Run #10 -Apple Valley, California

My running the last few months has really been on and off, due to my nagging knee issues, so it’s crunch time for my goal of running twelve different cities by the end of the year. Luckily, I’ve started my first prolotherapy injections (blog post to come soon on that) and have been able to get back out on the road pretty successfully.

Though I traveled to both Dallas and Vegas last month, running wasn’t really possible, but these last couple days I was working with the Apple Valley School District in California and was able to sneak in a run. Although my rental car reservation didn’t go through, the assistant superintendent insisted that I borrow his truck and drew me a very specific map where I could go running. Although I was hesitant to borrow the keys and drive around a strange town, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

His map took me up through a relatively suburban (and safe) neighborhood, that went straight up so that I could get a view of Apple Valley. While not exactly the most picturesque town, it was nice to get out and see something different.

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The roads were super wide, but apparently the town doesn’t do sidewalks. The locals told me this had something to do with equestrians and that a lot of people ride horses around town…and I did notice that two of the principals I met were wearing cowboy boots.

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It was hardly like my more glamorous runs earlier this year (i.e. Barcelona), but it was a nice solid loop and if I’m in town again, I’ll probably do it again. Regardless of how “glamorous” or “non glamorous” my runs in each city have been, they are a way of getting to know a little bit more about the place I’m staying. You can drive around, but running really makes you notice where you are and how people are living.

This also means that I have just two more city runs to complete this goal! (I kind of have a plan for run #12, but I might need to take a day trip to the coast or something to get in the other one).

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Also, anyone else get that urge to blow through this on their dirt bike as a Terminator chases them in a semi truck? Just me…?

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Renting the Runway Part Deux

Pretty much every time someone compliments my wardrobe, I reply, “Thanks! It’s rented.” Many people have been asking me how being an Unlimited member of Rent the Runway works, and I’ve had a couple requests to blog about it, so here goes…

First off, this whole “renting designer clothing” thing started when I went to Vegas to see Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga (read about it here). You can’t just show up wearing any old thing for that kind of show. Then I rented a couple more times for weddings, but pretty soon I did the math and thought, Why am I buying dresses that I don’t wear very often when I could rent them for way less money on the regular?

As a refresher, renttherunway.com is where you can basically rent amazing designer clothing & accessories. And now that I’ve rented close to 100 items, I can tell you with authority that designer dresses are of a far higher quality. The other dresses in my closet are secretly crying.

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After being stuck on the Rent the Runway Unlimited waitlist for many months, I finally became a subscriber about a year ago. How does it work? Every month I pay a fee, and then I get to have any three items at a time. Many people balk at paying $100 month, but we don’t have cable and I consider that a trade off. I also haven’t purchased a new dress or jacket since January.

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Yes, they have outerwear, too.

 

However, there is SO much to know about this service to make Unlimited actually worth the money and time. Here are my LPTs:

PROBLEM: Their shipping is through UPS and it’s terrible. In theory, things should take 2 days to get to you, and 2 days to get sent back. I’ve discovered UPS often doesn’t pick up their shipments on time, or they delay expected delivery dates. SOLUTION: The only thing I’ve found is to drop off my stuff off at a reputable UPS store with an earlier pick-up time. This took some detective work to discover.

PROBLEM: The people at RTR clearly don’t work weekends. When my shipment gets received on Friday, nothing gets processed until Monday. If there’s a holiday on Monday, they don’t work that either. This includes customer service. SOLUTION: I ship my items back typically on Monday morning to maximize their business hours.

PROBLEM: Sometimes things don’t fit, and then you have to send it back and go through the shipping/processing nightmare. SOLUTION: I read the user reviews/photos like crazy. I also stick with a lot of the same styles or designers. It’s designer, which means everything runs small and it’s not worth your money to order the size you think you should wear.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the service (obviously) and plan on continuing my membership – it’s just that as it’s in it’s newer stages (I was one of the first!), I think they have a lot of kinks to work out of the system. (Namely, getting someone to work on weekends.)

Being an Unlimited member means you don’t have to worry about which day to send things back. For November, I hung onto a “fall” coat for most of the month, and then traded it in for a warmer “winter” coat this week.

Either way, I’m totally a fan of renting high quality, designer clothing. It adds a touch of class to my ridiculous and not very classy lifestyle…like when I hit Sauvie’s Island after an important meeting.

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I hope they don’t mind dry-cleaning the sand out of this Erin Fetherston dress.

 

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Or Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

 

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And look – my friends use RTR, too.

About those swimming goals…

I’m sooooo going to turn into a swimmer, I was thinking to myself this time last year, and decided that putting it on my goal list would force me into overdrive. Since I work out on the Nike campus, the excuse factor is tiny. The world class pool is giant (and generally empty on the weekends), and there are dedicated 1-1 swim instructors for $25 a session. How could I not follow through?

Initially, I was waiting for the end of spring. It was too cold to have wet hair outside. Summer would be my swimming jam. But then I tweaked my knee on the last week of school (playing soccer), and then again in August (running sprints), and then again in September (coaching soccer). This has been a terrible, terrible year for someone who really enjoys being active.

Many people gave me well-intentioned (but annoying) advice that swimming would help my knee – which is true in theory. But after the long standing, chronic knee trauma that I’ve been dealing with for FIVE YEARS, I’m telling you that the kicking motion in the pool really hurts. My knee isn’t stable enough for it the extension movement.

These last couple weeks have felt pretty good. I’ve actually been out running my regular route (the true test) with no pain. But here’s what I know to be true: just when I feel good, I do something new and stupid to hurt myself again. Swimming won’t hurt you, I know you’re saying. Probably not. But why take the chance? Why not stick with the spin bike and embarrassing elliptical and careful jogs that my physical therapist recommended?

Sadly, my swimming goals have about a 1% chance of happening, and that’s ok. Yesterday, I did 140 push ups, 100 burpees, 1000 jumping jacks, 120 (very careful) squats, and a bunch of other things. Today I ran 4.5 miles. It’s not like I’m sitting around doing nothing.

 

#1 – Learn to dribble and shoot a basketball. Check.

Out of all the goals I had this year, shooting a basketball seemed the most intimidating. Coming in at five foot zero, that net is so far away. And let’s be real, my arm-sport game is pretty weak. Although I did learn to throw a ball better last year, it’s far from a bragging right.

The first time Thor took me to the basketball court was embarrassing to say the least. He started modeling how to shoot a basket and I was like, “No back it up – how do I even hold a basketball?” but with a few sessions of practice, I was getting the hang of it.

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Question: Why do I even care about shooting a basketball?

After watching so much NBA with the men of my life, I repeatedly failed to understand how anyone could miss a free throw. Isn’t that what they are paid MILLION$ of dollars for? And everyone is lined up on the side, you can take your time – what is so hard about a free throw?!

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And people would explain to me that there is so much more to basketball, and blah blah blah. But seriously, isn’t a free throw basically FREE?! (My head is still exploding over this).

Answer: If I want to talk shit about free throws, I should be able to make them myself.

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Now that Beaverton built a fancy new school in my backyard, I can practice free throws all I want. Thor has shown me the ropes, but I need to demonstrate mastery independently; in the teacher world, we call this gradual release of responsibility. I believe my learning target is, “I can dribble a basketball and shoot free throws at 80% accuracy.” Sound fair?

I’ve been practicing a lot on my own, and consistently I am able to sink (is that the right term?) eight out of ten baskets. AND I can demonstrate from multiple points of entry on the court (all the PE teachers around the world right now should be taking note that differentiating for proficiency isn’t hard at all!). I can even adjust for wind interference. Whaaaaaaaaat. I said it: wind.

Here we go, not exactly the most exciting video – but you get the idea:

And just in time for the new basketball season, here are some big fails. (Ugh – so many Blazers featured in here…)

Books of September

As usual this month, there were some winners and some losers.

51K6PMcWEKL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Locked Ward: Memoirs of a Psychiatric Orderly by Dennis O’Donnell – Written by a guy who was an orderly for many years in a psychiatric unit, he loosely retells stories that he witnessed and experienced with patients and other orderlies. I admit that I chose this one hoping for some shocking stories, stuff that would disturb me. Instead, it was a somewhat “heartwarming” account of how people with mental illness struggled but then were also treated by a generally competent staff in a competent place. Which is all fine and dandy – I can sleep easier – but it just wasn’t what my warped brain was looking for. I also struggled to read the Scottish dialogue and felt that some of the stories felt contrived, or molded for a purpose. For me it was meh, but I could see people who are into Oprah’s Book Club enjoying this one.

Unknown.jpeg438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathon Franklin – Aha! This one was much more my speed! I vaguely remembered reading about this story when it hit the news: a Mexican fisherman rescued after over a year adrift in the Pacific, and it was so unbelievable that many called it a hoax. This book tells the story of an experienced fisherman, Salvador Alvarenga (actually Salvadorian), who was caught in a storm and then survived for 438 days adrift with no supplies in an open boat. His survival skills are unmatched as he learned to catch fish and birds with his hands and scavenge garbage to make tools and shelter.

And just when you think being rescued is the end of the story – it’s not. His physical and mental state are seriously damaged, and his story was put into question. But if you read this book, you’ll see that how intelligent and determined he was to survive (he was drinking his urine and eating raw turtles by day 5 – no down time for him!).

Unknown.jpegPapillon by Henri Charriere – At the end of 438 days, the journalist who wrote the book said that Alvarenga was his version of “Papillon” – the guy who manages to continue to survive despite all odds. There is a lot of controversy over who is the real Papillion, and the inter web tells me the story is probably not true despite the claim.

After reading this book, I DON’T CARE. I hated it; I hated him. The narrator was full of himself from the first moment, and in fact I enjoyed when prison guards beat him mercilessly. It seemed at times he was proclaiming the gross inequities and brutalities of incarceration (which I have no doubt are true everywhere) and then two minutes later he was full of false bravado about his intellect. His escapes seem phony, or at least wildly embellished, along with all the romantic pursuits. I couldn’t finish this book fast enough, and not in a good way.

Want to more about Salvador Alvarenga – the real deal?