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Friday, April 29, 2011

I can type! I can Blog!

Hey everyone! Look at me! Two handed typing like a normal person. (score!). And I got my hair up in a pony tail for the first time this morning. (score!). Next goal….contacts.

Matt (fortunately) doesn’t read this blog. If he did, I would get a lecture even more severe than last night. After telling him my current life woes (which are in order: 1. Not being able to type, thus not being able to blog; 2. Not being able to put my hair back; 3. Not being able to put in my contacts; 4. The possibility I wont be able to run or ride for a few weeks), the following conversation took place:

Me: WAAAAAA!!!!!
Matt: You are being melodramatic and fussy.
Mel: More sympathy less lecturing.
Matt: You aren’t going to get sympathy for being stupid.

After “kinda” promising to ask my doc about the ½ marathon (any guesses what he’s going to say to that, considering he hasn’t seen me or my xrays yet? *rolls eyes*) I decided to do “research” instead.

Research, meaning “google”.

Turns out this is a common injury among bicyclist. Opinions about running with a fractured radius ran were split between “it will be perfectly fine”, to “you will cause yourself permanent damage”.

I figure that this means I get to chose my own reality….and I chose to run.

There is some logic to this. First most of the people who were having problems running had compound fractures or fractures that were displaced. People with fractures like mine were running 1-2 weeks afterwards with no long lasting issues. Chances are, it will be fine, as long as I don’t fall down again. I’ll wrap it in a stiff bandage so I’m not tempted to use it, and as a reminder NOT to instinctively use it (like what happened in the truck the other day and I went to honk the horn at someone pulling out in front of me. Ow!).

One thing that everyone agreed on is that PT should start as soon as possible or you will never gain full ROM in that elbow. Lots of people were put into a sling by the ER doc, only to have the ortho take it off ~3 days later and start PT. I’m almost a week into the injury, and since my instructions were to keep in on for a couple of days and then “move according to pain”, starting today I’m trying to use the arm as much as I’m able, without making it hurt, for short durations (for example – 30 minutes out of the sling, 1 hour in the sling). From what I’m reading, overuse of the arm could set back the healing, BUT since the injury was minor to begin with and I’m not likely to make it worse a week into the healing (as long as I don’t do something like stupid like pushups), it may actually be worse to keep it immobile any longer than strictly necessary.

I may go into the doc on Monday and learn I’ve made a terrible mistake by taking it out of the sling and it’s going to take an additional week to heal. Or I may go into the doc on Monday and find out that I made a terrible mistake by keeping in immobile and I will require additional PT. I’ll risk the latter. Especially because that’s the last thing I was told by the ER doc and loss of function is much scarier than delayed healing.

And this brings me to an additional beef. When you go to the vet for an emergency, you leave with written discharge instructions. I’ve NEVER gone home with my horse confused on what the plan was for healing.

I didn’t get anything from the urgent care. Nothing written out. Unclear instructions that I kept asking them to clarify. I even brought Matt into the room with me because I knew I wasn’t in a great mental state (shaky, stressed, emotional) and he remembers the visit better than me (for example, I’m suppose to be icing – something I don’t remember being said, but he does). When the office called me the next day to let me know the radiologist saw a break (neither of the on-call docs that night could see it), I had a hard time understanding her (thick accent) and again got off the phone slightly confused about what I should be doing in terms of follow up care. It’s OBVIOUS what I should have done, standing here 5 days later. Yeah, I should have stood up and asked for a different receptionist, grilled the staff until I got specific instructions, asked them to write them down etc – but I wasn’t exactly entirely cognizant and it’s hard to make good decisions when you are in a lot of pain, taking pain meds, and stressed, and dealing with an entirely new situation (I’m not in the habit of breaking essential bones – fingers and toes and that pointy one in your wrist don’t count…)

So as a result I’m confused. I was never told to follow up with my primary care doc, and when I asked that question it was a shrug and “it might be a good idea”. I was told it should feel “significantly better in a week” and “full recovery before the end of May, when you lose your insurance”. However, all of these (oh so detailed) instructions were given before we knew it was a break. At the visit, I was told to stretch and move it a couple of times a day. When I was told it was a break the next morning, the instructions got even vaguer. “keep in a sling a couple of days to a week” (and NOT do any of the stretching recommended the previous night). The other instruction was “go according to pain” – which is the one straw I have to hold onto right now that my decision to take it out of the sling and try to gently stretch the elbow (without pain) is the right one.

I’m probably totally overacting. Maybe this was just fine and standard for the medical industry. If so, I’ll stick to my vets. And when I’m a vet – I’ll make sure that none of my clients feel the way I did when I left urgent care. And I’ll certainly be more prepared next time in an emergency situation that involves MYSELF. I won’t be leaving without written instructions, even if I have to stand there crying in front of the desk from frustration. And I won’t be afraid to tell someone “I’m having trouble understanding you. Please put someone else on the phone”. I was lucky at the Corvallis ER last summer, but obviously I can’t count on that every time.

Time to put the arm back in the sling, so that’s it for now. I have a ton of new posts bursting out my brain (errrr….I mean evernote) – I’ve been trying a little experiment and the post will be titled “Don’t laugh at my ugly-ass shoes”. AND guess what? – I’ll be showing at Pebble Beach this summer!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pt reyes post

My mother posted about our backpacking trip tp point reyes. If you are interested in some adventures and great pics, check it out here.

I'm in a much better spot mentally than i was yesterday, thanks for all your humorous comments. I can't wait until i have the range of motion to type normally again so I can share some neat stuff that is happening right now!

Here's link if you can't access it above:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Excuse the short, probably riddled with errors post today. Add “one-handed typing” to the list of annoying thins to do one handed.

The fracture isn’t serious. Not displaced, on the radius near the elbow. My fingers, which looked like fat balloons yesterday are now only slightly sausage like. Thanks to copious amounts of ibuprofen. Hoping for a quick recovery. I should only be in a sling for a couple of days.

I waver between amusement about the predicament – one handed single living and a job that depends on me typing….- to complete despair on how I’m going to pay for this. And trying to weigh money/debt against my potential quality of life if I don’t do what I can to insure that this joint remains as functional as possible. This afternoon I made the decision to see my doc (will cost $$) as a follow up to evaluate it – mostly because I didn’t get any clear instructions from urgent care on what I should do for treatment beyond wearing the sling for a week “until it dosent hurt anymore”. Once there, I’ll probably have to make another decision about PT (based on $$).

Realistically I should cancel or greatly reduce plans for this summer and spend all of my saved $$ for med bills, but theres a lot of last chance opportunities this summer. I’m just frusterated because I pride myself on being financially responsible – however I also don’t want to be making choices now that will lessen quality of life later on and make it impossible to do the things I love later. So be responsible or do what I’ve planned out for the last 2 years? (as cheaply as possible of course). I haven’t had to deal with this type of stress before – choosing between my health and my bank account because I’ve always been employeed with good health insurance when I was injured.

And some of this is (of course) my frusteration in having to go at this alone and it SUCKS. I’ve made some friends in the area, but let’s face it – they aren’t going to help me pull on my pants in the morning (and did I mention that I work a management level job that even frowns on these spandex-containing jeans?), crack open my eggs in the morning, or wash my dishes for me (no dishwasher). Theres fixes for all of these…but they cost money. Paperplates that don’t have to be washed, new clothes that are pull on but still look ok for the office, and crushing the egg in the bowel and picking out the pieces. I get the attraction of spending your life with a partner now. Two really is better than one. Things that were entirely doable with Matt’s help over the weekend are a source of frusteration and tears now that I’m back at my apartment. Let’s face it, just having your significant other THERE makes a difference – and although friends are great (and would volunteer in a second if I had something I needed their help with), it’s different than having that SO around, or you mom, or a sister. If I ever thought that I could go through life totally on my own apart from friends and family that question has been answered. While I may be tough and independent when times are good – I still need to share the good times with SOMEONE. When times are bad, i need someone to get that glass of water for me. You know what I’m saying?

Honestly God, if your point in my last couple weeks of being truly single was to show that I can’t do it alone, I GET IT! So please, let this be a miraculous recovery and let me accidentally do all the right things in recovery and not need copious amounts of PT.

This post is much longer and selfserving than originally intended, however I think I am going to let it stand as is, because let’s face it – as endurance riders, there are ups and downs. Most of the time we are good at keeping stuff in prespective and facing it with humor. But sometimes it sucks, and that’s ok too. As long as self pity comes in short durations. Time to be productive. So what am I going to do?

1. Just reread my first post. Chipper and optimistic! More of this less of the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

2. I need a puppy. In the meantime, until I can snuggle with Tess and breathe in the scent of puppy breath, I will cuddle a teal and black lamb that matt won out of a vending machine for me.

3. If something brings me to tears, I’ll pay the extra $$ to make it doable.

4. I’ll pay for at least one doc visit and one PT session to give me the tools to hopefully heal myself.

5. I’ll do this summer as cheap as I possibly can, while still doing everything on the list that I want to.

6. I’ll dip into emergency funds. This counts as an emergency right?

7. I will pray a LOT.

8. I will accept assistance if offered and if I can possible think of a way to utilize it. I will ASK for assistance.

9. I will continue to do what I can – ie I still control what goes into my body (nutrition), while I can’t do standard pushups, I can do one arm wall or counter pushups and squats and long walks. If I cant run my half marathon this weekend, I’m pretty sure I can walk it.

10. I will find humor in the situation. Let’s start now. More things that are difficult…nay IMPOSSIBLE with one hand:

a. Washing dishes
b. Eating a roasted pheasant
c. Distracted driving (when you only have one hand, it has to stay on the steering wheel instead of texting, eating, drinking, turning the radio on, turning the A/C off, or answering phone calls. Bummer)
d. Popping popcorn the oldfashion way in a cast iron skillet (yes I’m primal/paleo and still eating popcorn. Probably will be the last thing to go)
e. Moving boxes. In any form at all.
f. Playing the fiddle
g. Typing anything with speed or accuracy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I get brought down.... a golden retriever.

Yep. A fractured radius later, I can officially say I'm getting old.

Doing sprints on the track. Reed decides he'd rather be with me than
matt and runs toward me. matt is calling him thus my plan was to
totally ignore reed and continue running. Thus a 70 pound dog hit my
legs perpindicular to my direction of travel. What ensued was a bit
like a cartoon character-a cloud of dust, tangle of legs in the air
and me crying on the track UNABLE to get up. Did I mention I was
sprinting with the OTHER 70 pound dog? May have complicated things.

My (already broken) tail bone and (already twisted) pelvis took most
of the brunt ( no worries, I draw the line at posting butt hemotomas
pics online - I think), but not before my right arm got into the action.

I'm lucky-it's in the elbow and I'm fortunate I probably wont have to
do surgery. Reed is 9 months old and up until this point has had
perfect recall and off leash manners, however I don't think me and
matt have ever worked him off leash while we were doing totally
seperate things. Poor guy. Both dogs stayed with me in a down stay
until matt got to me.

How ironic that it isn't a horse that gets me but Mr. Prozac puppy -
"the wellbehaved one"?

FYI I should start a list of impossible things to do onehanded with
your left hand if you are right handed.

1. Put in contacts
2. Put hair up in a pony tail (matt got to do this for the pic)
3. Take tight pants on and off
4. Tie shoelaces
5. Operate zippers

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thank you the anonymous person who decided that since they were leaving the parking lot early, they would put their parking pass in the mouth of the dispenser. It made me day that I didn't have to pay $6 for parking - especially as I was feeling extremely sorry for myself (poor me....) for no good reason at all.

Little acts of kindness. They matter. More than likely, it will come at the right time for the person that is helped.

We've all heard the stories of people who pay for the person behind them at fast food places. Recently I read an article suggesting an alternative to giving to national charities - this person picks situations in the local newspaper and then anonymously gives as they are led. It's not always about money and it doesn't have to require an enormous amount of time or even any personal contact.

This weekend, do something random. Pick up the litter in your street. Ask your neighbor if you can mow their lawn since you are doing yours anyways. Ask an incoming person at the grocery store if they would like the coupons you didn't use on your trip. Let some one go ahead of you in line. Mail 10 bucks to a niece that you are especially proud of that's in college etc and working hard - and then sign the card anonymously.

It's good for the giver and the receiver.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OT: Book Review

Here's the first of my "Blogging for Books" review.

I'll do horsey ones as I can, but as I'm an advid reader that takes what I can get, there's no promises. I didn't have a lot of selection for my first book, so it's decidely non-horse and non-endurance.


And after me blasting this book with dragon-like ferocicity, I may not GET a chance to read a horsey book. *shrugs* I give books the benefit of a doubt where I can....but I'm not going to mince words either.

If any of you are interested in ranking this review, you can see it on the publishing website here.

Blogging for Books Review: Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul

I wanted to like Dragons of the Valley - who doesn't like a nice getaway to a foriegn land with dragons? I'm not even too picky - the plot can be predictable and the characters cookie cutter and I'm still happy to spend hours immersed in the fantasy.

At first I was sure the problem was me - maybe I wasn't in the right state of mind, or too stressed, or too tired. Over 3 months I tried reading the book in a variety of situations (during lunch, on a backpacking trip, in the evening, on a vacation). Each time I would get a few pages in and then find myself bored - willing to do almost anything to avoid reading further - even going to bed early.

Last night I finally steeled myself and promised the book 50 pages. A very wise librarian once told me to give a book 50 pages - if I'm still utterly disinterested after 50 pages, I've given the book a fair chance I should be able to set it aside without guilt.

And that, I am sad to say, is what I have done with this book.

Often, as a writer, you can learn more from a book you did not enjoy (or found un-readable) than a classic. I’m going to outline some of what I consider the books’ “fatal flaws”.

1. Have unpronounceable character names that are similar to each other in terms of length of characters used.

2. Explaining too much in terms of characters feelings/actions etc. There is a balance between providing enough information to intrigue and interest – and providing so much it’s like reading a rather dull and uninspired diary of an omnipotent being for everyone involved in the story.

3. Not providing enough background for new readers so that they care about your characters as much as your returning characters. If you can’t do so in the story (and most of the time, authors can – see how Walter Farley does this throughout his Black Stallion series), then provide a condensed prelude at the beginning to bring everyone up to speed.

4. Being too simplistic about the new world and providing generic items in your fantasy world. Part of the fun about reading fantasy is to explore the wonders of a new world. Exploring the naming traditions of 2 mythical creatures that were named “Roof” and “Door” was entertaining and fun. To be told that the wizard gave the traveler a “healing potion” that will cure anything is a bit…anticlimactic. Unfortunately there is too much of the latter and not enough of the former.

5. Getting into the rather dull politics and “talk” too early on without the action plot or character development plot furthered enough to support it. It’s hard for me to read the various arguments for and against a theoretical situation until the author has made me care.

Bottom line – if you have read the first books of the trilogy and enjoyed them, and would like to visit with some familiar characters, maybe this is the book for you. As a new reader to the author, I found myself completely disinterested in the plot and characters, and thus the book did not stand up to the “50 page rule”.

Now the legal stuff – I was provided this book for free through the “blogging for books” service through the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. The opinions here are mine and mine only.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Elyte Update

I’m finally starting to feel human again! I *think* this is the LAST day of the lingering cold – well over a week since it started. Of course, had I realized I was SICK and not tried to just push through it, I probably could have cut my recovery time in half. I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned somewhere in there.

Over the weekend I had a civil war event. While these events don’t have quite the same physical demand as a backpacking trip, endurance ride, or athletic event, electrolytes can be a very real issue. Dressed in period uniforms made of wool, running around a field in the noon day sun, and dealing with fractious horses can make it very difficult to stay hydrated. It is not unusual for heat exhaustion to strike participants, and by the end of the weekend, even those who are reasonable prepared for the physical demands and the heat are DONE. I have trouble eating in the mornings, can have headaches throughout the day, am TIRED by evening, and often have to stop and take naps on my drive home. It often takes me several days to recover from an event that is particularly hot, or early in the season. With this in mind, I wondered whether properly taking electrolytes throughout the weekend would eliminate or greatly reduce these issues.

In this post I want to share what I learned or observed the past weekend, and provide a review of the electrolytes I have tried so far. I’m in the beginning stages of my electrolyte research (in both humans and horses!), so please read this as one person’s opinion and journey and not proven fact!

Things to consider
People are individuals (like horses) and elyte needs will vary. Some people don’t need to worry about their intake at all, others can get what they need through their food, and still others may need to supplement intensely in order to be comfortable. One factor might be how much you sweat and how much salt is in your sweat. I sweat a LOT, and often you can see the salt residues in my clothing. I have a high tolerance for hot weather combined with physical activity in part because of the sweating mechanism, however that comes with a cost of fluid and elyte replacement.

Your every day diet will determine, in part, what your elyte needs will be during physical exertion. My diet is very low in sodium, but very high in potassium (I eat bananas ALL the time. And I discovered that I just can’t stop eating Dates once I start. Both foods are high in K. Whether my high requirement for K is due to me eating lots of high K food, or my craving for high K food is because of a high requirement is uncertain). Thus, I’ve noticed that when I need electrolytes during physical activities I CRAVE high potassium foods. So, when I look for an elyte replacement, I look for products with relatively high potassium levels and lower sodium levels.

Do not underestimate the toll that chronic allergies can have on your fluid and elyte levels during physical activity. It’s amazing how quickly you can become dehydrated especially if your chronic allergies (runny nose, sinus drip etc.) are combined with a cold. My allergies are worse when I camp, and worse during the night (because of the close proximity to the ground/grass and laying prone) which is NOT conducive to being well hydrated in the morning for activities that start off with camping – like endurance!

Especially if you have allergies or are recovering from a cold, consider your elyte needs overnight. I found that having a bottle of electrolytes to sip on through the night when I was thirsty eliminated much of the morning “queasy stomach” I usually deal with and I started the day in much better shape than usual.

Signs I need to start supplementing with elytes
Until very recently I chalked up my balky stomach, headaches, and fatigue - to nerves, stress, and normal “tiredness” that comes after a long hard day. Similarly, when my calves were sore, I figured I was out of shape for the activity I was doing. After evaluating my symptoms as a whole, a little prompting from my blog readers, and some self evaluation – in hindsight I realized that everything could be explained by an elyte imbalance. Now, my goal is to recognize when I’m ACTUALLY GOING THROUGH IT.

This weekend was my first opportunity to practice being mindful of my electrolytes in a proactive way. Over the last weekend I kept a close eye on how I was feeling. I discovered that BEFORE I get to the dry heaves/calf cramping/fatigue stage I have the following symptoms:

1. I seem to be thirsty, yet I’ve been urinating more than usual, drinking sufficient water.

2. Water is not satisfying

3. I have a slight headache

4. I feel lethargic

If at this point, I take a dose of electrolytes – everything goes back to normal and I feel FINE. PERFECT. Able to PERFORM to the BEST of my ability. It’s like magic. It’s like getting a reboot, a “pass go and collect $200” reward. And it’s fast – as long as I caught it early and took care of my needs, I was up feeling good in 10-15 minutes.

I’m cautious with elytes because of my experiences in the horse/endurance world. It’s definitely possible to overdo it! I think with a little time, I’ll know exactly what I need to take to maintain my elyte levels but in the meantime, I waited until I knew it was time to do something. Here’s a rough protocol/schedule that I followed this weekend:

1. Have a bottle of water+elytes overnight to sip on as needed. Whatever remained in the morning, I drank before/during breakfast. I used a high potassium elyte mix at this time.

2. Throughout the day: an electrolyte tablet or drink (standard with sodium levels exceeding potassium levels). Another high potassium elyte mix 30-60 minutes later if the tablet didn’t do the trick (because at that point I knew that what I needed was potassium).

3. I followed the protocol outlined in #2 anytime I started to feel the symptoms described earlier. I usually needed to do it twice – once in the early afternoon after lunch, and again around dinner time. In the late evening before going to bed I would mix up another bottle of elytes for overnight and repeat the cycle.

4. Drank water throughout the day, as needed, normally, as dictated by thirst. (BTW – there’s a whole debate right now about drinking according to thirst, versus drinking before you’re thirsty. While I was marathoning, drinking before you were thirsty was all the rage, but now the pendulum has shifted and I’ve seen a lot of research that says you should rely on your thirst mechanism – as long as it’s in good working order. It IS possible to drink too much water and it’s more common than you might think. Use common sense. I know that for myself, I am likely to drink too much water rather than not enough because I’ve trained myself over the years to reach for the water bottle regularly during physical activity – whether or not I’m thirsty. More is not always better, especially if you really need elytes and not fluid).

The protocol worked well. I felt better in the morning after sipping elytes all nights than I have EVER felt. Much of my queasy stomach and “blah” feeling in the morning before endurance rides could probably be chalked up to waking up dehydrated. I didn’t feel “wiped” at the end of the day or the weekend. Monday morning I was up and ready to go to work without a problem – very unusual.

My products
My “standard/maintenance” elyte will be S!caps. It’s a pill that is swallowed. They have sodium levels are higher than the potassium levels, which seems to be the standard in most elyte products. This will be the elyte I take during the day as a prevention. I dislike sweet drinks and it’s easier to swallow a tablet at the first signs, than to mix up a drink. For personal reasons I prefer to NOT drink an elyte solution as my only fluid replacer – I don’t feel like I can listen to my body as well. I would prefer to consume my fluid/water separately from the elyte. Also, I didn’t like any of the drinks (except vitalyte which I’ll use differently) well enough to use on a regular basis.

My elyte drink will be “Vitalyte”. It’s a high potassium drink and I’ll have it available if the S!cap (plus water consumption) doesn’t do the trick, and for overnights. For a complete review on this product, see next section.

Elyte review
My mom was nice enough to pick me up a selection of elyte products to try. I had DEFINITE preferences for the products based on elyte content, taste, ingredients, etc. If you are looking into your elyte options, it might be worth buying a selection of products to see what works for you. For more information on these products and why I chose them, see my previous post on this topic (too lazy to look up – it was a week or so ago).

Nathan Catalyst – somehow, I missed the fact this has sodium saccharine as an ingredient when I was viewing the ingredient statement online. I mixed up one tablet and could taste the artificial sweetener. Yep – there it was: saccharine. I gave the rest of the 15 tablets away. I don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners, and as a rule they don’t settle in my stomach well on intense physical activities like endurance rides.

Vitalyte – this is NOT strong tasting. Like barely even noticeable. It’s barely sweet and doesn’t have syrupy feel to it. I thought it was sweetened entirely with glucose, but the ingredient statement on the product itself is different. The packets of powder that dilute into a quart of water are sweetened with glucose+fructose. The packets of powder that dilute into 16 oz of water (even though) the packaging looks the same…..except smaller…..are sweetened with dextrose+fructose. They taste the same. However, do NOT assume that the different packaging types of vitalyte have the same ingredient statements – check to be sure. I like that the product does not have artificial coloring. This one is a keeper for me!

S!caps – I will be doing further testing on this and I’ll let you know!

Cytomax – on the recommendation of a store employee, my mom bought a couple packets of cytomax. It had a couple of strikes against it. The first being that it does not disclose the Na:K levels. It also doesn’t have a full ingredient statement because of “proprietary ingredients”. It’s labeled as a “supplement” instead of a food. It’s “energy + elytes” and has a higher calorie content. Because I don’t have a full ingredient or nutritional statement I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing it’s full of sugar for the energy portion of the equation. It sure tastes that way. If you’ve ever thought Gatorade was too syrupy and sweet, you ain’t tasted nothin’! I have yet ot be able to finish a packet of cytomax. It’s extremely strong and sweet. It was OK on my stomach, which surprised me, but NOT something I will use as an electrolyte replacement. This might have a use at an endurance ride where I’m struggling with both calories and elytes and fluids – such as the last loop of a 100, where it’s doubtful I’ll eat as much as I should. This could probably keep me going….however, apart from that use, I’ll stick to a drink where I know what I’m getting in terms of potassium, and get the majority of my calories from real food.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Puppy Name announcement amount other random sick ramblings

I think the moment I fully realized that this was something beyond allergies, was when I sat in my truck yesterday staring into space. For 1 ½ hours. I may have even napped. Just sat there, without any desire to do anything except sit there with my eyes slightly unfocused.

OK. So the coughing, sneezing, snorting, sniffling, sore throat, might have a temperature but refuses to check symptoms might be allergies+cold.

In other random facts, things have gone terribly wrong when your “counter butter” (set there for easy spreading) is as hard as a rock. Maybe heat should be a consideration at some point.

Also, things are not quite right in the world when you are cleaning your ears with the water thingy and the oil, and you decide (for no discernable reason) to check the expiration date on the earwax oil. And it expired 15 years ago.

In other news, I’ve given notice at work. At the urging of an HR person I trust, I gave a WHOLE 4 weeks. Two weeks in my situation could be construed as “uncooperative”. I won’t go into the details, seeing how this is my ENDURANCE blog, but my needless to say, I’m not happy with the person I’m becoming at work, and it’s not the person I want to be. So, better to get out sooner with my dignity and sanity intact. Last day is May the 13th. Which, ironically is Friday the 13th. I didn’t plan it that way – I swear.

Ah yes, the name of the puppy. It’s Tess of course. After “Tess of D’Ubervilles” by Thomas Hardy, one of my favorite high school books (although I reread recently through librivox and can’t for the life of me see how I got through it). BUT, it could be “Tess”, as in “Tesseract” of Wrinkle in Time. Also a very valid entry. And since I didn’t know I was getting a girl when the names were bandied about, I wasn’t diligent in getting the “who submitted what” straightened out between Carolyn (mom) and Aarene. Do you know what that means? It means that we have 2 winners…..Congrats Mom and Aarene – your prizes will go out when I take the puppy home on May 14th.

A “T” name isn’t ideal for agility for reasons Crysta pointed out, but if it was a girl, it HAS to be Tess. All the names you guys submitted were really really good. I’ll be keeping the list for future additions to the family. (smiley face). A very close runner up for a boy name was “Pie” – from “National Velvet”. I was actually shocked that none of you suggested it….I didn’t care for the book, but the movie was incredible. My favorite of all time. Maybe. I would actually have to put some thought into that statement to be sure and my cold-riddled brain isn’t capable of real thought right now.

Which is making it difficult to do anything that I’m SUPPOSE to be doing right now. Like write my CBA column. Mmmm….

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest blog cartoon

I comissioned a cartoon from my cousin (who has her own blog - which is in my blog roll somewhere) based on Funder's comment (she has a blog too) recently.  She asked (rhetorically) whether, when the horse is scooting towards home and the rider is trying to go a different direction, if the cussing actually helps? 
So Funder - here's a cartoon for you and perhaps an inspiration for a new language system between you and Dixie?

Meet the puppy

May I introduce you to......the new puppy.
She tugged at my heart strings ever since the breeder told me she was the runt and different, and she was looking for the right match for this particular puppy.  However, we werent positive that the personality was a match (too young to tell) and there was a concern that she might be deaf based on her color.
Now, at 30 days, she's a runt no more!  She is NOT deaf, and her personality is a better match for me than any of the boys. 
She's definitely different looking for a britt - she doesn't meet breed standard and I've been asked to spay her, which I will happily do.  I'm not usually a fan of the overly white dogs, but there's something in her eyes and her two toned nose that I really like. 
I've decided on a name, but as I don't have the energy (still dealing wtih a cold and/or massive allergy attack) to properly give accolades to the winner, so I'm holding off :) 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Trip report and elyte thoughts

I had a fabulous backpacking trip and can recommend Pt. Reyes National Seashore without reservation. It’s extremely horse friendly (hitching posts all over) and the trails are well maintained. I’m not sure what other accommodations are available beyond fabulous trails for the equestrian, but for the backpackers, there are some very neat hike in campsites, with ready access to the beach.

Fair warning – this is a mostly non-horse related post, except for the electrolyte comments near the end.

Unfortunately the trip wasn’t an easy one for me. It’s tough to have something physically wrong with you when you are on vacation, trying to have fun, and when you’re with other people and trying not to drag them down into your personal health drama.

Day 1 I was ill – found out beyond a doubt that gluten is a major problem for me. Fortunately, the only gluten containing food I brought to eat was some (delicious) cookies. I gave them up without too much sacrifice – it’s funny, when something makes you feel absolutely sick, no matter how delicious you used to think it was, the desire to eat it is gone. Thus milkshakes, bread, and cookies that were once my favorite treats only elicit shudders. I had already made the decision to cut out most grains from my diet about 8 weeks ago, however, instead of an occasional indulgence here and there, I say good bye to gluten for good. I’m happy that I’ve finally figured out what has been going on. I’ve felt sick in a low-level type of way for a while, but was never able to pin it on something specific. I hate being one of those people who seems to constantly have something wrong with them and is complaining about every little thing, but hopefully non-fermented milk products and gluten completes my list of foods that I can’t tolerate and I can go forth and have low-drama levels when it comes to personal health!

Day 2 started out well. I was feeling much better and we started out for our longest day of hiking. Early into the hike we got involved in a beach rescue that resulted in us sitting on an exposed, hot beach for a couple of hours. I think I started to get dehydrated a bit, even though it seemed like I was drinking a ton of water. The rescue made the day much longer than anticipated, and going on numerous side trips added ~2 more miles than anticipated. I ran out of water for the last 40 minutes of hiking. By the time I got to camp I felt SICK from allergies. I felt like I had swallowed a large furry rat, and was COMPLETELY congested. I had Claritin with me, which I had been taking religiously during the trip, but I went ahead and doubled the dose. I drank water like crazy, but was always thristy and felt dehydrated (even though by all visible signs I was hydrated). I chalked it up to severe allergies to some sort of pollen on the coast. Lovely. Did my best to convince myself I was NOT going to suffocate to death from the large furry rat in my throat.

Day 3 my allergies were still bugging me big time, and I had sunburnt my legs. I had a tough time during the hike, even though it was only 5.5 miles of easy trail. I felt disoriented, my calves were sore, and no matter how much water I drank, I still felt thirsty. Now, I know that my readers are screaming right now “ELYTES!!!!” – but I didn’t make the connection until I was driving home and started to get crampy and shivery and realized….”this is how I feel after 100’s…..this is an ELYTE ISSUE!!!!” I think the reason I didn’t make the connection was in part due to my allergies – my head was so congested it was hard to separate all the various physical things that were going on. I had been doing really well in the sodium category, but I really needed potassium. As soon as I started consuming potassium I felt much much better. I caught it much sooner on the hike than I do at an endurance ride. It really surprised me that I had an issue at all – the hike and the weather were moderate, I didn’t feel like I was doing anything strenuous. But, I think the allergies probably contributed more than I realized. I’ve realized that the warning signs that I need to start thinking about electrolytes are:

1. I feel thirsty and “unsatisfied” when I drink, even though by all signs (urine output/color, amount drank etc.) I should be hydrated.

2. I have any calf pain at all. Even if it could attributed to soreness, assume elyte cramp

3. I start to feel disoriented (this is a tricky one because my allergies were affecting my inner ear)

4. When I start to feel a bit “icky stomach” after eating something that previously agreed with my well – probably the start of nausea

5. The snack that is the highest in salt all of a sudden is the BEST snack EVER. I had made a homemade trail mix with dried fruit, nuts and seeds that I had made “salty/sweet” with lots of sea salt (and touch of honey) and then roasted.

Based on my experiences during the trip, I need to get electrolytes for use on any long, physical-in-nature, type activity. I had been holding off on getting anything because I’m not going to be doing 100’s for a while, but obviously it’s an issue at other times too… today I finally got serious about looking into my options.

FACT: I need it to have significant potassium levels. Potassium is what I’m lacking. At home, I eat a TON of bananas – it’s my favorite fruit – which probably takes care of my daily activites. The problem is when I go on these rides or trips – bananas don’t pack well - and although I may be meeting my sodium requirements, I’ll often not feel very good until I can eat something with significant potassium in it.

FACT: I’m looking for a supplement – not a food. I’ve tried getting my electrolytes through food, and for reasons discussed in earlier posts, at least for now I need something that’s as easy as a pill or sucking down a small bottle of water.

FACT: It can’t have artificial sweetners. It can’t be too sweet. It has to sit in my stomach well. Bonus if it doesn’t taste too chemically when luke warm.

I looked at 4 different electrolyte mixes that I can get before this weekend (I have another event this weekend that I’ll need to have them on hand). Here was my thought process for choosing one. For endurance, it’s going to be critical that I’m able to find a good electrolyte, so even though I’ll be using it in non-endurance venues for now, I will keep you guys updated!

For comparison – Gatorade (I’m using this as the base line because I think most people are familiar with Gatorade)

Sweetened with: Sucrose/dextrose

Na:K ratio – 10:3

Form: available in bulk powder and in packets

Reasoning: Rejected. Gatorade is too chemically tasting for me, the potassium is really low, and Gatorade doesn’t sit in my stomach well.

Sweetened with: Glucose

Na:K ratio – 7:10

Form: available in bulk powder and in packets

Reasoning: Number 1 choice. I tolerate glucose fairly well, and this was the only one of my choices that had more potassium than sodium in it. Most of the time I do get enough sodium, so this will be perfect compliment to what I normally eat on trips.

NUUN active
Sweetened with Sorbitol and ? (once I got to sorbitol I quit reading)

Na:K ratio – 18:5

Form – dissolving tablets

Reasoning: as soon as I saw sorbitol it was out for me. It tastes nasty and does not settle well on my stomach.

GU Electrolyte Brew
Sweetened with maltodextrin and fructose

Na:K ratio – 25:4

Form: Available in bulk powder

Reasoning: Too low in potassium content

Nathan Catalyst
Sweetened with: Fructose and dextrose

Na:K ratio – 27:12

Form: Dissolving tablets

Reasoning: My number 2 choice. If I’m not sure I’ve gotten enough sodium, I will use these. The tablets will also be convenient to carry with me on day hikes or other trips, when I’m not sure I’ll need electrolytes, but need to carry them just in case. The sweetener isn’t as idea; and I’m not sure how I’ll handle it, but since honey is a fructose/dextrose combo and I tolerate well, I’m willing to give it a try.

I think a lot of these problems I discovered this weekend (gluten/allergies/elytes) were occurring at endurance rides, but because of the extra stress of having the horse there and the extreme physical aspect of it, it was hard to pinpoint the exact cause of my problems. I feel like I have a much clearer idea now of some of the physical pitfalls I was unknowingly dealing with (gluten), and maybe some issues I should have been more aggressive in dealing with (allergies) while doing 100’s.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sticker shock

Edit: So blogger is being difficult and I can't scheduled this to publish if you are seeing this on Friday, then it's a day early......but at least the thought was there to give you a Saturday post right?????

Hey ye'all - I'm off hiking the wonders of the California coast, enjoying sunshine and temps in the high 60's. :) However, I care about YOU, my less fortunate reader, who lives in some place with that awful white stuff. Do you know how I care? Because I'm writing this awesome post, and have the self control not to post it right away, so you can enjoy this on a Saturday while stuck inside the house because of torrents of mud and slush. See?

The difference between an amateur and professional/expert has been discussed at length between my mom and I. Mostly at old time concerts while we are trying to pick our jaws off the ground at some fabulous person that manages to not only play his fiddle in tune, but also sing and play harmony with himself at the SAME TIME.

This article here reminded me of this subject recently (warning - site and article is mildly offensive).

It's been long enough since the conversation between mom and I, that I'm not sure the particulars were, but we had both read an article that put the difference between really good amateur musicians and professionals in context in terms of hours of pactice. And it was a lot. Thousands and thousands of hours. Really made you appreciate the amount of work that goes into the seemingly "natural talent" of the person on the stage. The article hyperlinked puts that difference at 10K hours/10 years.

Here's another way of putting it (don't have a reference for the quote - sorry): "an amateur practices until they can play it right, a professional practices until they can’t play it wrong."

For some reason most of the articles I've read about the subject focused on music and I never really made the (simple) connection to other types of "experts". I also hadn't really thought of what those "hours" of practice realistically meant in terms of "years".

So let's assume that the article is correct and that it takes 10 years to be an expert at something - assuming you have a natural knack at something in the first place. And let's assume that during that 10 years, it has to be more than just a "day job" - it has to be an overwelming passion and obsession. Wow.

I contemplated after reading this is how many things in my life have I done for 10 years and could I be considered a professional/expert in any of them?

The short answer (of course) is no.

There's some really easy reasons for this - most of which of to do with a lacking in CONSISTENT obsession or practice in that 10 year period. Here's 2 senerios from my own life that illustrate why I'll probably never become an expert at anything.

I started playing the fiddle at 9 years of age. That was 17 years ago. People assume one of two senerios when they hear me play.

1. they assume that I'm a decade younger than I actually am and thus, I'm pretty darn good!
2. Actually got told once by another adult after watching a teenager play "we can't all be lucky enough to start playing in elementary school". Ummm.....I did.....

The fact remains that after 17 years of playing, it hasn't really "paid off".....and why not? I actually do have quite a bit of "natural talent" for playing muscial instruments, that's complimented by the ability to effortlessly put in long hours of practice (just ask my family who had to suffer through my middle school and high school years). So what's the problem?

a. I like the first part of the learning curve and making giant leaps. I don't have a high level of tolerance for later hard work that results in smaller and smaller "payoffs" for an increasing amount of work. Thus, I can spend long hours practicing when I'm learning a new instrument or style of music, but I'm not willing to put in the same amount of work to correcting my bad 4th finger habits on a particular passage of "mozart's whatever".

B. I'm interested in too many instrments and styles. Yeah I like flute, but is in the BEST instrument? what about the trumpet? They seem to get all the good lead parts. And the bass line? That's kind of funky cool! I want to play a bass line on the baritone! And it goes on....It's impossible to master everything, so instead I become the master of nothing. My fiddle playing has suffered exceedingly from this!

C. I'm interested in a lot of different activities outside of music. Nothing (except perhaps horses, and I'm coming to that one) stands out enough to easily allow me chose to focus on one thing. See mastery comments above......

Let's move onto horses and specifically endurance. I've been riding "seriously" (meaning I had regular opportunties to ride) for 10 years. Why am I barely competent? Some of the same issues arise as described for the Fiddle, but there are some unique ones as well.

A. The B and C from the fiddle apply here - with the difference being that I CAN chose to focus on horses exclusively if I needed to, and I COULD chose one discipline exclusively if needed as well (with the rest as cross training for the improvement of my chosen discipline only). But the fact remains that I have many different interests, which I am not wiling to give up totally for horses/endurance - mostly because I fear that the incremental enjoyment of being an "expert" in endurance would not outweigh the joy I get from the other activities in my life. Although I COULD give up everything for horses, I don't think I'm mentally cut out to do so. I function better in life when my activities are balanced with horse and non-horse activities. I'm not cut out to be an expert I fear. So prehaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks in simply my desire to be an expert!

B. Focused practice. Yes, I've been riding 10 years - but I would wager that most of those hours are "junk" hours and not me conciously trying to improve my performance, or even riding with any particular set of goals in mind for THAT particular ride. Ten years of focused activity is different that ten years of muddling through something by the seat of your pants!

C. I certaintly have the obsession part of this down. Sometimes I really do think that obsessing about endurance IS my day job, and everything else is peripherial. I eat sleep and drink it. HOWEVER - to be fair, I've only been obsessed with endurance for 4 1/2 years! The time prior to that was spent riding, but not in endurance, thus, maybe I need to obsess for another 5 1/2 years before giving up on the whole "expert in endurance thing"? I'm not serious BTW. Obsessing about endurance will be put on hold for at least the next 5 years and I think that will probably become a revolving theme in my quest to be "as good as I can be" in endurance - periods of time being able to focus on endurance, punctuated by periods that I can spend no time on it whatsoever. And that alone is probably enough to knock me off the expert list!

My question today is this: Could you be considered a professional or expert in something? If not, what holds you back? Are you trying to become a professional in that area, or are you content to be an amatuer? What do you think the difference between a professional and amatuer is? How would you quantify that difference (do you think the hours/time quoted here are about right?)?

Of course anytime there's numbers mentioned....we have to do some rough number-crunching of how these numbers might stack up for endurance!

In the endurance world, there's a lot of talk of the "perfect 10". Horses with 10K miles, 10 firsts, 10 BC's. So if we take the 10K hours/10 years to heart (which matches very nicely with all those other 10's), what does that mean for an endurance rider (and their "expert" status)?

PS - I dont' think 1/2 passed out on the horse at the end of the 100 counts towards your 10K hours, but for arguments sake..... :)

Assuming only competition endurance miles count towards the totals.....
10K hours represents:
**Over 400 100 milers, or 800 50's (assuming the max time spent at each ride).
**Somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000-5,000 miles
**5,000 is very doable in 10 years

So in that case, could someone with 10 seasons and 5K miles be considered an expert in endurance? I'm not sure. The number seems a bit low to me. I think 10K miles and 10 years is where I would start being more comfortable saying "expert".

Maybe endurance is one of those things that is so different (not really having a stark divide between amateurs and professionals like most of the other sports)that the rules are a bit different.

Definitely want to hear you'alls opinion!!!!!!! :)

My new signature should be: Melinda - expert in nothing but sampler of all....

Hiding behind a curtain

Ummm…so I thought I had a post topic today. And then I realized that I’m really too busy being distracted by EVERYTHING to take anything seriously.

Spring Fever!

Backpacking trip this weekend!

Way too much caffeine this morning!

Vet School!


Awesome sprint workout yesterday!

Fat Lazy Pony! (Whose name just might be Farley and who will definitely have to be ridden with a crop when I start riding again).

Ok – focusing, focusing, focusing……Ooooohhhhhhh SHINY OBJECT.

Seriously….this is ridiculous. I am 26 years old and perfectly capable of staying focused long enough to write a post that doesn’t resemble stream of consciousness (the most annoying books I had to read in school were stream-of-conciousness – can anyone say “Catcher in the Rye”???? EEEEEKKKK this is another TANGENT!).

Let’s talk about blogging anonymously….or not. When I first started the blog, it was very important that it was anonymous. I regularly googled my blog to see if it associated with my first and last name, and e-mail address. I was concerned about privacy, security, and yes, putting too much of myself out into cyber space and being burned.

I soon realized that although blogging anonymously had its benefits, NOT blogging anonymously had even more benefits.

1. Accountability. I can’t just spout off what I want. There’s a REAL person behind this blog with a REAL reputation. My blog isn’t about being able to express myself without consequence; it’s about sharing experiences truthfully without causing undue harm to the relationships and people around me. I can’t tell you how many times I was (rightly) prevented from relating a story to you because, although it would have served a purpose and would have been the truth, the consequence to myself and the person would have been too great. And in those cases, where I’m better off keeping my mouth shut – not being anonymous has helped me see where the line is. If I DO post something that is negative about a person/company/product/experience etc., then it’s with thought and purpose, AND I make sure it isn’t anything in the post that I wouldn’t say directly to whomever is involved. I think accountability is important in real life and a virtual/online life. I’ve consciously decided to make it easy to find out who I am, without being stupid about it. For example, the online boards/forum that I’m a member of, my user name and avatar is consistent, and if any of you are members of those boards, it will be very easy to see who I am (even though I’m not posting my real name or contact information). My online identity is consistent.

2. Honesty. Much of what I said in “Accountability” also applies to honesty. At first, I either wanted only people who knew me in real life, OR people who didn’t know me at all to read the blog. If BOTH groups read my blog, I would be faced with having to be honest enough to satisfy the people in my life, which almost certainly would be embarrassing to share with people who didn’t! I can remember really struggling with this early on in the blog, and maybe that’s one reason I tried to be anonymous during the first stage of the blog. A lot of family members read this blog and they will definitely call “foul”! if I incorrectly portray something, beyond what can be forgiven for entertainment value of a lighthearted story. Thus you, as the non-familia reader can be assured this is an honest portrayal of one girl’s struggles to be an endurance rider (and now a vet student), and all the other drama associated with those journies!

3. Building Friendships. It’s hard to cultivate a friendship with an anonymous person. And the friendships I’ve made through this blog has been one of the biggest rewards. It has also been a way to keep in touch with people that are “endurance ride friends” – meaning I don’t see or contact them outside of rides – on a regular basis and have that relationship develop more into a friendship than an acquaintance.

4. A better impact for teaching, sharing and providing catalyst for change. Sharing experiences and learning from other’s experiences is usually more impactful if you know the person behind the experience. It’s not impossible to make a significant impact anonymously, but at least I personally am much more skeptical when someone is publishing under a pseudonym. Here’s a non-horse example of that – did any read the “student cheating” article in this month’s Reader’s Digest? (Yes I read the Reader’s Digest – it’s my bathtub magazine). Very interesting, very entertaining. Yet, I’m not sure how much to believe and it didn’t make me want to go out and do something to change what was (potentially) happening. It was published under a pseudonym for obvious reasons, and probably rightly so…but in that case, I would like to see additional validation. According to the article, something like 60% of the students utilize this service in some way…..a majority. In that case, I would have expected to hear SOMETHING about this when I was in school. If this practice is as pervasive as outlined, I would have expected that SOMEONE in my social circle would have done this. And I’m just not convinced. I think I would be more convinced if someone came forth under verifiable credentials and provided similar stats.

5. Trust. It’s hard to build trust and recipiprocity (I know – spelling error and spell check isn’t picking it up) under anonymous circumstances. That may not be needed for some blogs/mediums (such as Dr. Grumpy), which are understood to be about entertainment value, but if you are sharing a real-time journey, that doesn’t violate any kind of client-confidences, and your point is to help other people and also get something out of your own blog – I would argue that it is difficult to impossible to do so anonymously.

6. An incentive to learn. When you are baring your soul to strangers and sharing both your successes and failures, there’s a high motivation to learn – both so you can share something positive and so that you are able to help someone else. I feel very strongly that I should help others and give back to the sport and others in general. Blogging is one way I feel I can do that.

To my readers – what is your thoughts on blogging (or publishing) anonymously or not? Although there are isolated cases where anonymity is useful and needed (such as a one time event/expose in conjunction with other evidence), I think on an ongoing basis (such as a blog) it is less useful.

And on a more fun subject - what would your psuedonym be?????????? I like "Chick N Boots" (oooooooooo....that would be a good name for a blog if I end up being a chicken vet!!!!), or maybe one your fabulous puppy names that is on the "naming page". (which btw - there is a GLARING ommission on the puppy name list that I'm hoping one of you adds. I'm seriously considering it, but want one of my readers to get credit. Redgirl/mom/matt - you aren't allowed to guess or give hints.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


…except I’m not a senior.

Whatever it is, I have it BAD.

I was teetering on burnout and then I found out about vet school. Once I found out about vet school, it shifted to being physically painful to go to work and put in the time and maintain the barest semblance of keeping it together, and now it feels physically IMPOSSIBLE to do so.

I’m extremely antsy. I can’t even tell you how many times I go out for walks during the day to try and refocus. Some of it might be that I have energy to burn now that I’m not training on Farley 5 days a week, and I’m starting to get fitter and eat better, which also tends to result in an excess of energy. It also might have something to do with the smell and angle of the light in the early morning as summer approaches – it SCREAMS endurance riding to me (which of course I am not doing). But some of it is a restlessness to just GET ON WITH IT. My apartment is half packed up and frankly is in shambles. Nothing holds my focus for very long. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything during the day, but something is getting a workout because I’m early to bed most nights now.

Judging by the writings of my fellow future classmates, this problem is wide spread.

I remember going through this really clearly my last year as an undergrad at Davis. I already had a job waiting for me, and I was just DONE with that chapter of my life and looking forward to next one. I'm going through the same thing now but in reverse....I'm working and know I'm going to school in the fall and can't wait to quit my job and start the next chapter.

Right now I'm going through the same pattern as when I was a senior - doing the bare minimum to get by, totally unmotivated and having a hard time focusing on anything.

How I’m dealing with my funk (beyond taking walks and contemplating crawling under my desk for naps):
1. Get plenty of sleep. Lots of it. Sleep is huge for me. When I was a senior, that meant skipping some classes that I decided I didn't need to attend lecture. (more on that later). Right now, that means I don't set my alarm clock and show up whenever I wake up – which lately is pretty darn early because of the summer mornings! But, on the days I need/want to sleep in, I do. (For some reason the angle of the light of summer mornings makes it easy for me to get out of bed. In winter it’s a nightmare. The transition happened sometime in the last couple of days for me).

2. Prioritize. In school I stopped going to lectures that I didn't find useful. I was really good about attendance the entire 4 years as an UG until that last quarter. It was freeing to realize that a better use of my time for some of the classes was to take a nap and study on my own. My grades didn't suffer and think were better because of it. Not something I'd recommend for undergradutes starting out, but near the end, it's the only thing that got me through school and didn't result in me being totally burnt out.

3. Get outside for a walk. Seriously. I tend to move less and less and less until I'm a veggie in front of the computer. Often a walk will make me able to do one more task that I've been putting off. It will also help me sleep at night. If I don't move, I tend to stay up too early, sleep too late, and then be tired all day. Cutting out the carbs is also something that personally helps me.

4. One thing at a time. Decide what task you will accomplish in the next hour (studying, a report - whatever). Do it, and then goof off for the rest of the hour. Then go on to the next one. Reward yourself often, for the little things.

5. Have a tangible bigger rewards to regularly look forward to. Vet school is so far away (August), so I have smaller big things to look forward to about once a month to lessen my focusing on vet school and keep me motivated in the short term (and thus more productive). For example, in April I'm running a half marathon and going backpacking, in May I'm getting a Puppy, in June I have a music festival and a camping trip, in July I have another camping trip, some family trips, and an out of state backpacking trip to pikes peak etc. When I think of vet school, I tend to be totally unmotivated in the short term because it seems so far away and I don’t' want to do anything I'm doing right now at work.....but having these short term things distracts me and actually makes me more productive right now than I would be without the distractions. I did this at the end of school too. It seems a bit counterintuitive to add stuff to your plate when you aren't getting your necessary stuff done...but I found that adding some fun stuff rev’ed up my school life too, and actually made me more productive since I had something concrete to look forward to and reason to get my studies done.

I have just a couple more [*insert time period here] to get through. Then I get to do the fun stuff. Just need to keep it together until then!

*Sorry – haven’t given official notice at work and don’t want to say anything too telling here. Work situation hasn’t improved over the last couple of months ….and although the chance is slight that posting here would affect that, I can’t take the chance.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

a bunch of happy nothing

Hey everyone –

I had a serious topic planned, but the afternoon gets later, the sun gets brighter, and I’m feeling less and less in a “serious” mood….I’ve decided to just chat a bit in this post. This could be a “favorite things” post, but feels more like “Melinda’s in a good mood and wants to talk about happy things” post.

First up, wanted to share a big milestone. Most of you are aware I sell renegade hoof boots. Most of my sales have been out of state. Couple weeks ago, I had my first local, new customer and so I finally got around to applying for a business license for California. It came in the mail yesterday and I feel so….official. I really love selling the boots, meeting new horse people, and interacting with people’s horses. Really, this whole thing just feels like an excuse to get to know fellow equestrians better! I really like being in the position to support and help the barefoot people around me. When a fellow blogger and friend needed a different size of boot for a race that weekend, I was able to send her a pair that worked. When someone at a local stable contacted me about a pair of used renegades I had for sale, I found out she had purchased her original pair online but had some fitting questions and really wanted to someone to come out and take a look at them. I really enjoyed be able to swing by and offer tips and reassurance. I never thought I would own my own business, much less one based on selling a retail product – but it’s a blast.

I have a backpacking trip with my mom and a cousin this weekend. I’m trying out 3 new products – sock liners and the “special” underwear that they advertise and quick drying, antimicrobial etc. I’ll also be wearing my “Buzz off” Ariat shirt that I picked up last fall in the clearance bin. Mosquitoes LOVE me, as although I’m not crazy about wearing a shirt with chemicals in it, I have a choice between that, or 100% straight Deet applied to a majority of my body. It’s not just the uncomfortable bites that are worrisome about mosquitoes, but the diseases and infections that can occur. I’ve test worn all 3 items and I’m very very happy with all of them so far. I’m concerned with the pressure of the shirt against my skin with the back pack straps – I have very sensitive skin and that combo might irritate it. So far no concerns with the sock liners or the underwear.

I’ve been focusing on my lifestyle lately. Big changes in life mean the opportunity to develop good habits. For the last 6 months I’ve been dabbling in primal eating and workouts. It makes sense to me. Instead of my typical “cold turkey” approach that more often than not leads me to have to “restart” several times, I’ve been gradually adding elements to my life one at a time and evaluating how they make me feel. I’m pleased to say that I think, at least for me personally, this is the right direction. Here’s a couple of the highlights:

*I haven’t been able to drink milk since Tevis 2010, but have been OK with fermented dairy products. I recently picked up a bottle of plain kefir and I LOVE it. I really like the taste of plain yogurt, and the taste is almost identical, but I get the same “feel” as drinking a glass of milk – something I’ve really missed.

*I’ve ditched gluten and most grains. I realized that I feel like crap when I eat things with high gluten contents. In fact, I’ve discovered that if I eat gluten, I have more problems with dairy. I like dairy more than gluten so the gluten had to go. I’ve done “south beach” and other low carb diets before, and would drift away eventually because there are some grains that just make life that’s constantly on the go a bit more convient. So, as a starting point I decided to keep oats, corn, and brown rice and ditch the rest of the grains. This has been surprisingly successful! I go days without eating any grains, but the ones that remain are there because they are life savers in some circumstances. I use corn tortillas when I have to have a portable lunch, rice and polenta as a pasta substitutes (I LOVE pasta, so it was important to have something that I could make similar dishes with), and oats for those mornings when I really really just wanted oatmeal over anything else (happens about once a month). Currently I trying to figure out a way to eliminate corn – but I won’t unless I can find something that performs like a tortilla that makes food portable. I’ll just be setting myself up for failure and will end up eating something that is even crappier than a tortilla in desperation.

*I have a problem with veggies – I have a very low tolerance for their texture and taste and will end up gagging and dry heaving if I’m not careful. I’ve found that oven roasting them gets around this for some reason. I’ve also noticed every time I cut out processed sugar, my tolerance for veggies and their textures and flavors increases over about 2-3 weeks. I will go from not being able to choke down a few pieces of greens without gagging, to actively craving salad and munching on asparagus right out of the steamer. Veggies totally lose whatever flavor aspect made them intolerable. I’m not convinced it’s the bitter notes – I drink a lot of (decaf) black coffee and tea and love the bitter flavor. There’s just something else there….something that once non-fruit and dairy sugar is out of my diet, goes away. My advice to people who struggle with hating veggies like me? Start with roasting your favorites, with your favorite spices. You may be surprised what sneaks onto your plate and palate later on.

*I’ve ditched the chair. My migraines/headaches, back pain, and lethargy seem to be connected to the days I spend a lot of time sitting. So I decided a week ago that for every hour of sitting I do at work, I have to stand for at least one hour. At home I rarely sit down, so most of my issue was in the office. So, I rigged up something totally ghetto with boxes and made it so I could work on my computer while standing. The first day, I really did need to sit down after an hour of standing. Now, a week later, I stood for 4 hours straight, without needing a sitting break – and I didn’t even notice. It never even crossed my mind to sit down. In fact, I didn’t even FEEL like sitting down. Static standing does start be uncomfortable after a while, but I’ve found that all it takes to refresh my legs and feet is a short walk down the hall to grab a cup of water. I’m also finding that as I stand for longer and longer periods of time, that I like to slip my shoes off. I’m noticing all sorts of benefits from limiting my sitting time – my hip flexors aren’t sore after dressage, I’m more alert and feel like being active, I’m warmer (I’m always cold), and my posture has improved – similar to what I experienced after my last 3 day backpacking trip. I also finding out just how uncomfortable sitting is. I actually find myself taking breaks from my sitting instead of vice versa. At home, when I do need to take a seat, I find myself trying to squat, sit on the floor, or – if I HAVE to be at a table or desk – using my exercise ball. It’s taken a bit of effort in the beginning, and some creativity – but I really recommend trying it out for a week or two if you can.

*Work outs are pretty consistent with what I've discussed before, so won't go into it - I still run because I love it, but my focus is on functional strength and moving as much as possible throughout the day.

Farley is 6 weeks into rehab and by all indications is doing really really well. I’ll have her re-ultrasounded at week 8 and (of course) everyone will get an update.

No update on the puppy yet. And I haven’t chosen a name yet. In a couple of weeks I should know whether it is boy/girl for sure and at that point I will let you know what I’m considering. Thanks everyone who has submitted names – there’s a lot of really good ones. (It’s not too late for those of you who haven’t gotten around to it yet! There’s a prize for the one I pick!)

I’m excited about getting a new computer. It’s hard to do website updates because my computer is old and I have to run an old version of the software that I’m using – not to mention it’s SLOW. I have list of things I want to do to make the website useful and fabulous. Look for a major update in July. Everything is still accurate on the website – it’s just not as fabulous as it COULD be.

I have to put a big congrats out for Karen (from and her beautiful cover on this month’s issue of Endurance News. The Death Valley ride is so much fun and the pic made me wish I had been able to go back. There’s hope for this year! (My manager takes the holiday off, so have not been able to take the same time off as him in the past). Fingers crossed for a winter break, sound horse, good weather, the finances to do it, and the time to prepare. Mmmm….that’s a lot of things that have to go right…..It’s my secret ambition to be on the cover of endurance news. Can you think of anything cooler than that? Maybe when I’m a vet and I discover the coolest research breakthrough ever for endurance????? I can dream….

Monday, April 4, 2011

The end of....

...I was going to say "an era" - but it sounds so overwrought and melodramatic. So I guess we'll just call it the end of a "chapter".

Most likely, my McClellan saddle is sold.

It’s bittersweet. I put it up for sale for all the right reasons and those reasons haven’t changed. But it’s still hard to see it go. It’s the saddle that I used for all of Minx’s endurance rides. It was the first saddle I bought.

When I put my Solstice up for sale, I toyed with the idea of keeping the McClellan. It’s the most secure, comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden in. It’s great for horses that I don’t know, or for those first couple trail rides of the season, or for camping. But I never got around to pulling the ad down, and even reduced the asking price – so while I my heart wanted to keep it, the logical decision was to let it go.

I think one reason this particular item, even after everything I’ve sold, is the hardest yet to see go is because of what it represents. There are a couple of core pieces of horse “stuff” that represents “endurance riding” to me. One of those items is this saddle. Not that endurance isn’t possible without the “stuff” that has come to represent endurance to me, but for some reason, watching this item go makes me feel lost. That I’m not an endurance rider anymore. That endurance is truly gone. Endurance has defined who I am for so long. It wasn’t something I did, it was WHO I was.

Logically, I know that I will do more endurance – perhaps even by the end of this year. I know that I don’t need a lot of STUFF to get by on an endurance ride. It’s as simple as me and Farley traveling down the trail in a saddle that fits.

More than anything, see this saddle go makes me realize more than ever that I’m starting a new chapter in life. One with endurance, but not necessarily one centered around endurance anymore. The saddle was one of the first things I bought after graduating from college and getting my horse and trailer. As it marked the beginning, I guess it’s only fitting that it also marks the end of, what has been so far, one of the happiest times of my life.

I’m ready for the change. I really am. A change in my life, and a change in how endurance looks and works in my life.

Yet another recommendation

....and then I'm done with the "self help" for a while. I promise.

I've clipped this page into evernote for that time in the future when I throw up my hands in despair over everything that needs to be acomplished.

And to the 3 of you that have recently graced me by adding your names to the "follow" list - don't think I didn't noticed. I now have FIFTY followers - count them, FIFTY. This makes Melinda very happy as she LOST followers recently and was very depressed to see FORTY NINE go down to FORTY SEVEN. Which was a very sad day indeed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Post recommendation

Hey everyone - I can't help myself. I read an awesome post and just simply must share it!

Having trouble reaching personal goals? Read this post: Here

The article is a bit simplistic, but probably because he's trying to make it general enough to apply to lots of different situations.

Setting goals and achieving them is something that I'm successful at. I'm an A type personality that enjoys setting goals and then achieving them. There's a downside to this, but that's not what this post is about. :)

Some of my advice for achieving goals is (and some of this echo's what's in the article):

1. Decide on a goal. Sounds simplistic, but I meet lots of people who want change in their life, but don't actually have a goal set that will accomplish that. At first, it might not be about finding something you want to do, but finding something you hate less than what you are currently doing. You can always modify later.

2. Write it down. Write down when you want it accomplished by. Figure out a pathway to the goal and work backwards. This was especially useful for vet school admissions. For admission into Fall 2011, my preperation started the summer of 2009. That's a long time and assumes that you have most of your experience already done! Everything had a deadline and missing a deadline, even 2 years out from matriculation would have made the process infinitely more difficult.

3. Reevaluate often. It won't go to plan, revisit your plan often and revise as necessary, including the completion date of the goal. This was important for goals such as the Tevis, that I had less control over because I was heavily depending on someone else - my horse. I initially planned on doing Tevis in 2007. I didn't actually make my first attempt until 2009. I didn't actually finish until 2010. The only reason I completed at all is because I continually reassed my pathway to the goal along the way.

4. For bigger goals, set littler ones along the way. My big endurance goal was Tevis. My smaller goals along the way, that may or may not lead to Tevis were 1000 miles for myself, 1000 miles for my horse, my first 100 mile completion (whether or not it was Tevis), bronze 100 mile award, first multi day completion etc. The worse your journey is going, the more small victories you need along the way.

5. Put your goals in a visible spot. One thing that has worked well for me is to write them in dry erase markers on my bathroom mirror.

6. Realize that achieving your goal is a matter of everyday choices. If you are having trouble making the "right" small choices on an every day basis, reevaluate your goal and your motivations for meeting that goal. You may need to modify the timeline, modify the goal, or find a different path. I've read in dog training materials that you don't let your dog fail more than twice. After the second failure, you have to assume you didn't prepare your dog properly for the task, and you need to go back and look for the hole, and then try again, or explain it in a different way. I think the same thing applies to your personal goals. Too many failures become a habit. Evaluate your reasons for failing, and then either go back and fill the "hole" with more preperation, or find a different journey to the goal. You can look at my Tevis journey in 2 ways - either as someone that kept trying, even in the face of multiple failures, OR someone that tried many different paths until she found one that worked. I personally prefer the second. I was lucky in vet school as the first path I tried was the right one (the other argument could be that I prepared better for vet school than I did for Tevis, and thus didn't have to go back a second time with more preperation).

7. Don't delibrately set yourself up for failure. Luck is nice, but it can go either way. Make sure you aren't relying too much on the positive side of luck to get your through when you finally get to your big day.

8. Find a mentor. I'm especially bad at this one. I have a tendancy to tried and bulldog my way through things on my own. Hindsight being 20/20 I recognize the value of a mentor AFTER I do it the hard way. However the wrong mentor can make the process harder than no mentor or all, so this is kind of a crap shoot. My biggest advice would be to never place all your eggs in one basket, never stop critically thinking, and reevaluate your goal often to make sure that your current mentor is still the right one for you. It's OK to chose different mentors as you move through the process of attaining your goal. Your mentor doesn't need to be a phyiscal presence in your life either. You can connect to someone through their writing, videos etc. Even better if they respond to your occasional e-mails asking for information or advice.

9. When it's time, face the music. Sooner or later, you must go out and test how close you are to your goal. Don't do a #7 (set yourself up for failure), but at some point it's time to go out and test your mettle. This is where having a #8 (mentor) can be handy and either give you the extra shove out the door, or can say "whoa nelly". This is tricky. A failure at this stage probably means you have a hole in your preperation, or you are following the wrong path to your goal. Multiple failures at this point, means that you need to change mentors or find a mentor.

One quick note about mentors. I learned a neat analogy in my christian life that applies to many things beyond christianity and ties into achieving goals. What was said, was that everyone needs a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy in their life. Ie - everyone needs a mentor that will guide them, a peer that you can trust your confidences to, and a person that you are sharing your knowledge with and acting as THEIR mentor. I find that having all 3 of these people in my life when I'm trying to achieve a big goal where the chance of failure is high is extremely useful. Chose a mentor that you can trust (remember - they don't have to be physically in your life), chose a friend that is going through the same thing with you and support eachother, and then chose someone that was where you used to be and help them. The path to your goal will be much richer for it.

Actual link is the above hyperlink doesn't work: