Tuesday, August 31, 2010

go go gadget shoe

There is a tiny mastermind holding me hostage. He doesn't have a gun or any sort of weapon. He hasn't made explicit threats or demands, but still, he has a hold on me. Oh yes, he has the power.

He's got a friend who looks similar but is a bit larger; clearly the muscle. One has my hands and the other has my right foot. They work together, they seem to communicate without speaking at all, and they say things about me.

I worry about the things they say.

You'd think I'd be able to overpower them since they're so small and everything...

Yep, that's a Nike Running Monitor with my ipod Nano. Two small items that plug into the ipod and attach to a shoe.

Like the Eagles singing Hotel California, I have become a prisoner of my own device.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Nike Running Monitor and its App for Facebook, the function is simple: tiny devices keep track of your runs, then proclaim your awesomeness to the internet, which prompts distant friends and relatives to praise you.

Thanks guys!

I got the tiny chip for my shoe and the widget that plugs into the ipod earlier this year. Erin had one, and that's just not fair. My brain said, "OMFG, that's so cool!" and I ran right out and threw all my dollars at a Best Buy employee to get my own.

Each time I run I happily click though the options -->New Workout -->Basic -->Playlist -->Go!

Clicky Clicky Clicky GO!

Very satisfying.

I trot along clutching my ipod (wrapped safely in its neoprene Bat Suit should I accidentally throw it or sweat on it). I obsessively shift it from one hand to the other, using each pass as an opportunity to look down at the tiny orange screen and verify that it still knows I'm running.

I'm such a badass. I smile and nod to myself, maybe I laugh a little, people at the gym think the quiet girl has finally lost it.

Then, one day, disaster.

My running monitor wouldn't load. There would be no way to record my time, distance and calories burned on my ipod Nano. No way.

OMG! What happens now?! My head was spinning, my thoughts rapid and jumbled...I can't...I can't...what?...where is?...hello?...NO...hello?...I can't...I can't run!

Yeah, that's right, I can't run. There's no way. It's silly to even think that I could. There would be nowhere to put my hands. No record of what I've done. I'd probably have to watch Judge Judy or Fox News on the gym televisions instead of thinking about what I'm doing. Yeah. That would suck. Better just go home.

Seriously? ... I can't run? I can't swing my arms and lift my feet unless the ipod is registering my steps? Hold on...doesn't this treadmill have a screen that tells me how far and fast I'm going?


How in the world did I take running, the most natural human action next to smiling, and turn it into something that requires an equipment arsenal?

In fact, I can run without the bells and whistles. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know I've done it before. I run the same way I always do: with my back straight and my arms comically low, for an obscenely long time, grinning like an idiot. A parody of a perpetual motion running robot.

I'll still use the running monitor after I fix it because I enjoy its features. But from now on, I'll take extra care not to get so caught up in it that I forget why I run in the first place. Fitness, a sense of accomplishment, and the pure joy of moving through the world by my own power.

Now I'm left to wonder what else I've added 10 extra steps to. And what I can do to simplify. There must be at least a few other things that I've forgotten how to do the real way.

A couple weeks ago, we were sitting outside after the sun had gone down and Greg told me it was 93 degrees. It had been a hot day but had cooled considerably. The air felt like it was about 75, with a light breeze.

"I don't think it's 93, Hon. I think it might have been earlier, but not anymore," I said.

"Oh, no," he replied earnestly, "it's definitely 93. It says so right here." He turned the screen of his HTC Hero phone toward me and pointed at the temperature icon.

I waved my hand around in the air, testing the temperature, unable to understand how it could still be 93 degrees. Greg made a face and looked at the screen himself, mumbling something about it not feeling that hot, but it had to be right.

Then...aha! He pushed "refresh" and the temperature gauge updated: 78 degrees.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find my boots. My Mac says it's raining.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Goodbye July

Five years ago I went camping with my boyfriend Greg. We headed up to Mount Spokane on a scorching day in early July with little more than a tent, a cooler full of drinks, and our three dogs. We had a great day running through the woods, getting lost, climbing on the empty ski lifts, playing catch, and lying on a picnic table under a billion stars that are normally blocked out by city lights.

Late that night, the temperature dropped to below freezing on the mountain, and as we huddled together, shivering with our dogs under the single blanket we'd brought, I thought about how ill prepared we were to be away from the comforts we knew at home.

The next day, I began my career as a Graphic Designer with Rings & Things Wholesale. July 7th, 2005, 21-years-old.

Five years later I went camping again. The first serious camping trip I've taken since that weekend on Mount Spokane. This time I brought a stove, a lantern, extra blankets, jugs of drinking water, a tarp, an axe, fire starters, and countless other things. Despite an epic thunderstorm and downpour, this trip was much smoother than the time before.

This time, I return from camping to tackle a new career, in business for myself. I'll be mostly contracting with Community-Minded Enterprises, doing non-profit work; and also taking on more freelance projects. I'll be my own boss.

A lot has changed in five years.

I'm now more likely to be found outdoors than in. More likely to be leading a group than following placidly behind. More likely to speak my mind and to know what will happen when I do.

I've always been a compulsive list-maker, but now I can tell the difference between wants and necessities. As in: I 'want' to bring my giant inflatable alligator to the lake, I 'need' to bring water. Fortunately, I am a big-girl-pants-wearing adult and I can decide to bring both.

There is a list. There is a plan. There is balance.

I tell it like it is, but not with the intent to hurt others. I get far more sun than a pale person should, but I'm always vigilant about applying and reapplying the SPF 50. I do what makes me happy but also what makes others happy, because we're only truly happy when we're happy together.

Here's what's been making me happy recently:

Bomber Betties
The women's longboarding club is taking off in a big way. When I started this group, I had small hopes of helping a few friends learn a new sport and maybe teaching a few others about something I love. Fast forward three months and here is an enthusiastic group of women who are learning new skills, bringing others, and getting seriously involved in the longboarding community. We have our very own group t-shirts (designed by Erin Buehler) and we've been written about in The Inlander.

Here's our t-shirt designed by Erin:
Click here to read the Inlander article by Blair Tellers

New Bike!
When I bought my road bike in the Spring, I teetered around in the parking lot behind Spoke n' Sport and nearly crashed into a wall yelling, "I'm a skateboarder, dammit!"

My previous two-wheeled ride was a small mountain bike that I bought at Wal-Mart 10 years ago for $60. It was the first purchase I made with my paycheck from JcPenney, one step up from my turquoise and orange Malibu Cruiser with the purple streamers.

Now I have a road bike, and the biking chutzpah to do an 8 mile ride, then devour three entire pizzas at The Flying Goat.

Serious, delicious chutzpah.

Swimming in Lakes
I've always been afraid of deep, open water. This is not a serious problem for my day-to-day life.

No one ever says, "Hey Selina, can you take this folder over to Loss Prevention? They are at the bottom of the shark tank."

However, it became a problem when I decided to take up a triathlon as my next big challenge. Believe it or not, they require a bit of swimming before the bike and run, it's not a choose-your-own-adventure-style thing.

So it was that I left the safety of the Oz Fitness pool and inhaled billions of lake dwelling microorganisms, using them to wash down the panic that rose in my throat each time a strand of kelp wound it's slimy hands of death around my ankles.

Then I ate an apple. And decided it wasn't so bad.

Triathlon Training
At this point the Wunder Woman Triathlon in Medical Lake is less than two weeks away and I feel completely safe throwing out reckless comments like: "I won't die during that," and "It's possible that I won't throw up at the finish line."

I attribute my hubris to my personal trainer, Darrin. I signed up to work with him at Oz fitness in May, and he helped me find the weak points in my exercise program. In the process, I whittled down to a highly efficient, 10% body fat and finally got my 5K time into a range that brings more than age-group medals.

For the first time ever, I brought home a first place finisher medal. Not first place in my age-group, but first place for women overall.

On the way to the Colville National Forest, we ended up overshooting the turn and driving all the way up to Kettle Falls. We were lost, but I didn't feel apprehensive. I don't worry any more because I know I can handle it. I know that there are worse things than adding 30 minutes to your driving time, it's not worth fretting about.

Whenever I am driving lost, I think of the time my family went up to Mount St. Helens and our truck died on the way back. We coasted in neutral all the way down the mountain to a repair shop in town, praying that no one would slow down in front of us to make a turn and cause the truck to lose momentum. We jokingly blamed the breakdown on the bad-luck pumice stones that we'd collected at the park; the ranger had warned everyone that they were cursed. We laughed at the time, but we threw out those stones the second we hit town.

From there, my mind drifts to the time my alternator went out on I-90 and I was able to glide off the freeway in a rest area parking lot where I spent the day with friendly Mormon missionaries selling snacks.

Sure it was frustrating to break down, but no one got hurt, people helped us, and we got back on the road eventually.

The most important lesson is that it was beyond our control. Bad-luck pumice stones aside, both cars got regular checkups and were reasonably well taken care of.

Most of the things that go wrong in life are the things you would have never thought to worry about in the first place, so there's no sense wasting space in your head trying to imagine the worst.

This is what I've really learned in five years:
  • Stop worrying.
  • Take a risk.
  • Say what you mean.
  • Follow Your Bliss.