Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The creepy student

My yoga studio is hosting a 30-day challenge that started yesterday. The class I went to yesterday was probably the fullest I had ever seen in Mobile. The studio I visited in New Orleans regularly crams 30 people into a 20'x20' room (I'm guesstimating), but Mobile never gets that tight. It was actually so crowded that I resorted to setting up camp in a spot up front by the teachers' stage. That particular area is not very popular, as you might imagine.

I laid on my mat before class started, sweating in the room's 105 degree heat and also because I was nervous about being in front of everybody. And lo-and-behold, who unrolls her mat beside mine? My favorite instructor at the studio. I love her classes because she has this soft, soothing voice and it's easy to forget how hard my body is working when I'm listening to her talk. I fall right into those repetitive, meditative words and before I know it, we're laying in final savasana. When we practice in the same class (under another teacher's instruction), I always find myself peeking at her, admiring the depth of her expression just before I lose my balance and distract the whole room with my clumsiness. Anyway, she's kind of my yoga role model and taking a class right next to her only compounded my anxiety.

Through the entire class, I stared intently at my reflection in the mirror to inspire my own focus. I did not dare look over to the right at her reflection, lest I break posture or, even worse, accidentally make eye contact with her and forever mark myself as "the creepy student". Luckily, the class went really well. I made good progress in some of the spine-strengthening stuff and I think I even got a compliment from the instructor for my head to knee with stretching.

And when it was all over, as I wobbled toward the studio exit on my exhausted yoga legs, my yoga role model said "McCrae, I really enjoyed practicing next to you today." She's so nice.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tammany Trace in yo FACE

Jimmy Krebs, my good friend/father-in-law/life coach, invited me on a 56-mile bike ride with his friend Kay today. The two of them are training for the half-ironman in Panama City in two weeks. What's nice about being new to a sport is that I have no idea what I'm capable or incapable of- so I said, sure why not?!

I woke up at 5:30 and drove to Pascagoula, MS (very, very hungover from good times at O'Daly's Irish Pub last night) and Jimmy, Kay, and I headed over to Tammany Trace- a rail-trail from Slidell to Abita Springs, LA. It was a gorgeous ride through parks and wetlands with plenty of watering holes along the way.

May 7th, 2011- These two will swim 1.2mi, bike 56mi, and run 13.1mi.

The first 35 miles were amazing- I was really enjoying myself and my company. Something happened though, in the last stretch before we got back to the truck. The switch was flipped; the wall was hit. My hands were sore, my left knee started clicking (ITBS- can't seem to shake it), I couldn't find a comfortable spot in my seat, and I could feel the knots start to form in my back. And this was all I could think about. It suddenly didn't matter how beautiful it was out, or how nice the breeze felt in my face, or how much progress I had made in my cycling. I just wanted off this damn bike.

We are not friends.

We finally make it back to the truck and it appeared that our ride was "only" 52 miles long, not the 56 miles that Jimmy and Kay were planning on. So as I collapsed in the parking lot next to the truck, these two crazies went out to finish up the last four miles. And when they were done, they ditched their bikes and went for a two mile "transition run". WHAT IN THE WORLD?! 

The good thing about riding for 3 1/2 hrs is that I burned 2,000+ calories. So I ate a cheeseburger and peanut butter quake at Quakes Ice Creamery on the way back. Then I ate a mess of honey barbeque BWW at home in 'Goula and had the classic pulled pork plate at The Shed for dinner. And lots of sweet tea in between. 

I still can't imagine 188 miles of this though. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

BYoga and the Academy Experience

Today at yoga, I accomplished the most incredible thing. I did not touch my face. Through the ENTIRE 90 minute class! You may not think this is a big deal. Well you, my friend, have never done hot yoga. Imagine, if you will, being waterboarded by your own sweat. Feeling it sting your eyeballs and roll into your nose as you're bending over, trying sandwich your face into your shins. You learn pretty intense focus doing Bikrum-&-coke because the instructors constantly tell you to "practice stillness in between postures focusing on your breath with no fidgeting, wiping sweat, burping or other bodily movements" (BY Houston). That's right guys, no farting in yoga. At least not between postures.

Don't do it, man. Don't do it.

Yoga class sometimes takes me back to the Academy days. It takes me back to standing out on the parade field at 4:30pm on a Friday, sweating my butt off at the position of attention (head erect, eyes in the boat, chin in, shoulders back, etc. etc. it sucks) waiting for the band to play the music that meant drill was over (Bingo!). It takes me back to morning PT as a swab, doing those terrible multi-planar lunges waiting for the demonic 2/c to tell us to recover. It takes me back to marching tours (whoops, don't get an alcohol offense as a 4/c!) carrying my rifle back and forth through the old quad, waiting for the quarterdeck watchstander to tell me my hour is up. Or in one case, to tell me that some upperclass saw me talking to the other guy doing a marching tour and that we'd have to come back and march again tomorrow.

Xiaobin- demonstrating proper POA when you've busted both your knees playing rugby and you're stuck in a wheelchair until further notice. 

Yoga takes me back to the times where it was my job to stand perfectly still (or march like a perfect robot) and try to forget about the fly that just landed on my nose or the fact that my entire body itches because the drill uniform is made of goat hair or something. It's about structure and discipline and finding your happy place as you wait for it all to end.

Oh college. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hip Satchel

I wore my fanny pack *ahem* hip satchel on my bike ride yesterday. I did it because I am too cheap to buy one of those under the seat bike bags (yes I know Bell makes one for < $10... I'll do it next paycheck) and I needed something to carry my duty phone, iPhone, driver's license, and credit card. You know, in case I got an urgent duty call and decided to do a "dive bar" google search and go drinking instead. Come on people, this is a practical damn fashion accessory. 

Observe- my hip satchel. And small but noticeable stain from eating curry right before I took this picture (wow, am I really this cool?)

I had a Skype date with my very good friend Frank tonight whereupon I filled him in on my life's happenings, which of course included me training for this bike ride. Then I told him about my hip satchel, to which he reacted in the following manner:

And proceeded to say words to the effect of- "Fanny packs were started by people who needed to carry a medium amount of things, without the inconvenience of holding them. Later, it became a fashion accessory for both undesirable-looking and undesirably-shaped people."

Is it really that bad? Really?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Conquering the Cochrane

This morning, I woke up at 5:45 and hit the road at 6 for my first solo ride. The biggest hurdle of my ride was over the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge. It's named for a community settled by West Africans in the 1900s who were part of the last known shipment of slaves into the US. I learned about this and other interesting facets of Mobile's history in Margaret Brown's documentary "The Order of Myths". Netflix it!

Anyway, I rode across this bridge today at six in the morning in the breakdown lane with semis barreling past me. "Keep it together. Keep it together. Keep it together"

I went ~12 miles out and back and it felt pretty good! I'm feeling soreness in what I think are the right places (sit bones, where are you?) and I had a lot less tightness between my shoulder blades so this ride was a lot more comfortable than my first one. Ah, progress!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bikram yo-yo

I've been doing (practicing?) Bikram yoga since the first part of this year. I went with one of my best gal pals, Laura, to a studio in Portsmouth, NH and every woman there looked like a beach volleyball player, so I guess I stuck with it.

It's been a pretty rad journey. I really didn't buy into the mystical-medicinal aspects of it initially, but after four months... gosh, I sleep like a rock and poop twice a day. Neither of these things were normal for me, pre-Bikrara. ALSO, I ran a half-marathon last weekend and this was all I did to train- a long run (maybe 8 miles) every two weeks, a couple of short runs (2-4 miles) when I was able to convince myself, and Bikaroni twice or thrice a week. I didn't run awesome or anything, but I maintained a sub 10min/mile pace and felt fucking fantastic at the end of it. Sure my knees and ankles hurt like a bitch the next day because I didn't prep them for all that impact, but whatever!

Anyway, I'm a total Bikyumm believer now. And it's crazy that those 26 postures can feel so different, from one class to the next.

Somedays, I feel like I belong in the front row of class "with my smiling, happy face"

Other days, I totally lose my shit. 

I may not look like a beach volleyball player yet but uhhh that's totally not my goal anyway.

 I mean, who wants to look like this? 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First ride

Today was my first bike ride in four years. Last time I rode, it was a bike that I borrowed without asking from the Coast Guard Academy's bike locker. Some friends and I rode five miles or so to Mirch Masala, an awesome Indian place in Groton. Both times we were going downhill on the Gold Star Memorial bridge, my bike started to accelerate, I panicked, braked too hard, lost control, and ate shit. We weren't going fast, I'm just exceptionally clumsy and gutless. But whatever, it wasn't like I had to worry about getting good at bike riding.

My boyfriend, Hans, is a bike rider. Last year, he rode the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. 202 miles... jesus christ. I sent him home-baked cookies and a good luck card. This year, he's riding the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party!). He asked me if I wanted to ride it with him, probably expecting me to say "that's sweet of you babe, I'll send cookies", but I thought it might be fun so I signed up. The registration fee was $95... that should have been my first red flag. I started looking in local bike shops and their entry level, bottom-of-the-line, road bikes started at $750. Then I had to buy a helmet. Then I had to buy a tire pump. Then I had to buy water bottle cages. I don't even have a tire repair kit yet because I feel too sick to my stomach to buy another bike accessory this month. Also, I wouldn't know what to do if I got a flat so I'd be shit out of luck anyway. But, as of last week, I became the owner of a Giant Avail 3 road bike, in sangria/black. It looks nice in my apartment.

Anyway, I rode the bike today. A nice lady in Daphne said that she rides with a group every Wednesday afternoon and that they'd be nice to me even though I don't know the first thing about riding. I actually brought a fanny pack with me because I'm on duty this week and didn't want to leave my phone in my car. Good thing I didn't put it on right away because they all had bags strapped onto their bikes. Why do they make fanny packs, anyway? So yeah, I left the phone in the car and hoped it wouldn't ring.

I didn't think it would be as challenging as it was... I didn't get off the bike and walk or anything, but I really struggled (and often, failed) to keep up. They were so nice though, always glancing back to make sure I hadn't collapsed on the side of the road. Actually, they were a lot nicer than that- someone was always hanging back with me and giving me tips and encouragement. We rode for 22 miles through some really beautiful rural areas in Baldwin County, AL and I didn't eat shit, not even once. My first training ride is complete! My legs are pretty sore but not as sore as my lady parts.