Guys. This morning I actually woke up when my alarm went off, and did not hit snooze, not once. In this case, “there’s an app for that!” is proving true (at least, for day 1). “Sleep If U Can” makes you take a picture before you go to bed. Then in the morning, you have to go to the same place as the night before and take the same picture to turn off the alarm. You can try hitting the volume buttons down, but this only lasts for 1 second (I tried). So this morning, I woke up to a song I set, and managed to make my way to the bathroom to line up the faded image of last night’s photo and take a new one. It only took me one try, and by then I was already in the bathroom…so put my phone down and showered. I even tried making the shower a little cooler than usual, since that’s supposed to be healthier for you, too. Baby steps. Still, it’s the first time in a long time I can remember waking up and starting my day when the first alarm goes off. Hopefully I keep this up! It really would be amazing to wake up, get up, and go. Snooze doesn’t do anyone any favors besides wishful thinking.

I was in the office early, then, and was pretty productive. Then I walked home – the 3.7 or so miles – in almost exactly an hour, and later went to yoga. Which felt amazing. The second time was so much better. I’m definitely learning, and feeling good. I was ready for bed by the end of it, both from being tired and also incredibly relaxed. When our instructor leaned down and said “Namaste” to us, no one moved. We all just wanted to stay there, maybe curl up, fall asleep…

But it was not to be. Hoping to start another good day tomorrow, and then catch my writing group!

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Seneca Rocks, WV. The most incredible weekend I can even remember.

July 27

We got down with enough time to get the tent up before the light left us, though it was close. At 9 we went to the restaurant in town – Front Porch Restaurant. We grabbed pizza and brought wine to share. Delicious. There was a clear Bachelor Party behind us – pizza, beer, stories of the groom-to-be. We offered them the rest of our pizza and got to talking. They invited us out on a night hike with them.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to ruin the Bachelor Party. I am decidedly female.”

We joked about us being the girls they’d hired for it in good fun and they were still open in their invite.

Mom and Faith wound up going back to the campsite and I went with the guys I’d met 20 minutes ago. Lucky for me I’d brought my headlamp to dinner. Steep hike! But fun. Good guys. We talked and discovered many os us actually live and work very close to each other – some even work across from my building!

We hiked up to the overlook summit. Pretty! We then went further – to the real summit. Careful footing, past the sign that said “STOP! It’s not worth the risk!”

We lived.

There wasn’t as much vertigo at the top as I thought there would be. It was dark – nothing to see down! We took some pictures and they will send me some. They asked me to be in one, and then I took one of the whole party.

Pretty steep climb, overall. Cool night. One of them dropped me off at the campsite when we got down.

July 28

The climbing! We got up and put our stuff together for the day. Lunch: pine nut hummus and brie cheese in a tortilla wrap, a boiled egg. They had a light breakfast at the Gendarme – bagel, yummy crumb cake. There were peaches and apples, too.

We split into groups based on interest for the day and skill level. I went with one of the Gendarme guides and three other women, and we hiked up the same trail I’d done the night before. Tough. But we made it, and then spent a lot of the morning going over top rope setups, setting up 2 top ropes and reviewing it all again. Quick lunch and we were finally up the wall.

We were at the North Summit, East side. First climb was a 5.4, Isadora’s Run. It was a good warmup – I had to get over my fear of falling and get used to being outside again. It’s funny, we spend all this time making sure the anchors are secure and redundant, and on the wall I spend so much energy just trying not to use it! Anyway I finally just let go and someone had me. I didn’t fall. When I finally got to the top, suddenly, I said, “I seem to be here,” which amused the crew some. So I got my climbing legs back, mostly, and we moved to the second climb.

A 5.9, Streptococcus. Hah! A 5.9. The highest I’ve climbed is a 5.8, once, years ago, in a gym. Totally different. Note: climbs are rated 5.1 – 5.15 or so throughout the Americas.

“You’re all nuts,” I thought.

But I tried it.

I was tempted to give in but the other women pushed me. Yes, you can do it! It was incredibly warm and supportive – something a bit new to me. I think I like this climbing with women thing.

Shaky legs. Exhausted arms. Pinched fingers (some serious crack climbing).

The hardest climb I’ve ever done.

TODAY! TODAY, at one of the rocks people say is always rated tougher: I did it! A 5.9! IT felt awesome. Really really great.

We packed up when everyone was through, trying or retrying. One woman scrambled up it not once, but twice. Pretty awesome. A slow walk back down, some water, hummus, cheese, wine. We drove back to the campsite and I made pasta with a cheese sauce mix I like to make, all on the camp stove, and the three of us ran to the shower.

We brought the pasta to a big, delicious potluck. So much yummy food after a great day of climbing. We wandered, chatted. I ran into some of the guys from the Bachelor Party checking out equipment for sale in the Gendarme.

But really, this climbing with just women today was awesome. The kind of support, the kick-butt attitude, something about it. Really cool.

Okay. Great day. One more!

Tent time. 🙂

July 29

Went up with Mom, M, and Y (two girls I climbed with yesterday) and learned more top rope. It was a bit of an adventure – tie in, anchor, go around. Even the approach to the slabs had some missed turns – oops.

Getting to the anchor location had a narrow ledge I was NOT happy with. I got over it, and we began the setup. Geez. We tried over and over. To no avail.

Then we had to come to someone’s rescue. Another woman called out for us to throw her a rope. She was leading and didn’t trust her next move or her equipment to keep her from a 10-15 foot fall. We ran over and hurriedly flaked out my rope, anchored it, set up a belay, anchored my mom, and then me as an assist belay. My mom belayed her down. Whew. All good. Some excitement.

We finally gave up on the top rope setup but learned a lot. We broke for lunch. I freaked again at the ledge but did not fall.

We then split – Y and Mom learned/taught gear placement, respectively (though originally we were going to do another mini top rope). The other group of women up there wonderfully let us have their rope to use while they set up another, so I belayed M up Scuttle (5.7, apparently), which she rocked, and then they traded out their gear for ours as the anchor but left us their rope to climb on. M then belayed me – a tough 5.7 but I did it! More serious crack climbing, with a tree growing right in the middle of it.

Mom and I headed back to break down camp, and M and Y continued, then brought our remaining gear back the the Gendarme.

What a weekend!!!

Gyms have always intimidated me. I hate it. Never has a place made me feel so vulnerable, so…less. It can be hard to stay active when most of my job encompasses sitting at a desk, typing on a computer most of the day. I am normally relatively confident of myself. Put me in a gym, and it’s gone. I’ve acted on stage for hundreds of people (even with Judy Collins once, which was SO cool), given a speech with 15 minutes to prepare and received a standing ovation (though, this could have been because I was one of the youngest people in the room), navigated the murky waters of interviews. But gyms simply terrify me. Go figure.

I feel less worthy than other people to be there, I feel as though everyone is watching me, judging me, looking at the slow time on my mile run, or the speed, or the position I’m in, or laughing at me trying to figure out how to use a particular machine. Those machines…equipment? are in no way intuitive.

Put me in circus camp – I’m game.

I tried to break my fear once. I enrolled in a “Fitness” class during my last year of college. It wasn’t for the easy A. I knew I needed to be more active, and learn to use some of the equipment. My ex had tried once to teach me about muscles and stretching and why people don’t do full situps anymore, and running, and on and on. I needed less science, more doing. So I showed up, without much of a clue about where the actual workout room was, let alone what to wear there. I glanced nervously at the room; there were two levels. Great, more people to see, watch, judge.

Approaching the man I assumed to be my instructor, I signed in and stood there. Finally I asked him what I should do.

“People usually just do their own workouts and leave.”

I told him I didn’t have one, that I didn’t even know where to start. I don’t think he expected to actually teach. Before he took on the challenge, he just had to make sure:

“You’re not…” I could already tell what it was. “trying to, uh, lose weight, are you?”

“No. I just want to be healthy.”

He was relieved. That was over with.

Anyway, he showed me how to use a couple of things, set up a routine for me, walked me through it (which was hilarious: a new football coach, he wore slacks and nice shoes, so watching him demonstrate on a machine or do crunches on the mat while passing a giant yoga ball from his feet to his arms was entertaining).

This week, I decided to finally take advantage of the gym in my building. Thanks to another co-worker’s astute notion that given our summer workload we won’t have any motivation to work out when the day is done, I decided to wake up an hour earlier than usual and start my day with a workout.

Monday: OK, fine, I chickened out. I got up, I put in a DVD (shame written all over my face) and worked out for half an hour on my carpet.

Tuesday, today: Got up, put real clothes on, hair up, iPod ready, water bottle ready…took the stairs down! Tried the wrong door for the gym; there are a series of doors but only one is unlocked. Apparently. Used my fob to get in the correct door, feeling like an idiot.

Maybe it was something about the morning hour, or the fact that there were only 3 or 4 other people in there with me, or the way everyone else was completely in their own zone. I felt better. My time for my mile was awful, but I felt better. Less intimidated. I did my thing, I left. It was easier than I thought it would be.

You know what? Maybe gyms aren’t so bad. Maybe people are just focusing on their own workouts, not paying attention to me. Maybe no one is judging because they’ve all been where I am. Or not. Everyone has different goals. I have to keep all this in mind.

Hopefully tomorrow will be the same (but with a better time). Here’s to breaking my irrational fear of the gym.

I started taking a Zumba class in my building last week. I’m not much of a workout-girl; I’d much prefer contra dancing. So, dancing, with music, and an instructor to tell me what the heck I’m doing is a definite plus in my new goal of eating and being healthier.

Anyway, I observed something tonight. I did Zumba last night, and as usual there was pretty serious ab involvement. Once the class was over I thought little of it. Tonight, walking around, late, my abs suddenly started hurting. Sigh. I guess it’s working. Man oh man. We will see. Still, I’ve never felt more in shape in my life as when I did a two-week circus camp one summer. But that’s a story for another time.