Thursday, August 25, 2011


Well. Tomorrow I head to NC to take my WFR. Pronounced 'woofer' - like how a dog might "woof" but with an rrrr on the end. WFR.

WFR is short for Wilderness First Responder. I'll learn how to take care of folks with medical emergencies in a wilderness setting. I've been reading up with Derek's old textbooks to get ready, and what I've learned so far is that what you 'do' is pretty frequently 'evacuate.' I guess I was kind of expecting there to be some magic tricks or something to save a life in the woods. Not so much.

Anyway, I've been studying. I made flash cards. I've been reading up to get ready. I've packed pretty much all my clothes so I'm prepared for any situation - rain, snow, sun, indoor, outdoor, etc. I've packed a whole box of food. I've printed directions. I've got road maps and trail maps. I've got backpacks in multiple sizes. I'm good to go. I have everything I need. I am insanely prepared for this.

And yet I'm not.

I feel almost sickly anxious about the whole thing. What if I fail? Or what if I don't have what it takes to be a medical responder? What if I freeze, freak out, panic, spazz?? I mean, I know we won't have any real situations during the course. But still.

What if I fail?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Best Last First Day

Today is probably the best last first day of a school semester ever.

This morning started with an awesome phone conversation with my mama. She had some fantastic news about her health care that made me super happy for her.

Next, I got to see Chelsea and WALK with her to her very first class of this semester! So unbelievably wonderful. Every time I think about the obstacles this young woman has overcome, and the sheer willpower and courage she has in her, I am amazed. I feel so fortunate to know her.

After that, I got to work right on time and was able to make a last minute tweak to my course schedule. Instead of taking Cataloging & Special Libraries on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I am now taking Archives on Tuesdays and Special Libraries on Thursdays.

This is fantastic for 3 big reasons:
  1. Archives is freaking cool
  2. I will have two of my most favorite professors (Riter & Campbell-Meier) for my last semester at SLIS
  3. The Tue-Thurs schedule is much easier to work my race training into - and when doing work full-time AND school AND anything else, good scheduling is absolutely crucial!
 Then, to top everything off - the amazingness continues:
  • I had a yummy mint-chocolate protein bar for breakfast (seriously, those things are like crack to me, I LOVE them)
  • I have a 'ball-chair' to sit in at work now, which I think will help loads with my low back pain AND help build up some core strength
  • I'm only two days away from my WFR!
  • I don't have to go to class tonight like I thought I would, so I actually have time to go grocery shopping and pack for my WFR tonight (leaving straight from work Friday, and I have class tomorrow night - so I do need to be ready in advance)
And I feel like I could keep going. Today is really a fantastic day. What a beautiful start to my last semester at SLIS!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Killer Bambi

Today I was reminded yet again of why I much prefer trail running to road running. It never fails to be interesting.

I was plodding along the trails in the Sokol park (yes, by myself again. I know I said I wouldn't do that anymore... whatever). I was feeling pretty done, the temps being 100+ again because I overslept again and got too late of a start...

Anyway, just about when I was ready to stop running and walk, I was given some powerful motivation to keep running from the most unexpected avenue.


A young deer had been playing around the creek that my trail followed. I ooo-ed and aaaah-ed at him but kept running. And soon ran right into his mama! And let me tell you, that mother was not happy to see me between her and her baby. She responded appropriately for a mom in fear for her young.

She charged me.

Yeap. I turned around and ran for dear life (har, har). I didn't really feel like taking on a deer. They have sharp hooves and teeth. If it came down to it, I would probably bet on the deer and not me. So yeah, I got chased off by Bambi's mom. It gave me a nice long 15 minute sprint on the tail end of my run (she didn't chase me that far, I just felt the need to get to the car ASAP after that).


Does this stuff happen to anyone else??? 

cause seriously... 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Progress Report

It's been a week. Stuff has happened.

I ran a new personal best - 5 miles in 39 minutes and 10 seconds. It was on a treadmill, but whatever. I'm proud. I've been a solid 10 minutes mile runner for years, so it's pretty dang cool to be making real progress on my speed goals.

I'm doing okay distance wise. It's a little more than halfway through the month, and I've already gotten in a total of 41 miles. Hoping to keep the momentum and finish strong with the second half of the month.

I failed again at my ten mile run attempt. Feel kinda like a looser for that one. That's twice now I've stopped at 8 miles instead of going for the finish. You'd think after 8 miles that it wouldn't be a big deal to go two more, but it's like I hit some wall. Anyway, I'm adjusting my training a bit this week to add in a rest day (today) then I'm going for the 10 mile on Sunday hard core. No excuses. I'm doing it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Water Hates Me

Did you know that swimming is really hard? Seriously, I paddled, flailed, floundered for a mere 20 minutes and thought I was going to drown from exhaustion. I kept getting water under my goggles, up my nose, in my mouth. Ew. And to top it all off, I was the slooooowest swimmer in any of the lanes. Embarrassing.There I was gasping away like I was struggling for dear life while others glided by at much greater speeds.


I also had some slight awkwardness with my swimsuit. I don't really have an athletic swimsuit right now, so I wore one of those tie-in-the-back numbers. Don't worry, it didn't come untied, thank goodness, but the front kept catching water and sagging open with each forward stroke. I had to swim facing a wall the whole time to avoid flashing folks, and I had to stop frequently to 'adjust' myself. It's was okay, because I needed the breaks to catch my failing breath. 

Overall, the whole thing was pretty depressing. But I'm not giving up. If I'm this horrible at swimming, I can really only get better (I hope...) and it is definitely excellent cardio for me. After my swim, I climbed for a little while then went home to eat a huge healthy dinner and went to bed early. My 'rest day' wore me out!

Today I'm feeling mostly refreshed and ready for my 5 mile run this afternoon. My time goal for the run is 40 minutes. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Train Smarter...

... not harder.

While I have not been successful with all of my long runs, I have been getting out and running almost every day. This tactic worked initially to get me into the level of fitness I needed to be in before starting my more intense training for longer runs. However now that I'm attempting multiple 6+ mile runs in a week it is starting to wear me out. What's more annoying is that I'm also starting to get low-back pain, hip pain, and ankle pain. Stupid joints.

So, it's time to train smarter which means that this week I'm changing tactics. Instead of running every day, I'm running every other day with my off days being 'active rest' days. What's an active rest day? It's a day where I still do stuff but I don't run. For example, today I'm going to go swim some laps at the pool then climb at the gym for a while. Hopefully this will help me stay in peak physical condition, while also allowing my body to recover from my harder running work outs. Oh, and yeah, I'm actually going to start eating healthy again.

In addition to all that, I'm re-introducing yoga into my life. Right now I'll probably just do yoga as part of my cool downs after a run, but it may become an every day thing depending on how the low-back-pain situation progresses. Of all my recreational activities, I'm pretty sure yoga is the only one that hasn't led to a sprain or a concussion...

Hopefully this training change will set me up for success this Saturday when I attempt my next 10 mile run, which may or may not happen at Lake Lurleen depending on if I can find somebody to go with me or get snake proof running gaiters (so far, I haven't been able to find those. Snake proof gaiters, yes. And running gaiters, yes. But not the two types in one product...).

Whatever happens, I'll be hitting the road after my run to go climbing up at Sandrock for the weekend! Woohoo!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Snake Bite Post

Here is what I found:

Additional fun factoids that weren't appropriate for the work blog:
  • While juvenile snakes can have more potent venom than adult snakes, they do not have sufficient quantities to make their bites more dangerous that adult bites. They are still dangerous, true, but an adult snake can inject you with 17 times as much venom as its juvenile counterpart [source: Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine, 5th Edition]. Either way, don't mess with a snake!
  • Copper Heads are the least scary of the scary US snakes as far as venom goes. Water moccasins/cotton mouths next. Rattle snakes are the big bad and cause the greatest number of deaths (in the US due to snake bites - although the overall number of deaths due to snake bites is really low and usually tied to something else, i.e. child being bitten, or old due with a heart condition having a heart attack after being bitten, etc.). Coral snakes could totally kill you but they aren't as mean or as prolific as rattlers, so their reputation isn't quite so bad. 
  • Juvenile water moccasins/cotton mouths look a LOT like copper heads. In fact, my snake might have actually been a water moccasin - he was kind of stubby and had a white mouth. The pretty brown/red leaf pattern on his back threw me off. Of course, if he was a juvie, he was a dang big juvie... either way. I'm glad he didn't bite me

Scream Like A Girl

This past Saturday I went on the first 10 mile run of my training cycle. Where shame and embarrassment failed to motivate me to eat healthy, this 'run' definitely succeeded. I trudged through the first 4 miles feeling sluggish and icky, then gave into alternating between 9 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking... then the 1 minute became 2 minutes which soon became 5 minutes...

Not long after that, I gave up entirely. I felt like crap, my stomach was cramping, I was out of water, and most of all - I was not enjoying my run one bit. Now, I know that not all runs will be fun all the time. But what's the point in running as your hobby if you are not enjoying it? So, I turned off my timer, made a new plan for this week's training, and enjoyed spending my Saturday morning outside. I walked when I wanted to, ran a full speed down every hill just for fun, and simply enjoyed life. It was fabulous.

So, it was in this peaceful carefree mindset that I started walking across the grassy earthen dam that marked the two mile point from the parking lot. Normally when I cross this area, I'm very careful - it's right next to the water, sunny, and full of tall grass. In other words, it's the perfect place for snakes. Have you guessed where this story is going now?

As I walked through the sun bleached grass, swinging my arms, singing "Boom Boom Aint It Great to be Crazy" to myself, I noticed a flashed of white by my left ankle. I looked down. And immediately screamed and jumped into a run.

Within inches of my left ankle was a copper head, coiled to strike, mouth wide-friggin-open, pointy fangs aimed straight at me. The white I saw was it's mouth as it opened to strike me.

I stopped running almost as soon as I had started - but quite a few feet away. I let out another solid scream just to make myself feel better and did the shuddering shakes of the totally freaked out.


I pulled myself back together.  I figured I should find a long stick and get the critter chased off the path into the woods. This area was still close enough to the parking lot that folks come along with little kids and pets. With that thought, I wondered what would have happened if the thing had bit me - two miles away from my car. Or worse, what if I had been at the halfway point of one of my long runs, 6 to 8 miles away from the parking lot where few hikers venture. I really need to find myself a running partner. Or buy some running gaiters to protect my legs from snake bites. If they even make gaiters like that. Anyway, I'm not going out there by myself again until I have some better safety measures in place.

So I started looking around for a stick when I noticed that I couldn't see the snake anymore....


I've never pissed off a copper head before, but I remember my Dad telling me that they were mean snakes. Where other snakes might put on a mean show at first, they'd run off the second they felt they could. But a cooper head will come after you. Maybe my Dad just had some bad experiences with copper heads, but maybe he was right too. So I held very, very still. Before too long, I saw the grass next to me start moving. I stopped breathing. The snake slithered out of the tall grass onto the path about a foot in front of me. The critter looked over, flicked his tongue at me, then slithered the rest of the way across the dam to get into the woods.

I almost screamed again. It was a big snake. Definitely full grown. Very pretty, but very scary.

The remaining two miles of my hike went very slowly. I stomped the ground with my feet repeatedly to chase any other snakes away before I got close, and I studied the grassy, swamping areas as though my life depended on it. 

The experience made me realize: I have no clue what to do if a snake actually did bite. Do you make a tourniquet? Or so you try to 'suck out' the venom? Should you stay still and wait for help, or should I run like hell to get help? Would taking a Benadryl or Advil help? What can you possibly do by yourself in the middle of the dang woods?

So beyond telling my scary snake story, I'm also going to provide hopefully helpful info: What to do if you are bitten by a snake and not near immediate medical care. Just don't sue me later if you follow my advice and still lose a finger or a toe. I'm going to do some thorough research, but it's your own job to look out for your own health. I'll be posting this info in my professional blog ( later today or tomorrow since it seems like it could be useful to anyone recreating outside. I'll post the article link when it's up.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Food Confessions

I think Derek and I have been getting reputations as 'health nuts' with our friends and family. We are both constantly in training, trying to eat right, and lead generally healthy lifestyles. While I've not always bothered to be strict about it during family gatherings, I've been an on-and-off vegetarian for a couple years now...

Those of you who were at my wedding might be laughing now if you recall the predominately meat-based menu that we offered during our reception. No I didn't eat any of it. Yes, I actually was trying to be vegetarian then. I think all I ate that entire day was a few pieces of fruit, some dip and bread, and some lemonade that one of the catering staff forced on me when I was looking woozy. Oh, and my bite of cake and champagne. My nerves wouldn't allow for any more than that.

Back to the main idea of this post. Despite the fact that Derek and I try to lead generally healthy lifestyles, I do have some guilty pleasures in my diet. Especially when Derek is out of town, I tend to fall off the 'healthy' bandwagon and go for complete glutton.

Por ejemplo - today I had a large pepsi and large curly fry from Arby's for lunch. Ooooh yeah.  And it was amazing. I mean, yes - it made me instantly nauseous and I'm about to reach for my tums to kill some heartburn. But it was totally worth it. Not that bad, you say? Well keep reading...

My food sins for this month already include (in addition to the Arby's):
  • Poptarts
  • Doughnuts
  • Potato Chips (I always tell folks I don't like potato chips, but I secretly love them. It's really a problem. If I start eating them, I can't stop. Like Pringles sprinkled with crack.)
  • Rainbow Sherbert
  • Peanut Butter M&M's
  • Beer
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • And of course, insane amounts of coffee
The beer and coffee really give me acid reflux, so I shouldn't drink them. I know coffee can actually be good for you if consumed in reasonable quantities, but I'm rarely reasonable. Hence my daily Prevacid popping this month. 

So there is it. My food confessions laid out for you to see. I'm really not that healthy. I'm only in day 5 of August, and I've already had all that junk. I was hoping that confessing it all would embarrass me so I'd be less likely to indulge later.... but now I'm just hungry...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Funny Fears

You may or may not have guessed this about me, but I am a big fat scaredy-cat.

I have many irrational, ridiculous fears. Most folks know I'm afraid of water. Well, really I'm afraid of drowning. That fear is kind of understandable I think, given how many times I've had to be pulled, gasping, out of the water when it tried to kill me. Yes, the water actively tried to kill me. You cannot convince me otherwise.

I'm also afraid of spiders. Fewer people know about that one. On more than one occasion, I've gone cruising up a climbing route on lead only to stop in a frozen panic because there is a spider in my way. Silly right? I mean, there I am clinging to rocks by my finger tips, tens of feet up in the air, and the thing that scares me is a spider - not the possibility of falling. Not that I'm not afraid of falling - that one gets me worked up more often than I'd like as well. But it's not nearly as freaky as coming across a spider. And really, I think the falling-fear is a little more understandable since I have fallen before and ended up in crutches for a month. But I've never been bitten by a poisonous spider. Silliness.

So what's got me writing about funny fears today?

Well, I had to go to the dentist yesterday. Do you remember those stupid commericals for dental insurance where the weird looking lady is sitting in the dark at the dentist office and confesses her dental fears - "It's not the drill - it's the bill!" Remember? Well, I'm not her. I do fear the drill. Much more than the bill. Just the sound of the drill in another room will get my heart pounding, my underarms sweating, and my vision narrowing. I really fear going to the dentist.

It's not rational really. I've had a fabulous dentist the vast majority of my years. The folks at Palmetto Dental Associates are pretty much my heroes - if they hadn't been so fabulous, I would have never gone. In fact, since I've moved away and can't see them anymore, I haven't gone back to the dentist at all. Until yesterday.


What could drag me into see a dentist despite all my irrational fears? Nothing less than a broken filling... which still only got me there after a month of procrastination. And now that I've finally gone in, what two words do you think they told me to strike complete and total fear into my heart?

Root canal.


So, make me feel a little less stupid and share - what are your irrational fears? Have you ever had a root canal? Want to come be my personal assistant and kill every spider I come across?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Good Bye July!

July was a good month. An insanely busy month, but a good one. I'm in a list-making mood today, so here are the highlights:
  1. I learned how to steer a canoe by myself. You try that.
  2. I got to go to the beach with my families!
  3. I got to go to the mountains with my families and Derek :)
  4. My oldest niece turned 7. Last year, she cried when she turned 6 because she didn't "want to get old" - ughs. No such problem this year.
  5. I turned 27... ughs... Definitely feeling my niece's problem from last year.
  6. I ran 57.75 miles (total for the month)!!
  7. My research paper was accepted to be presented at the SC/MLA Annual Conference in October
  8. I guess I rescued a kitten? I didn't keep it, but I took care of it for a while.
  9. I enjoyed telling folks that Derek and I have been dating for four years now. I know we're married, but that doesn't mean we're not dating still :)