Notes From The Coast

The beach does funny things to the brain

A cure for what ails me.

Ah, this feels good.

I apologize for the radio silence, Notes-From-the-Coasters! It’s been a while since my last post and I know all three of my readers have been chomping at the bit to see how my sub-standard training/living life thing is going. Thanks, Dad and Mom and random stranger from Pennsylvania!

So let’s start with good news! Injury Report Update!

Achilles Heel 

Virtually pain-free. I can flex it, point my toes with it, walk on it, and swivel it. It works so well I’m convinced someone performed bionic surgery on me in my sleep….uh, honey?


The apricot-sized swelling that my meniscus so kindly produces any time I exert any physical energy has gone down considerably to the point where they look like normal knees. Normal knees!


Went from constantly screaming for Vicodin and a heating pad down to a mild murmur stifled by wine and good conversation.

So, overall a remarkable improvement from where I was a mere few weeks ago! What, pray tell, could bring on this turnabout of non-painful events?

Accupuncture? Massage? Massive amounts of painkillers? Blood doping?


Laziness. Lethargy. “Couch Butt” as my favorite Finnish Aunt would refer to it. I’ve been doing a whole bunch of nothing. My most strenuous activity has been hauling up Target bags full of Halloween decorations from my car to the front door or uncorking a bottle of Cabernet.

I know. I’m as shocked and dismayed as you are.

A sedentary lifestyle seems to agree with my joints and tendons. Evidently, they like being lazy. My shins would agree that they could happily sit around watching episodes of Chopped and Dexter ‘til the cows come home. They apparently have no fear of atrophy.

See, I had a birthday last week.  And nothing throws a good workout routine off kilter like, uh, a reason. Any reason, really. But my birthday served as a damn good one.

As we get older, we come to understand that our birthdays change. They aren’t celebrated with the same verve and glee as when we were, say, seven years old. But, even though there was no Faygo Red Pop, or pool party, or silly string or homemade cake with Betty Crocker Milk Chocolate Frosting, it was still one of the best birthdays I’ve had…which magically turned into a week, plus a day or two.

I am still so in love with all of my people. From the ones I’ve known all my life, to the more recent additions, I say thank you for giving me the best gift a girl can have: an excuse not to work out. I love you all.

So, now that the party, the afterglow and the hangover are over, it’s time to get back to business. As much as my body parts would prefer I remain slothful and lazy, my stupid heart is just aching to get going again. So long, Couch Butt. It’s time to get in the pool. Or on the bike. Or on the treadmill.



Results, running and relativity.

I did the 10K. I ran most of it and walked a little too. Why you ask? Because there are more hills on that Godforsaken course race than any other I can remember. Hills with at least an 11% grade! As a result, my knees and shins seized up and have since refused to work properly and I have some unfamiliar pain in my heel. But, as my friend Sarah wisely pointed out, “Runners are the lifeblood of orthopedic surgeons.”


So, there I was trudging up Rosecrans Avenue Saturday morning thinking about something, anything to block out the searing pain in my shins when I ended up thinking about all the love and support I received from people. I want to take a moment to highlight those who offered their version of pep talks this weekend.



“Great job, CT! Being sore just means the training is paying off!” – Christy Anderson



“Oh yeah. I ran that race once. I think I finished in 47 minutes.” – Robert Woodie



“Suck it up, Talick. It’s only a 10K.” – Ryan Brierley



“You can do anything! You can do everything! I believe in you! Take Advil!” – Momma G



“I’ll go to the store and get champagne. Put your feet up. Don’t move. I’m proud of you.”
– Mike “Stein” Ayotte

And possibly my favorite, as I was laying on the couch massaging my calf muscles:



“You risked your life for nothing.” – Charlotte James Ayotte (accompanied by concerned and slightly pissed expression)


I couldn’t help but laugh. The fact that Charlotte thought this was so epic that it was a mortality risk made me realize that Ryan Brierley was right. Its just a lousy 10k. Suck it up, Talick.


Sure, I’m proud of myself. But I’m also proud of myself when my bra matches my underwear. It’s all relative.


I finished the race at 1:11. Right next to an 84-year-old man wearing a headband. Rock on, you silver-haired stud.


Okay, I’m off to buy an ace bandage.


The tank of motivation, running on empty.

I signed up to run the Hometown Fair 10k in Manhattan Beach tomorrow. I’ve been running about three days a week. So, theoretically, I should feel good going into this race.


But, that’s the thing about theories.


I’m in good enough shape to finish a 10k. I might need to stick to a strict diet of beer and Advil afterward but I’m pretty sure I can finish it. The question is, will I enjoy it. I’m not so sure anymore. I’m having a problem with motivation.


Anyone who runs races knows this is true: It’s a mind game.


My body can do it no matter how much I bitch about my injuries or lament about sore hips and strained muscles. I actually believe part of my pain is psychosomatic. Meaning, I’m inventing the pain in my body with my mind.


Basically, my mind is in a ‘take no prisoners’ battle between the lazy, shiftless version of myself that wants to watch Jeopardy and sip Chardonnay (read: enjoy life) versus the lion-hearted competitor version of me that wants to push to the finish line no matter what my shin splints say (read: earn self pride). Clearly, I’m at war.


I can see both sides. I’m definitely doing the race. Half of me hopes to run the whole thing without stopping to walk once. The other half says, “Who cares if you walk?”


And that’s the rub. Really. Who cares?


I did the Mud run for nine years straight. A 10k race on the grounds of Camp Pendleton that challenges runners with hay bales, trails, fire hoses, creeks, sand, a swim across a lake, tunnels and of course, the mud pits. Every year, I slogged through that mud, fighting through pain and tired muscles to cross that finish line. And every year, I was reborn in that mud, a reminder that I was still vital, still alive and still willing to thumb my nose at the reaper and say, “Tell your story walking, pal.” I was lucky enough to have people at the finish line waiting for me. I was grateful for their presence and they made the joy of the moment great. But in the end, the person I was trying to please was me.


So do I still need to make myself proud?


No. Not in the same way. I will finish this race. And I’ll feel good. But my pride comes from a different place now. From the hugs I get from people I love, to the things I learn, to the things I write, and somehow slogging through mud doesn’t have the same appeal.


This applies not just to this race, but to the Lavaman too. Obviously, a little soul searching is in order. Hopefully I’ll find my answers as I’m trudging up Rosecrans at 8am tomorrow morning.


And if I walk a little bit, who cares?


Age. Wiping it’s feet on my dreams.

Random physical pain associated with the aging is completely lost on young people. With their resilient muscles and limitless cardiovascular abilities, it’s no wonder when you try to tell a youngster (anyone under 30) that you wake up with aches and pains simply from sleeping, it causes the same reaction as if you’ve just sprouted a horn from your forehead.

I have never had to confront my age as frequently or as brutally as I’ve had to since I started training for this stupid race.

The pitfalls of working out at this age (Just guess, okay? My TV had a dial not a remote, we had “the” phone and it was in the kitchen sporting a really long cord, I had several pairs of legwarmers, I loved Laverne & Shirley) is that injuries blindside you. There you are, diligently trying to get in shape, doing the same workouts you’ve done before and suddenly, your ankle hurts. Your hip feels like it has inexplicably come out of its socket. Your knee swells up. And, out of nowhere, tendons start screaming that they’re sore and need to sit in the Jacuzzi.

It’s a bitch getting old.

Which brings me to the point of this post.


Shin splints (both shins)

Akin to someone driving wooden splints into muscle tissue, this is searing, unending pain in my shins begins to scream during the first mile of a run and doesn’t shut up until I’m done.

The Right Achilles Tendon

I believe we still use it as a metaphor for a fatal weakness. “Red Velvet cupcakes are her Achilles’ heel of desserts.” Well, mine is the sort of hell that started from playing tennis. Unendingly sore and often stiff. Like rigor mortis is setting in.

The Left Ankle.

Ugly but important. The ankle’s job is to keep me upright and stable enough to walk. When I’m walking, it holds 1.5 times my body weight. When I’m running, it’s designed to hold eight times my body weight. Eight times!  Its mutiny is justified.

The Right Hip

My friend, Karin is convinced that once you break a hip, you’re a goner. Looking at people who have broken hips, it does seem like it’s the first step toward the dirt nap. I’m pretty sure my hip muscles are separating from the bone every time I run over three miles. Say a prayer.


A tiny piece of cartilage called the meniscus likes to come out and announce it’s torn presence with authority. So, at the end of every run, my meniscus are the size of apricots sticking out of my knee. Welcome to the knee brace. Next, crutches!

So, to sum up, Age is wiping its nasty feet on my dreams. At this rate, if you whisper “CrossFit” in my general direction my hamstring will spasm.

All this working out at the gym has led me to spot a trend. It seems we’re all working out so much harder these days. Women and men are taking cardio kickboxing and barre method classes, torturing themselves on Pilates machines and taking excruciating TRX classes often all in ONE DAY. CrossFit training is the hot workout of the moment so I took a complimentary class. That shit is HARD. It rendered me disabled for 72 hours where my activity consisted of hobbling to the bathroom for more Advil.

I remember when a bike ride on a beach cruiser followed by some half-hearted sit-ups was considered a fair workout. Now, it seems like if you’re not vomiting in your mouth a little during your workout, you’re not “feeling the burn.”

To this I say, pppfffffffft.

I think being in shape feels truly great and we should all strive to get daily exercise. But some people just take it too far. Perhaps they feel that this is the last thing they can totally control in this day and age. And to some extent they’re right. But honestly, all I can think when I look at some dude who is in stupid good, magazine cover shape is, “Don’t you have any hobbies?” Pick up a guitar. Learn Russian. Have a drink (not a Miller 64) and talk to people. There is more to developing yourself than shirt-stretching muscle mass or flat abs.

But then the reality hits me. I have  to be one of those people. At least in the short term. So, injuries withstanding, I shall carry on. Do what you say, say what you do.

It’s a powerful thing that I try to follow.



Hard lessons from the weekend

The hardest part my training schedule is reigning in my weekend fun. Blame it on wine. No, wait. Wine is not the real enemy here. It’s happiness. Happiness is the downfall of my training.


Friends, barbecues, sunsets, outdoor movie nights, hilarious conversations, and football. Wine goes well with all of these activities to say nothing of the natural pairing of a cold beer after an ocean swim. Damn you, moments filled with utter happiness! Damn you.


Along this journey so far, I’m getting in touch with myself again. I feel the burn and the pain of the workouts, I feel the guilt of missing one and the satisfaction of completing one. Another delightful surprise is rediscovering that my body parts can talk to me. And in some cases, scream.


For instance, this is what will happen on tonight’s run.


Stomach: Here’s a little throw up for you. That’s for the wine you drank last night. Payback is a bitch.


Lungs: It burns. It burns in here! Where is all the air? Are we in some sort of decompression chamber?


Legs: We supported your idiotic decision to play tennis as if you had the skills of Sharapova yesterday, but we’re not going one step more than three miles today. If the Brain gets on it’s power trip, prepare for collapse. You’re not 25 years old anymore.


Brain: Keep going! What? No, no, I’m pretty sure we’re still 25 years old! Ignore the legs, those whiners have been giving us shit for years.


Heart: Sure, now you regret those French fries. Also, stop with the Elton John already.  Play something by Public Enemy or Jay-Z….. much better. Okay, let’s do this.


So, me and my body parts are going to finish this run, have a sensible dinner and bask in the afterglow of a weekend of happiness and a horrible but necessary workout.




Leave a comment »

Lavaman 101

Some background information on Lavaman….


Support is key when you’re facing a challenge like this one. So, upon hearing the news that I signed up for this race, my Dad offered the ever-encouraging words, “You’re nuts.”


He might be right.


The Lavaman is an Olympic-sized triathlon. It consists of a one-mile swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run. In that order. Each leg of this race is hard in a different way. The swim is in the ocean where we contend with waves, rip tides and reef sharks. The bike route is so notoriously windy that every year some poor cyclist is nearly blasted into the Pacific. And then there’s the run through lava fields which, logically so, makes it feel approximately twenty degrees hotter than the surface of the sun.


After perusing the Lavaman website I got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. There were pictures at the finish line of all these extremely fit, athletic types with big muscles, lean torsos and huge smiles.


These are not my people.


My people run 5ks for the free beer at the end of it. My people consider boogie boarding a good workout. My people ride beach cruisers to the pub where they order buffalo wings. Needless to say, we’re a happy bunch.


Somehow, I have to bridge this gap between the athletes and the fun bunch.


I consulted my athletic friend Christy, an accomplished runner and triathlete who wins races instead of just finishing them without going into cardiac arrest (my humble goal). She strongly suggested we bike 50 miles one weekend and possibly do a half marathon.


One of the main reasons I chose to do a triathlon is because swimming in the open ocean and biking in high winds sounds MORE FUN than running 13.5 miles in a row.


So, no. I’m not doing that.


Even though it’s good advice. I’ve ignored good advice before and lived to tell about it. The message was clear, however. We need to train hard for long periods of time.


I’m working up to it slowly  – running 3.2 miles three times a week right now, plus a bike or a swim where I can fit it in. This is a smart strategy at my age where snapping an Achilles or dislocating a shoulder is not wholly out of the question. At this rate, come March of next year, I should be able to survive the plane ride to Hawaii.


So, unlike many a training blog that catalogues physical triumphs and strange new diet regimens adopted by triathlete zombies trying to become superhuman for a day, I’m taking a different route.


I’m the new breed of athlete in training. The quasi-dedicated, retardedly optimistic, wine-loving, slow-training, life-enjoying one. You know me. You ARE me.


I’m counting on my will to survive. That should at least get me to the run. Then, I’m betting on my Finnish pride coupled with a deep desire for a cold beer to get me to the finish line.


At least that’s the theory.



The Stuff of Life

Shoes in the middle of the hallway. Purse on the floor. Stacks of papers on the kitchen table. Empty coffee cups on the counter. The Stuff of Life.

Some people I know are in the good (some might call it anal) habit of putting all their stuff away the minute they get home. I am not one of those people. I’m more of a, “I’ll get to it in a minute, I need a glass of wine first,” kind of person.


Of course, when you live alone, your stuff becomes invisible to you. As long as I can find my bra in the morning and clear a spot on the coffee table for my wine glass, I’m happy. Stuff? What stuff? I can see the TV fine from here! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a slob. You won’t find rotting food in between the couch cushions or grime in my bathroom but let’s just say I don’t lose sleep over a sinkful of dirty dishes.


Eventually, I get around to cleaning up my stuff and putting it where it belongs. Four days is usually the time limit on “Stuff Pile-up.”


But to other people, specifically my significant other, my beloved stuff just looks like little piles of shit all over the house. It can be maddening. But upon closer inspection, he is just like me; his stuff is invisible to him too. The truth is we’re both guilty and most times we can rise above the stuff (read: mess) and love our moments we have together. This I consider healthy.


I have a deeply held belief that a super clean house is a sign of an insane mind. Perhaps a non-violent psychopathic preoccupation. Some brand of crazy that results in gleaming countertops and tables perpetually polished with Pledge. I can’t relax in a room like that. I need a little clutter. A little mess. A little wax on a table from candles burned the night before is a sign of a good conversation. Empty wine glasses on the deck usually mean good music was played and no one wanted to go to bed.


Messiness and stuff is a sign that a house has life in it. A sign that it’s loved and enjoyed. A sign that there are bigger things to worry about than crushed goldfish crackers on the kitchen floor.



The best things in life aren’t perfect, but rather, a big jumble of beautiful messiness. Rumpled sheets, cookie crumbs, beer rings, remnants of cheese on cutting boards, lip gloss on wine glasses, flip flops tossed on the deck, stubble on a smiling face, and sand in the tub after a day at the beach. All of this messiness is the happy detritus of a life well lived and deeply enjoyed.


There will always be dirty dishes and clothes to be folded and a place and time for making things neat. But sometimes, the messiness of life, and letting things be, turn out to be the neatest.


Now, if I could only convince my significant other that all my stuff lying around is the clearest evidence that I’m happy and secure and in love with him and our lives. I suspect chances will improve when I go clean the cat box.

Leave a comment »

Life as I know it.

A lot has changed since last year. In April 30th of 2011, I was sitting at a pool in Maui crying into my pina colada over a British coward.

Since then, I’ve met the true man of my dreams, my hero, best friend, partner and soulmate. He comes complete with a six-year-old precocious, smart, loving daughter. And me? Well, I’ve finally begun to understand the meaning and power of love, trust and compromise.

Here I will celebrate, cope, muse, rant and write out the contents of my head. Which will include topics including but not limited to: road rage, making the perfect seafood risotto, buying plastic beach toys, wanderlust, the incredible healing powers of a glass of Chardonnay, exes, the need for quiet time, the fear (and then blessings) of change, the unfairness of adult acne, the important of thread count and midnight dance parties to the best vinyl money can buy I. So…. all the fun stuff.

Thanks for stopping by.


Leave a comment »