Friday, October 31, 2008

ghost stories

Halloween used to be one of my favorite holidays. There was something about the silliness of costumes, the traditions, and a general sense of fun that just made me like it.

Over the years, I've lost the spark -- going out for Halloween just isn't appealing. I don't want to spend the energy on costuming. Or watching amateurs drink themselves stupid.

In a way, I miss it. I miss living in a neighborhood where the kids actually trick-or-treat. I always liked handing out candy and seeing the costumes. I miss hanging out with my official "best friend" (a childhood designation that still holds water) -- Halloween was an anniversary of sorts for us in those early years of friendship. Her mother died a few weeks ago, and I hate being on the other side of the country and helpless. So there are the ghosts in this post -- memories.

On the other hand, it meant I went to a conditioning class for aerial work tonight. All the abs, stretching, rope-climbing, pullups and pushups are far more satisfying than any costume party could be. Another exciting Friday night workout -- and there's no taunting Halloween candy in the house.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

lucky number 13*

12.9 miles.
on my bicycle.

my lovely, wonderful, commuter bicycle, complete with rack, generator headlight and fenders.

It's the longest ride I've taken in well over a year, since before my shoulder surgery. The longest on this bike ever. (It, while excellent for commuting, is not exactly light -- I think I need to get a road bike for real rides).

for many of my imaginary internet readers, that's just a warm-up.

but it still feels like an accomplishment.

For the week:
walking -- 12.5 miles
running -- 2.9 miles**
bicycling -- 30 miles
trapeze -- 1.5 hours
core and strength conditioning -- 2.5 hours
shoulder exercises -- daily

* There's a decently-divish bar in San Francisco with the name Lucky 13.

** Last night I met a friend after work for "a run". She's on week 2 of couch-potato-to-5k, and I let her set the pace. I'm counting this as walking, as it turned out I could walk as fast as she was moving. We're doing it again next week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

driving a hard bargain...

I bargain with myself when exercising. It's a pretty good deal, since usually it makes me push myself harder. Tonight, I really didn't want to run. I was feeling lazy and I'd left work later than I'd intended. I'd been trying to figure out how to do something all afternoon, and it finally clicked about 10 minutes before I intended to leave.

So I promised myself I only had to do a mile. I could quit after a mile. Something > nothing. Of course, I did more than that, because I reached a mile and I still didn't want to be running but I also had no compelling reason to quit.

Besides, I got up on Sunday morning and headed out to cheer for 21cmom in the Nike Women's Half Marathon. Despite the roughness of the course map, I managed to find my way to the spot where the full and the half diverged, and hang out cheering on runners until she came along. (Sadly, I'm pretty sure from her splits that Juls (Keeping Pace) passed me while I was there, but I didn't recognize her in the sea of TNT purple). Seeing that many people running on a Sunday morning was inspiring, and seeing 21cmom is always enjoyable, even if I only tagged along with her for a few hundred yards. I'm glad I got out there, even if the previous night's dinner date with El Bandito had a little more wine than optimal for getting up on a cloudy Sunday.

My trapeze skills are slowly improving. I'm frustrated, so very frustrated, by all the things I used to be able to do that are still past my current level of strength and agility post-surgery. ButI am making progress and it's important for me to reiterate that to myself. Especially since I feel rather like I'm simply treading water in so many ways.

I didn't get the job that I mentioned previously. It would have been a real stretch; I think I would have enjoyed the challenge but it was also damn intimidating. All-in-all, however, the application and interview was a good experience. Now, if only there were some equally appealing ads out there right now. There will be something, or I'll pursue more freelance opportunities.

In the meantime, I keep bargaining with myself.

Friday, October 3, 2008


One year ago today, I had major shoulder surgery. I woke up far too early, didn't have coffee, and had the best surgical experience of my life (n=9 or 10) in terms of care, anesthesia, and analgesia.

I thought I was prepared. My surgeon had given me guidelines; my husband and I had had lots of conversations about how, when, where, what. I knew that it would be 2 months before I was allowed to run; 3 months before I could bike. My surgery was not a typical one -- no rotator cuff, biceps tendon, or labral repairs for me. No, I had to have the rare one, a capsular shift and HAGL repair -- which involved cutting open my otherwise healthy rotator cuff to reach the problem areas.

I didn't really understand just how much of an impact it would be on my life. Losing the use of your dominant arm for 6 weeks? Extremely frustrating. For the first week, things were measured in invisible increments. On day 2, I walked to the corner. on day 3, the corner + 1 block. On day 8, I was allowed to shower, although it was a scary experience. Dressing required help. Eating was messy and one-handed. My meals were cut up for me like I was 5 (which I am, internally).

On day 27, I went back to work. Early. And sooner than I ought to have, but I was going stir-crazy at home, seeing all the things I could/should do and not being able to do them.

Three months in, I took my first bike ride. Slow and tentative. Witha mild stomach flu, but I damn well wasn't going to postpone it.
Four months in, I was allowed in the pool.

It was roughly 6 months before I got clearance to hang from my arms. A simple hang, not anything complicated.

The surgery threatened my sense of autonomy, and my sense of identity.

I fell in love with trapeze after I started in 2003. The endorphins, the focus, the strength. Being an arealist, albeit an amateur one, was one of my defining traits. The shoulder surgery changed that. It took trapeze out of my vocabulary. It made me dependent on El Bandito for simple things like tying my damn shoes. I could do a pullup before I could easily put on a sports bra. I couldn't imagine not doing trapeze again, but I dreaded the steps involved in returning. And before that, I needed help doing such simple things.

It hasn't been easy. I'm back in class this session, but at a much lower level than previously. Good for not taxing my shoulder, and for not learning bad habits. Bad in that it's frustrating me. I end up demonstrating tricks and trying things I once knew how to do, not learning new things at this point.

I'm running to get my endorphin high. It helps, but it isn't the satisfaction of learning a new trick. It's a different focus, a different meditation.

It's been a hard year. A very good one in some respects, but a hard one. I'm lucky to have had an incredibly supportive spouse through it all. El Bandito has been terrific. A few friends stuck through, but it's also amazing how much people don't realize that a simple phone call or email expressing interest helps.

Tonight, I might skip my shoulder PT for the first time in a year. The exercises have changed, of course, but I haven't missed a single day. Part discipline, part fear, part need to control as much of the outcome as possible.

Rambling. Tonight I did intervals on the treadmill. Fast, furious sprints, interspersed with calm walking. I breathed in and out, feeling the swing of my arm with the cadence of my feet. It was enough, in the moment. Then I came home and put on my favorite boots (and my pants which have become too big somehow) and El Bandito took me out for a fabulous dinner. So WTF am I complaining about?