Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wrist Hurts

I'd like to write about what a great swim I had with C.P., Oceana, L., B., and Ahenobarbus on Sunday, but I need to save my left wrist. I am typing one handed, which seems like a good recipe for overuse injury on my other arm. Thanks, all, for the great swim. Haven't swam that far in the bay since my 30th b-day with Oceana.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Build Stronger Feet and Ankles


A while ago I posted a request for a picture of a good plantar stretch. I found an article in Runner's World magazine that has one. Here's a link to the article, which has some other good stretches and strengthening exercises for feet and ankles:

Build Stronger Feet and Ankles

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Little Down

I've been a little down the last couple of days, despite my Trans-Tahoe acceptance. I hurt my wrist somehow. It feels like a bruise more than anything. I think I landed on it when I climbed out of Lake Del Valle onto the boat ramp. I hope it goes down. I've been relatively pain free throughout my Trans-Tahoe training so far. Yes, I've been icing and taking ibuprofen. It hurts a bit to swim, so I'm torn between wanting to keep my yards up and worrying about hurting myself. I feel like a big baby. I think I need some kind of plan to get through this. I hate to treat my coach like my doctor, but I guess it doesn't hurt to ask. Doctors don't seem to know all that much about swimming.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Trans Tahoe Acceptance

I got my acceptance letter for Trans Tahoe today. This is great news. I sent my application in 6 weeks ago. I was starting to worry that there was a PMS wide conspiracy to not allow me to do a long swim.

Happy Anniversary!


Congratulations, Raybon, on making it through another year with your impossible wife. 8 years! Glad to say we made it cleanly through the 7 year itch.

(Apologies for the cheesy, posed cruise photo. Like that soft focus, though.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lake Del Valle Swim With 007

It was another lovely, sunny day at Lake Del Valle. 007 joined me for a nice, long swim escorted by Raybon. She is swimming Long Island Sound (15 Miles) in August. We started our swim around 11:00 a.m, and swam for 2 hours together, logging about 4 miles. It was very nice to have company, and having someone faster than me to give me some incentive to maintain a better pace. I hadn't really hung out with 007 for quite a while, and almost never have one-on-one, so it was nice to hang out and talk. After our swim, I walked with her back to our cars, so she could get dressed and I could apply some Body Glide to my chafed right underarm. She walked me back to the dock, where Raybon was waiting for me, and waved us off.

I got in for another 2 hours. I felt very stiff for the first 4 miles of the day, and thought I should rethink my 8 mile goal. But once I got in and relaxed some, I felt fine to swim the rest of the way. Unfortunately, we had GPS problems, so I'm not sure how far I swam exactly. It was very windy and choppy for the second half of the swim. Raybon had problems. I wanted to keep going to make sure I got the 8 miles in, but he insisted we turn around before we reached our goal point.

Raybon's gotten a lot better at being my kayak escort (feedings are more efficient and he's better at staying where I need him to help me navigate), but I think we'll need to rent a boat for the actual Tahoe swim. It'll be kind of pricey, but this is a pretty big deal to me, so I think it is worth it. If anyone has any ideas about possible accommodations and a boat and pilot in Tahoe, please help me out. It's hard for me to ask for help, so I'm throwing it out here. It seems like the hardest thing about long distance swimming is needing so much support and cooperation of other people. You need a crew and people to help you train. Thanks again to everyone who has helped me out with this. Thanks, 007 for swimming with me today! Thanks Raybon, again, for paddling for me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Egomaniac

I asked Raybon a little while ago if he thought I had a big ego. He answered enthusiastically "Your ego gets into the room before you do." I thought this was pretty funny, and asked him to elaborate. He said, "You think you're such a great swimmer." Ok, I asked the question because I thought there might be some possibility that it might be true, but this defense of his opinion is clearly baseless. I think I'm a slow swimmer. I actually find it a tiny bit embarrassing that my main hobby is something I have not much talent for. My sister broke a 28 in the 50 M freestyle in high school. Granted, I'm not a sprinter, but I'm lucky if I break a 38. My mom held the record for the 50 backstroke for Los Angeles when she was in high school. My grandma was the anchor on a freestyle relay team that won a national championship (sorry I don't know more details than that.) My uncle was All-American. My young cousins can kick my ass all over the pool. Do you think with a family like that I could possibly think I'm a fast swimmer? My satisfaction has to come from working hard at improving. It can't be from thinking I compare to other people.

I defended myself by saying that there was no way I thought I was a great swimmer. I asked him for more evidence that I had a big ego. He said "You think you're soooooo smart." Ok, I was my high school class valedictorian, have always tested well, was in GATE, graduated with Honors in both my majors in college, so I'm not going to lie and say that I don't think I'm smart. I do a lot of stupid things however. (Just click on the tag labeled dorkiness.) If I was never good at school, I think I would have no self-esteem about my intelligence, based on all of the ridiculous mistakes I make in the course of a day.

I asked Raybon "Do I broadcast my intelligence?" He said, "Yes, you always act like you're right about everything." I defended myself, "Well, usually when I insist that I'm right, I am." He then gave a couple of examples to the contrary, like when I thought that Egyptian pyramids had triangular bases. (Please, we're supposed to be impressed by a square based pyramid? Anyone can make a square based pyramid.) I bet him that I was right, and if I was, he'd have to swim with me, and if I was wrong, I'd pick up the dog's business in the front yard. While I did think I was right, I made the bet because I really don't mind picking up dog crap, and I would like him to swim with me at least once. I told him that he insists he's right when he's not more often than I do, and he took this as further evidence that I have a big ego. I wasn’t convinced.

As we walked to get lunch together, I told my coworker P. about Raybon's opinion about me. He implied agreement with him in as nice a way as possible. He said, "Well, ego can mean lots of different things. In some ways its good to have a big ego." I agreed. I think it is good to like yourself and be your own biggest cheerleader. I realized as we talked and ate our lunch back at the office that P. might have cause to think I have a big ego in a negative sort of way as well though. We read the newspaper as we ate our lunches, and he'd tell me a little bit about what he was reading. Truthfully, I am pretty uninformed when it comes to current events. Every time he told me about what he was reading, I took it as an opportunity to give my opinion about it, rather than asking him more about it, or listening to his opinion. I hate it when people do this to me, especially about stuff I know more about than they do.

In conclusion? Do I have a big ego? Maybe. I definitely have room for improvement in this area.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Crash

I've felt swept up by momentum for at least the past week. I'm not sure I can even count how many times I worked out. Between running and swimming, and then swimming some more, I'm not sure I've taken a day off since I got back from my Mexico cruise. I usually work from home at least one day a week, but I haven't done that. I've been trying to organize a training schedule for a relay across the Catalina Channel C.P. and I are trying to put together, which is taking up a lot of time. I also started dieting again. Answering Camille's questions (probably the most fun I've had blogging for a while) took up a bit of time and energy. I've felt slightly fried, and I know if has affected my concentration a bit, but I've shrugged it off for the most part.

Until today.

I did a super fun Run-Swim-Run-Swim-Run yesterday with MMakaTS. It was fun to run with the group of people I normally swim with. I usually run alone, and I felt a similar sort of energy and camaraderie that I feel when I swim Masters.

After my little duathlon, I swam for an hour at Cowell's later that day with Eleven, Camille, and Oceana. I wanted to do a really long swim that day, but it was cold, choppy, windy, and I was just plain tired. It is a little weird that I'm doing crazy things lately that last year I would never have done, but I still feel like a bit of a wimp. Swimming for an hour in 54 degree water? Swimming 9000 yards in the pool? This is less than what my training schedule for Tahoe asks, so I don't feel accomplished. Oceana swam with me the full hour. We then went to get burritos and then coffee with the rest of the crew and our S.O.'s. I've so-o-o-o missed the beach and these post swim hang out times. Hooray for summer!

Raybon decided at the last minute to do a 10K run today. He asked me to come with him. I said yes out of guilt. This morning was the first in a while that I felt like sleeping in. I was actually having something like a nightmare, but I found this preferable to being woken up. (A big fat, disgusting shark was eating disgusting people.) I begged him to let me stay, but he held me to my word. He's done a lot to be supportive of my swimming lately, so I couldn't really say no, and I do like the fact that he is becoming more active and running. I still felt like a big whiny, tired, crabby baby.

On the way there, I decided I would run a 5K. I'm not sure I would say this was a mistake exactly, but it was painful. What was I thinking? That running a 5K would be better than waiting around for an hour? That I could work out some lactic acid from yesterday? That I should get some running in while I had some time? And pay $30 for so I could get a T-shirt? ( It was a charity run/walk for a shelter, so I don't feel so bad about the $30) I didn't realize I was sore from yesterday until I started the run. Ow. Ow. Ow. I had to walk a lot of the last mile. I don't know if I had to, but I did. I also had this huge feeling of "I don't wanna" that I rarely feel when I race. I averaged 12+ minute miles, which I think is a little embarassing, especially for a 5K. I'm afraid that when people Google me, none of my other races will come up, just this one 12 minute mile 5K. Get over it, Nori. No one googles you but you.

I ate a burrito and took a long food coma induced nap. I'm starting to feel like a human being, and stopped telling Raybon that I hate him. I don't feel like working out tomorrow. Maybe I'll just go for a nice relaxing lap swim to try to avoid burnout.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day


In my answer to Camille's question "Tell us the 3 best pieces of advice you've ever gotten” I thought it was a little fishy that the three pieces of advice I chose were all from men. The truth is, the person I go to most often when I'm having a problem is my Mom. I'm kind of a lucky that I have the type of relationship with my Mom that I can tell her everything about my life. I said in a post a while back ago "Basically, everyone is the wrong person to tell a secret to." Truthfully, I think I could amend that to everyone but my Mom.

My Mom is my hero. I think what impresses me most about her is the unconditional love she gives to her children. I guess in some ways she's lucky to have children as good as we are, but in some ways we're pretty rotten. I know when I talk to her, I forget sometimes to ask her about what is going on with her life, even when her problems are huge compared to what is going on in my silly little life. She never holds this against me. She listens to me carefully, prays for me, worries for me, and loves me, and never expects an equal amount of this in return.

I hope someday to be able to give the same kind of unconditional love to others that my mom gives to her children. The kind of things we do to her would break my heart if someone I loved did them to me. Often when I do something nice for someone, I expect gratitude or a return of the favor later on. My Mom loves without any expectation of repayment. I guess anything short of this is a plea for love, and not love itself. In my seven lists of sevens, the second thing on my list of "Seven things to do before I die” is "Learn to love as best I can.” If I can ever learn to love as well as my Mom, I'll cross this off my list. I think having her as a role model at least gives me a good starting point.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thanks, Camille!

Thank you, Camille, for the interview questions. That was a lot of fun. Anybody want to be interviewed by me?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Nori is Interviewed by Camille, Part 5

5) You are called as an ecological consultant for a construction firm who needs to file paperwork for an upcoming building project. They are planning on building a green homeless shelter/ free medical clinic. You begin your research and find that the swamp they will drain is the last remaining habitat of the sickle-headed spiney toad. You are the only one who knows this. If you decide to put this in your report, the homeless shelter will never be built (it’s a complicated story, but the funding will go build casinos in Nevada). What do you do?

I shared this question with my co-worker Patrick. He thought it was a great question. He says he comes across situations like this occasionally in his work as a biologist at our firm.

My godfather, formerly my philosophy professor, reads this blog pretty regularly. Outside of class, we've never really talked a lot about philosophy. He always thought I was a good student. Since I'm a little rusty (and taking one page to answer a question that could be debated for volumes), I'm a little afraid of proving him wrong. He is a good friend now, and I'm not intimidated by him generally, but I feel a little shy about posting. It might be cool, however, if he would chime in and comment on it. I welcome everyone's criticism. It's fine if you're brutal. Be my Socrates.

I see taking on this question in several ways. I'd like to say right off the bat, that while one can imagine very limited scenarios like this for philosophical purposes, generally environmentalism and social issues shouldn't have to conflict. It is important for our planet to have educated, healthy, people with decent standards of living, because people who aren't can't be bothered with caring for the environment.

The environmental consultant in me wants to argue with your question by taking practical approaches. In an Environmental Impact Report, there is a section where you explore alternatives to the project. Why can't the homeless shelter be built somewhere else? (In real life, I'm sure it could.) Could a new swamp be made with habitat suitable for the toad? (This is something done for other species.) The philosophy major in me knows that these are the types of questions that made me roll my eyes in ethics class. They are missing the point. The point of the question is that I'm being asked to make a value judgment.

Honestly, I've never been very good at applied ethics. I can always see both sides of the issue.

I really do believe in environmentalism as the most important cause facing us today. Everything else that is happening politically will just be another part of our violent, brutal history, but we only have one planet. If we destroy it in the next 20 years, we will never get a new one.

Still, my gut feeling is that a human life is more important than a toad's, even if it is the last one of its kind. If it is a known fact that people who could have lived will die if the shelter/free medical clinic isn't built, then the toad habitat has to go. Who could possibly hold a baby in one hand and a toad in another and choose the toad over the baby? No reasonable, feeling person would be able to do this.

There is also the issue of honesty. There is part of me that finds the idea of always being honest appealing: lying destroys trust, and thus makes honest communication meaningless. Still, if I had to choose between saving a child's life and being honest, I'd feel like a horrible coward if I couldn't manage to work up the guts to stand up to my inner first grade teacher and lie.

So: in this one very limited scenario, the toad habitat goes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nori is Interviewed by Camille, Part 4

4) Tell us the 3 best pieces of advice you've ever gotten.

This is a little bit hard. I'm sure there is plenty of advice that I've taken from people that has become one with me so much that I've just forgotten it was ever given to me. Also, a lot of the advice I've been given that has been good has been pretty personal, not necessarily bloggable. So I’m not going to pretend like what follows is s a true answer to your question. These are just the 3 pieces of advice that come to mind:

1) "Don’t apologize for yourself." This was advice given to me by my Dad last year. I used to constantly feel a sense of shame and guilt, and felt like I had to apologize for everything about me, good and bad, whether I was being smart or dumb, nice or mean, efficient or inefficient. There's a lot that's wrong with me, and a lot that is right. That's just where I'm at. I'm working through it as best I can. I'll apologize for my wrong actions, but I won't apologize for who I am.

2) "Commit [to swimming Tahoe] and hold to it. You may have to alter your program, but then just alter your expectations and goals. It is the journey and the destination that will lead to great rewards." This is advice that Coach (with a capital C) gave me when I told him to not be too surprised if I backed out of swimming Tahoe because I was going nuts. I learned by following his advice that it was my doubt that was driving me nuts, not my goals or my training. I also learned from this advice that it was my perfectionism that was keeping me from setting goals for myself and achieving them. I'm hoping that I will become a more focused, effective person in general by carrying through my goal of swimming across Tahoe.

3) "The most important thing in life is to know that God loves you more than you could possibly conceive of." This is my poor paraphrasing of what Father Mel told me as I gave him a tearful confession. I keep learning what this means at deeper, deeper levels, and the more I do, the happier a person I am. Everything else in life is unimportant compared to being able to receive God's love.

Nori is Interviewed by Camille, Part 3

3) Willow is hiding under the house again. Do you use force or
cajolery to get her out, or perhaps a third option?

It depends on how I'm feeling. If I’m being a lazy, deceitful mom (or just in a big hurry) I just jingle her chain or tell her we’re going for a ride. She’ll come out, and I’ll drag her into the house. I feel like a liar, and I wonder how well this will continue to work if I keep doing it. If I’m being a good mom, and feel like she has a good reason to be mad at me and hide under the house, I will actually take her for a ride or a walk. If I’m not in a good mood, and am not dressed for work or going out, I crawl under the house, grab her collar, and drag her out.

Nori is Interviewed by Camille, Part 2

2) Describe what you do with the water when you swim and what the
water does to you.

When I jump or dive in, I slice through it, and feel like an invader. For a brief moment I feel like a conquerer, that my weight and gravity have some power over it. But in order to move through it, I try as much as I can to become part of it, and to the degree I can do this, the better a swimmer I am. They say you are supposed to keep your muscles relaxed when you swim. If you tense them up, they become like rocks, and rocks sink. If you think of them as relaxed, you become more like the water, and can float on and move with it.

When I do an open water race, I spend about the first third of it just trying to find the water. I always try to feel it pressing up again my hands, and pressing up against my body. I find myself being more conscious of this in the open water than in the pool, because each body of water is different, and is different on different days. Once I’ve found the water, I can start moving my body a little bit faster, because I sort of feel like I’ve found the proper rhythm to get through it. Whenever I don’t feel the water pushing back at me, I know something has gone wrong. Occasionally, I’ll have to slow down again, because I feel like I’ve lost the water, and I need to find it again.

Nori is Interviewed by Camille, Part 1

At 327market.blogspot.com, John B. of Blogmeridian.blogspot.com, gave a set of thought provoking questions to Camille to answer. Check her blog out. She’s a great writer. So is John B., although I'm not as faithful a reader of his blog, because our interests vary more than mine and Camille's (also Camille is a friend of mine.) She offered to interview someone else, and I took her up on it, but beseeched her to ask questions tailored for my brain. Here is my answer to the first of her thoughtful and thought-provoking questions:

1) Kurt Vonnegut and John McCrea are coming over for dinner, what is on the menu?

I’m very glad you invited both Kurt Vonnegut and John McCrea over at the same time. My ability to hold a conversation with someone I haven’t known long is often inversely proportional to my admiration for him or her. (Any of you readers that I clammed up around when I first got to know you should be flattered. If I didn’t, that just means you have a reassuring presence and/or are probably female.) When I first heard you invited them over, I freaked out for this very reason. Then I realized, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I just sat back listened to Kurt Vonnegut and John McCrea riff off each other while I politely asked them if I could refill their water glasses?

I’m also glad you didn’t invite say, Bono and Kurt Vonnegut, or Bono and John McCrea over. I may have a lot of admiration for Kurt Vonnegut and John McCrea, but I’ve never had a strong physical attraction to either of them. But if you invited Bono and pretty much anyone else over, I’d just sit there frustrated that I couldn’t be alone with Bono. Wait, is Raybon invited, too? Damn… He lives here.

This question is slightly intimidating, because you’re asking about two people who are clever writers, and you yourself are a clever writer, so I feel pressured to be a little more than I am. Well, just take me as I am. I like you, Kurt, and John, and I think I’m a decent writer, but I can’t compare myself to them or you.

What to have for dinner? I’ll just throw out the stupid obvious answer: Wheaties (Breakfast of Champions) and Cake (I’d cut it with my “serrated edge, that [I] move back and forth it’s such a simple machine, you wouldn’t have to use force, when [I] get what [I] want, [I’ll] put the rest on a tray in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.”) A little less stupid and obvious: Ice Nine (Hamachi, Scallop and Salmon sushi named after the earth-threatening weapon from Cat’s Cradle) and um…. I’m stretching to find a subtle food reference from a Cake song… Can someone do something with “There are pies on the carousel, have a slice?” (Ain’t No Good.)

Seriously (well, as serious as I can be), I think I’d have to go with Mexican food. I would just go with my standard enchiladas, rice, and beans, and have a choice of beverages: wine or Dos Equis. I’d probably make it a little bit extra spicy. Why? Mexican food is heavy on the yang, the Chinese concept of male energy. I think it would be great fun to hear these two guys with their biting senses of humor get into some kind of friendly argument. (The first time I met Camille we had a heated argument about Kurt Vonnegut. I'm also heavy on the yang.) I also think that as much as I admire these guys, neither of them are pretentious or exotic, so I think some homey Mexican food might suit them well.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans."

- Old Proverb

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Deathly

Deathly

So don't work your stuff
Because I've got troubles enough
No, don't pick on me
When one act of kindness could be
Deathly
Deathly
Definitely

-Aimee Mann

The above used to be my favorite Aimee Mann song. (I think I now lean more towards "Driving Sideways.") I could relate to it, because I used to get hurt by having unmet expectations of people. Sometimes these people would be close friends who would do something like miss my birthday. Sometimes they would be guys who would pay a lot attention to me and then drop me like a hot potato once they realized they'd have to deal with a woman with deep feelings. When I went to see Aimee in concert, it was the song that people shouted out most often for her to play. I guess it is most people's favorite Aimee Mann song. Does that say something about most people, or just most Aimee Mann fans?

I honestly (cross my fingers, knock on wood, and praise God) think I've moved past this. For the first time in my life I've realized what it means that God loves me, that I am precious and important to him. I've also learned to not feel like I have to apologize for who I am, to take some pride in myself, and to never be ashamed of who I am, even if I have done things that are wrong.

I don't bring this up so much to explain my new found confidence, or lament my past neuroses. Oddly, sometimes I think I hurt people with my kindness, in the same way I used to be indirectly hurt by the kindness of others. Sometimes, I'll be especially nice to people, but I don't show this consistently. Is this something even worth worrying about? Should I not be especially kind to people, unless I'm willing to turn this into something more consistent, like a friendship?

Buoy Explanation

My Mom was really confused by my last post. She also pointed out that I was very silly. Well, yeah...

For the uninitiated:

The beach I usually swim at, in past years, has had 4 buoys marking the swimming area on the right side of the wharf. Boats aren't allowed to come in this area. Buoy #1 is closest to shore and the wharf. Buoys 2, 3, and 4 are each farther and farther from the shore and the wharf. Unless there is something weird going on with the water that makes me want to avoid one or more of the buoys, I swim out to Buoy #1 first, then swim out to each of the buoys until I reach Buoy #4. I then turn around and swim to Buoy #3, Buoy #2, then Buoy #1. If I'm feeling studly, I'll repeat this multiple times. Last year, round trip was about 800 meters.

Why do I love buoys? (Swimming area buoys. Not pull buoys. Pull buoys I hate.) I don't know. I like counting, I guess. I like being able to quantify my swimming. I love being out in the ocean, but I feel lost without my buoys. It's awfully left-brained of me, I guess.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

3 Buoys?

Good news and bad news.

Good news first:

The buoys are back! Raybon, Oxy, and I went and got drinks and tacos on the wharf tonight. I didn't even bother looking at my beach, but Raybon said "Is that a buoy?" I squealed in delight as I realized my precious buoys are back. I love me some buoys.

Bad news next:

There are only 3 buoys. My favorite place in the world is Buoy #4. Where is Buoy #4?

OK, I know the universe thinks it has gotten the better of me, but really it hasn't. I've had to let go of other things I love and move onto other things. I can let go of Buoy #4. I bet Buoy #3 is actually a much better buoy than Buoy #4, I just never realized it. Poor, humble Buoy #3, long neglected by my love. Will you forgive me and accept it now?

Vindication


I just downloaded a map from Google Earth and measured the round trip distance of the swim I did in Mazatlan, and it is 1.5 miles, not 1800 meters. Ha! No wonder I couldn't do it in 32 minutes. Ok, no one cares but me, and I should be working, but I felt like it must be said.