Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm a Pepper! Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?

"Drink a bite to eat at 10 - 2 - 4!"

While these numbers usually represent the times of day that everyone should drink a Dr. Pepper in order to avoid the natural drops in energy that occur at 10:30am, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm (as determined by Dr. Walter Eddy from Columbia University in the 1920s), today they mean so much more to me.

10 - Days until the Firefly Run.

This will be my first 5k, ever, and based on the description, I don't think I could have chosen a more perfect first 5k. Not only is it taking place in my absolute favorite part of town (that I rarely visit considering how far away it is from everyone - including myself), but it is taking place at night (meaning, not in the sun), because Texas in June is so hot during the day. Because it is at night, and night racing can be dangerous, everyone will be decked out in LED lights and glow sticks! There will even be a costume contest (I plan on making tutus with LED lights sewn into them for my team)! To top it all off, after the race, there will be live music and a special performance from the Super Bowl 2011 dancers in their LED suits. I mean, seriously? Did they tailor make this 5k to suit my needs?

I have already resigned myself to the fact that I will not be able to run the 3.1 miles (which only makes sense considering that I wanted to chop off my legs yesterday after running a cumulative 17 minutes over a half hour time span) but I think merely finishing a 5k, even if partially walked, is a huge step for my friends and me! And who knows, maybe some race-day adrenaline will kick in and we'll get to see what we're really made of!

2 - Number of months since I last saw my former roommate Jennifer.

Jennifer, Hannah, Kirsten, and I all lived together for one glorious semester my junior year of college. Even the following fall, when Jennifer was living elsewhere, she spent a lot of time with us at our apartment, so it was still pretty great. Since then, however, she moved up north for grad school. Tonight, she will grace Texas with her presence again, and I cannot wait to see her!
Here we are at our apartment Halloween 2009. Good times.

4 - Days until I coerce my friends to help me move into my new apartment!

My lease will technically start on Saturday, but I will be at a wedding all day, so I won't be able to move in then. Instead, a number of my friends have agreed to help me move on Sunday in exchange for pizza and beer. I am so excited about this apartment. It has a patio, a window seat (which I have always wanted ever since watching the Torkelsons), and ducks that hang out by the pool (or at least, there were two there when I toured the complex). It will cut my commute to work by more than half and is located less than a mile from a my favorite restaurant, my second favorite book store, and a pub that we all tend to frequent (especially on trivia nights). Best of all, I finally will have access to all of my stuff again! Everything has been crammed in a tiny storage unit for the past 4 months, and it is very difficult climbing around in there to find my belongings (admittedly less difficult ever since I began rock climbing). Also, because I will be supplying the pizza and beer at my apartment, these same friends will be forced to hang out with me while they enjoy their well earned bounty!

Were you raised on Dr. Pepper, like me (yes, I realize that I am a non-specific diet cola girl now, but for years it was DP or nothing)? Have you run/walked a 5k before? How excited do you think my mom is going to be when I move my Dual Cardio Trainer out of her house and into my apartment?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Conquering our fears

I was an inherently frightened child (still am, in fact). As a result, I was never able to excel at anything that involved any risk whatsoever. I was able to ride my bicycle slowly on level ground, but chickened out almost every time I tried to ride down the slightly inclined circle driveway next door (I eventually mastered it, but it took years of psyching myself up for it). I can tread water for a very long time and got really good at floating on my back, but I never learned to dive (in spite of the fact that my mother used to be a lifeguard/swim instructor), because I always refused jump in the water without holding my nose. As it happens, I still won't. Even when my older sister and all of my friends would climb (with ease) the trees in my front and back yards, I opted for the one next door that was basically like climbing a ladder.

I never did cherry-drops on our swing set. I don't swim in lakes or oceans where I can't, if need be, touch the ground. I get out of the water at lakes or oceans at the first hint of a fish being near me. I never open my eyes under water. I never wanted to by a flyer in cheer leading. I never tried flips on the trampoline or into the swimming pool. I've never done a slip-n'-slide. I never tried complicated turns in drill team. I never did any flips or aerials in swing dance. I don't like to go in the sun (my fair skin makes this especially frightening). I didn't ride my first roller coaster until the end of high school (and not for a lack of opportunity). I have absolutely no interest in bungee jumping. I rarely jumped off the swings at school. I don't try a lot of new foods. I never dove or slid in volleyball and softball (which could explain why I was benched so often). I was a retroactive nervous wreck during Shark Week 2010, simply because they had a special on the shark attacks in California during 2008, which is when/where I went surfing for the first and only time. I can't walk through my living room at night, because there are no curtains over the windows. I was never good at the limbo, because of a fear of falling backwards, not because I'm not good at it. I could never trick skate (of either roller or ice variety) or even just skate backwards. I also can't roller skate fast, and the first (and only) time I tried to speed up, I sprained my wrist. Even recently when I tried riding a horse, I kind of freaked out whenever it went faster than standing still.

I bring this up now, because recently, I was reminded first-hand of an activity I quit all too soon simply due to fear. This past weekend, my hometown hosted its annual arts and music festival.

In addition to live music, free food, fabulous face painting (see how awesome Kirsten and I look to the right - and yes, we were by far the oldest people that got our faces painted), and some great shopping, this yearly festival has a wide variety of street performances. Yesterday, Kirsten and I arrived just in time to see the local gymnastics team warming up for their presentation. Watching these pretty young, adorably talented girls do handsprings, flip flops, and a bunch of other stuff that I can't even name, we both realized how unfortunate it was that we both quit so early.  I quit before even learning to cartwheel (to be honest, I think the venue told my mom to not re-enroll me, because I refused to do anything more than a somersault). Kirsten quit just after learning to cartwheel.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture while they were doing cool stuff, but here they are doing the Cupid Shuffle. And yes, there are people inside those weird tube things.
Because I have grown more confident and less terrified in my 22 years (not much more, but more), I think it is time to retry some old activities. As a result, Kirsten and I are on the lookout for some adult tumbling classes! Also, I just bought Groupons for horseback riding and roller skating, so we'll see how those go!

Were you a terrified child? What about a terrified adult? Are you totally jealous of our face paint?

And for your delight, here is a picture of Kirsten with the weird tube man, who regrettably did not do a cartwheel, but was rather expressive with his hips when dancing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

... so much more rewarding than a stationary bike...

Since outgrowing my hot pink childhood bicycle at the age of 11, I have spent very little time bicycling. I think I had one unfortunate ride in middle school where the under-inflated inner tube of my older sister's bike popped out of the tire, resulting in 13-year old me being forced to drag it home. Figuring that this incident was likely a fluke, I tried riding the same bike again my freshman year of college with eerily similar results (the only difference being that this time I ended up dragging the bike across an unfamiliar campus at 3am). Who would have guessed that letting a broken bike sit motionless outside for 5 years wouldn't automatically fix its problems? Aren't the great outdoors supposed to be rejuvenating? I even attempted fixing my bike that time, but while working on it (or more accurately, staring at it quizzically), a number of insects and spiders flew/crawled out of the tire and attacked me (or more accurately, existed in my general vicinity). Thus ended any desire I had to ride a bicycle.

Fast forward four years. I graduated college and was living in San Antonio. I was trying to get healthy, and figured that a good way to do that would be biking around town. My boyfriend even let me borrow his mountain bike! I was so excited that I kind of tricked out the bike with an awesome basket (hand-decorated) and a bell (that wouldn't fit on my bike, but sounds awesome when I ring it in my room). For some reason, though, Jason was against me painting his bike pink. Unfortunately, my first and only attempt at riding it to dinner was fraught with terror. My apartment was situated as such that I couldn't get anywhere without basically taking a highway entrance ramp. That went up a steep hill. And had absolutely no lighting (on the bright side, the service at IHOP was slow so I had ample time to catch my breath and regain my wits). I decided that biking near my apartment was too treacherous, and waited until I moved back home to touch my bicycle.

Since moving back, I have actually been riding it semi-regularly (3 times in the past 3 months... so maybe not that regularly)! The first couple trips were just to my neighborhood grocery store, but this past Sunday, I actually rode all the way to and from my friend Kim's house (a total distance of about 7.5 miles). It was very exciting, not terrifying, and actually pretty fun! Kim even joined me on the trip back to my house! The best part about it was that now knowing that the distance/route are not dangerous or out of my realm, so many options are open to me (she lives really close to a Target and a Chili's). I also am now more confident in my ability to ride without embarrassing myself, running into people/cars/trees, or falling over! For this reason, Maddie and I have decided to go to a nearby lake with a 9 mile bike path around it this Saturday and spend the day biking (or "cycling," as Maddie so informed me it is called) and slacklining with a bunch of our friends! I can't wait!

How has your experience with cycling been? What is your stance on the debate of whether to call people bikers or cyclists? Do you know of a good hot pink bike I could get that would fit both my basket AND bell on the handlebars? Do I use exclamation points too much?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


As you may recall, last Wednesday I had a horrible day of rock climbing. I left the gym that evening feeling so disappointed in myself. While many of the routes I tried that evening were difficult, the one that really got to me was this green route that has plagued me ever since I first attempted it. I even tried going back on Sunday to redeem myself, but I fell even sooner than usual. To be fair, before attempting it I had already tired myself out on bouldering (I reached the top of three courses!) so it was okay. By this point, however, this route had been so horrible to me that it had a hold over me. To top it off, I was informed that the routes of that wall would all be taken down and reworked this coming weekend, leaving me with only three days to beat the route before I left town.

We all went back to the gym yesterday evening. I warmed up with an easier route that I've done innumerable times before; then, before I could give my arms the chance to tire out, I climbed up those rocks marked in green.  I was nervous and excited (because frankly, I put way too much pressure on menial things). It was, as usual, difficult and nerve-racking, but I won out. I climbed the route and reached the top, clean. And with that, I got back my confidence, and had a fantastic time.

I realize that getting to the top of one route isn't really that big a deal... but I just thought I would share this with you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Adventure in Slack-Lining

You see them on almost every college campus: those unshowered, barefoot hippies that show off their oneness with nature by traversing the distance between one tree and the next on nothing more than a mere rope. That's right; I'm talking about slack-liners. After years of indiscriminately calling them undeserving names (due to my insurmountable jealousy of their circus tight-rope-walker-esque prowess) such as "unshowered, barefoot hippies," I have finally broken into the scene and attempted slack-lining myself! In fact, now that Maddie has finally escaped from the north and returned to Texas, this past Saturday was our second go at slack-lining.
Our first attempt, roughly a month and a half ago, looked something like this:

Thanks in advance for letting me use your pictures, Kirsten!

Our second attempt (although unfortunately unphotographed) did not look too different, except with more people, a broken hammock in the background, and somewhat more attractive ensembles.
It turns out that slack lining isn't nearly as terrifying as I had always imagined it to be. Having said that, whenever I am on the rope, I do always have people flanking me and shoulders to lean on to ensure that I don't fall, but even when I have slipped it was nothing to be afraid of. In fact, the only wipe out we've seen so far has been Teddy Westside (don't you love when I call you out specifically as the only person to actually fall?), but he and Kirsten were in kind of a competition so he was understandably throwing caution to the wind, like a boss. In due time, we'll all be a bit more successful at it, and able to make it from one tree to the next without the assistance of human props. I just hope that dreadlocks and/or bandanas aren't prerequisites for success, despite my observations on campus that almost all successful slack-liners sported one or the other.
We're thinking of making this a semi-regular event, especially now that the weather is getting warm, because sitting in the shade of a tree, having a picnic, with a hopefully functional hammock nearby is just so pleasant. Even better, we get to work on our stabilizing muscles, conquer our fears, and impress all passersby (I can only assume) while we pig out on beef jerky, cookies, and Chex mix. What could be better than that?

I must say, though, while slack-lining was extremely enjoyable, the highlight of the afternoon might have been the treasures that Teddy Westside brought along with him for our enjoyment, Dunkaroos.

Have you ever dunked around with Dunkaroos? Ever wanted to take to the traveling ring as a tight-rope walker? Do you know of a good insect repellant that might keep me from getting quite so chewed up by mosquitos next time?

Note: not all slack-liners are unshowered, barefoot hippies with dreadlocks. I only joke about that because they are always barefoot (necessary for slack-lining) and sitting in hammocks and/or the grass all day.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sometimes, you can just be in a funk.

This past Wednesday was one of my most successful nights of rock-climbing. A couple of routes that had previously been difficult for me, I was able to get up without a sweat. One route that I have never been able to figure out how to finish, I solved (albeit after falling once or twice, but at least I discovered what to do next time and eventually got to the top). One route that I have always been too weak for, I am still too weak for, but at least I'm getting farther on it before tiring out. One route that I assumed I was too weak for, and as a result never tried, I got up with no problem whatsoever. And finally, one route that I have been too intimidated to even attempt bowed down before me (or well, kind of gave me a nod, as I only got half way up... but that's half way more than I thought I could).

I pushed myself to my limits, stepped out of my comfort zone, and tried harder routes than I ever thought I'd be able to do so soon. Even so, I was disappointed in myself and by the end of the night, none of these accomplishments mattered; I was drawn into a funk. The problem is that like so many others, I have a tendency to expect too much from myself. It didn't matter that I was pushing myself to try an entirely new difficulty level of routes; all that mattered was that even after a week of trying, I still fell. It didn't matter that over the past two months, my arms have gotten so much stronger than they have ever been; all I noticed was that my arms still tired out before hitting the top of this one difficult route in the corner. I couldn't kick the thoughts that I wasn't strong enough, talented enough, or graceful enough (yes, some people, such as Hannah, look extremely graceful when ascending a rock wall).

Objectively, I should have had an awesome time that night. I was climbing with some of my best friends. Some of my favorite rock wall personnel were on duty. There was a guy dressed as a zombie (typical Wednesday). Even when I fell on that corner route, I got to swing around in what I can only imagine was an extremely attractive way. Earlier that evening, I had gotten off of work earlier than expected which afforded me the opportunity to bike to the grocery store, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. But then I just kept getting hung up on every mistake or set back. I didn't take the time to enjoy what I was doing or realize how much I had accomplished; I focused only on my failures. This is not a good mind-set to have, but I know that it is something we've all gotten sucked into occasionally. For next time, I just need to keep in mind that the entire purpose of this is to enjoy myself, and that it is really easy to get disheartened when you have unrealistic, lofty expectations.

Have you ever expected too much only to be met with disappointment? What do you do to get yourself out of a funk? Should I be worried that zombies are apparently learning to scale rock walls?