Saturday, August 30, 2014

2014 New Things #14: Floating

I can't remember where I first heard about the Body Mind Float Center. I think I was running down Park Ave one day, saw the sign and thought it sounded just weird enough to try. I sort of forgot about it for a while, then for some reason I signed up for a 50K. And I thought maybe it would feel good to float around after a long run, so I made an appointment. I chose the Tranquility Float Pod because I liked the name and because it looked like a space pod. Or a futuristic coffin. But I'm going with space pod. It's filled with about 10 inches of Epsom salt water that keeps your body afloat, like being in the Dead Sea.

Space pod photo from
Flotation therapy can supposedly offer relief from muscle and joint pain, stress, addictions, sleep disorders, migraines and even PTSD. I was primarily interested in the athletic recovery aspects. According to the Float Center's website, "Research has shown that Floatation Therapy decreases cortisol levels and increases the production of endorphins, the body's natural pain killers.  Total relaxation promotes blood circulation and muscle growth.  The Epsom salt solution reduces lactic acid build-up, maximizing the benefits of your workout.  The rate of your recovery is greatly accelerated."

When I walked into the float center, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the staff dude took me to the float room and explained what to do. There was a shower in the room to rinse off before and after the float. I got into the pod, lowered the lid, turned off the light inside the pod (the room lights had a motion sensor and turned off after 5 minutes) and started my float. First I put my arms at my side but I felt too much like a corpse in that position so I moved my hands behind my head, like in a sit up position. Then I felt like I was just hanging out being all weightless, floating around in outer space. There were ear plugs in the room that you can use if you want, so I had put those in, and with the lights out, I had the same view whether my eyes were open or closed. It was a weird feeling floating around in silence and darkness and anti-gravity. But it was also kind of relaxing and peaceful. I don't get many moments of total silence and darkness in life. And I get even less moments of being totally suspended in space. The pod was pretty small, but I didn't feel claustrophobic because my body didn't have any contact with anything other than the water. Though if I wanted to I could touch my feet to one end and my outstretched hands to the other, so I don't know how well a tall person would fit inside.

Appointments last 90 minutes, but you can get out earlier if you want. I only lasted about an hour before I got cold. (But I'm always cold. A normal person with normal body temperature regulating systems would be fine). On my way out, the staff dude gave me an "I floated today" sticker and said "Enjoy the rest of your float." I was unaware that I was still floating. But my legs, which had been a bit fatigued from my 18ish mile trail run earlier in the day, did feel noticeably lighter and fresher. At $65 a session, I don't think I'll be floating on the regular, but I might use it once in a while to give my tired muscles a break. And there is a float pod that's big enough for two people, which would be great for bring a friend to space day. That's totally a thing, right?

Lyric of the moment: "Don't worry, even if things end up a bit too heavy, we'll all float on, alright..."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Sometimes I find myself wishing I was somewhere else instead of enjoying where I currently am. Sometimes and with some people, wherever we are and whatever we're doing, I feel happy and content to just be there. I don't know why it is easier for me to be in some moments than in others. Maybe I have to work harder at being in the moments that are more difficult for me. Maybe I have to sit with the discomfort and feel the bads/sads/mads and challenge them and find the greater truth behind them. Or maybe they are calls to change and I should heed them. I don't know. I have never been good at knowing when to stay and when to go. Because I can be happy anywhere. Though in some situations that happiness is more effortless than in others. So I don't know if the answer is to follow my passions or to become passionate about where I am. And I'm not sure how to go about doing either of those things.

I wish I was retired/independently wealthy so I could be a full-time adventurer/professional nap-taker/hugger/cookie deliverer/eater. I don't want to wish all my weekdays away to get to the weekends. I don't want to save all my better days for a future I may not get to see. Who knows how many days I have left. Probably, hopefully a lot. But maybe not. I don't think I want to spend the majority of my days sitting inside in front of a computer. I'm not exactly sure what I do want to do with them. Except everything.

Lyric of the moment: "Every waking moment I'm alive, I'm searching for you whether I know it or whether I realize..."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crazy going slowly am I

All my skin is peeling off. I know it's because of my TransRockies tan  sunburn but I prefer to think of it as growing new skin for new adventures. So I started looking up 50K training plans to see if I have enough time to train for and run the Mendon 50K. Because I am insane. Apparently, I survived a 3 day, 58 mile race and my brain thought, if you can run that, you can run a 50K, and I was too tired to argue. So I think I have to run an ultramarathon now. I don't know when or where or how or why? for the love of cake why? but I know it will happen. Because once an idea infiltrates my brain it becomes inevitable. And why not? Things are happening all the time that I once thought impossible. Might as well add become-a-perpetual-motion-machine to the list. If I fail, I'll learn from it and appreciate it and laugh at it and try again. I have nothing to lose and nothing but possibilities. I don't think I even care all that much about the actual race. I just really like the training. Long slow, runs and short, fast runs and Fit1 and pilates and all the people and conversations.

Maybe I just like smashing things, especially limits. Maybe I spent too many years as a shrinking violet, trying to be as unimposing, unassuming and invisible as possible. And agreeable. So absurdly agreeable. And not the good kind of absurd. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be everything that I am, not what other people want me to be. I want to be bolder and braver and bigger on the inside. Maybe I just want to run for a really long time, long enough to remind myself that no matter what happens, I can keep going.

So this is how it begins, the slow descent into madness. I think I'm going to enjoy it here.

Lyric of the moment: "Don't think about all those things you fear. Just be glad to be here..."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Race #11: TransRockies RUN3

As our TransRockies/Colorado trip approached, I wrestled with the worries, I faced the fears, I rubbed Ben's head and the Buddha's belly for good luck and then all there was left to do was run. We flew into warm, sunny Denver on Sunday and, as we drove towards our hotel in Salida, the temperature plunged and the thunderstorms rolled in. Then it started to hail. The mountains loomed in the distance, formidable, insurmountable, impossible. But that is, after all, why I came here. To find the boundary between impossible and possible. And push it back, one step, one mile at a time.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. And the weather was only making it worse. I thought, I am not cut out for running up solid rock through lightning. I am cut out for hugging. And then I realized, what is hugging but an embrace. So I decided that whatever happens, I would embrace this experience. Monday, we went to packet pick-up and the opening ceremony in Buena Vista and learned that the rain was fortuitous, making the trails less dusty and more pleasant. Sometimes what seems like bad luck is actually good luck in disguise.

As the start of the race approached, my excitement started to drown out the anxiety. This race would be the farthest I've ever run on trails, the most miles I've ever run in a 3-day span (or in a whole week for that matter), my first 2-day camping experience, my first runcation, my first stage race, my first time in Colorado and my first vacation with Pete. I was about to embark on my most epic and excellent experience to date.

And so the adventure began...

Stage 1: Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge
The first stage was 20.9 miles with about 2,500 feet of elevation gain. The trails were a mix of gravel, rock and sand, mostly wide doubletrack. It was sunny and hot and beautiful. The last four miles were described as a "grueling false flat" which sounded ominous but I loved every minute of it. My legs were fresh, I felt great, the sun and views were amazing and my sweat was evaporating so quickly in the dry air that I never felt sweaty. Luckily, it turned out that my worries about altitude sickness were in vain. I focused on hydrating and fueling and I was totally fine.

Stage 2: Vicksburg to Twin Lakes
The second stage was the shortest, at 13.4 miles, but with 3,200 feet of elevation gain, I thought it was the most difficult. The previous day's sun had left me with sunburns on the backs of both calves, despite wearing sunscreen. I learned an important lesson that sunburned calves + compression socks = no good. But if that was the only pain I felt after almost 21 miles, I wasn't going to complain. Too much. For stages 2 and 3, we were required to bring a hat, gloves, waterproof jacket and space blanket because the weather can be drastically different at higher elevations. (I was a little concerned about the whole space blanket thing. I was unaware we were going to run to space). This stage took us through part of the Leadville 100 course, with a series of steep climbs and switchbacks up to Hope Pass at 12,500 feet. I'll never be fast enough, strong enough or insane enough to attempt the Leadville 100, but it was neat to experience part of the route. The climbs were tough but totally worth it for the stunning views. I did start to feel a little dizzy at the top, almost like altitude drunkness or something. I stumbled a few times and found I had to really concentrate and focus on my steps. After taking pictures at Hope Pass, we began a steep, technical descent. I'm terrible at downhills so this was my least favorite part of the whole race. I was slow, but I didn't fall. So there's that. The rest of the course was made up of more gradual descents and beautiful singletrack along a lake.

Stage 3: Leadville to Nova Guides
The last stage was the longest, 24.4 miles and 2,700 feet of elevation gain. The 2.5 miles of roads we ran out of Leadville (mostly downhill) were a nice break for my tired muscles. As we were running down the road, another runner said to me "I love your little buns. They're so fun." I'm pretty sure she was talking about my hair. Because my butt was being sore, not fun. And my quads were burning from the previous day's climbs and descents. Though it felt like all the training runs I did when I was sore from Fit1 and pilates, so I didn't mind it. There were some nice climbs and descents on this stage, but they were far more runnable than those of stage 2. We also had a few stream crossings, which felt great on my hot feet. The weather was sunny and warm again, though it started to get a little rainy and windy during our last couple of miles. We could see the finish line but still had about 3 miles to go to get there and it seemed to take forever. But we made it! After 58 miles of gorgeous and tough trails, Pete and I crossed the finish line hand in hand. We took a couple of pictures, got our finishers shirts and medals and I consumed the best tasting PBJ sandwich and Gatorade chocolate protein shake of my life.

For all my worries leading up to this race, it went surprisingly well. It was my highest mileage, toughest climbing and longest time on feet ever, but I felt the best I've ever felt during a long run. Actually, I think this race was pretty much my version of heaven: running through the mountains with my favorite guy, stopping at aid stations stocked with candy and peanut butter pretzels, cheering for and being cheered on by fellow runners/crazy people. This race was my hardest and best adventure yet. I hope there are many more racecations ahead of us. Because what better way is there to see a new place than by your own two feet? But next time we have to bring friends with us. I know all our TrailsRoc peeps would have loved this race.

Thanks to TransRockies for putting on a fantastic race. The course was challenging and beautiful and amazing, the food was delicious and the campsites were fun. I only wish the desserts had been better (though admittedly I have high standards for dessert) and that TransRockies made a RUN3 sticker I could put on my car. I'm going to have to find a new challenge with a cool sticker.

Infinity of thanks to Alison for driving us to the airport and to Danielle, Bob, Alison and Jenn for welcoming us home with signs and cookies. You know you're living the awesome life when you're as excited to come home as you are to go on vacation.

Super infinity of thanks to Pete for a most excellent adventure. I never would have attempted something like this on my own and the 58 miles and 8 days of exploring Colorado were made even sweeter by sharing them. I love him the mostest possible.

Lyric of the moment: "We're a thousand miles from comfort, we have traveled land and sea. But as long as you are with me, there's no place I'd rather be..."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes.

That is a quote from the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. But it basically sums up my motto for life. (Note: the comma is important. I only party on one dude.)  Because life is the most excellent party.

What starts off as an ordinary Wednesday can turn into a pilates photo shoot for Rochester Magazine (which is like a regular photo shoot plus shaking legs and grimaces) followed by pilates after dark at the Genesee Brew House (which is basically just beer and (mashed potato) balls).  And any night where I can't tell if my abs are hurting from the workout or from laughing so hard is a good night!

Gina's pilates class is going to be the cover story in an upcoming September issue of Rochester Magazine (because Gina's pilates is the filet mignon of pilates). So a photographer came to class tonight, though he didn't stay long enough to capture the end of class. That's where the real magic happens. And by magic I mean your ass is burning and quad planks is a four letter word and you have never been so happy to hear Feist's My Moon, My Man, because it's at the end of Gina's playlist and means class is almost over. Afterwards, we all went for drinks on the rooftop of the Genesee Brew House. Despite not serving french fries and closing the rooftop at dusk (I mean, what kind of a bar is this?), the Genesee Brew House is a neat place. And it has one of the best views in Rochester. For serious. We even saw Robin Thicke's doppelganger.

I can't remember all the conversations that were had and the jokes that were made (a lot of them were about balls, naturally). I just remember thinking this is it, this is the life. Find people who take you as you are and don't take anything too seriously. And be excellent to each other and party on.

Lyric of the moment: "I hope that you don't suffer, but take the pain. Hope when the moment comes you say, I did it all, I did it all. I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. With every broken bone, I swear I lived..."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Robots are made of mettle

We leave for TransRockies in less than a week (insert heart/panic attack here). My first goal is to arrive uninjured, which barring any Prattfalls this week, should be accomplished. My second and decidedly harder goal is to finish (preferably also uninjured). So I made myself an emergency iPod playlist, in case I get in a bad place during the race and need a little extra push in the right direction. Sunday morning I headed out for a solo run to test out the new playlist. It quickly became apparent that for some reason my iPod only had three songs on it, even though I had created a playlist of at least 25 songs. I was thinking of giving iTunes a stern talking to when I returned home, but then I just had to laugh. Because of course they were the exact three songs I needed to hear at that moment.

Under The Milky Way by Church: "And it's something quite peculiar, something shimmering and white. Leads you here despite your destination. Under the milky way tonight..." I often feel this way, as if I'm being called to particular places and especially to particular people. And despite my meanderings and propensity for getting lost, I somehow always end up in all the very best places and inside so many hugs.

Call And Answer by Barenaked Ladies: "If you call, I will answer. If you fall, I'll pick you up. And if you court this disaster, I'll point you home..." I have a lot of doubts. About everything. But they're just superficial. Underneath all my nonsense is a foundation of fearless faith and infinite optimism. Faith that whatever happens, I can get through it, that things will look up, that whatever disasters I court, life will point me to Awesometown.

Joyful Girl by Ani Difranco:  "When everything else seems unclear, I guess at least I know I do it for the joy it brings. Because I'm a joyful girl. Because the world owes me nothing and we owe each other the world. I do it because it's the least I can do. I do it because I learned it from you. I do it just because I want to..." This was a particularly opportune reminder to live for the joy of being alive, to work hard for the joy of hard work, to love for the joy of love. Results may vary. But there is always joy to be found in the effort and the journey.

As I ran through Seneca Park listening to these three songs on repeat, I knew what I needed to do. At TransRockies and beyond. I've always been a girl with an escape plan. I could jump off any cliff because I always had a parachute. Or three. But lately I've been thinking that maybe all the escape plans are just holding me back. Because how can I ever be truly all in if I always have one foot out the door? The doubts and worries and escape plans are just distractions from the truth. That wherever I am is where I'm supposed to be and whatever happens I will be fine and whatever I'm doing can be a source of joy. I don't need parachutes, I only need leaps of faith. No worries if I crash. I'm a robot. And robots are made of mettle.

Lyric of the moment: "Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free. Be more like the man you were made to be..."

Friday, August 1, 2014

This is my life

Wednesday, I was driving a bag of poop to Fairport (isn't that how all good stories start off?). Because apparently I am the kind of person who pays $27 to have her dog's poop tested for parasites. Even though said dog takes a pill every month to prevent him from getting parasites in the first place. Seriously, the dog takes more medication and gets more shots than I do. But whatever. The Vet sent me a reminder postcard to do it. So I did it. Because Mozzie is my little dude and what are we here for if not to take care of each other? So anyway, the poop and I were out for a joyride when I saw a man wearing a lion hat riding a bike and saw/smelled a car on fire on the side of the road (no worries, emergency personnel were on it). I don't know what you guys do on your lunch breaks, but this is my life.

Thursday, the plumber came to fix my toilet. It has been slow and prone to clogging for a week. And none of the things The Internet told me to do, like pouring baking soda and vinegar and hot water and chemicals in the toilet, had worked. Then the plumber pulled a giant black toothbrush out of the pipes. The cleaning people must have accidentally flushed it down there. The bill came to $94 and change and luckily I had just found a $100 bill in my desk drawer that I'd forgotten was in there. So I paid the plumber and called the cleaning service to politely request that they not flush anything else down my toilet. They were apologetic and told me to save the toothbrush and the bill and they will reimburse me. I wasn't expecting them to pay. Actually, I thought it was funny. And the plumber seemed quite impressed, like he had struck gold on some bizarre treasure hunt. I feel very lucky that this is my life and these are my "problems."

Thursday after work, I went to Letchworth to hang out at Eric, Sheila and Pete's campsites. When I was saying goodbye to Pete, I went back for an extra hug. And those extra hug seconds helped me narrowly avoid a smash-up with some baby deer on my drive home. The extra hugs, man. They save me every time.

So I'd like to take this moment to appreciate the randomness and absurdity and awesomeness that is my life.

Lyric of the moment: "I wanna live life, and always be true. I wanna live life, and be good to you. I wanna fly and never come down. And live my life, and have friends around...."