Friday, August 24, 2012

Two Weeks Travel

Totem Poles @ Stanley Park,
Vancouver, BC, Canada
I have returned from a whirlwind trip to CT, Seattle, & British Columbia. I’m not quite settling into normal… The normal I have had is not the normal I am pushing myself to shift into. I still desire to get back to running several times a week. I need to remind myself of what Sherry Lansing said during my college commencement, “you can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.” I am certain that she was not figuring brain surgery or any kind of health set back. Set backs and bumps in the road are expected. It could be seeing Jeff, or it could be the talk of commencement speeches, but it makes me recall high school. The valedictorian was a mutual friend of Jeff & me. In her speech she told us we would have bumps in the road. She spoke of the pet goat who was neutered & on the same day of his operation, was hit by the lawnmower & his horn was cut short. Despite the goat withstanding these traumas all in an afternoon, he lived a very full & vibrant life. She encouraged us to do the same.

2-hour sunset kayak tour
I doubt the goat was concerned about shifting his paradigm to something more similar to the life he had before surgery. I know I am not the same person I was when I had surgery. Priorities have shifted- most for the better. While not fully enjoying the demand for sleep, I am making it more of a priority. Needing to stay active is also a  priority. This need is not driven fear to be fit for the next surgery. It is driven by joy & the pure ability that I can do it. I like being able to run 10 miles & I LOVE the new coordination I have because I don’t have the tumor pressing on my cerebellum.

While traveling in the Pacific Northwest, I was outside every day & walked everywhere… likely 3-5 miles a day. I never quite grasped the metric system until I took up running & because of it, I could assimilate & speak in kilometers when talking distance. The bike ride around Stanley Park was 10k (6.2 miles) & the round trip distance from my hostel to the breakwater in Victoria was roughly 5k. I probably kayaked 3k in Victoria harbor (with Kelp Reef Adventures) and my Vancouver walking tour (including a trip to Lynn Canyon) is an estimated 6k. The hike with Jeff through a path in the Cascades just outside of Seattle was 7.2 miles. I was never at a shortage of activities & even though I gained 1 lb, my clothes fit better. (I’m hoping that 1 pound is muscle, not pastry/ice cream/coffee.)

Lynn Canyon Suspension 
Bridge. Next time, Capilano
Suspension Bridge
I'm back home and it's time to get back to reality. Instead of 8-10+ hours of activity, I am 8-10+ hours behind a desk and wheel of the car.  I need to shift again and carve out time to exercise. Also, as Jeanette at Soloma Fitness has been reminding me, I need to build in activities throughout my workday, particularly because I have a stationary job. Small stretches, leg lifts, etc, will keep me in better health. Jeanette is also the reason I keep a carafe of water on my desk to drink through the day.

With the strength I have built from vacation travel and a focus on "some distance is better than no distance," consistent long distance will become normal again. (The dance classes I start next month should also add a fun cardiovascular activity while helping cross another thing on my to-do list.) 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

From The Road....

Summer is here and that means Summer Olympics, but more importantly summer hiatus. Hiatus is that time when our production office closes for a much-needed break. In the past this has meant flying to visit family, usually coupled with ample downtime in Los Angles. By downtime, I mean cleaning & organizing mixed with time with friends.  This year has been very similar, only with a slight variation… my niece was baptized (so now I’m a godmother) and I’m traveling! Once emerging from the woods after surgery & not too far after my first post-surgical half marathon, I made a TO DO LIST. I do not accept the term “bucket list,” and have actually renounced this label. A “To Do List” is so much perkier and far more accurate, especially because I am not dying any more than the next.

After spending a few short days in Connecticut, it was off to the Pacific Northwest. What originally was going to be a quick 8 day trip quickly blossomed into a full fledge adventure. The more people I spoke to, the more I was encouraged to maximize my hiatus. I spent the first 2.5 days in Seattle visiting a friend I’ve had since I was 11. I stayed with him (Jeff) and his fiancé- we walked nearly everywhere. I thought Los Angeles was fit, but those in Seattle have us beat.  Seattle has hills that rival San Francisco, & I’m told the winters are milder and a good hike is a short car drive away.

Jeff has always been a tremendous supporter of mine. Despite me being shy through all of junior high and high school, Jeff was there. Had I been brave, I would have opened up, but even opening up to friends was difficult. When I was in the hospital, Jeff was one of the first friends to reach out, show support and give me rounds of the encouragement I needed to heal.  I am so happy that even though we live in different states we have become closer, and I am no longer afraid to discuss things that friends discuss.

Lake Serene in the Cascade Mountains
When Jeff has had to travel to Los Angeles for business, he has made a point of reaching out to me & making sure we connect. I have been looking forward to being able to see him in his neighborhood. Jeff and I were on track together- and I knew that he had become an avid hiker.  I only knew about the Olympics in Washington, mainly because of the National Parks series that Ken Burns did. When I suggested a hike in the Olympics, Jeff countered with a hike in the Cascades, where we can spend more time on the trail and less time in the car.  After sleeping in and a breakfast of pastry from Bakery Nouveau, we set off for the tail head. The air was crisp and as is customary with Seattle in August, it was clear. We hiked 3.5 miles in past moss-covered trees that looked like something out of "The Dark Crystal," past a waterfall where Jeff startled a hiker so much, she screamed for a solid 2-seconds, and up numerous flights of stairs. One would think the stairs would be no big deal, but after trying to maintain balance on slick rocks crossing rivulets and having moderate double vision  (more from the amount of visual information I was trying to process and less from fatigue) while trying to keep your footing quads and glutes were aching.  Jeff, who stands nearly a foot taller than me and has more hiking experience, did not lead us at any break neck pace, & made sure we had time for water and rest our knees. Still, I thought we hustled, but it took us nearly 3 hours to reach our destination of Lake Sere. And, serene it was. We dined on turkey sandwiches on fresh baguettes, taking in the beauty of the lake and the surroundings.

Like most endurance activities with friends, it always is a time to be introspective and share things you may not necessarily share in daily life. It was comforting to talk with Jeff about the successes I’ve had and share some setbacks I’ve experienced. As Jeff has always done, he gave the encouragement and reassurance, all in the right doses… reminding me that what I’m doing to stay in shape & stay positive. Staying positive is sometimes easier said then done with the incredible residual shrinking and growing brain tumor, but getting out in nature with friends and getting the blood pumping on a run or hike is a great way to bring my mind back to being thankful and living life to the utmost fullest.