30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 21- The Shortest Longest Day Ever

Today is June 21, the Summer Solstice. It is the longest day of the year, but if you ask me, it could have been a bit longer. I felt rushed all day long, even when I planned my schedule and adhered to it.  Continue reading 30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 21- The Shortest Longest Day Ever

30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 19- Just Keep Swimming

I considered taking the day off from Experience Nature to talk about my adventures in dental care, but I did have a chance to get outdoors today, and I want to focus on that.

Knowing I wouldn’t have the chance to workout after my dental appointment (they bring out the big guns for me- lots of drugs, lots of needles, lots of drilling), I went early to Pilates and then for a longer swim in Goss Lake. 

I’m swimming more frequently for a couple reasons. My shoulder and knees are still acting wonky. My knees not nearly as bad as my shoulder. I tweaked it way back in November, got a cortisone shot, and now it’s worn off. So, basically, back to the pain I had before I got the shot. I’ve been using the cannabis oil tincture on my knees, and it seems to be working pretty good. I don’t notice any difference on my shoulder. Lifting weights, and doing lots of different movements only seems to agitate my shoulder, and sometimes bothers my knees. Even Pilates is pushing it a little with my aches and pains. But swimming? Doesn’t bother me a bit. So, if I’m looking to do some cardio workouts, and my normal workouts are aggravating injuries, then swimming is the way to go.

Another reason I’m swimming more is I’m training for the Whidbey Island Triathlon the end of July. “But PJ, you said your knees and shoulder hurt, are you going to do the crazy biking and running, too?” No. That’s what my teammates are for. Philip is an AVID cyclist with the fastest bike and the fastest times on the island. Sam runs 6 or 7 minute miles. Repeatedly. 

All I have to do is get down to a 12-13 minute 1/2 mile swim, and we will be not just the fastest relay, but the fastest course time ever. But last year I didn’t even break 15 minutes. I don’t know what happened, but I felt like I choked in the water (not literally, I would have drowned). I’m bound and determined not to let that happen this year, so I’m swimming. As much and as often as I can.

I have a schedule (YAY! LISTS!) for my swimming days, and it allows me to swim 4-5 days each week. I also have a schedule for when and how to up my progression to work up to a 12 minute 1/2 mile. My first week I would swim out as far as I felt comfortable (some days I was the only person at the lake- it’s an eerie feeling to be alone in the water, where no one can hear you if you scream for help), and then try to swim the entire way back without stopping, or the course of one full song on my aqua iPod.

My progression was going to have me increasing duration (by measure of songs) where I swam non-stop and then progress my intensity during songs by swimming fast for one song, then 2 songs, and finally giving my all for 3 songs. It works out if I continue on this schedule to have me full on Beast Mode for 3 songs the last week before the Triathlon.

But then today, I went swimming with two other ladies. We just happened to get to Goss Lake at the same time. We all just happened to be going for a swim. We didn’t swim together, though. Me, with my agenda and iPod went in one direction while the other two started swimming straight out in another. When I finished my set, I looked out and those ladies were swimming all the way to the other side of the lake!

What the? Why was I trying to figure out distance by a fracking song? Especially when some songs are 3 minutes and others are 5? I can easily figure out how far it is to swim clear across the lake. I can time myself better that way too. By the time the race rolls around and there are markers in the water, I will be more accustomed to swimming the distance rather than the guessing game I’m playing now.

So now I’ve updated my schedule.

  • Week 1 (this week)- Swim to other side and back. Three rest stops allowed. One on the way to other side, one at the other side, and the last one on the way back. Try to swim at least 2 consecutive songs on either trip without stopping.
  • Week 2-Swim all the way to other side without stopping, rest for at least one full song (hopefully a short one), and swim all the way back without stopping
  • Week 3- Swim all the way (there and back, like a hobbit) without stopping, any speed you like
  • Week 4- Swim all the way there with a speed of Fast for one song, recover/base pace for 2 songs. Rest on the other side, and then swim all the way back with same speed pace
  • Week 5- All the way. Swim one song fast, two songs slow/recover
  • Week 6- RACE WEEK- All the way, maintain fast one song, recover one song.

6 weeks until the Triathlon. 6 weeks to make a commitment and possibly a habit of swimming when I am able to. It’s a great workout, easy on the joints, and keeps me connected to my Sacred Space.

Just keep swimming, and I’ll see you at the lake!

30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 7- Glad I Live in Washington

I used to live in Florida. I lived there from 1997 to 2007. Ten years. That was approximately 9 years, 11 months, and 29 days too long.

It’s hard to pinpoint what it was I disliked the most about Florida. Continue reading 30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 7- Glad I Live in Washington

30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 5- A Perfect Picnic

Yesterday I was a little frustrated with some aspects outside my control, but I decided to try to make the best of a less than ideal situation, and it seems to have paid off. Today, I got a feel for what my days will look like normally as we progress into summer, and it seems rather nice. Continue reading 30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 5- A Perfect Picnic

30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 2- Adventures with My Element, Water

Me and Water go way back. When I was five years old, I pointed to a dolphin trainer and told my mom that was what I was going to do when I grew up. She did what any other encouraging mother of a fanatical youngster would do, and smiled and nodded. And then signed me up for the swim team.

Joke’s on her. I turned out to be quite the water baby. Part mermaid, we think. I took to swimming like a bird flying. Continue reading 30 Days of Experiencing Nature: Day 2- Adventures with My Element, Water

30 Days of Experiencing Nature

This April, in honor of Earth Day, I celebrated 30 days of ZooFit and discussed all the many ways we can Eat Clean, Live Green, and Train Positive. This month I want to explore one of my pillars of ZooFit a little closer and focus on connecting to the earth in healthy ways with Experience Nature.

June is a perfect month to celebrate and explore, too. Farmers Markets are starting up, beach and hiking weather looms around us, flowers in bloom (yay allergies!), days getting longer, summer solstice. I just got a job as a park aide for the state parks, so I will be enjoying the outdoors more and more myself.

I have big plans this summer for being outdoors and my health:

  • Biking more (perhaps a few rides to work)
  • Swimming at Goss Lake or even the Puget Sound
  • Gardening and growing tons of veggies
  • Experimenting with our farm share produce and my garden veggies to eat greener, healthier, and closer to home
  • Park stories
  • Outdoor ZooFit workouts
  • Getting my CrossFit classes outside
  • Finding my own peace and my own place with the outdoors

Today was almost a rocky start to the 30 Days experiment. I thought it would be perfect, since my family went on a weekend getaway to Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. What a great way to start 30 Days of Experiencing Nature.

Only, we didn’t get outside much today. This morning I did a super quick rowing workout at home. I took my car in for an oil change, came home, washed the car off, finished packing, and hopped in the car to catch the 12:30 ferry to Port Townsend. Arriving in Port Townsend, we found a place to eat lunch and then hit the road toward Lake Crescent.

Once we arrived, I was feeling cranky, irritable, and overall discontent. I don’t know what exactly what was wrong. I had plenty of sleep. I even caught a quick nap on the way to the lodge. I had a good lunch and drank plenty of water. What was going on?

After checking in, I thought we would go for a little walk around the resort. It’s in the old Olympic forest, and on a beautiful lake, who wouldn’t want to go for a stroll? But everyone wanted to sit inside and talk. No big deal, I like talking too, but I was feeling the discontent taking a strong hold on my overall psyche. It was visible to my family as well.

I shook off a couple “What’s wrong?” questions and socialized for a bit. Then I stood up and just announced, “I’m going for a run.”

It wasn’t an invitation. I just knew I needed to get outside for a little bit. I found a short trail called the Moments in Time Trail, which claimed to be a .6 mile loop. I jogged to the trail, and was instantly a lot calmer, a lot less stressed out, and a bit more energized and focused.

You know, Henry David Thoreau once said “I went to the woods because… I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life.” He never told us going to the woods would calm our shit!

I jogged around the trail twice. It didn’t feel like more than a mile. It was short, sweet, and just the dose I needed. I don’t know if it was the alone time, the exercise, or being outdoors, but I felt a lot better afterwards. It could have been a combination of all three. I am an introvert and being around people is incredibly draining for me. I re-energize by spending time alone. I have also been on a huge exercise streak, where I have sustained a cardio workout for an average of thirty minutes every day, so the exercise was probably something my body was literally craving. And I think psychologically, my mind needed to go outside. I mean, why else did we come to the Olympics if not to experience nature?

I came back to my family, changed clothes and went to dinner. I was in a much better mood and able to joke about my crankiness earlier.

I really like our hotel, except a couple annoyances like no WiFi in the rooms. They have a plaque explaining their sustainability practices. Compostable cups, signs encouraging us to unplug and turn off lights, and a recycling bin in our room. They also don’t have any televisions. I didn’t even notice that until my parents mentioned it. There are games in the lodge lobby, and yard games like badminton and croquet for anyone to use. There are kayaks to rent, tours to sign up to take, and tons of trails. We don’t need a stinking TV. Nature is our entertainment this weekend, and I intend to live deep indeed.

 

 

Kayaking: An Experiment in Conservation Fitness

This past weekend was very much a Conservation Fitness weekend. Bowling for Rhinos on Saturday. Sloth Army on Sunday morning. Then to round it out, Chris and I tried out kayaking in the afternoon.

We’ve tried kayaking before. We’ve done kayaking on Whidbey Island before. It was years ago, and we were considering getting kayaks to go on adventures around Washington. So we decided to rent a couple and try it out. Only, we tested out kayaking on one of the worst days to do so- 4th of July weekend, in the afternoon, on an incredibly windy day.

That time did not go well for us.

But that was before. Nowadays, I know the owner of Whidbey Kayaking Company. She’s part of my Sloth Army. I must have told her a dozen times I would come by and do some kayaking. For whatever reason, I figured this time, I’d follow through.

My husband and I showed up at the marina ready for a cool day on the water. It was not a cool day, though. It was a gloriously warm day.  Typically I am not the biggest fan of the sun, but paddling out in the Puget Sound, which is a refreshing 50 degrees right now, I was willing to tolerate it for the occasion.

May is whale watching season. The grey whales are out and about, and I was hoping to catch sight of one. Unfortunately, they had been spotted earlier in the morning, and lightning was not likely to strike twice. It didn’t. But we did observe a curious seal pup checking us out. And we even saw a group of seals hanging out together. It was an odd sight, since seals are more or less solitary.

Throughout the two hours we were on the water, our guide (my friend, the owner), pointed out tons of interesting aspects I didn’t know about Whidbey and some animals. I’m not much of a bird-nerd, although I’m not opposed to learning more. So when Krista shared how murrelets (a smallish water bird in the Pacific Northwest) were indicator species, along with pigeon guillemots, I was intrigued.

If you want to know how an ecosystem is holding up, you can take a look at key species in the environment. Thriving birds indicates a somewhat healthy food web.

Wow, the day was tacking up to be fun, fitness oriented, AND educational!

While kayaking is considered something of a leisure activity, I definitely got a workout in. Krista showed us proper technique for paddling, which if you do right, should work your core more than your arms. After two hours, my obliques and abs were shouting loud and clear “WE HAVE BEEN WORKED OUT!”

It was a beautiful day, and we were glad to have taken Krista up on her offer to join her. It made up for our first kayaking experience, but more than just having a good day, it was connected to my philosophy of Experiencing Nature.

With Conservation Fitness, I strongly urge each of us to explore the outdoors, to experience nature. It can be a hike, a walk in a park, or visiting a zoo. But I think the best way to experience nature is in your element, being active, and gaining a better appreciation for the natural world.

My element is water. I am so at home with water. The ocean calls me every time I go near her. But I don’t spend as much time as I’d like in the water. Swimming and other water activities are not as common in Washington year round as other regions. But kayaking. Wow, that was an experience. Still isn’t something I can do day in and day out, but it definitely is something I consider part of my Sacred Space. It’s something I will try to do again, as well. Maybe as a reward for completing certain tasks.

After kayaking, I was thoroughly exhausted. It was a wonderfully productive weekend, and I look forward to more adventures with conservation fitness.

Interpretive Nature Run

Being an avid non-runner, I look for opportunities to avoid the exercise at all costs. However, with the Sloth Army Running Club in full swing and meeting twice a week for runs, I can’t escape it. Coming up with running workouts on Thursdays is pretty easy, I have a slew of them. Coming up with interesting longer runs for Sundays is somewhat more difficult. I decided for today’s trail run, I’d revert a little to my background as an educator/naturalist and give an interpretive narration throughout the 2 mile run. Continue reading Interpretive Nature Run

Is Willpower Finite and Infinite? and How Conservation Helps

I’ve been reading a helluva lot of books on the subject of willpower.  Why?  Well, willpower has a lot to do with fitness and meeting our wellness goals.  Plus, I’ve been struggling recently to find the focus to write.  From his book “Willpower”, Roy Baumeister tells us that willpower is the ability to do what you need to do, regardless if you feel like doing it.   Continue reading Is Willpower Finite and Infinite? and How Conservation Helps