For years, my father had been telling that I won't meet anybody nice if I insist on running through the woods. But, it's what I love to do.
Two months ago, in Algonquin Park, I ran into a kindred spirit.
Remember our canoeing friends?
One of those two fine gents is an avid runner and he drove down from Canada last week to train with me in the mountains.
So there. Dad's theory has been disproved!
My client's mountain home outside of Highlands, North Carolina is my favorite place in the world -- no exaggeration.
I go there to work, run and reboot.
This time I had a phenom of a running partner.
Brazen enough to cross the frigid Chatooga River -- twice!
Cole was carried most of the way during that German-French-Portuguese Expedition.
He pouted a great deal on this trip... he didn't get to accompany us on all our runs. The 12 miler in Ellicott Wilderness was 6 miles longer than the distance allowed by his physiotherapist. NOT my fault, Cole!!!
8 of the last miles recorded of that run.
He wouldn't have enjoyed our other run up Mount Mitchell anyway. It was cold, swirling snow, blustery and a brutal climb.
What a rush!
Two Canadians bagged that 6684 ft peak! More than 11 miles of pure fun.
Earlier, we had toyed around Whiteslide Mountain.
A mere 4930 feet in elevation, in the drizzle and clouds.
Enough to put a smile on our faces and make our lungs feel the burn from altitude adjustments.
The crowning glory was the last run up over Cole Mountain and to the fire tower on Yellow Mountain.
The goal of our +13 mile run: 5500 feet elevation.
Jason may have earned Best Blood Award on this trip, but this run gifted me with Best Bruises. My left calf and thigh took a serious pummeling after a nasty Mr. Bean tumble.
Considering I have a 100 mile race coming up in March, this was a wake up call that I need to work on my hills. Nothing says "you're slow" as trudging up a trail to find your partner (Hermes) doing jumping jacks to keep warm as he waits for you!
I didn't have the energy for calisthenics, bear hugs are a better alternative for keeping warm.
Why we run:
Incredible view from the fire tower.
We also run so we can eat! Indeed, we grazed our way through Western Carolina. One tapas bar served deconstructed French onion soup. If you ever run across it on a menu, try it!
We even roasted our own coffee.
And found time to tour Biltmore Estate. It's an extra treat to go during Christmastime.
And of course, we did get a lot of work done too. Undaunted by shorter day lengths!
My sojourn did reboot my system, leaving me refreshed for my meeting with the head of the Kinesiology Department at Auburn. What I believed would be a short intro followed by a referral to a student advisor turned into a 2 hour meeting with one of the most engaging, passionate and vivacious women I've ever met. A week ago, Graduate School seemed like a long shot, now it's almost within my grasp. At the conclusion of the meeting, I was told that I'd found a new home.
Alrighty then! These people are my kind of crazy, I can't wait to start. Auburn is becoming an Olympic training facility in 2015. Working with elite athletes... somebody pinch me!
The week in a nutshell: work, work, work, toil, toil, Murphy's Law, elation, success, happy, happy, joy, joy, work, more work, Murphy again and escape.
We had a full house of boarders for over a week.
I took my posse to work with me on weekends. The more the merrier, right? Exception: the King size bed isn't quite big enough.
Personal Trainer Class finally covered the subject of strength training. 38 pages of notes... so much good info, but so much to absorb.
In the past month of pouring over the 600 page textbook on fitness training, I've gleaned a lot. I've been able to become more proactive in my training sessions with Ike... with good results.
This week's analysis: 15.4% body fat. I was at 26% last Winter when I began working with Ike. In September, I was still stuck at 22%.
In the past three weeks, I've gained 3 pounds, but lost 3% body fat. As a woman, it's been difficult to let go of having a set desired weight.
For months, I've been harassing Ike that I want to weigh 128 again. Finally, I'm looking past the weight and the BMI (which is only a height to weight ratio) and I'm focusing on muscle mass. Because muscle = work. Work is power. This morning at the gym, I was able to complete two reps of an upper body exercise that my trainer said no other female he's seen can do. 2. Next month, I'm working on 13% body fat and doing 10 of his killer exercises. I'm tossing my bathroom scale out the window!
Feeling good and feeling strong is far superior to being skinny. Embrace whatever body type you have and go with it! Yes, you may call me Moose.
When are the days going to get longer? Working at night by head lantern , I've blazed through 16 AAA batteries the past 2 weeks. It is magical to work outside late at night and to hear the constant chatter of wildlife all around you.
Cole is still and will continue going to physio therapy every week. This week, the superstar was called in on an off day to help his favorite person in the whole wide world (his therapist) put on a demonstration. He's actually in a movie. There's no containing his ego now.
And if you think I'm nuts -- I met a man at the vet school who drives 6 hours round trip to bring his dog in for treatments. He's at 25k at the moment (my 7k pales in comparison) and he swears it's the best money he's ever spent. A kindred spirit with deeper pockets!
On the schooling front, things got interesting this week. Through a friend's referral, I was put directly in contact with the head of the School of Kinesiology. I will meet with her next week to discuss possible grad school. She doesn't see why I need to do another undergrad degree in Science. I don't think my grades will allow such an easy entry into grade school, but, hey, maybe after 15 years, my record has been expunged. Wouldn't that be nice?
Tonight, I'm tanking up on caffeine to make the 4 hr trek to North Carolina. Part work, part exhilarating running like a fiend through the forest.
Working off a Master List for Cole's stuff and one for mine, we were packed in 2 hours last night. Adios Auburn for a few days!
Life never turns out as you had planned -- it usually turns out better!
If it had been entirely up to me, I'd be a mother to four boys.
My own Cartwright clan: me, Graham, Emmett, Cole and Carlson. Now you know where my dog's name originated.
I had all the horses, but not the kids to put on them.
Adapt and overcome.
Life gave me my Cole after all. And he's darn tootin' the best kid ever.
A long time from now, when he's gone, I'll get another German Shorthair Pointer, the next one shall be called Carlson...
Apparently, I will have the time to have three more subsequent dogs. The bad news is that I'm predicted to live to 101.
www.livingto100.com is reputed to be one of the most accurate calculators of life expectancy. It's based on research from the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University. I'm so screwed, I've only saved up to live to 72. Maybe I should take up smoking or sky diving.
I guess it's a good thing that my new interests are a in strength training and biomechanics. I may be working on prototypes for my own use some day.
It may be that in 2070, I'll be zipping through the woods in one of these, with, of course, one of these at my side:
By that time, this would probably be Graham.
My only desire is to be a useful person right to the end. Of service, not servile. As long as I can help somebody or some creature, I'll stick around.
My new fledgling career as a personal trainer is fulfilling that need. And thanks to the 20 friends and family who signed up as my trial clients while I work through my classes, this is the most cerebrally engaged I've been in years. The desire to tailor regiments for so many different people has fueled me to forge way ahead of the scheduled classwork. Thanks everybody!
Now for something completely silly.
I read of this $26 gadget that acts as a remote shutter control for the camera feature on my cell phone.
Amazon.com had them on sale for $6 with free shipping!
No more fighting with the 10 second timer feature. The Shutterball communicates with my phone's camera via Bluetooth. One press of the button and I can activate my camera from 30 feet away.
"Mom, it looks like a pacifier."
"Do you need me to show you how to use it?"
"Maybe she's not as dumb as she looks after all!"
"I'm leaving, she's getting silly."
"Watch were you're grabbing will ya."
"Only John Travolta could be proud of you."
"Realize that if you dance like this in public, they will arrest you. There aren't enough milk bones in the world that could bail you out. Just sayin', Gracie..."
"Show 'em your afar test,"
"follow it with the up close test."
Cause to celebrate: we have an improved way to take more pictures of us trail running and embroiled in more shenanigans...
17 days glued together while on vacation.
Thus, the separation anxiety plaguing the entire week following our return from Canada...
Look at that face as I'm trying to back out the driveway.
Waiting for me to open the door to his spot in the car. Pitiful. Tantrums, upset stomachs, crying... and Cole was just as bad.
With Jinx gone, the thought crossed my mind to enroll Cole at a doggie day camp.
My little introvert wouldn't fit in to public school any better than I did.
Private schooling is better tailored to his 'special needs'. So, he's back in physiotherapy twice a week with his best friend.
Structure, order and discipline, now that's more like it.
That's me in the middle, in the sanctuary of my favorite place: Joan of Arc Private Catholic School. Being transferred in Grade 7 to public school was like tumbling into hell. My well meaning mother would dress me up with knickers and ribbons in my hair to differentiate me from the little roughnecks from the air force base. It set me apart all right.
I've kept zero pictures of those years, but this younger me is a good example.
Skipping grades left me two years younger than most of my classmates and made me a prime target for bullying. Stolen mittens, books, lunches; being knocked down, kicked and the girls were equally as mean as they boys.
I'll always be grateful for the telephone conversation I had with my dad when I was ready to quit Grade 7 and become a dropout at the ripe age of 11. He told me not to ever back down. Stand up and fight with everything you've got. They'll either fear or respect you.
Well, alrighty then. I started changing out of my nice clothes into street clothes before getting to school. I still got beat up, had my head held in a snowbank until I couldn't breath, oh and how many times did I turn around to have a ball clock me in the face. It took many a scrimmage and finally pedaling my bicycle purposefully into a head on collision with the biggest bully to A) bend my tire into a pretzel, B) give us both fat lips and road rash, C) get me creds for being crazy.
From that moment on, I was on best terms with all the boys... but girls still had their little cliques.
That's OK, that's why dodgeball was invented. It's the great equalizer. I had a vengeful streak. The girls were older than I, meaning most were 'developping' and many had braces. I wonder why my favorite kill shots were either head or chest?
But, I digress, most of my stories do have a point. The point being that I take particular umbrage to bullying.
My Ameraucana hen, Poppy, is the victim of such treatment from her coop-mates. The malevolent hens pluck her feathers. The logical answer is to cull Poppy and end the problem. Why convict the victim?
She's very calm, especially if a cricket gets tossed her way every once in a while.
I'm in the cricket rearing business now. Only Poppy (and Wilbur) get the crickets... higher protein diet and a few new judo moves, Poppy will be the one doing smack downs soon.
Until then, she gets a new suit of armor...sewn on to her...again.
Alright girl, make them fear you!
"Mummy, I don't feel like Rambo yet".
I sat her on my lap and gave her my best motivational speech: my favorite passage from the epic poem of Beowulf written over a thousand years ago.
"Do your utmost. A good name, a glorified example and fame after death are all you can win in this world. It is the courage to strive, not success, which ultimately reveals and ennobled the true hero."
Then she pooped on me. That means 'Roger that,cleared for takeoff' in chickenese.
Voles have been responsible for the multiple crop failures in my garden this past year.
Fuzzy little anathemas devoted to mass destruction.
My counter attacks are beginning to change the tide.
This could be considered hunting a baited field.
Rat traps, no more messing about. I'm sick of every delectable green in the garden being mowed down by those varmints.
A day was spent toting goat manure to the garden and tilling it in.
It would have been faster to incorporate and turn the garden by hand. But, I was determined to play with my tiller; in spite of the fact that it was buried in the horse trailer, had been winterized and then needed to be put back in the trailer and re-winterized. I love giving myself a hard time.
One week later, the spinach, kale, lettuces, arugula and beets have remained unmolested.
Go ahead Vole, make my day.