Broken Hand

Trust The Plan.

Every year, I set goals for myself - both personal and professional. It generally requires putting together a plan on how I am going to achieve these goals with some interim milestones so I can stay on track. 

One of the goals I set for myself was to be able to execute some basic movements that I have eluded me at CrossFit and at yoga for some time. And while I do have rheumatoid arthritis, which puts some physical limitations on me, I have always tried to figure out a modification for a movement I cannot do. But sometimes that obfuscates other issues. 

As I started thinking about goals for 2018, I wanted to re-visit some of the struggles that I have at CrossFit and not worked through. Then make them goals for 2018. One of those things is around safely executing overhead squats. I can get my rear below parallel on front squats with a decent amount of weight but nada for the overhead ones. Another challenge I have is around my wrists and hands, and being able to stay in plank or 'downward dog' for awhile during yoga practice. 

I went to Dr. Paul Molina and Geneva Bender at Kinetic Sports Rehab in mid-December and told them that I wanted to build towards overhead squats and being able to stay in certain yoga poses for an extended period of time. We started on the latter and I have been doing the assigned exercises for 2+ months on my own focusing on my fingers, wrists, forearms, lats, thoracic spine, and shoulders.

I was getting frustrated because I could not notice any meaningful progress based on one of the exercises I was doing. Truthfully, it's hard to see progress when you are doing it every day. I felt a couple of things getting easier at yoga. I did PR a couple of movements at CrossFit this past month (105# clean and push press and 30# dumbbell snatches), but I was focused on those darned wrist rockers. But c'mon Jill, trust the work you have done!

I went in to see Dr. Paul for a check-in. He performed some quick tests on my hands/wrists and informed me that my extension passive range of motion increased around 25 to 35 degrees and my active range of motion increased by 10 degrees. WOW! I was pretty shocked but very happy that the work I was putting in to this was paying off. Dr. Paul also told me not to use the wrist rockers as a litmus test for my progress as it is just something that is hard for many people even without the issues I have. 

Point taken. I should have just trusted the plan I had in place for doing my exercises and had faith that the work I was doing would pay off. I need to come up with more helpful milestones that truly indicate where I am at. So now we are working on the mobility and flexibility issues related to overhead squats and I hope to progress on that as well. Making progress on that front should help my running and my hiking too. Stay tuned as I continue to work on achieving these goals. 

And I'll start trusting the plans I have in place for other aspects of my life.

[Side note: For my 2013 broken hand rehab from the Australian Walkabout, I found a physical therapist named Andrea Bulat. She spent a fair amount of time educating me on what my range of motion should be and to focus on it during my workouts. Andrea was an immense help to Team Beck on a number of fronts, and we were sorry to see her move to Portland. I made so much progress in understanding how I could be a stronger athlete for the long-term thanks to her. I probably never would have had the awareness to set these goals without her help. Same with our friend, Zack Finer, who moved to Boulder - uh oh, is there a trend here? Hmmmm.]

You Can't Hit What You Can't See.

How did we get to the end of January already? Wow. 

Let's start off by commemorating what would have been Grandma Mollie's birthday today and also celebrate the 47th anniversary of Harv and Yvette along with Lisa's birthday, both of which are tomorrow. Good stuff and we will celebrate all of them "west coast style".

One of the things that I have done for most of my adult life was to write down my goals - personal and professional - every year. I wouldn't call them resolutions because I tried to build upon progress from the previous year as opposed to just starting a new behavior from scratch on January 1st. Plus resolutions in January tend to be broken by this time for most people so it just seemed like an exercise that was rooted in setting myself up for failure.

Why do I write down my goals? You can't hit what you can't see. For me, they become much more tangible when I have to look at them regularly and assess my progress on them. 

I didn't track my goals in 2013 because I was starting the 1st quarter of the year in Australia and the point was just go with the flow. And when I came back, I had the whole "unknown broken hand" thing so that just put everything into a chaos. Then for 2014, I was so consumed with launching and growing Upower that I just didn't think I needed to do it. That was a mistake.

So in 2015, I set out some goals which included winding down my involvement with Upower and what I was going to think through during Patagonia Caminada. Things were moving along until mid-April when Marc's "dandruff ball" reared its ugly head and then everything was thrown into chaos on many levels. 

5 months later, I was able to resume getting back to my working towards those goals. I tweaked a couple of them given changed circumstances but they mostly remained intact. What was shocking to me was that when I wrapped up 2015 that I actually made decent progress on what I was trying to achieve. Now how I got to the end point wasn't what I quite envisaged when I set everything out that January, but somehow I got there.

One of my goals last year was to read more books and I succeeded in that. It does help me relax. I finally was able to finish "Hamilton" by Ron Chernow after seeing the play over Thanksgiving. It was a LONG read but worth the effort. I learned quite a bit about that time in American history. I wouldn't say you need to read it before seeing the show but it probably wouldn't hurt given the musical nature of the performance.

Another book I recently wrapped up was "The Time of Our Lives" by Peggy Noonan. It's a series of columns she has put together over her length career as a speechwriter and as an author. One of the columns that was included was about the Challenger disaster 30 years ago and at the time, Noonan was Ronald Reagan's speechwriter. So she had to write a speech rather quickly for him to address the nation with. It was interesting to read the process that went into crafting those words in what was, essentially, on the fly.

[Side note: Another interesting piece Noonan had in her book was around gathering facts when Mt. St. Helens blew in 1980. It was a laugh out loud moment reading how she was able to piece together firsthand accounts.]

All of the news leading up to the Challenger and the story of how Christa McAuliffe was on the shuttle motivated so many people back then to dream big and set high goals. That's where you learn to set goals.... by being inspired by others.

As for how I am doing on my 2016 goals? I'm pretty happy with my progress this far. I know it won't all be upward progress throughout the year. Plateaus will happen due to other priorities or taking time to realize that I need to find a new gear. I'm ok with that. I'll just keep plugging away.

BTW, if you are interested in learning more about the post-mortem surrounding the Challenger disaster, I would encourage you to read this. It's a long read but well worth it.

If You're Not Willing To Inspect, You Can't Expect

I heard the quote at a yoga workshop I took today. Sometimes I will hear quotes and truthfully, they won't resonate with me too much. It's probably more of a slight against me than about the quote. This one did strike a chord with me.

Yeah, it can seem hokey to the many cynics in my life but if you think about it - when have you been able to proactively make impactful changes to your life without taking a hard look in the proverbial mirror? 

The past 12 months have been challenging for me on every front. Personally, professionally and everything in between. It's required me to take some time to look within and see how I can be better. Better as a wife, an aunt, a sister, a friend, a professional and any other role that I have. Getting focused on what matters. Yoga and running have helped quite a bit. Our friends have been awesome. Family members have stepped up. But I found another ally in the aim to be more introspective - reading books.

I find that reading books helps with those kinds of efforts because it requires a focus that reading current events, social media, etc. does not. And I am a current events junkie so it takes a fair amount of restraint to not check to see the latest and the greatest happenings locally, domestically and abroad. That said, the events of the past year have required me to focus and look within more than I can ever remember. It wasn't easy and most of it was not fun or enjoyable.

One of the first things I decided as part of this new chapter is that I was going to significantly reduce multitasking. I started this around 11 months ago after an overwhelming amount of evidence started coming out that multitasking actually makes you LESS productive. The focus on reading books more recently has reminded me that I do have the ability to focus and to concentrate on the critical things in my life that need to be done. 

As I was trying to assess what my next professional move was going to be (outside of consulting for small businesses), I was recommended to read Steve Blank's "The Four Steps to Epiphany". Given that I have been a co-founder 2x and have consulted on and off for a number of years, I was stunned that I hadn't read this sooner. I don't know if it made me feel better but it reinforced why certain decisions were flawed from the start in both endeavors. Let's just say that it was a HUGE EYE OPENER for me and if you're thinking about starting your own business, you should read it. 

On a similar theme, I follow a number of entrepreneurs on Twitter including Ben Horowitz of a16z, a venture capital firm in the Bay Area. I enjoy his tweets and blog posts. When I found out he recently wrote a book called "The Hard Thing About Hard Things", I knew I needed to read it. He wrote very candidly about some of his biggest lessons learned and all of the warning signals he missed as he was making critical decisions. And this past year has been about making hard decisions and yes, some collateral damage resulted which is unfortunate.

A recent read included "On The Edge" by Alison Levine, which recounts her experiences climbing Mount Everest and ties in some leadership lessons. It helped that I had read "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer a number of years ago and then saw the recent movie "Everest" which was based on the same events of 1996 but from a different perspective. As far as quick reads go, "Into Thin Air" was one of them but it was good to get a different perspective of events by Beck Weathers, who was with Krakauer on that ill-fated expedition. 

Another fast paced read included "Orange Is The New Black". OK, I am probably one of the last people in the world to read this book but it was enjoyable and more so because a great friend gifted it to me when I broke my hand a couple of years ago and needed some reading material. I am only sorry that it took me so long to get to it. No, I don't watch the TV show and nor do I plan to. But I did find the book entertaining.

Awhile back, one of my running buddies asked if I had read "The Boys In The Boat" by Daniel James Brown. I mistakenly said yes thinking that they were talking about "The Amateurs" by David Halberstam, which I had read 2 or 3 years ago. Both were about rowing and competing for the US Olympic team but in different eras. 

Halberstam's book was very good. His books were very high quality. I particularly enjoyed "The Teammates", which discussed the friendship of 4 teammates from the Boston Red Sox (yes, this New York Yankees fan just wrote that) - Bobby Doerr, Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams, who remained close for 60+ years. I'm fairly confident you wouldn't see professional sports players roadtripping today as these boys did, which is what was documented in the book. 

Speaking of the Red Sox, a couple of years ago I read Terry Francona's "Francona: The Red Sox Years", which he wrote with Dan Shaughnessy of 'The Boston Globe. Why did I read a book on the manager of the Red Sox team that crushed me in 2004? I like Francona and can't believe the amount of BS he put up with when managing those teams. He always seemed gracious and thankful that in spite of the crap that he thought he was the luckiest guy around.

I finally got around to reading the book by Brown while we were in Santa Barbara last weekend. Absolutely loved it. It made me sad following the story of the main character and his upbringing. It made me happy how much he was determined to overcome the many challenges he faced. Pick it up, download it to your e-reader or borrow it from your library when you have time. The research done for "The Boys In The Boat" was impeccable and was hard not to appreciate as the story unfolded in the book.

In different ways, all of these books have reinforced what I heard in my yoga workshop today about basically looking within before having any expectations - whether of myself or of others. Taking the time to bring life's insanity "down a few pips" by reading helps me get more calm and focus on the goals I have set for myself. I know that being a bit more introspective has helped me achieve some of those goals and am hoping that it will continue to be rewarding for me on all fronts.

"Trying to Get That Feeling Again"....

Yes, yes. I am talking about the Barry Manilow song released almost 40 years ago. Barry creeped back into my head after I heard that at my 25 year high school reunion, some of my former classmates were doing some karaoke to one or two of this songs. Where was Lola? Was she a showgirl?

I couldn't make the timing work to attend the reunion back on Long Island, but fortunately Facebook has provided me with some laughs at the goofiness and good-natured fun that seems to have taken place over the 2 day event. 

As the regulars of this blog know, I have been running regularly since 2008 (started in late 2004). Going back to the 1st quarter of 2014, I was still working with my awesome running coach, Teresa, but I was struggling with getting my workouts in. The Upower launch and everything associated with that was getting in the way of following a regimented training plan. And yes, Upower is going really, really well thanks to the commitment and the passion of our great team.

Teresa was understanding about "life getting in the way" but ultimately I just kept feeling worse about not hitting my plan on any level. So I dropped coaching back in April, which was a tough but necessary realization. Teresa couldn't have been more gracious. But I did "break up" with running and training for races.

I thought of the song in today's blog post title because I participated in Ragnar NW Passage this past weekend. It had been a couple of years since running it with my friends and last year I needed to take off after not being able to train because of the "unexpected broken hand" thing, etc.

Lissa, our good friend, always runs a great team and I knew the gang had been short because of an injury. I finally volunteered a month ago with the disclaimer that I wasn't doing much on the running front as opposed to '11 and '12. [Translation: SLOW] She didn't care and the gang accepted me back with open arms. 

I knew that I needed to give myself a chance not to get injured by building up on the mileage front. My regular friends and running buds were happy to have me back on their weekend runs. I was happy to be back with Tricia, PNak, Caryn and Molly. So I threw in some regular runs over the past month with the hope I wouldn't embarrass myself on the course.

I had about 16 miles between my 3 legs. I'd say that the 1st 2 were pretty easy. I wasn't overly concerned other than the timing of the 2nd one and limited van support for that leg. The 3rd one had some hills and of course had the extra "lack of sleep and completely exhausted" factor thrown in. Oy. 

I ran my 1st leg exactly as I wanted to. Used the downhill to recover and not go crazy, and then kept things steady in other parts of the run. I knew I had 2 legs to go, so I needed to save myself. Mission accomplished. 8:20 pace for 6 miles. Very happy with that. Felt good about sticking to my plan and still giving a strong effort.

I ran my 2nd leg like a sprint, which was sort of my plan. I just didn't feel safe running at night with a few random people walking around at night. Part of the leg didn't have van support and we were the 7th team in, so I didn't have other runners around me. 8:41 pace for 2.8 miles. My time wasn't "fast", but I ran as fast as could without causing myself to puke after. And I made it safely to hand-off. Success.

As with every Ragnar, you can't expect to sleep any meaningful amount overnight (unless you are a doctor who is used to cat naps). Our van slowly got ourselves together around 5:30am to wait for our other 6 teammates to come in. I felt exhausted. Legs, brain, you name it. And I still had my toughest leg ahead. 

My original plan had me just taking it easy on the uphills, recover on the downhills, and then see how it all went. I was targeting a 9:15 pace for the 6.8 miles. Paps, one of my teammates and probably the strongest runner out of all of us, came flying in and handed the wristband off to me. I was off and slightly nervous.

Everyone in the van and on the team as a whole had been running well. Darn. What if I had to walk because I just wasn't trained up enough? Anyway, I trudged up the first hill at a steady pace. Everything felt hard and I was hitting my pace. Started telling myself to "just get up the hill, Jill." Knee hurt, plantar hurt. 

I knew the boys (my 5 van mates were all guys) would be waiting for me at 2.5 miles in and they already came by with the cowbell. Just told myself to get to them and sort it out there. I made it to the top of the hill at mile 2 and then I saw something better than my guys. 

I saw another runner ahead. Hmmm. Hello "roadkill" possibility. :-) I had to then remind myself to not get ahead of myself and speed up. I had much more work to do, including more hill work. So I followed their pace to see if I was getting closer even at my reduced pace. I was. I know Teresa is smiling reading this.

I stuck to my plan and things got easier. Not easy, but easier. At mile 4 exactly, I got my roadkill. I was pumped. I continued to stay with my plan. I came in at a 9:12 pace. I was absolutely elated! The guys were psyched and I knew I ran well. It was my slowest run of the bunch, but I was proud of pushing through doubts/aches, getting a little fired up and sticking to my overall strategy for Ragnar, however misguided.

Not sure where I am with my running and my training, but I know that I am in a better place than I was 72 hours ago. And that's a good step. But hopefully we're closer to getting back that feeling again.

The other awesome thing that happened is that our team agreed to wear Upower shirts to help us get the word out about our "soon-to-be" running program. It was a wonderful gesture from the team and even better when they announced us as "Team Clif Bar and Upower" as we crossed the finish together.

Bringing 2013 To A Close (Oh, and Becks Are Now Employed).

It is amazing that 2013 is almost done. Fortunately for Marc and I, it was mostly a pretty phenomenal year and we are incredibly grateful for that.

We had the Australian Walkabout for 3+ months, which was an awesome experience and way more worthwhile than we ever could have hoped for.

We watched our parents get healthier and defy their respective ages. We also made our brother-in-law a CrossFit convert after he resisted for so long. :-)

We hosted another successful "Open That Bottle Night" (after we did one in Australia!!!) and JDRF dinner, and we had "Beck The Halls" storm back into our lives with a vengeance! Our families and our friends continue to make us chuckle and to be supportive of our endeavors.

We had visitors from all over, including 4 of our nephews and nieces. We got to spend Thanksgiving in NY and Christmas in SoCal, both of which were so much fun.

We mostly remained injury-free to pursue our fitness activities around swimming, running and CrossFit.

The decision to close Purple Teeth Cellars. Yes, this is a positive thing because we were able to close the business down on our terms so we can focus on other projects going forward.

We both found jobs that we are excited about (more below). It was worth taking the time off and then taking our time to find opportunities that we are passionate about.

And most importantly, we are both healthy and very thankful for that.

Some of the "not so great" things in 2013 include:

The broken hand and recovery with the "purple claw".

3 of our close friends being diagnosed with some form of breast cancer. Fortunately they all seem on the road to recovery. But HUGE dislike here.

The Yankees and the New York Giants 2013 campaigns (ok, this only negatively impacts one of us for this one and truthfully - not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things).

So in reality, it was a very good year for the Becks.

I'll let Marc decide if he wants to talk about his role, but he is happy and excited which is all that matters to me.

About 3+ months ago, I asked a close friend if she wanted to move forward on an idea that we had only talked about in passing. She said yes pretty quickly, which was pretty exciting but a little scary.

Reason it was a little scary was that this is a completely new space for me. We have created a non-profit called "uPower" that will focus on getting underprivileged kids in Seattle to after-school fitness activities. My role is "Executive Director" - aka the "GSD" person. The initial emphasis will be working with local CrossFits here in Seattle and pairing up with local schools.

It's been a busy few months trying to get this off of the ground, but we have made a ton of progress. You won't find a website yet as that is still in development, but behind-the-scenes... trust me, I have been busy working with my co-founder on building the best infrastructure we can so we are hopefully in a position to scale this concept properly. 

I am fortunate to have an awesome Board of Directors to help me out so we can move this concept forward. We are lucky to have a network of people who can connect us with experts as we get more educated on a myriad of topics. And yes, it's a whole new subject matter for me but I am embracing the challenges ahead.

So with that, onward to next year. Hoping for all of you to have a wonderful 2014!

Nike San Francisco Race Report.

Considering the "Australian Walkabout" and the subsequent "broken hand incident and recovery", my expectations for racing this year were pretty low. A friend asked me when I came back if I wanted to throw our names in the lottery for the Nike 1/2 in San Fran and for some reason, I said "sure, why not?" 

Yes, you get a Tiffany necklace at the end instead of a finisher's medal, and it is handed to you by a very handsome member of the SF Fire Department. BUT there are hills. And they are steep. Oh, the course is congested because 30,000+ people get accepted into this race. I thought that we are never getting in. Until. of course, we did in late June. OK, time to get real about training.

Training was going pretty well thanks to TN until late September when a cold/sore throat came and still hasn't completely left. This impacted some of my training so Coach and I made a call to make Nike SF a "training run" and use a local race the following week as my "A" race.

Thank goodness I met up with one friend running the race the day before as she informed me that the race started at 6:30am, not 7am. OK, now that would have sucked. But yeah, early start. Got up at 5am so I could chow a Kind bar and drink a bit of water. Always helpful being a 1/3 of a mile from the start. Easy walk over. Bit cool and dark since race started at 630am. Took a gel 5 mins before go time, sipped some water, etc. Had 2 water bottles with me, and the plan was to meet Marc at mile 7 for 2 more bottles. Had 3 more gels with me.

I've never not raced a race (double negative, I know) before, so I was curious to see how I would rise to this challenge. The goal was to run it, stay in z2 and work on some fueling, tactics, etc. Be conservative in those 1st 7 miles, recover on the downhills and don't skimp on the fueling. As a side note, when people asked me my goal, I said that if I got in under 1:55 that I would be ecstatic but 2 hours would be a solid effort. This is not a PR course by any stretch so getting that expectation out of my head was helpful.

CP and I started slow. It's a mob scene with 30000 other runners and the whole Team in Training thing makes things worse since they let slower runners go first. But we tried to stay conservative and not weave in/out. I made a conscious decision to go on feel, so I did not check my HR. 1st 4 miles were pretty easy. A couple of spurts here and there based on little climbs, etc. My splits seemed reasonable.

At the end of mile 4, CP slowed down as she had a plantar issue and I pressed on. Mile 5 was a bit quick since there was some subtle downhill, but I didn't feel like I pushed harder. Just tried to maintain effort. Popped in a gel a 30 minutes to prep for the hill.

At mile 5.84, the big climb started. Yes, I took note because I knew it was a mile of straight uphill. With about a 1/2 mile left of the climb, I started to walk a little. Popped in a gel. I tried not to pay attention to pace on the hill. CP caught me and I dropped her off with Marc, got 2 more bottles and went on. BTW it was foggy and the weather was really perfect for racing.

I got over the hill and saw my split was 9:55. I was pretty happy about that. To get through that with a walk break under 10 minutes was pretty darned good. I saw plenty of people going crazy on the downhill and thought "suckers".... they are going to get crushed in about 10 minutes. Yep, passed them later on. That advice about using the downhill to recover just like we practiced in track really paid off. I used the down time to start doing the math on getting in under 2 hours. Before I knew it, it was time to climb again through the rollers in a gorgeous neighborhood known as Sea Cliff. 

I kept pushing and again, on the final big hill, I took a walk break and popped in my final gel. Again back to the downhill, more steep, but I kept it under control. A tiny bit faster than the last one since the next uphill wasn't too bad, etc.  Sub 2 was definitely doable if I pushed a little on the next uphill. I knew I could pick off people in miles 11-12 as people were going to be tired, displeased about a subtle yet annoying hill and their legs were going to be pissed off from going nuts on the downhill. The last mile is mostly downhill, and I went in seeing if I could get in at 1:57. Ultimately, my calves cramped up at 12.5 so I just tried to remain steady and finish strong. I did that. I felt good from a cardio perspective in the last 3 miles, which I imagine was a result of the conservative 1st half and not being stupid on the downhills.

Official time: 1:58:19 -- a 14+ minute improvement from when I did this same race (same course) in 2008. Not bad for a tune-up race. And I placed pretty well. Hit 5% in my age group and 7% overall. Not bad, Beck.

And now I get to do it all over again in 6 days. Stretching will be my mantra this week.

Interesting Reads, Cooking Adventures, Etc.

It's been a busy month, thus far. Running, cooking, CrossFit, friends, quick trip to Whistler, getting ready for the JDRF dinner and helping Harvalicious with his "Barbells for Boobs" fundraiser. 

I never get around to reading as much as I would like, but found a few articles over the past 3-4 weeks that have been interesting:

I had NO IDEA that if you declare bankruptcy that pretty much every debt will be forgiven, except for student loan debt. I am not sure which "genius" decided on that, but it has the potential to stifle innovation and risk taking in America. I am all for paying your debts but this is absurd. You try and get a new start, and your student loans will always be with you (but not your credit card debt). Not good.

Fascinating read on the sequence of events that took place after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Good job, Esquire.

What a cool story about a "sommelier on wheels". Shows that you can always pursue your dream if you really are passionate about it. It would be interesting to understand what was involved in the service portion of the Master Sommelier exam. 

I am convinced that Gianni Agnelli was "The Most Interesting Man In The World" before Dos Equis came up with the moniker for their very hilarious ad campaign.

It's not looking good for the Yanks to make the playoffs. I am pretty much "anyone but Boston" at this stage, but I think it would be pretty cool if the Indians and Pirates made it to the Fall Classic. The Giants are off to a horrific start. No O-Line and a leaky defense. Not sure how Kevin Gilbride still has a job and how much more of a pounding Eli Manning can take.

Running is going well mostly. Some aches and pains, but getting through the workouts and improving efficiency.... hopefully.

Spent the long Labor Day weekend in Whistler, BC. Hung out with a good friend, golfed for the 1st time since getting the broken hand fixed and cooked some lasagne. Good times.

On the home cooking front, Marc picked up for me "Modernist Cuisine At Home" as a gift and I have been busy trying things out like "Sous Vide Pork Belly" for an upcoming dinner party challenge, omelettes, pressure cooked vegetable soup, amongst other things. It's definitely educational and I look forward to seeing how I can "up my game". Other recipes I have worked on include an heirloom tomato salad from "Down Home: Downtown", which was great, and Chocolate Pudding Souffles with Almond Butter Ganache, which was adapted from "Michael Mina: The Cookbook". Yes, you read that right - Jill baked.

We are still fundraising for JDRF (will be through mid-November) and have our big dinner on Saturday. The dinner is sold out, which is awesome. Hovering around $18,000. Thanks to all who have donated to date! Harvalicious (aka Dad) is also fundraising to provide mammograms for those who can't afford them. You can donate here! Harv is going to do a special CrossFit workout with his "box" on October 5th for the cause! More to come on this.

Uh, When Is My Rest Day?

Well the good news is that I am getting to the point in my training where we have enough volume that I am looking forward to my rest days. That means I am making progress on some level as 3 months ago, I couldn't run much without pain a couple of miles in. The good news is that the same pain isn't showing up until mile 8 in my runs. So the stretching and PT must be working.

My former coach, Kim, once told me that 1/3 of your workouts are going to be awesome, 1/3 of your workouts are going to be "so-so", and 1/3 of your workouts are going to be garbage. In my mind, this references more in terms of how you feel you performed in the workout. This week, Kim's advice rang true. I had one of each with respect to my running workouts during the past 7 days.

My track workout was disrupted by a nasty headache that wouldn't go away. Unfortunately it got worse as I started the workout, so I stopped after 2 sets (was supposed to go 5). Needless to say, I wasn't pleased. It wasn't a hard workout relatively speaking and I missed track last week because of our VIPs in town, so I was keen to get this one in. So I took myself out of the workout after chatting with Teresa and walked home. Grrr.

In the meantime, I managed to RX another workout after deciding to see where I was with burpees. I hadn't really attempted a burpee since early February's fall with my hand/wrist. I somehow did 88 burpees in the workout, and it's safe to say that they were probably some of the ugliest ever completed in the history of Crossfit. I was the last one done but I didn't stop and kept at it no matter how slow going it was on the 11 burpees per round. So that was positive.

On Saturday, I finally got to do some hills in my run. I found a hill close to my house that is similar to one of the ones in my upcoming 1/2 marathon. While it wasn't a long workout, I had the chance to see how I was faring fitness wise and I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at my splits later that morning. Is this progress? Perhaps?

Today I did a z2 effort for 90'ish minutes and since I was a bit sore from yesterday, I opted to keep it non-hilly. That was a smart move. I am typing this as I am icing my hip and my knee. But I did get in 10 miles in 90 minutes and I kept it consistently within z2 (easy). That said, it was a bit of a slog at the end and I didn't stay as sharp on my form as I needed to when I started to get fatigued. So that's the "so-so" run of the week. 

I think things will be fine. I just need to be proactive about when to ice and when to apply heat, and to KEEP STRETCHING! I have about 2+ months until my race so I will continue to build, get stronger and try to make smart decisions.

"Life" Getting In The Way of Jill Being An Idiot -- Hooray!

It's been an eventful two weeks here at Chez Beck, with this past week being most notable. 

Our 1st set of VIPs visited from New York and definitely created lots of fun and entertaining moments. Marc and I brought out our "A" games on the cooking and baking fronts (yes, I actually baked). We'll cover the food/beverage insanity in a separate post.

Lisa, Jarrett, Jeffrey and Mollie came in for a trip, and they covered a ton of ground. It also helped that we had some friends who loaned us things that made the trip easier with 2 young kids. They hit the Aquarium, Space Needle, Woodland Park Zoo, Pike Place Market, Leschi (to look at the boats) and Madison Park (to swim at a friend's house). Jeffrey LOVED the donut peaches in season at the market and devoured more fruit than anyone thought was humanly possible during the past week.

Of course, no visit to Seattle would be complete without a visit to CrossFit. Both Lisa and Jarrett were keen to see what exactly was the 'tour de force' behind Harv's very improved fitness level. We took them on separate days as one parent had to watch the kids, and I think they understood why hiring a personal trainer is a bit different than going to Crossfit. Both of them worked hard in their respective workouts and gave their best, which is all that matters.

Back home in NY, Jeffrey has some friends who have attended "Kids Crossfit" with their parents. So when I asked him if he wanted to try it, he JUMPED at the chance. For a youngster like Jeffrey, the WOD (workout of the day) was no small feat. He ended up running a mile, and yes, he ran the 4-400m runs without walking. Then he did a bunch of push presses and lunges with 2 5-lb. dumbbells. He didn't complain and really wanted to finish strong. Coach Jean Anne and some of the other "Kids Crossfit" participants provided great encouragement! Uncle Marc and Aunt Jill couldn't have been more proud of his effort.

I am sure all 3 of them are excited to chat with Harv about how hard it is and how proud they are of the progress he has made. Once Mollie gets old enough, she'll be next to try it out! :-)

As for my training, I hit a couple of milestones last week. I PR'ed my deadlift to 152 lbs., which is a 30 lb. improvement from last year. The right wrist is still a bit stiff for power cleans and related lifts, so I can't do as much weight as I would like. It'll get there. I just need to be patient. I also ran 8 miles for the 1st time in a LONG time at a consistent and easy (z2) pace. I was pleased for sure. The hip was a bit achy at the end, but it would have been manageable if I had to go 10 miles. Progress.

I missed my 1st workout since my resumption of coaching with TN last week. I tried to figure out when I could "double up" on another day to jam it in, but I then decided to just not get it done. The time had passed and doing a double might cause me to get injured. I thought I might get dinged for not doing the workout, but as it turns out, Teresa said: 

"I give you credit for NOT trying to cram it in.....that was the best decision!"

So I guess there is something to be said for backing off and not beating yourself up for "life getting in the way". In this case, "life" was a wonderful time with Marc, our VIPs and some friends who joined in the fun. 

What's The Right Sequence, Eh?

View from Jill's run: Mt. Rainier
from Lake Washington Blvd.
Just over 2 weeks into being committed to a 1/2 marathon and I am still trying to figure some things out. Since I am doing PT for my hip/knee, plus doing cross-training in addition to running, I am trying to assess the most optimal sequence. And I need to figure in rest days into the equation because they need to happen.

As it turns out, PT takes a lot out of me and leaves some lingering effects for a day after. Mind you, it has been incredibly effective but I need to schedule it the day before a rest day. Then my body can recover from runs, Crossfit and PT on that off day. So that needs to get fixed pronto.

"Barely Cooked" Scallops (Marinated in Ceviche) With Corn
and Scallion Relish (adapted from "Michael Mina")
In spite of the sequence not working this week, it was not a bad training week by any stretch. I did do my long run yesterday, which took away my 2nd rest day (lesson learned). The run went fairly well as I pretty much followed instructions to keep my heart rate in zone 2 (easy), so I can't complain too much. The view of Mt. Rainier was pretty special too (see above).

And hey - I even got closer to following Coach T's instructions at track as well. Progress. 

The other modification I have made to training has been at Crossfit. Instead of doing the flat out/back runs we are randomly assigned for 200m and 400m, I am taking a different path which has some incline on it. Just more of incorporating uphills and downhills into my regular routine while my body is pretty fatigued. We will see if it pays dividends as I get into longer runs with real hills thrown in. 
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast with
Spaghetti Squash "Carbonara"
(adapted by Jeff Mall of 'Zin')

The other positive news is that my hand and wrist are getting stronger, so I can cook more regularly and give +Marc a break. Marc ate scallops (used a recipe from 'Michael Mina') and went back for seconds... it took me awhile to get myself up off of the floor. So yes, miracles can happen. Then I "Paleo-ized" a dish from 'Down Home Downtown', which is a cookbook from one of the restaurants we frequent when we are in Healdsburg. 

It's a great time of year to cook in the Pacific NW since so many things are coming into season. I can't do heavy amounts of chopping, but I am grateful for what I can do in the kitchen. Since we have VIPs (+Lisa+Jarrett, Jeffrey & Mollie!!) coming to visit at the end of the month, Marc and I are working furiously on menu options. Expect lots of 'home cooking' pics posted that week!

Taking A Break From "Running For The Sake of Running"

I haven’t trained from a running perspective with any regularity since about early October. Even then I was limping to the start line of the Portland Half Marathon with an injury that started when I ran Ragnar last year (July, 2012). Now I did get in quite a few runs on the “Australian Walkabout”. My goal was to average about 8-10 miles a week, and I hit about 8.5 miles. Those runs were generally more about the scenery than the pace, although it’s fair to say that about 4 or 5 stand out as me testing myself and my fitness while we were away.

To put things in perspective, it wasn’t as though Marc and I weren’t active on our "Australian Walkabout". On the contrary, Marc swam a bunch, I ran over 120 miles and we hiked/walked 340 miles over the course of 3.5 months. That’s not too shabby. Oh, and we kayaked, biked and visited almost every Crossfit in Australia. Well, almost....

Since we have been back, I have been fortunate to be able to resume my 3-4x/week Crossfit regimen plus I have been running about once a week for about 3-4 miles at a relatively easy pace. This is pretty positive since I had to deal with a pesky broken hand and subsequent surgery when we returned from our trip.  With the hand/wrist precluding me from doing any extended running, I decided to get that injury that I mentioned above fixed. Fortunately it is getting better but we still have a long way to go.

The general fitness work is going to come in handy since I found out on Friday that I was randomly selected to run a very popular ½ (and HILLY!) marathon this fall. It should be a fun time as I will be running with at least one good friend and I know a bunch of other folks participating in it.

So now ‘running for the sake of running’ is going to take a back seat. It was fun for the past 9+ months, but time to get back at it, "get my run on" with my buddies, join my TN Multisports mates for track workouts and be more thoughtful about how Crossfit and running intersect as they are both important to me.

I did a track workout about 10 days ago, which was a start, and then yesterday morning, I doubled-up – 5 mile run and then hit Crossfit after for a workout of 18+ minutes. I definitely felt pretty beat after, but I was pleased that my leg/hip seemed ok during both workouts and post. I see more stretching as part of my future.

BTW someone posted a great article on Twitter about newbies and Crossfit. What I liked about it the most was she talked about doing whatever keeps you going back for more physical activity. If Crossfit isn’t your thing, find something that is, makes you smile when you’re done and are going to be motivated to come back to. 

What Running Means To Me.

[Shifting back to beckOn from Facebook Notes now that the walkabout is over.]

I wasn't always a runner. Heck, 10 years ago I could barely make it around a local park near our house. That loop is 2.8 miles, kids. Yeah, it was that bad. And then sometime in late 2004, Marc had the brilliant idea to get more active. So around the loop I went. A lot. This led to injuries, frustrations, success, half-marathons, and finally marathons.

Running also led to a new way to see places, improved self-confidence, better health and friendships. These are people who used to be 'runners whom I was friendly with' to 'friends whom I also happen to run with'. On these runs, sometimes you have those discussions that are of the "what happens on the run, stays on the run" type. Those runs are generally where the transition from "running buddy" to "friend" takes place. 

It can be a run where you are doing 800m repeats feeling like you're going to vomit. But those same repeats are the only thing that keeps you from crying about something going on in your life... you get to take out your anger on the track. Or sharing really fabulous news about something in your life that you are not ready to make public yet. Or just some idea that you have that you need a second opinion on. You get the idea.

BTW the same could be said about Crossfit for me in terms of what I have gained, but I digress.

While we were on our "Australian Walkabout", I used running to check out places that were better seen on foot than by car. Kangaroos, the Australian Formula 1 track, beaches, and of course, running over the Harbour Bridge and by the Sydney Opera House.

Yesterday something horrible happened to the world, and, in essence, to the running community. I feel sorrow and pain for the families who had their lives changed forever by the acts of cowardice. I hope these people can find peace and a path to move forward.

About marathoners....

Marathoners are resilient people who tend not to give up. They go for 26.2 miles in one race for heaven's sake! And they log so many more miles in training for their race. Same with the people that support them. It's rare that a marathoner can cross the finish line without help along the way.

Most people who know me know that I am pretty much anti-New England, except for 3 things - my friends from the area, Maine lobster and the Boston Marathon. 

The Boston Marathon is sacred to marathoners. They have a charity component that we could easily surpass so I could run Boston, but I'll fundraise and run a different race. I will only run Boston if I qualify with a fast enough time. That is non-negotiable for me. It may mean I never run it, but I will always strive to qualify.

The coward(s) who did their deeds yesterday struck the wrong group of people. I have no doubt that the people of Boston will be rebound to be even better than they were before. I certainly know that runners of all stripes will not be intimidated to run in races, or run at all.

I had minor surgery recently to fix a broken bone. I was given the ok to run at a moderate pace. I wasn't sure when I was going to get out there for my 1st real run. Yesterday changed that. 

I ran this afternoon with a close friend, enjoyed the scenery at that same park where I started running all those years ago and then came home to Marc with a huge grin on my face. 

I ran for those who either will never run again or will have a delayed return to running. I also ran for myself. That's what running means to me.

1 April : Sydney (Really!)

This is the real April 1st entry. We awoke with the intention of torturing ourselves at crossfit. See - totally believable. So we went and warmed up then did 6 sets of 5 reps of back squats with increasing weight each set. I stopped on my 4th rep on the final set as I could feel my form failing and didn't want any injuries on the final day. After this, we did a nice 500m row, 30 burpees (Jill had a special one handed version - yuck), and 500m more row. Torture achieved.

We walked over to a lunch spot with the intention of hitting a good gelato spot later. I didn't eat all the rice with my dish to save up for the gelato. The gelato was fabulous and as a bonus I got to help +Jill finish her 3 scoops.

The sun was out despite the forecast for a full day of rain. We strolled back to the hotel and sat by the pool for the final time. Eventually we had to go inside and begin the packing process.

Our last dinner was at Aria next to the opera house and site of our wonderful New Year's Eve celebration viewing the fireworks. We got a fabulous table overlooking the opera house and had a really good meal. The staff here is really good especially all of the sommeliers. While dining, there was testing of lighting against the opera house for a yearly show that happens in a few weeks. I caught a few of the test patterns on camera.

A final stroll back to the hotel completed our last evening in Sydney and Australia. Now April 2 will be a really long day but it has been wonderful. Jill is likely going to summarize some things later.

29 Mar: Sydney (NSW).

Well it was time. Time to return to our friends at Crossfit Ignite Sydney, who "took such great care of us" at the beginning of our walkabout. And +Marc and I were in much better 'Crossfit shape' at that point. We walked in and the coaches remembered us and said, "wow, it's been 3 or so months already!". We sighed.

They took note of our modifications (Marc has some tendonitis and I have the gimpy wrist) and made us pay anyway. They wanted to leave us "with something to remember" from our visits there. Marc did a scaled down version (weight wise) of Crossfit Open 13.4 and I did way too many box jumps and air squats with some rowing thrown in. Oy! That said, Marc did a great job on the WOD and had enough energy to cheer me on during mine.

After the WOD, we walked up to Surry Hills where we caught brunch at "Four Ate Five" again, and +Lisa and I got into a marathon GChat session on all sorts of topics. Very entertaining as we waited for a table and for our food. And really after that, it was a nice, ho-hum kind of day....

View from Jill's run: Wedding festivities under the
Sydney Harbour Bridge at the Park Hyatt
The sun came out. We laid by the pool. Wrote out some postcards. Walked over to the Harbour Bridge to catch the sunset. Lovely. Just what we wanted. Oh - and I did squeeze in a quick run around The Rocks, the section of town we are staying in.

We then went back to Rockpool Bar & Grill (this one wins the most visited restaurant - 3rd time over our numerous stays in Sydney). +Erik, one of our friends and is celebrating his birthday today (HOLLA!), connected us with one of the sommeliers there, Michael. Michael has been there all 3 times we have went and has taken great care of us with his selection. He outdid himself last night because we wanted to try something we hadn't had yet and not break the bank. And in case you haven't heard, we have tasted A LOT of wine on this trip from Australia.

The food and wine were great. Incredibly stuffed and thankful for a walk back to the hotel, even if it wasn't that long.

I will be repetitive and continue to thank everyone for the comments, private messages and likes on all of the things that we are posting. We do our best to acknowledge all of them, we promise.

22 Mar: Port Douglas (QLD) --> Cairns (QLD) --> Port Douglas (QLD).

+Marc and I had to hit Cairns to take care of some errands - most notably paying the speeding ticket I got a couple of weeks earlier ($220 - ouch) and hitting Crossfit Great Barrier Reef. Upon arriving at CF, we noticed that they had bug repellent to offer for their members to use during the WOD. This is working out in the tropics, I guess. We did a basic warm-up and we were both drenched in sweat.

They were doing the 13.3 WOD for the Crossfit Open. 150 Wall Balls, 90 Double Unders and 30 Ring Rows - as far as you can get in 12 minutes. My wrist is still not well, so I couldn't do the Wall Balls and settled for 150 Dumbbell Push Presses on the left. It was a tough workout and we know we will be feeling it in the days to come. The coaches were very nice and gave us a local tip on which "DMV" to hit with the least amount of wait. Gotta love local knowledge.

Sure enough we went to the "DMV" and I was in/out in under 5 minutes but $220 AUD poorer. Ugh. 20 kilometers over the speed limit isn't that fast! Come on! We took care of some snack shopping and then headed back up to "Port" (as the locals call it). The weather still wasn't great so we just walked around the downtown area, picked up some final souvenirs for the family back home, and debated which snorkel trip we wanted to do tomorrow.

After getting the DVD of photos up on Google Drive (painful), we then ventured over to Palm Cove for dinner. Marc had a cocktail that literally was named after one of the lyrics from Barry Manilow's "Copa Cabana" and then a huge storm rolled in that sent everyone going further back in the restaurant (we were inside but the wind and rain were so powerful!). Fortunately the food, wine and service made up for the weather. It did calm down in time for the drive back to "Port", which was a lucky break.

Thanks again for tuning in. We continue to be grateful for all of the "likes", comments and private messages we are receiving.

15 March : Hook Island (Whitsunday Islands, Queensland)

After spending the night in Luncheon Bay, we motored over to Manta Ray Bay via the two onboard dingies for some decent snorkeling before any day vessels arrived.

Once we got back, a few people took a scuba diving expedition as the boat hung around. This allowed anyone that wanted more snorkeling in Luncheon Bay to do so. It looked like I'd be the only taker, but at the last minute as we were about to board the dingy, Rose joined me. Leon took us to different spots in the bay than yesterday and we spent a LONG time in the water. It was the most clear conditions I had yet. When I got out at the end, my fingers were wrinkled and waterlogged. This took a while to go away as we ate lunch and sailed on to Blue Pearl Bay.

They have 4 kayaks on board so we got to go out in these for a short time. These were 2 person kayaks and it was windy and wavy so the conditions were not ideal but +Jill and I had a short kayak over to a point and back.

For snorkeling, this bay had worse conditions: wavy, windy, and TONS of day parties out there. It was chaos. I still went out for my 3rd time and Jill's 2nd of the day. After all this time out on and in the water, I was ready for a cocktail a bit earlier than normal. It definitely wasn't 5pm yet, but I'd already consumed enough salt and water to last a while. I got a chocolatey, creamy cocktail they called Tobleron. It was nice.

The final dinner was delicious just like the other meals on this boat - Pacific Sunrise. The guests all got along great and we sang Happy Birthday to the First Mate Leon in 5 languages as well as playing a few games. What ended up as a last minute change of plans because our other boat cancelled on *us*, ended up being a fun 3 days and nights amidst some other travelers.

5 Mar: Brisbane (QLD) --> Noosa Heads (QLD).

I was still recovering from last night's dinner when I woke up and realized that I signed +Marc and I up for a class at a local Crossfit in Brisbane at 9:30am. It's been awhile since we did a proper Crossfit class since I hurt my wrist (diagnosis TBD), but it was time. 

The class was pretty packed, and everyone was super nice. It was a shift WOD where you partnered up with someone. They did the WOD as you counted their reps and then vice versa. Fortunately for me, someone else had a wrist issue so we did a bunch of modifications together. I was happy to see that jumping rope wasn't impacted so now I have no excuses to do that along with lower body stuff in the hotel rooms going forward (in addition to running).

[NOTE: Double-unders will be my Crossfit goal in 2013 once the wrist gets better as it is "all in the wrist".]

Anyway Marc and I both worked out, and he gave his all as usual (and then laid on the floor in a uncommunicative state for 5 minutes - hey, just like home with Martha and Angie!). Then we packed up to move on to our next destination up north. First we needed lunch and we had a very important stop to make en route to Noosa Heads. 

Wait? We can't take
this dude home?!?
I found a place in Time Out Brisbane that seemed interesting - Mrs. Luu's Vietnamese. Yep, that was the name. Parking was a nightmare at lunch, but the place had plenty of locals. The food was tasty and we lucked out by getting there when we did because soon the line was out the door! OK, then off to our next destination.

I was pretty excited about this place because I was here 15 years ago on my 1st trip through Australia with Contiki (READ: Drunkfest). It's called the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and they let you hold koalas, etc. They also had platypuses - for now, we are saying that is how you say platypus in plural form - and let you feed kangaroos. 

We got to the sanctuary and saw many, many koalas. One could almost get overloaded. They had koalas at all stages of life, and we got to see a little joey on the back of his Mom (yes, cute). I got to feed some kangaroos, Marc saw the platypus, and of course, we got to hold a koala. FUN!!!

Ice cream from "Nitrogenie"
in Noosa
After that, we continued up north to Noosa Heads, which is a beach resort town. The weather was sort of all over the place, but we got settled in at the hotel and ventured to dinner where I was able to get more Moreton Bay Bugs (local crayfish). Happy day! Oh, don't worry - Marc ended up just fine, especially when we found an ice cream place that makes it from scratch from liquid nitrogen.

Thanks again for tuning in. We continue to be humbled by the messages we are receiving - publicly and privately - about how some of you are enjoying our posts. And I'll say it again -- we are very lucky people.

1 Mar: Sydney (NSW) --> Pokolbin aka Hunter Valley (NSW) --> Sydney (NSW).

Well the forecast for Friday wasn't looking so good so I provisionally booked a car service to take us up to a wine region "near" Sydney called the Hunter Valley. One of our friends, +Chris, who is also a sommelier, pretty much "ordered us" to make time for "the Hunter". It ended up being a great call because the entire East Coast of Australia ended up being dumped on with rain.

I did a quick workout (tried push-ups and failed with the gimpy wrist) and then the driver was downstairs waiting for us at 745am. He took care of arranging private tastings at Mount Pleasant (very good), Tyrells (good) and Brokenwood (best) with lunch at Margan (food - good, wines - ok). And of course once +Marc found out about the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company, we had to stop there as well.

The tastings were all very informative and we got to sample some freshly picked free run juice as everyone was just wrapping up harvest in the Hunter. Shiraz is predominant here as is Semillon. Other varietals are grown but those are the biggies. I enjoyed the Shiraz produced from this region because it wasn't as overpowering as much of the stuff from McLaren Vale and Barossa. 

After "Chockles" got his fix of chocolate, we headed back to Sydney to meet our friends, Mel and +Jamie, for dinner at Chiswick in Woollahra, one of the local neighborhoods outside of downtown (aka CBD). Marc and I really enjoyed our meal there in early January and thought our friends might like it. The wine was very good, the food was super fresh and tasty, and we had many laughs, which included Mel's disappointment that we whacked the bat.

All in all, another great day. Now just hoping that it stops raining in Queensland, our destination for the next 3.5 weeks, as it has been raining there non-stop for a month plus now!

Thanks again for tuning in! We appreciate it!

Oz Travel Note (Special Edition): "The Bat Got Whacked".

[Caption contest alert - puns and everything else fair game.]

[With apologies for the language for some of our younger viewers.]

About 2+ weeks ago, +Marc posted about an incident involving a bat in the room. I wanted to provide some additional context to this event on the trip, thus the 'Special Edition'. 

Marc's post:

We check in to the Cradle Mountain Lodge in Tasmania after a fairly long day, etc., unpack, walk around the property and then grab a dinner at the pub. It's dark but we are not giving things much thought as we go to bed. While we were sleeping, we both thought a moth was in the room because we both swatted away something a couple of times. Of course in the middle of the night, it suddenly occurred to me that it could be a bat but I didn't verbalize it, which Marc was thankful for. Nevertheless.... great (insert sarcasm mixed with fear here).

We are getting ready to head to breakfast and not 6 inches (I kid you not), there is a black "mound" and I say very loudly, "UHHH, WHAT IS THAT?" And Marc surmised it was a bat, it was now dead and got rid of it. It probably got whacked when Marc turned on the ceiling fan and literally landed 6 inches from my freaking suitcase. 

Can you imagine if I found that thing in my suitcase? I would have completely lost it and said we were going to Melbourne to replace everything in the bag, as well as the bag. I definitely would have screamed. 

Probably a low point of the trip and I thought spraining my wrist/thumb a couple of weeks while hiking was it. Oy! That was nothing compared to the trauma of the batshit (again, apologies for language for our younger viewers) craziness.

Now of course the reactions from the people we have told this story to ranged from:

-- horrified: "wait, you killed the cute bat?"
-- hilarity: "well come on Jill, seeing you have a full meltdown would be awesome! I'd pay for tickets to that!
-- sympathy: "yes, I would have screamed and took the opportunity to buy a new TUMI suitcase."
-- Harv: "so you whacked the bat, huh? Well ok, you do what you gotta do."

On that note, Happy Friday as for most of you reading right now, it's your Friday afternoon....

21 Feb: Perth (WA) --> "Rotto" (WA) --> Perth (WA).

Quokka sighting and a bonus 'Scrabble' word
Jill never heard of before
One of the great things about traveling is the people you meet along the way. +Marc and I have been really lucky to get some solid recos on things to check out during various parts of our journey. Our server from Monday night suggested that we check out Rottnest Island (aka "Rotto" to the locals) during our stay in Perth as it was an easy day trip for us.

We slept in a bit because the last few mornings have been early starts for us and because the forecast called for some morning rain, which meant no need to rush out the door. After buying some tickets, we caught a ferry from Fremantle to Rotto, which also included bike rentals. We knew it was going to be another scorcher in Perth, but Andrew, one of our hosts told us that being on Rotto will give us 2-3 Celsius worth of relief. 

Views from the bike ride around "Rotto"
It sure didn't feel like that. The rain passed, as did the clouds. It was hot, sunny and hot (yes, I said that twice). No shade and not many places to refill the water bottles. My refill bottle was boiling so I opted not to drink that. We cycled the perimeter of the island, which is just under 18 miles. Towards the end, Marc wanted to stop at a particular cove to swim and look for sea creatures. We didn't get any snorkel gear but boy, did that water feel good.... Wow. We found out that it was a "cool" 37 Celsius on the island. Oy.

Wait - is that a "Jill in the water" sighting?
While we enjoyed cycling on Rotto (and got to see some native quokkas!!), we decided to catch an earlier ferry back. Lunchtime had passed and I knew we were eating dinner on the early side to accommodate the school schedule of young Dylan. My gimpy wrist was absolutely not pleased with me. Quite honestly all I wanted was some fresh ice cream or gelato, which is very rare these days. No luck in Fremantle. Had to settle for a somewhat all-natural mint chip ice cream at the local supermarket near our friends' house. Oh well.

We decided to cook dinner for our friends again since it's nice to get in some home cooking when you can on a trip like this. We got some duck, sauteed a bunch of veggies, and cracked open some wine. It was a nice way to end what was a very hot and steamy day.

Thanks for tuning in. More entries to come on here and more photos to be updated to Flickr.