Thursday, March 27, 2014

Note to My Dog on His 14th Birthday

I took my last final at LSU ever - Agronomy - early so I could go pick him up.
We went to obedience and agility classes 3x/week with the infamous Dick Russell.
  The only dog to beat him in contests was my Wildlife and Fisheries professor's duck dog.
We would snorkel in the Caribbean together, he would jump in my car window when it was time to go anywhere.
  Sometimes he made mistakes and went into other people's cars
He had his own social life at the beach, people would approach me and say OH, You're Rebel's owner.
His full name is Terbo Oran Rebel - Terbo for the kennel, Oran means music in Gaelic.
  Rebel Music is a nod to Bob Marley, I knew he would be a Caribbean dog.
He once saved my life by chasing a burglar out of my bedroom.
We played in snow in Missouri, the Fall leaves in South Carolina, the bars of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
  Here in Lafayette it's the neighborhood kids.
Man we've been through so much, I look back on 14 years and travels and experiences and so much pain he was there with me through. Becoming a doctor. Becoming a mother. My one constant in life. My everloving companion.
He's now in his dotage, and deaf. Sleeps a lot. Arthritis in his right knee. He still follows so close, almost tripping me, and now more dangerous than ever because I'm easier to trip since I'm walking without a cane! But not to worry, my responsibility to him is to give him the best quality of life possible, he won't be forgotten in his old age. Or ever.

Happy 14th Rebel!

Friday, March 21, 2014

New Chapters - Canoeing, Freelancing, and of course Saving the Animals!

It's been quite the week. I've been jonesin for some life changes, it's time. I've been irritable and wanderlusting and driving around the countryside with very little aim, all signs. I've been avidly watching BMX and skateboarding and motocross documentaries about Mat Hoffman and Danny Way (go watch "The Birth of Big Air" right now!) My truck's fuel pump went out and I didn't have wheels for the weekend, liked to kill me. (This did give me the opportunity to meet some cool people though, like the guy that helped me out of the road, the cop that drove Snakebyte and I home who was awesome and we had a long discussion about Border Collies, and the girl driving the tow truck - I have a broken neck, she has a broken back, but we both are badass and handled things.) Big thanks to Daniel Hale, Jon Langlinais, and Poupie's for bailing me out!
Anyway, I had to miss camping due to the truck but luckily Nic took Liam, so at least he got to go. Didn't help with my pissy mood, stupid Ides of March. But luckily I have awesome friends (thanks Bike Maldwin, and Marlon!) that totally helped. And this week started, it just got better from there.

Firstly, Tuesday was my second day hanging out at Waggin Train's new clinic with Dr. Scott Broussard. I had contacted his wife Kristin (also a vet) and him about getting back in the vetting world, and they are incredibly awesome and letting me go whenever I can, just to see what I can do. I had to work this week on my schedule not being so piece-mealed so I can go on a more regular basis. Just about every day is my goal. I'm incredibly happy there. The entire staff is sweet and knowledgeable, the clinic is new and state-of-the-art, and the medicine they practice is high quality. That along with incredibly caring doctors really makes this the best experience for me. Plus, they're triathletes. Plus, Scott's a falconer. I could go on and on about the awesomeness they are, but suffice to say, I'm happier than I have been in ages. I can't thank them enough.

Also this week I started some freelance work for an independent Baton Rouge publication called Dig; I'm stoked about this. I love writing, and I basically have free rein to write about any sports I want, bicycles, and vet med/pets. It doesn't pay big, but it's awesome to do something productive again.
Along those lines, I'm gearing up to get my real estate license and work with Gabe Lewis, one of the best people you'd ever meet in the business. It will at the very least be a good interim job for me, I'm quite excited about it. I'll let you know as it progresses!

Lastly but not leastly, racing racing. The Zydeco Half is less than two weeks away, good times! I have Not trained for it. My focus has been hardcore strength training which just isn't conducive to endurance training. I have to focus on strength to get back to walking without a cane. But I'm participating in it, and am so excited to be part of Lafayette's inaugural marathon!
I also just today started training for the 3-day, 135 mile canoe race Tour du Teche, which Dennis Wise (who lives on Bayou Teche) invited me to race with him. He's also an avid runner, Pilates instructor, qigong master, barefoot Yellowstone hiker, etc. I have a lot to learn and a lot of muscle to build, but the race is in October so I have the time I need. Never have I personally conquered that "it's about the journey, not about the destination" idea; for me it's ALL about the goal. With this, though, with Dennis's obviously very grounded outlook on life and how much of a teacher he is, the journey's going to be a key part in my personal growth. Stoked.

I was tough and strong, I got knocked back so far I couldn't even feed myself, and while I would never say it was good I got hit, the time I had to take off allowed me to hone myself in, and participate in things that are going to make me tougher and stronger than ever. I'm not saying that I'm better off for the injury, I'm saying that that hiccup in my life was not a deal breaker after all. I'm back on the path to being better and better, just as I was before. I can stretch up all the way to the sky now, I haven't been able to do that in over a year. Life feels so good. Ever onward.

There's a Kestrel in this photo

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Q50 Ultras USA 2014

Sweetest guy ever, I *may* have  teared up when Cesar gave me a copy of the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne with this inscription. He also gave me a beautiful black walking stick which, after conspiring with the streets of New Orleans, has already claimed my blood. That is a different story.

Cesar Torres is the race director of Q50 Races. These are ultramarathons that he puts on around the globe. I met Cesar (pronounced Si-Zar), well, I didn't really meet him for a while. He friended me out of nowhere on Facebook a while back, then we went through this thing where he thought he needed a resume (the guy doesn't need a resume, he's quite self-explanatory) and I don't know, we became friends after that. He's a lot like me except a guy, tall, and even more hyper if that's possible. I don't know, it might not be possible to have more energy than me. ANYWAY,
I saw him for the first time at mile 10 when he was running a water station for the NOLA R'n'R Marathon and demanded he gave me a hug. It was the mile that I was becoming tired and "zombified", and he had on this crazy wig...anyway, again, fast friends as far as I was concerned. He then asked me to be the Guest of Honor for his 50 mile trail race coming up (3 distances to choose from - half marathon, full, and ultra) along with Arturo Barrios, Olympian and world record holder in several distances for multiple years. Needless to say I was incredibly honored and a little starstruck. On top of that I knew I was going to be surrounded by dedicated runners that worked as hard as I did to accomplish feats of their own, which is always the best inspiration for me.
None of this prepared me for what was to come.

This was my first experience with trail racing. I've raced road races, and I know that crowd. I got to Bogue Chitto the day before to see the trails, find my cabin, etc. I brought a book to read and was set up for a quiet evening. Somehow I lost my freaking cane before I went, and Cesar and his crew were busy with some last minute trail adjustments (heavy rains had changed some things) so first thing I did after checking in with the fabulous Jeff Delaune was practice walking up and down hills, over and over and over.

Walkin 'round without a cane

Then I met Danny Burke from Covington and of Life Somatics. He was there to volunteer, and also to teach people about Somatics, which is a form of therapy that retrains your muscles to perform correctly after repetitive use (such as running). He worked with me and it was amazing. This is useful for anyone, and with me, where my brain is trying to re-learn how to move my muscles correctly with the different signals it's getting from my spinal cord, it was really helpful. Better than a massage. I encourage you to check it out.

I also met Charles Dye, Cat Thompson, Paige Johnson, Nicole Latour, and so many other awesome people. Volunteering for this race is a ridiculous amount of fun. Everyone is focused and gets their job done, but is also silly and nice to each other. This type of work environment is so incredibly suited for me that I felt very comfortable right away, even though Cesar was the only person I had ever met there and that was only once before.

SO, that night I was hopeful to meet the legendary Arturo Barrios, read a good book, and get some good sleep in. This is not necessarily what everyone else had in mind. I accomplished one of these things. First thing I noticed walking into the cabin with these guys was Charles's Black Flag shirt, which I commented on right away, and which was followed up by immediate teasing from Arturo. It didn't take 2 minutes for tequila to come out and the night continued from there. Incredible. Felt like I knew these guys all my life.

I was not expecting to have a world champion, a well-respected race director, and the amazing Nicole to go for my trademark "everybody stick their tongues out" picture. At least not right away!

Charles Dye's pic of my most awesome selfie

My most awesome selfie

The next morning, "Paige" came in the cabin at 5-something am ringing a cowbell to wake us up and get started. Woohoo, race day! I was stoked to see what this was all about. We made it out to the course and got ready for the ultramarathoners to get started. What an awesome group of people!

They're about to take off!

From there I was way busier than I thought. I rode around with Cesar checking everyone on the course, and hung out with Arturo a lot. Arturo was incredibly awesome to talk to, and he had a lot of advice for this broken-necked single mother veterinarian. Having 5 children of his own, the advice that stuck with me the most was to let my kid have all the confidence in the world. I was telling him how Snakebyte was perhaps a little over-confident because he did so well in his first few races and triathlon, and his undefeated soccer team. I said I think he needs his ass kicked a little at this point because he doesn't feel the need to practice or train anymore. Arturo says to let him be and have that confidence, he'll get his ass kicked soon enough and self confidence is so important to a successful life that I wouldn't be doing him any favors by squashing it.

Atrturo and me. Tri-Cajuns, he agreed to give a clinic when he's back in town!
Photo credit Nicole Decker. Check her out here: ndeckerrunner

Taking pics of all the runners, shouting encouragement until he can't speak anymore, constantly making sure trail markings were okay...Cesar is fantastic. He also doesn't allow paper or plastic on the trails, and gives away hand-made pottery from local artists, and walking sticks, and other awesomeness as prizes instead of typical medals and buckles. There is no one out there better suited to run trail races.

Kid's race - chase that donkey!

The runner's themselves - well this is the biggest difference I found in road vs. trail racing. These guys were incredibly supportive of each other. Everyone was cheering everyone in. I saw people helping each other on the trails, striking up conversations and running together, all smiles and encouragement. I met so many people that knew my story, or that I knew virtually but never had met in real life. They approached me and just started sharing. Funny story, one of these ladies stopped by at check-in just to say she admired me. We got to talking and I told her I was a vet, and come to find out she's one too! She said her husband and her (both vets) own a clinic in Baton Rouge - Perkins Road Veterinary Hospital. Ya'll. This is where I worked right before I took off for vet school. She and her husband had bought it out about 2 months before I left. We didn't remember each other because it was for such a short period of time so long ago, but I used to work for these people! Awesome! 
All in all, trail runners are a great group of people that I'm stoked to be more involved with in the future.

*Q50 Racers - here are the pics I took! I'm also linking them to the Facebook event site and giving them to Cesar! Here: Q50 Race Photos

Arturo Barrios and I have made a pact to run the half marathon part of this race next year. If the rest of this blog post hasn't convinced you to try Q50 out, you totally should could come out just to do it with us. Ya'll have a great one!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Me (In conjunction with my post for Cajun Titanium)

Heading out to Franklington today to see the start of an ultramarathon tomorrow. Cesar Torres, the race director for Q50 Races, has invited me to be the guest of honor along with Arturo Barrios who is a multiple gold medalist and has held several world records. I'm incredibly honored and stoked to be able to be a part of this international race. It's going to be a good end to an already (awesomely) tumultuous week!

Ya'll, for those of you who don't live here, this was Mardi Gras week, and while it's been the coldest and wettest Mardi Gras I can remember, I took advantage of the time and went on a bit of a refreshing mental journey, visiting some old haunts and friends of mine that helped me get back to myself again. I listened to my ancient Alice in Chains Dirt cd the entire trip, cut up and licked wounds with high school friends I hadn't seen in years, and spent a lot of time on my own (I can be very much a loner for being so social, ha! All about balance.) in some of my own personal spots as a teenager. What I accomplished was a more intense sense of self back. I gave up a lot along the way of getting what I wanted out of life, and it feels good to be back in touch with some parts of me I left on the wayside. A lot I've transformed, for better or worse. It feels human to reconcile back with that old self. I'm in this awesome place where I'm learning to combine the skills and confidence I've developed over the years with the purity of just being me and not dealing with all the complications that I find myself struggling with now. It can be soooo easy - just do what feels good and don't worry about what society thinks, you honestly do know what's best for you. That's a hard concept for me, but this week is going far in learning to love life again.
I say "again". But I've always loved life. I guess I mean instead, going easier on myself. I'm hurt worse than I like to admit. I'm slow walking, and I can't move or feel the way I want to. But this is not my fault, and I'm recovering more than anyone thought possible. I'm doing awesome for what life has handed me. I am incredible despite this injury. I can overcome anything.
A guy I met, Scott Sharp, had said to me that he has a sense of superiority for surviving this (he also has an incomplete spinal cord injury) and that it may come across as weird but I have been given the ultimate physical challenge and 10 years from now I'll understand. I say maybe. I'm not there yet, but I see his point, and it's a game-changer for how I view things.

But ya'll I'm rambling. Right Now, I've gotten things different in my head. I'm determined like never before. This is the strongest I've been. You'll see.

Physically, well I found out yesterday I have my nutrition all screwed up. I've felt dull and tired now for a few weeks, like being sick but just really lethargic all the time. My personal trainer sat down with me and did a full analysis of what I am eating vs what I should be eating, and yeah, not enough carbs or calories in general. I don't know what the deal is. I think I'm working on building muscle more than ever before and I'm just not used to the caloric requirements. But he gave me some specific guidelines to go by and I'm starting some intense food documenting so hopefully I'll be back on track soon.

As a heads up, Nic and I are slowly and amicably untangling ourselves from each others lives. No big sudden changes. It's not even worth discussing, just letting you know.

Races and New Orleans this weekend!