Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 113: Thoughts on the Mudder

Well, it was quite a day.

We left at around 5:30 a.m. and had a nice ride up.  Good conversation, pretty scenery, and a sunrise.

Parking was at the Pocono Raceway and we boarded a schoolbus there for Pocono Manor, which seemed like it was a nice resort before the Tough Mudder people got a hold of it and covered it in mud and obstacles.

We registered and found the rest of our team, two of whom were also from the dojang.  Found bathrooms, got ready to start.  Our start time was 9:20.

I opted for the water shoes, which was a good choice.  The Master thinks he might have messed up his own minimalist shoes, and I would have been upset to lose my Vibrams.  The water shoes had the same feel, and they held up pretty well.  Much of the course was trail running, and people asked me if I minded feeling all the rocks, etc. under my feet, but I guess I'm used to feeling the terrain and it didn't bother me. 

What did bother me was my Camelback - it didn't work very well and it was cumbersome to carry with me, especially with so many obstacles to crawl under.  A waterproof fanny pack or something would have been a better choice to hold my camera - and the rest stations on the course provided enough water and bananas that I didn't really need to carry any food or drink of my own.  Lesson learned.

As far as the obstacles went, I had no trouble with the crawling through the mud, through the dark, sticky trenches, and the other muddy fun.  Running through fire was hot and a little choky, but fine.  Climbing over the walls was good with help.  I wasn't planning to go swimming or get zapped with electric current, but I did hike through a semi-deep stream and I fell off the balance beam at one of the last obstacles, so I went for an icy swim there.

Probably the most discomfort I felt the whole day was at the very end when we sat down on the grass to a protein bar and a beer.  After 5+ hours of constant movement, sitting down felt wrong (I should have been stretching), and I was cold and soaked and the wind was blowing hard and we were all shivering despite the foil blankets they handed out.  I felt better after I changed into my dry clothes, but it took a while for me to feel my hands and feet again.

All in all, it was a good experience, and I was glad for the arm-twisting and Jedi Mind Tricking. I had planned on spending the entire winter training for this thing, and had feared that the lack of said training would really impair my ability to complete the course.  I definitely didn't have the upper body strength to do things like monkey bars, but I was expecting that.  And I didn't condition myself for the challenges of the icy cold water.  But endurance-wise, my daily regimen of karate and kickboxing was enough to prepare me for running, climbing and crawling, and in that respect I was fine.

Sore today, and a little scraped up (I tripped at one point and banged up my knee), but feeling strong.  Ready to resume my normal schedule tonight.  I have Red Belt material to learn.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 111: Mudder Tomorrow

It's a Done Deal - The Master is picking me up at 5:30 a.m. so we can drive up to Pocono Manor tomorrow morning for a day of hard-core challenges... and mud.

I have to admit, his enthusiasm for the event is infectious.  It's been on his mind all week as he's been preparing himself physically and mentally.

Me?  I've been in denial.  Doing my regular thing.

"I can't believe you sparred last night," he said to me this morning.

"I'm just trying to treat it like a normal week."  All part of the denial.

He's been taking this week easy so he will be well-rested and pain-free.  I, on the other hand, pushed myself harder than usual, put in more hours than usual, and, ironically, got my first real sparring injury last night.  It's not bad, just a swollen thumb, but it's been bad enough for ice and Advil.

I wasn't planning on doing the monkey bars obstacle anyway.  Ditto for anything that involves freezing cold water.

Judging from the facebook pictures of today's event at Pocono Manor, it does look like a lot of fun. I still can't decide what to wear on my feet.  My Vibrams are great, but I don't want them to get ruined.  Water shoes might be just as good, and expendable.  Sneakers and hiking boots will be miserable if they get wet, but will have better tread...  Decisions, decisions...

The Ninjas and I had a few hours of extra practice tonight and went out for a beer, which was nice.  They told me to come home and have a big plate of pasta before bed, which will be a stretch since I'm really not hungry.  Need to pack up my gear and get to bed early. 

Will post pictures tomorrow.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 110: What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

I will be here Sunday.

I do not intend to come home with a mohawk, a tattoo, or a torn ACL.  But I'm sure it will be An Experience, nontheless.

Some fun tidbits from the website:

Course Safety Warning: The course is designed to be very difficult and the terrain is at times muddy, slippery, and potentially dangerous. You will be wet after the first mile, and you MUST be able to swim more than fifty yards if you attempt the Walk the Plank obstacle. If you do not feel comfortable completing any obstacle, DO NOT attempt it; simply continue on to the next obstacle. But really, what do you think you signed up for, Warrior Dash?

What to Wear:

  • Normal running shoes. We DO NOT recommend you buying a brand spanking new pair of pumped up kicks for this event; shoes get muddy, because you are running through mud. At Tough Mudder, all shoes go to heaven (or get recycled and delivered to starving/shoeless children in Africa).

What NOT to wear:

  • You CANNOT wear spikes or cleats during the event. There will be an inspection at the Start Area—and when we catch you, trust us, we’ll make it embarrassing that you tried to defy the mighty Mudder.
Hydration system – FILLED WITH WATER, not cerveza. Note: Again, there will be water stations.

The Post-Party is a key component of the Tough Mudder experience. Bands and DJs will be playing live music throughout the afternoon. It is kind of like Dick Clark’s Rocking New Year’s Eve. But it’s not a new year, and it’s not nighttime, and there is no Dick Clark. Kick back and celebrate what will probably be the greatest accomplishment of your life. Unless you make it to World’s Toughest Mudder, that is.

Tough Mudder Respect Awards (wonder if broken toes count...)

For participants who have overcome illness, injury or misfortune. For further details see here.

Costume Awards

Best Costume — Most Bad-Ass
Worst Costume — Most Dumb-Ass
Least Clothing — Most Ass
Most Likely To Have Been In The Village People
Each event’s costume contest winner will get a free season pass–which gets you into the rest of the North American 2012 events, including ones that are sold out.

Toughest Mullet & Toughest Mohawk

Free Head-Shaves To be Provided – Award Best Mullet & Best Mohawk – Prize TBD

Tough Mudder Tattoos

Tattoo of our logo will be available on event day to anyone tough enough to want one. Tattoos are available for $70 and will give said badass free entry into one Tough Mudder of your choice in 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 109: Fried

A difficult day for the Teen translates into a difficult day for me.

I'm better these days about compartmentalizing, and I'm glad to have the mental and physical outlets of homeschooling and karate and childbirth class to keep me from dwelling on things over which I have no control.

But even the compartmentalizing takes extra effort, and now I'm drained. 

Ready for a warm bath and about 10 hours of sleep in a cozy bed with Savageman and My Cat.

Grateful tonight for caring family and friends and for the long stretches of normalcy we have come to enjoy between the crises. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 108: Writing About...

I just wrote this nice post about Savageman and how much I have enjoyed having him around so much, but it embarrassed him so I took it down. 

In addition to his other numerous qualities, he's humble too.

I try not to blog much about the younger Savages.

So that leaves... karate!  (What a surprise...)

I arrived at 5 tonight and left at 10.  Which actually isn't that uncommon these days for a Monday or a Wednesday. 

Arriving at 5 gives me a whole hour to warm up and practice my forms with a room practically to myself before people begin to arrive for kickboxing.  Depending on whom else is around, I might also get extra help with whatever I'm practicing.

After an hour of kickboxing class, I change out of clothes so wet you could wring them out into a fresh, dry gi. 

Tonight, I was ready to wring that out as well after the first 30 minutes of class.  We worked on hapkido for the remainder of the hour, and when class ended at 8:15, a bunch of us stayed and continued to work on weapons and forms.  (I was happy to have brought a third change of clothes.) Savageman came for a while to hang out and watch.

By 9:15, most people had cleared out, leaving only us die-hards, who were still trying things out and asking The Master questions, occasionally breaking into spontaneous sparring and grappling matches. 

We didn't leave until 10.  As usual. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays are different.  There is class from 10 - 11:30 a.m. and we try to get to that because it's small and a very good opportunity for one-on-one time with The Master to work on material.  We're back at 4 for another class and kickboxing.  Then I'm off to baseball or childbirth class.  I come back later to clean and hang out at the cafe with the ninja buddies.  Savageman often joins us too, as this is always a good time.  These can be late nights as well, especially if we clean after the cafe closes.

Of course, Friday is sparring and pizza and sometimes a movie.  And we've been meeting to practice for 1-3 hours on Saturdays and Sundays as well. 

It's a lot, I will admit.  But to spend this amount of time engaged in a "flow" activity - to be learning and improving and exercising and concentrating - it's probably the healthiest expenditure of time I can imagine.  There have been periods of my life in which I spent at least that many hours per day watching television or surfing the web. 

There is no comparison.

The effects of this activity - and this heavy-duty schedule - on my body, my mental and emotional health, and my social life are immeasurable. 

I wouldn't trade these hours for anything.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 107: Napkin Physics

I had this* explained to me on a napkin in the cafe tonight by the Guru, who begins his graduate work in theoretical physics this fall.  (His explanation was similar, but his starting point was different and his equations were more detailed.)

It's good to have a friend who is patient and knowledgeable when it comes to both martial arts and theoretical physics.

After all, you never know when you might need to know something, like the next move in a kum do form, or the reason the sky reflects blue light. (I got a good technical explanation for that tonight as well, but without the napkin.)

Grateful tonight for his quality coaching, and for Karate Nerd nights in general.  We've been having a lot of them since his return from college, and it's been good for our entire group.

Grateful also for some high praise I received tonight from two tough instructors, for a relaxing lunch out with The Master, and for Middle, who finally takes me seriously enough to work on material together in class.

And as always, grateful for Savageman, who juggled sports and childcare and didn't get to come out with us tonight, but who will hopefully join us Thursday.  Despite the financial challenges, this chapter in our marriage has shown us certain benefits, including more time to spend together in the company of such wonderful friends. 


*Mass–velocity relationship
In developing special relativity, Einstein found that the kinetic energy of a moving body is
E_k =  m_0 ( \gamma -1 ) c^2 = \frac{m_0 c^2}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}} - m_0 c^2,
with v the velocity, m_0 the rest mass, and γ the Lorentz factor.
He included the second term on the right to make sure that for small velocities, the energy would be the same as in classical mechanics:
E_k = \frac{1}{2}m_0 v^2 + \cdots
Without this second term, there would be an additional contribution in the energy when the particle is not moving.
Einstein found that the total momentum of a moving particle is:
P = \frac{m_0 v}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}.
and it is this quantity which is conserved in collisions. The ratio of the momentum to the velocity is the relativistic mass, m.
m = \frac{m_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}
And the relativistic mass and the relativistic kinetic energy are related by the formula:
E_k = m c^2 - m_0 c^2. \,
Einstein wanted to omit the unnatural second term on the right-hand side, whose only purpose is to make the energy at rest zero, and to declare that the particle has a total energy which obeys:
 E = m c^2 \,
which is a sum of the rest energy m0c2 and the kinetic energy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 106: To Mud or not To Mud

Despite the fact that I finally did start running again, today, in the Vibrams, for about a mile and a half (and wow, did it feel good!) - the seven weeks I took off after I broke my toe pretty much decimated my plans to run the Tough Mudder this weekend. 

Granted, I didn't take any time off from karate or kickboxing, and in that respect I'm still in peak condition from the 2-3 hours I spend training almost every day.  But the course is 10-12 miles, punctuated by cold, wet, muddy obstacles, and I had planned to at least be comfortable running 5 before the event.

Savageman told The Master when he saw him at the gym that I probably wasn't doing it.  So I knew that he already knew this when he approached me before kickboxing and said, "So are you all set for this weekend?"

He's not letting me off the hook so easy.

Me: "I don't think I'm going - I haven't trained for it.  At all."

Him: Trademark inquisitive look.

Me: "I haven't been running for the last 2 months because of the toe."

Him: "I've never been a runner - I do the eliptical.  You'll be fine."

Me: "Well, you've been... elipticaling... and I haven't."

Him: "It will be great.  You and I will bring up the rear. All we need to do is run from one obstacle to the next. And you can skip any of the obstacles you don't like."

It's the Jedi Mind Trick.  Must resist....

Me: "I don't want to drive all the way up there just to stand around."

Him: "Ride with us."

Me: "Your car is full. I'd need to sit on someone's lap."

He called out to one of his kids and uninvited her.

Him: "Now there's room."

I'm in big trouble now.

Me: "I'd rather stay here and work on my forms."

Him: "We'll be done by noon.  You can come in and work on forms the whole rest of the day. Come on, it will be a blast."

There really is no saying no to The Master.  That's why he's The Master.  I think they teach you the Jedi Mind Trick between the 5th and 6th Dan.

He moved me from a no to a maybe. 

It would be kinda fun.

Of course, knowing him, once I'm there he'll use the Jedi Mind Trick to get me to do the obstacles as well. 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 105: Quote of the Day

"In every field of endeavor there are a few men and women who, while mastering the mechanics of their system, intuitively sense there is something more than technique, something beyond the mere physical maneuvers that others work so hard to perfect.  These people sense and reach for a level of mastery most ordinary people don't even know is possible.  They move beyond technical mastery to touch the soul of their craft; they perceive and merge with the very essence of what makes their calling art."  Forrest E. Morgan, Living the Martial Way

Something to strive for...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 104: Even More Tired

Demo day on City Island, where we rode bikes around and around... and around... the island.

Then extra practice at the dojang, where we fine-tuned forms, sparred and grappled, sparred some more, and talked technique.

Came home soaked and exhausted and mildly frustrated at all that I'm still not doing right. 

Despite all the progress I know I'm making.

My Very Dear ninja buddy turned to me at the end of our long practice session and said, "I could do this every day."

"We do do this every day," I laughed. 

And it's true.  Even on the weekends, we're working now.  There's just so much to learn, and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I still don't know.

I'm wiped out.  Ready for a movie with Savageman and a good night's sleep.  Trying again tomorrow.

**Note to self: Good link posted by the Guru in a Karate Nerd facebook conversation last night.  Something to keep in mind when I'm practicing Poomse.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 103: Tired

Early morning, long day, tough sparring, pizza and a late movie with ninja friends.

Being Karate Nerds in the parking lot for an hour and a half after the movie, talking about sparring and Pal Gwe forms and the most effective hand placement for the two-hand #3 Hapkido technique.  Checking out YouTube videos of real Korean martial artists doing kata.  (Or Poomse, the Korean word for forms that I should actually be using.) Talking about books and movies and practical applications.  Planning extra weekend practice sessions.

Having a very awesome and most educational time.

But now I need to go to bed.

Grateful tonight for my most wonderful Karate Nerd friends, and for my most wonderful Savageman, who is such a good sport about cheerfully giving me time to dedicate myself to this (sometimes all-consuming) path.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 102: Taking It Seriously

Class at 10.  And at 4. 

Kickboxing at 5.

Dinner and conversation into the wee hours with Savageman and my favorite ninja friends after my childbirth class tonight. 

It's not the only thing going on in my life or my family, but the only thing I currently feel comfortable writing about, so I'm writing about it. 

I'm realizing that being taken seriously has led to me taking myself and this training more seriously and putting in more time at it... which has led to more people taking me seriously.

Not a bad cycle to get into.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 101: Teen Angst

Reading and thinking a lot today about the pressure that exists for most teens in our culture.

Too tired and drained to write much on the subject, but one interesting thing came up in my reading:

When we were young, there was the social pressure at school each day - the bullying, the impression management, the attempts to become popular, the struggle to stay popular - but when we got home, we got a break from it until the next day.

In today's world, kids have cell phones and Facebook and the pressure continues until they go to bed each night.  And begins again the moment they wake up.  No break.

No wonder they seek out ways to escape.  No wonder they are stressed out and full of Angst.

Trying to understand better and be a better listener with the Teen, and trying to help prepare Middle and Little for the world they will soon enough enter.  It's clearly not an easy one to navigate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 100: Still Breathing

The bills are paid, the taxes done, the laundry folded, the schoolwork chugging along...

At martial arts, my forms are improving and I'm receiving increasingly more precise feedback on how to make them even better.  I'm feeling competent sparring more advanced partners.  Getting lots of compliments on the recent improvement. 

My toe is healing and I was able to hike in sneakers yesterday. 

The days are getting longer; the weather is beautiful.  I am healthy and strong and energetic.

I feel fantastic.

What's in this allergy medicine I've been taking?


Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 99: Breathing Deeply

Ahhh. :-)

It's been a full week, and I'm finally coming out of the stress and easing back into Normal Life once more. 

A Sunday of lounging late in bed, going to Church, an afternoon party with some good friends, a heart-pounding sparring and extra practice session at the dojang, dinner with my parents and a movie with a few of the Ninjas may not sound relaxing, but it was - and it cleared my head considerably.

I have a lengthy to-do list, and I'm already well on my way toward finishing it.  Feeling happy and calm and grateful and serene.  Hunted some bluebells on the AT this afternoon with the boys and one of my favorite people as a reward for good behavior.   

Taking deep, happy breaths.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 98: Gratitude In General

Things I found myself feeling grateful for on the trip:

Cardio Kickboxing class, where I learned all the cool music the girls have on their iPods.  I had four of them in my van and I let them choose the tunes (within reason).  They were delighted to see me groovin' along to their favorite dance music.

My co-Leader, who is interesting and cheerful and easy to be with.  We never fail to have a good time together on these trips, and she is the ideal travel companion.

My Scouts, who are so different from one another in many ways, but who work to be patient and kind to each other all the same. 

My husband and boys, who are wonderful sports about me taking these little jaunts from time to time.

The fact that we have so many cool destinations within easy driving distance and that I get this kind of practice traveling there with a knowledgeable guide.  Thinking a trip to the National Zoo with the boys and their friends may be happening in the near future.

The ability to do cartwheels and spin kicks in a field with the girls and walk and hike tirelessly thoughout the day, even after a 5 a.m. wakeup.

Teachable moments, which occurred throughout the trip.  Nice to feel like we're making a difference in these girls' lives and broadening their horizons a little at a time.

Pizza and a cool spot to watch the planes land.  Love having a guide who knows all the secret spots to go.  That may have been the highlight of the trip for some of the girls.

Coffee and more dance music, which helped me stay awake for the ride home.

A clean house and happy men waiting for me at home after a long, long day.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 97: D.C.

On line watitng to go in the White House

George Washington's home and plantation

Tree Huggers

Slave Quarters

The Leader Picture

Walking Trail

Quiet time enjoying the view

Watching the planes land from Gravelly Point

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 96: I'm Here

Greenbelt Park, Maryland

Camping with 6 Girl Scouts and two adults in preparation for our early morning tour of the White House and a day at Mt. Vernon tomorrow.

Good stuff.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 95: I Need A Day

Just one.

I just need a day to get caught up on all the stuff that has piled up around here - bills to pay, car to be cleaned out and packed, school stuff organized, Bradley workbooks ordered, general picking up done...

Not to mention just a little bit of Down Time.  Which I probably wouldn't take anyway, but hey.

Instead, I'm going to work tomorrow, and I'm probably working right up until when I get in the car with three girl scouts and one mom and head to D.C.

It's only for a night and a day - maybe I can catch up Sunday.

As for tonight, I started a new childbirth class which is always nice, and I even got in some time afterward with my friends.  Without having to mop. 

And earlier today, I endured another round of torture theraputic massage.  The guy had a conversation with my pinky toe, which will be receiving more tough love from me from this point on.  I had a good martial arts class.  Things are starting to feel better, so maybe I'm glad I didn't seek pricy medical intervention after all.

For now, I'm beat.  Drained.  Fried.  All of that.  Going to bed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 94: Workin'

Wow, my day goes so differently when I work.

Especially when I come home with a paycheck.  :-)

I got a pep talk from one of the neuopsychologists about all the cool things I can be doing once I finish my dissertation, once I get licenced as a clinician... (neither of which is happening anytime soon, I hated to tell her).  She did suggest I try proofreading dissertations for cash.  Now, that I can do with my current credentials.  I promised to look into it.

It's nice feeling like a grown-up, getting paid for valuable work, feeling like all those years of graduate school weren't a complete waste. 

Draining to come home to a house and kids who were basically waiting for me to get home and then play catchup, before running out the door to escape into forms and kicks and punches for the rest of the evening. 

It's been a full day.

The rest of the week promises to be full as well.  Tomorrow will be the real catchup day, plus martial arts classes, Little's first baseball game, plus a new childbirth class starting in the evening, after which the dojang gets mopped and cocoa is consumed with the friends.  Friday is another work day, followed by camping in D.C. with Girl Scouts and a tour of the White House and Mount Vernon on Saturday.

Pant, pant.

It's all good.

Time to go soak in the tub.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 93: Ninja Night Out

Called the insurance company - for the $670 per month we're paying for our COBRA coverage, we have a $500 deductible.  So I guess X-rays, PT, etc. are out.  Back to Ice, Advil...

and Cocoa!

Laughter is the best possible medicine anyway.

Love you guys.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Day 92: Maybe It's Time

I was determined not to seek medical attention. 

I'm a Warrior, after all.  Warriors don't go to the doctor for little aches and pains.

For that there's Ice.  And Advil.  And, when necessary, alcoholic beverages.  :-)

But after 5 weeks post-toe break and about as many weeks of iliopsoas pain (I think), I'm ready to try something else. 

I tried to get my Vibrams on today and the toe screamed bloody murder and swelled up for the rest of the day in protest. No Vibrams.

I heated and stretched the hips at the gym this morning, then stretched and practiced kata for a full hour before kickboxing and class this evening, but I still had a hard time bringing up my left leg to kick.  And my right leg is attached to my right pinky toe, so while the leg moved just fine, making contact with the bag was another story.

I think I've been plenty patient.  Maybe it's time for an X-ray and a conversation.  Or a cortisone shot.  PT.  Whatever.

I'm supposed to go back for another torture session theraputic massage this week.  Not especially looking forward to that.  The guy is great; the noodlely part was nice, but the hours it took digging around my trigger points getting there?  Not so much.

Sigh.  Don't get me wrong - I'm grateful.  My body is strong and lean and the extra practice in these last two months is beginning to show. 

But... Ow.

Stretching and icing and Aviling once more tonight.  With a Belgian Pale Ale and a movie with Savageman.

I'll make the phone call tomorrow if things don't seem any better.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Day 90: ... And Continues

As for me, I'm wiped out.  What I really need is a day off to catch up and recover, but tomorrow is Easter and we've got church and a day with the extended family.  Oh well...