up toys and squeaky balloons and creepy clowns. And God bless them, Skyler and Reed decided we should leave at intermission if we wanted time to ride bikes before it got dark. Done and done.

Next up was my long run that I put off until Sunday because whatever I had last week was still lingering.  I'm pretty sure that what I had was Mexico related, because unlike a "normal" stomach flu, it lingered for days accompanied by a splitting headache.

I had 20 miles on the schedule.  I went around and around about it in my mind because I knew I wasn't in top form and didn't want to set myself back.  As it was, I was way behind schedule:  I had run a grant total of 4 miles in the last 2 weeks.  I considered just doing 10 or 12 this weekend and saving 20 for next weekend.  I also considered coming up with an injury.  I thought maybe I'd fall down the stairs or something and then I wouldn't have to do it at all.  No luck.

By Saturday afternoon, I had resigned myself that I was at least going to try to run the full 20.  I convinced myself of this by reminding myself that I would have to do it next weekend and go through all the mental gymnastics about the 20 miler for another full week if I didn't just get it over with.  Let's get it done!

I did the first 10 miles by myself (with no ipod... where is my ipod?), then headed the other direction where I picked up my friend Casey at mile 11, and she ran the next 8 miles with me.  There were several times during the first 10 that I almost convinced myself to stop, but I just kept doing a few more, then a few more.  I went SLOWLY and walked several times.  I stopped at my house for Advil* and a banana at the half way point, and at mile 16 I stopped for a bagel and sat on the curb and ate it.  No hurry, people.  Just getting in the miles.

*  You should never take Advil during long runs.

Don't you think that in marathons, the clock should stop a few times throughout the race, and everyone can have a snack and stretch, and then the clock could restart?  I totally do too.

Today I am very sore.  My knees and hips are not too happy.  But I got it done, and now it's time to taper.  3 weeks until the marathon.

Sunday afternoon:  Nothing says "welcome back from your 20-mile run-- time to relax!"  like Skyler greeting you at the door shouting: "JACKSON GOT IN A FIGHT WITH A PORCUPINE!"  On the morning hike with Sam and the kids, Jackson got a mouth full of porcupine quills, and I mean mouthFULL.  That's okay, boy.  I totally wanted to take you to the emergency vet and spend $309.00 getting quills removed from the roof of your mouth.  (Ouch!)

By Sunday afternoon, we had a very sleepy and slightly drunk Jackson.  Poor guy.  Don't you even think of ever doing that again.

Oh hey, have you voted today?  Thank you!  Gotta run.  It's Monday morning!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

guest blogging and staying afloat

This week has been a total blur.  I started back to work after my vacation, and not only was I going back to the job of keeping all of my students engaged when they'd rather be outside, I also went back with a new job title.  Starting this week, I am the chair of my English department which changes my job description quite a lot.  In the fall, the position will be a co-chair split with my great friend and favorite colleague Susan, but she's away in Scotland for the rest of the semester so for the rest of this year I'm on my own.  My to do list at work got longer, that is for sure.  But I'm really excited at the challenge and the opportunity to have this job.

On top of all that excitement, I got a very intense illness that started tuesday night.  It caused me to miss a day of work which was not in the plan, but it was one of those days I could barely lift my head long enough to write some brief sub plans.  And yes, when I felt better I did indeed google:  "Mexico high fever joint pain vomiting."  Bad idea.  But now that I'm feeling better (except for a fierce headache), I have ruled out Denghe Fever and Malaria or other mosquito-born illnesses that I can't pronounce.  Wouldn't that have been the ultimate souvenir.

My lack of running mojo was not at all helped by my illness, fyi.

Today I'm the guest blogger over at La Playa, the Las Olas blog, where I share my final reflections about my week of surfing in Mexico.

Lastly, the contest for top 25 Outdoorsy Mom is still going.  You can vote every day.  I have been going back and forth between first and second place this week.  See what you can do for me.  :)

I hope to have a running update after this weekend's long (or longish?) run.  More soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the re-entry

I have officially re-entered into my life after an amazing week in Mexico.

My mom, Sam and the kids came to the airport, and because my mom arrived first, she was set up to capture the moment when I was reunited with the kids.  They ran full-speed from the front door and into my arms.

I'd been traveling for 15 hours, but I perked right up when they almost knocked me over with their love.

While I was away, Sam did an incredible job as single dad, keeping the kids busy, active and happy the whole time.  He also never complained once about me going away for a week and had the house totally spotless when I got home. I feel so very lucky and grateful that I got to go do this trip with the blessings of my family.

And thankfully, nobody told me until I got home that Skyler had been carrying around a photo of the two of us all week.  Overall, I would say that I did a good job being away from them, not worrying about them at all, and they did a great job being happy without me.  This is good information for everyone to have.

Since I've been home, I've been thinking about Las Olas nonstop.  I start every sentence with:  "In Mexico..." or "When I was surfing..." and no one has told me to shut up yet.  I came back here more relaxed than I've ever been in my life.   I feel so unhindered by anything, I might as well be a jellyfish.  I've been holding on tight to my relaxation (does that even make sense?) and trying not to let it get away from me.  When the kids were yelling, I said:  "No, no.  We don't yell.  There was no yelling in Mexico." And when they complained about something, I said:  "We don't complain.  No one complains in Mexico."

Skyler asked:  "What is there to complain about in Mexico?"

Excellent point, mi hija.

 I brought a little bit of Mexico home with me for the family.  I loved and couldn't get enough of these beaded bracelets sold in the plaza.

And for Reed, tiburones de dientes.  Shark tooth.  
He was very impressed.
And cute Sayulita t-shirts all around.

I wanted to make sure Reed remembered where the shark tooth necklace came from so he could tell his friends at school, so I asked:  "Reed, where did Mommy get your necklace?"  He said:  "I know.  Mexichusettes."  Close enough.

So sure, I'm missing the surfing and the relaxing, but what I got out of my week with Las Olas is not the kind of thing that ends, really.  I have it with me now.  It's mine.

Besides, if I hadn't have come home when I did, I would have missed this:  Skyler learned to ride her bike without training wheels the very afternoon of my return.  I ran behind her yelling:  "PADDLE!  PADDLE!  PADDLE!"  I mean "PEDAL!  PEDAL!  PEDAL!"

"I'm so proud of myself!"   So cool.

And now, about running.  I didn't run at all in Mexico and frankly, I never even wanted to.  My trip was all about taking a break from everything in my life, running included.  I got plenty of exercise with the yoga and the surfing, so I even came home feeling stronger.  But still.

Today was my scheduled long run for the marathon that is 4 weeks away.  The schedule said 12 miles.  My attitude toward my training plan, as you probably know, is to do anything that Hal Higdon says.   If I see 12 miles on the schedule, I usually say:  "Yes, Hal  12 miles it is!"  This morning I was like:  "Hal!  Babe! 12 miles?  Have another margarita!"

I thought maybe I'd do 12, but would settle for 8.  After 4, I thought that was plenty so I stopped.  And I ran with no watch.  And felt like that Emilie that pushes herself while running might have dissolved in the saltwater in Mexico.

I have this week to get myself on track, with the big 20 miler next weekend.  Yikes.  That feels like a long freaking way to run.  Right now I'm honestly not sure if I can get my running mojo back. 

My Las Olas surf instructor and friend Brittany (who is also a photographer) sent me a photo she took during my last surf session, the very morning that I later boarded the plane to fly home.  I'm holding on to that feeling, that sunshine.

Okay, last thing:  If you have a second, I was nominated for a blog award called Top Outdoorsy Mom from the blog network Circle of Moms.  The button to enter the voting is on the right under my blog header.  I know you all voted for me to go to Mexico, so I understand if you're rolling your eyes right now.  2 clicks, that's it.  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Las Olas: final days

"Writers live twice.  They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there's another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and detail."
-Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones. 

I have really enjoyed coming back to my villa at the end of each day, and sitting on the porch to write or post photos.  You might have thought that I would want a break from the blog, but I actually looked forward to the quiet time to kind of relive and recreate my day;  it forced me to take inventory, pay attention, make sure I was soaking in all the juicy bits.    I have also had to let go of the notion that I'll be able to write about everything that happened here.  There is just so much.  

Let's start with my Jessie girl.  Jessie and I found each other in line for the flight to Puerto Vallarta when we were still in Phoenix.  I knew my roommate was on my flight, so I was looking around for the women traveling solo who had a surfing vibe.  We noticed each other at the same moment, starting talking right away, and that was pretty much it.  Jessie is a personal trainer and surfer from San Diego who went to Las Olas to challenge herself to surf in bigger waves.  We shared a bedroom and spent a lot of time together, and it was all just so damn easy with her.  If you've ever had the pleasure of traveling with a friend who is kind of just an extension of yourself, you'll know what I mean.  We were just in sync the whole time.  Some days we felt like eating out in town where the action was, sometimes we preferred to get food and bring it back to the villa, sometimes we wanted fish tacos, one night we both wanted pizza.  We talked and talked and became great friends.  I know I'll see her again sometime. 

I hit the roommate jackpot.

We even started acting like an old married couple by the end of the week.  "What should we do tonight, honey?"

This week, if you couldn't already tell, had a really amazing balance of all kinds of things that I needed in my life.  Lots of relaxation and downtime, no pressure to be anywhere.

I didn't even really brush my hair but let it get all stringy and beachy.  I spent almost all day each day in a bathing suit.  Sometimes I'd rinse off after surfing, sometimes not, sometimes I'd just enjoy the salty feeling all day.

I fell in love with Mexico, all the color, the music, the friendly locals.  I felt so comfortable and safe that I walked comfortably alone around town, even at night.   I practiced Spanish with the vendors and the waiters.  The guys who work on the grounds at the villa just light up with a smile if you say "Buenas Dias."

Besides the beautiful beach and vibrant night life, Sayulita has some hidden treasures.

A short walk behind the Villa Amor, there is a really cool grave yard.

Even in death, the Mexicans are full of bright colors.

Here is a view looking back at the Sayulita beach and town.

Another amazing part of this trip was the women I shared it with.  I will admit to you that because the price of the Las Olas camp is pretty high, that I was maybe a little worried that the women here with me would be super wealthy and wouldn't have a lot in common with me.  I was so wrong.  Everyone here is a hard working woman and/ or mom that just needed to do something big and invigorating for herself.  My roommate Jessie had been saving for 4 years to come.  These women are just super cool and everyone got along well.

Jessie, Sara, and Nicole

Beautiful Jamie, another kindred spirit.

Lisa and her bright colors.

Hillary and Karen, mom and daughter.
the whole crew in salsa dancing and margarita drinking wear.
the whole crew ready to surf
And then, of course,  there was the thrill and challenge of surfing, of learning something new and working hard on something that had such sweet and immediate rewards.

I got to the point toward the end of my week there that as soon as I'd jump off the board from catching a wave, I would say to myself:  more, more, more... as I hopped back on my board and paddled out for more.  I loved it even more than I thought I would.

Here is the purple Jule 9 ft. long board that I rode this week.  Isn't she pretty?  We got to be good friends.
You can see here that it was important to learn to steer and control my board so as not to decapitate a small child. 

I like the surfing life.  I really do.
And then there was all the little things that made the whole experience just so damn pleasurable.

You want the world's most amazing flan?  Just walk up the street and find the cake lady selling it outside her shop.  Lying on the beach and feeling a little hungry?  The Mexican women selling food  were always close by.  "Yes, senorita, I would love a fresh, hot tomato basil empanada."    Someone was always running up to Choco Banana to fetch a mango smoothie if you wanted one.  The air was warm and the water was the perfect way to cool down.  The staff at Villa Amor was so kind and lovely.  When I asked the front desk about a manicure and pedicure, they said:  "We will come right to your villa.  What time you like?"

Can I make you another margarita?  Si.  Gracias.

In the last week, I have not been stressed or hurried, raised my voice or felt even slightly annoyed by a single thing.  And I like myself best this way.   Las Olas has found the perfect combination of elements that reunited myself with myself.    This wasn't so much a vacation as it was a perspective shifter.  Calling it a "reawakening" isn't even overstating it.

I am so indebted to Las Olas for this opportunity.  To Bev, Jackie, Mike, Nicole, Aynsley and Brittany.  And Meridith who gave me a kick ass 1 hour massage.  How will I ever thank you?

These last two photos pretty much sum up the week:   The serenity of floating in a calm spot, and the thrill of riding one in.

Muchas gracias for coming along with me.  I wish this for all of you.

Las Olas: Punta de Mita

Monday was our roadtrip day when the crew took us 20 minutes south to the town of Punta de Mita.

After yoga and breakfast, we packed up and piled the surfboards up on a taxi.  I didn't know much about where we were going, and I didn't even really ask.  That's kind of been my thing here:  just trust the instructors to take me around and tell me what to do.

I did know that the object of the trip was to let us try surfing in a different spot with different waves and a longer run.

I didn't know what a big and scary and thrilling day I was about to experience.  

After the drive, we arrived at a cute beach-front restaurant where we would later have lunch, and waited for Chana, this guy, to take us by boat out to a surf break about 10 minutes away called La Lancha. 

The girls had warned us that the waves would look "different" from the back.  They did look different, bigger, and scarier, and the sea spray was flying high above each wave.  This photo doesn't do it justice, but this is from the boat before we jumped in.  We never went to the beach, but instead, entered the scene from the back. 
 Here Nicole is pointing to the direction we were supposed to paddle.  When we jumped in (and the water was cold) we had to paddle a ways in order to get where we would catch waves.   After the day was totally over, they admitted to us that the waves were a little big for us and they figured this was right on the edge of what we could surf.  I should have been suspicious when they kept asking us if we were nervous.  Come to think of it, Nicole looks a little concerned in this photo.

Las Olas arranged for a professional photographer to be on the beach and here are the photos she caught.

I'm glad I couldn't see the front view of these waves.  That is definitely a step up from the Sayulita rollers.

All three coaches were out there in the water in wetsuits and fins to help us set up for the right waves.   Aynsley helped me get ready for my first one, and if you look carefully you can see her white baseball hat popping up right over the wave. 

These waves were bigger and also much faster than what we had been surfing in Sayulita.  Once the wave had you, it pushed hard and fast.  Forget the whoosh we got used to feeling when a wave had you.  This was more like a roar. 

 Lo and behold, I got up on it.  And rode it for a long, sweet ride all the way in.
Probably one of the coolest feelings I've ever had.

Paddling back out in this surf was seriously hard.  The waves would push me back out as soon as I had made a little progress.  It was the hardest paddling I've had to do while here and I was fully out of breath when I made it back out to the girls.  We each took waves one at a time so there was a lot of sitting on the board and floating and waiting (which I actually love) but the water was cold and the wind was strong so by the end of our time out there I was shivering hard.  I rode in on three long cruisers that were fast and furious and totally amazingly fun.

After everyone was satisfied, we paddled back out to the boat, and then rode back in to shore.  When we got to land, I wrapped up in my towel and sat in the sun and while my teeth chattered for thirty minutes.  But soon, it was time for lunch:  fish fajitas, quesadillas, and ceviche with lemonade.  Oh man. 
post surf lunch spot.
I call that a good freaking day.

Tomorrow is my last day and then I head home.  There is still one more day of yoga and surfing and sunshine before my re-entry.  Tomorrow I pack, but I am packing so much more than my stuff.  I'm going to try to bring home the feeling I've had here.  I'd say that I'm putting my week at Las Olas into my pocket to bring home, but I haven't worn anything all week that had pockets.  Instead, I'll tuck it under my left bathing suit strap, and that's where it will stay.

I have about 10,000 more photos and stories yet to come.