Monday, February 20, 2012

A Three Hour Tour

Looking for a great tour guide to help you through a fun and easy hike with clearly marked trails? Don't ask any of these girls:

Carlee 'I've totally been here before and we have a map from the ranger' Okerman

Kim 'we are running the outside so the rule is to always stay LEFT' Rolison

Kelsey 'I'm just excited you guys didn't leave me at Angela's this time' Stolba

Angela 'at one point people called me Magellan' Kraber

It started out as a simple and fun run at gorgeous Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, CA.

It started off fun, lots of hills, but we were excited to start off our Ragnar training with a BANG! And if we had to walk a bit...whatevs, we still have 9 weeks, right?

It was gorgeous to look at the views, and stare in the backyards of the nice homes we ran by. Chatting about what our lives would be like if we lived there. What would our nannies be doing with our children while we were out on our run, and what time our massage would be after, and who would be hosting the entire afternoon long white wine and appetizer fest that I was craving so badly.

As we calmly cruised to the back of the park by the 73 freeway, we were feeling pretty accomplished. We checked the map again, and headed down the side of Bommer Trail. Right on cue.

We came to a few trail heads on our right, but, since we were taking the long loop, it didn't really occur to us to turn off at any of them. To our defense, there were a lot of them we had to pass on the map, so we were still following directions. We came to a fork a little further down, one way pointing to Bommer Trail, and if we stayed straight we were going onto Bommer Spur. Awesome, I love it when the trails do this. Another look at the map, and we figured we needed to stay straight, since we were looking for Moro Ridge, and clearly that trail would be marked for us. Right.

A few yards further and we reach another fork. Only this time we know staying left isn't right, as he took us down to the freeway. Oops, I guess we should have turned at the last fork. We decide to take the right, and low and behold it leads us right back to Bommer Trail. We are f-ing good!

We stopped to Gu, and made fun of the little sign that had a scanner code for your smart phone for a walking tour of the OC Park. Of course, hind sight being 20/20, it didn't occur to us later that we were no longer in the Crystal Cove National Park.

A mile or two further down the trail I stopped to take a picture of the gorgeous view, and waited so I could actually get some people in the shot. No one likes to look at photos of just scenery. As Kim and Carlee came around the corner they were giggling and pointing at the ridge to our right. And then ever so casually said, 'yeah, we're on the wrong trail. See those house waaaaay over to the right? We are supposed to end up on the OTHER side of them."

See those teeny houses in the distance? Yup, those are the ones they were talking about.

Well, to be honest, it wasn't like we were lost. We were on a clearly marked legit trail, and we knew that we could back track a few miles. But that's not what happens in those made for TV movies. Noooooo. Everyone just keeps moving forward. And so, that is what we did. I mean, the trail had to end up somewhere, right. And we were headed in the right direction, towards the ocean. How hard could it be.

Remember those pics from the top...now would be a good time to look at them again. How hard could it be would be our famous last words.

Lucky for us we are women, and not afraid to ask for directions. I flagged down the next hiker we saw and asked him how we get out of here on this trail. He so nicely pointed us in the direction we were headed, take a right up there at Boat Canyon Trail, and then you will clearly see where there is a fork in the trail, take it LEFT, and you will end up right at PCH. Then you can just take the highway up to Moro Campground where you parked.

NICE! Off we went, a new route but really it wasn't going to be much further than the actual route so whatever. Plus, this story makes for a much better blog post than if we had just stayed on the correct path.

The terrain was a little rougher, so we did more walking than running it seemed. We went past a small path to the left, but figured it looked to rugged to be the CLEAR MARKED FORK he was talking about. And, it wasn't. Because up ahead we came to a rock gravel almost road type trail, with a CLEAR path down to the left, and a trail marker with the name our kind hiking friend told us about. You would think the decision was made. Buuuuut, the trail going straight would probably get us closer to our destination, and it was headed towards the ocean, and come on, a trail just can't end at nothing. It has to lead somewhere.

So we went straight...genius.

We should have taken the first few hints that it was a dead end, when it looked like the trail ended, but then continued around a smaller corner. Then we came to the end of the cliff, and it was a gorgeous view...there were even benches.

We thought we were screwed, but low and behold to our left was a gate, and a trail headed straight down to what looked like it would end in a neighborhood. Someone upstairs is watching over us! We keep getting another chance, and another one! We even pass by two 'hikers' on the way down as they were headed up. I use the term loosely, because they were young guys, and clearly weren't headed up into the hills to 'hike'. Get it? Get it?

At the bottom of the hill, it was just that. The trail ended. To one direction it was a drop off, another a barbed wire fence, and what I thought might have been a train was just marking for sand bags. We were right behind the homes in the very back of Emerald Bay- an extremely exclusive and extremely gated/guarded community in Laguna Beach. They even have their own private beach.

With our alternative being to head back up this peach, that all 3 of us almost died coming down, we clearly only had one option.

It was time to TRESPASS.

Now, what happened next might be considered slightly illegal, but really, it wasn't that big of deal.

Kelsey headed down to scope the situation at what looked like the easiest way to 'hop' down. It was in between two houses that looked vacant/under construction at the time so we should go undetected.

Notice there isn't a 'no trespassing' sign in sight. Just sayin'.

Obviously she thought it looked fine because before we could go down to meet her she was up and over the fence.

I'm not sure what was funnier, the fact that none of us objected to trespassing, or that we all made it over the fence like we had been doing it for years. I need a little more back story on the shenanigans these girls got into as teenagers!

A little sliding down the front of the yard, with the aid of a few trees, a long trip down a huge flight of stairs, too bad we couldn't use the lift, and we were out of the woods. Literally.

We came down on the top left corner.

We totally live here. Our Range Rover is in the shop right now, that's all.

Notice how I conveniently left myself out of any pictures taken at the scene of the crime. You never know, I might want to run for office someday.

We trekked down the hill gawking at all of the amazing houses, and keeping an eye out for any older men that might be looking for a hot young wife to take care of. OK, maybe just a younger than him, hot-ish type wife.

A few wrong little turns thanks to my Magellan like reflexes and we walked right out the front gate completely undetected.

Way to go security. You let these hoodlums roam your streets for almost 20 minutes.

Side note- they have their own fire station. I wonder how many calls they get for a suspicious smell coming from the fireplace in the bedroom of the bored housewife whose husband is away on business?

Finally on PCH, we start the 2 mile-ish trek back to where we started. Or so you would think we would just stay on the road once we finally found it. Well, if you thought that you certainly haven't been paying attention to this story.

So off the road we go, onto another path that Kim SWEARS puts us back on our original path back to our car. Which at this point in only important because that's where the food and beer are.

PCH behind me and the only 100% guarantee back....nope we're going this way.

Wait, I see people! Oh my gosh and the trail! The actual trail we should have got on 8 or so miles ago! I though kissing it would be a bit dramatic, so here it is...with proof that we actually made it back.

We had our own 3 hour tour adventure, and despite the fact that we looked pretty haggard at the end, were a little dirty, and were completely out of water, it was a blast. And not a single scratch on any of us. Not bad for all the covert ops we had to pull.

We ended with a picnic at the ranger station, and our favorite 'sodas' to cheers to an adventure we would likely not forget for a while!

Friday, February 17, 2012

You're on your own kid

Oh this whole poor second child syndrome is starting to hit a little too close to home. To be fair, I am a second child, and although I had a lot of complaints about what that meant growing up, it was all made ok by the fact that my parents just like me more than they like my brother. Ok, so I probably just made that up. I am prettier than him though, so that should count for some type of favoritism. Right?

I read a friend's blog recently about what her daughter is up to these days at 18 months and it was so adorable. She truly is a remarkable little girl, and it got me thinking. Hmmmmm, she is 18 months old, and out of this long list I'm not sure my almost 3 year old can do any of those things. Oops.

Poor Emma. With Meadow, I was ON IT! I read every book, knew every milestone she was going to be hitting, had her on track, practiced words, and read stories. It was exciting seeing what she would do or say next. Paying attention to the order her teeth came in, and what hand she was favoring when playing with toys. Where did we stand with Emma? Do I even know how many words she knows? She knows a lot, and speaks sarcasm fluently at such a young age. But where did she stack up with what she SHOULD be doing according to all the scales and measures I used with Meadow. Pretty sure I gave all those helpful books away....

So I went off my friends list:

She goes on the big girl potty, at 18 months. Emma, who will be 3 in April, accidentally peed on the potty once, a few weeks ago. Apparently the big potty dance parade that Mike, Meadow, and I gave her did nothing to encourage her to keep it up.

She can spell her name- Oh I think Emma can do this. We spell it all the time with Meadow. So I asked her to spell her name. EEEEE (yes!) MMMMMMM (phew, she's got it) Q.(shit) Ok, so maybe we need to practice that. Got it.

Ok, I know not to compare my kids to anyone else, so I am going to stop it right now. Plus I don't want to feel like any more of a failure mom so I'm moving on.

It's funny that I just naturally assumed that Emma would do everything faster being the second child. You hear constantly that they always want to follow what the older one does so it's so easy. Not in our case. I think Emma looks at Meadow and tries to do the opposite. Yup. She's already starting to be a little rebel. I blame Mike for the most part. :)

Emma still just looks like such a baby...and she is my last. So maybe I am holding out on having her grow up so I can still savor al the baby moments. Like if I can hold her back from growing up now, I can do the same at any stage in her life.

But, as sweet as that sounds, I think I'm honestly just lazy. I am busier, life is more complicated, and I am resorting to constantly reminding myself of my mom's advice, they all get spit out the other end. And that my life isn't going to end if Emma isn't potty trained by 3, that if it takes her a little longer to recognize her name, eventually she will. That the joy of being a mom is that she really WILL always be my baby, no matter how old she gets. That she and Meadow, although similar in a lot of ways, are so completely different that there is NO WAY you could compare them on any level.

So with that, I will continue to let it go. And hey, in the meantime make a few moms feel a little better about their kids’ progression through this stage of life. ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mission not yet Accomplished

We had big plans for the Surf City Half Marathon yesterday. Big Plans. 2 of my girlfriends, Amy and Jen, have been flirting with the sub 2 hour half, and were fully committed to making it happen yesterday. I volunteered to pace them and cheer them on the entire way. I know, super nice of me, right? Not exactly. I knew with my knee I wasn’t going to PR, so at least this way I had a purpose for the run. Not so sweet after all ;).

We started in our correct corral, which never happens, and were off without a hitch. Well, unless you call me making us stop over to the side before we crossed that start waiting for my Garmin to pick up a signal a hitch. We started off at an 8:45 pace, which was a little faster than I was hoping for, but with all the weaving through people it just turned out that way. We finally settled at our 9:15 pace after mile 3.

We took our first Gu after mile 5, and immediately you could tell it didn’t sit well with Amy. As she slowed down a bit, I told Jen to take off and go for it. And that she did. I could see the nerves written all over Amy’s face. The doubt was creeping in, the pain was becoming real, and the fear of failure was coming on strong.

I immediately regretted having her wear her Garmin.

It was time for me to pull out my coaching skills and get her through what might just be a mental wall.

You’ve got this Amy. You’ve worked hard, and you have earned this time. We are out here to fight for this today. You aren’t running, you’re f-ing(I said the real word) racing. To go faster than you have ever gone, you have to push harder than you have even pushed, and it’s going to hurt more than it has ever hurt. But that’s what makes it worth it. Trust me, and go with me, and you can do this!

Tears started to form in her eyes, and I knew it was a lot more than mental. I would run a few paces ahead of her, and point for her to come right by my side. I thought if I could just get her next to me she could hold on to it. But it doesn’t work that way. Her body wasn’t going to cooperate. Her body wasn’t the one that wrote the check that said she would run a sub 2 hour half marathon.

My heart sunk. I remember how I felt at mile 23 in my very first marathon, the point I knew my goal time was out of my reach. Where you question why in the hell you were so vocal about your goal, and how you would have to explain to everyone that you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do. The perfect combination of embarrassment and disappointment.

As we made the turn just after mile 8 to head all the way back down PCH, it became clear to both of us that the sub 2 had slipped out of our reach. Amy broke down at the water stop and started to sob. ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, please don’t be disappointed in me.’ I felt horrible, and it was time to be honest.

I shook Amy by the shoulders and told her to STOP! That this was her race, and that the fact that she was even out here running was a miracle. She ran the Tinkerbell half just 6 days before, and in between the 2 races had a nice run in with the stomach flu. So we were going to dry the tears, enjoy the gorgeous day and race, and focus on how delicious the beer would taste in the beer garden.

We started up and saw 2 of our friends cheering us on. Amy started to cry again. I don’t think Amy realizes what an inspiration she is to our friends, and that it has nothing to do with a sub 2.

We struggled all the way back, and spent a lot of that time running holding hands. I wanted Amy to know I was there for her, and that we were crossing that finish line with smiles on our faces, together. And hell, maybe we could set some sort of record for the longest hand holding during a race.

Just after mile 12 we saw Amy’s family- her husband, both kids, and 2 best friends with their kiddos- screaming and cheering like maniacs! The tears started up again for us both. This is what is was all about. Mommy was out there working hard, and not giving up. And that is a lesson that can only be taught by example. Amy could’ve given up the minute she realized she wasn’t going to reach the goal she set for herself for that day. But she never did.

After an orange slice, and a big gulp of water, Amy started to choke. Literally. She couldn’t breathe, and the small gasps she was getting in were a high pitched squeal. I tried to stay calm while I was freaking out on the inside. Where was the medical cart? How would I get them here without causing a scene, or causing Amy to panic? Hmmm, I wonder if the EMT is cute. But as quickly as it came on, she found her breath, and we were off again.

She grabbed my hand and said, let’s do this. And she was serious. She picked up the pace(7:47 to be exact), we were passing people left and right, maintaining the tight grip we had on each other’s hand. We were in this together, and she was ready to finish strong. She never let up until we crossed the finish line, and we collapsed into each other’s arms and tears.

She had finished what she will tell you is the hardest race she has done to date. We cried because it was finally over, because we got to cross together, I cried because I had never been more proud of her in my life. And I think she cried for the same reason. And guess what? Our time was 2:09:24. A solid 30 seconds faster than she ran the same half last year.

It’s hard to recover from a race like that. Hard to see the silver lining sometimes. But, that it what running is all about. It’s like a relationship. There are ups and downs, a lot of drama and struggle, but man when it’s good….it makes it all worthwhile.

I reminded Amy of that, as Kim and I nursed her running ego wounds the best way we know how.

It didn’t happen that day, but the great thing about running is that redemption is always right around the corner. You ALWAYS get another chance to be better.

Friday, February 3, 2012

3 checked, 1 failed, and 123 to go

I like to set a lot of New Year's Resolutions. No, not because I am super ambitious but because I like a lot of options. And the odds are much greater that I will actually complete at least one.

I am so not an 'all my eggs in one basket' kinda girl.

But, I don't get hung up on failed resolutions either. I made a resolution to run a marathon every year for 6 years before it actually happened. So if it's failed one year, it doesn't mean it can't come back again, and again, and yet again.

Well, I am proud to report that I have already completed 2 and stuck to 1 of my resolutions for 2012! Woohoo! Probably the best I have ever done. I like having a few that you just have to check off a list. Success builds upon success, so every little win I have propels me forward into my other resolutions/goals.

Let me get the fail out of the way right now.

Every year, scratch that, every week, I vow that I will clean my kitchen every night before I go to bed. Period. I am after all a real adult, so I should have been on board with this a while ago. I love how great I feel in the morning walking out to a clean kitchen. Not having to start chores asap is so nice. It keeps my head clear and makes for a great day. But somehow that knowledge means nothing to me at night when I decide to sit on my ass in front of the TV, or more often than not hop right in bed and go to sleep. So this one will have to be a work in progress. How do you motivate yourself to clean up at night? And all my friends with OCD that can't go to sleep until it looks perfect need not reply. I secretly hate you for having that quality.

On to some WINS!

I told myself that 2012 was the year of me doing a race in just a sports bra and skirt/shorts. So you would think I would give myself a little bit of time to drop a few more pounds and really sculpt out my abs, possibly hold off on the wine for more than a 2 day stretch, and send a break up letter to Alberto's breakfast burritos. Nah. Let's just get it out of the way now. So I did. Last weekend I ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon as Flounder. Or what Flounder would look like if he were a girl heading to the main stage. If you don't get that reference, be very proud.

This is my real runner friend Lisa, check out her blog to see what a running blog should look like.

I was pretty bold about my next resolution as I blurted it out to all of my Body Back classes. By January 31st I would have my office clean, with a system in place for handling papers etc. so that I could finally work more efficiently. Well, I DID IT! And by I DID IT, I mean I hired my friend Barbi who is SUPER organized, and she did most of it while I drank wine to handle my anxiety. I would say I was a consultant. Luckily I watch the show Hoarders often, so I knew what to expect with my CPO. Again a reference that if you don't get it, you are clearly on the right path.

So here is the final product. Weird that I don't have any before pictures, but let me just tell you that you wouldn't have known it was an office. My Mother in Law kindly referred to it as our 'oh shit' room.

Now I know, like with everything, maintenance is usually the hardest part. But, it feels so amazing to work in a clean, productive space. Plus, Barbi could pop in anytime and see what I have done so I need to be on it!

Lastly, well so far, in keeping in line with de-cluttering my work life, I vowed to keep my work email inbox to 1 page at all times.

Yes, I know what you are thinking....umm 46 emails is hardly de-cluttered. But, 50 fit on a page. 50 is manageable. 50 I can sort through in 20-30 minutes and complete everything. And 50, compared to my usual 300 is a HUGE win. I am taking it.

So what has changed? Why am I banging out more resolutions this year than previous years? I had to really think about it. What was different? And I think it comes down to a few core choices.

1. This is the year I am done getting in my own way. I refuse to hold myself back from what could be, because I am too scared of failure. Lucky for me I get to preach this to women everyday so it gets stuck in my head too ;)

2. I have an overall goal and plan that is so much clearer than ever before in my life. Knowing what I want down the line, helps me take steps towards my vision.

3. My focus is forever on the positive, and I surround myself with people who are like mined and moving forward. Watching others take leaps towards their goals give me a little extra strength and confidence to go for mine.

So there you have it 2012, so far we are off to a great start! How are you with your resolutions? Are you ready to recommit?