As promised Dr. Hottie & I got out to see the fall colors. We're both a bit dinged up- Dr.H had a bike accident and he was limping with a sore hip, and I had a tumble on the trail a week ago and have a bone bruise on my femur & tibia. We resorted to hobbling up the mountains with hiking poles, but it was worth it. Saturday we had a rainy hike up to Lake Blanche, and after a wet 3k foot climb we were fogged in and couldn't see the lake- the mountain is in charge of the journey & that's what she gave us on the day! Sunday we went to Park City, hiked up to the top of Park City Ski Resort & took the town lift back down to town for some shopping and good eats. It was an amazing weekend- enjoy the pictures!
The thousand mile stare. If you're an athlete you've seen it. A blank stare that says, "I'm on the edge...I have nothing left to give...so I might as well give a little more." I know I'm guilty of it on multiple occasions: after a 10,000m swim practice, hour 4 of a 1/2 Ironman, and miles 30-62 of a 100km running race. This week Dr. Hottie has been coming home with the thousand mile stare- and although the stare is eerily similar to that of an endurance athlete, the root of it is quite different.
Death. It's part of the job, and surgeons must learn how to cope. But coping may be an impossible task- you take a group of highly competitive and intelligent people, tell them their goal is to save lives, and then expect them to cope when the physiology of an acute injury trumps a surgeon's will to fix patients. This week a couple of horrible accidents brought in young, innocent patients who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Last night, Dr. H recounted talking to a very sick patient's family & how everyone was crying and hanging on to his every word. Keeping patients alive is Dr.H's routine & it's just what he does. Every once in awhile though, he's reminded of the importance of his job- and he comes home with the thousand mile stare.
This weekend we've got two days to escape reality. It's supposed to be cold and rainy, but we'll flee to the mountains, run until we have no choice but to be in the present moment, and feel every drop of rain hit our faces because we're alive...and that's pretty damn amazing.
Frugal is the theme for fall. Our monthly savings goal went down the *hitter towards the end of summer. It's hard to be too upset as the extra $$ spent led to incredible & unforgettable experiences (1st hike on the Appalachian Trail & 5 days of partying in Wisco). Money spent on experiences brings more happiness than acquiring material things. While I surely don't regret it, it's time to get back on track. We're back to pinching pennies like a true debt-bound medical couple. Here are a few of my favorite tips on how to enact a frugal season:
1) Be a deal hound at the grocery store. I buy the cheapest possible dried and canned goods. The chain grocery store in UT is called Smith's. They have deals each week if you use the free rewards card. I am OBSESSED with continually one-upping the savings from the previous week. The cashier probably thinks something is wrong with me, because I compulsively watch the screen as she's scanning items to try and mentally calculate if I'm going to beat last week's deal total.
2) Set a limit on how often you'll go out to eat. For us it's 1x/week, and 1x/month we'll splurge on a nicer place.
3) Exercise is free. While I often daydream about having money to spend on countless gym memberships, taking unlimited yoga and barre classes, and purchasing every outdoor toy at REI (road bike, mountain bike, skate skis, winter camping gear, SUPs, kayaks...the list goes on and on)... for now we are content to lace up our running shoes and have a 5 year love affair with the thousands of miles of singletrack mountain trails- don't feel too bad for us! Hiking and running are about as affordable as it gets with sports in Utah, so that's what were sticking with for now.
4) The dreaded stay cation. There's nothing I love more than getting on a plane and fulfilling my dreams of getting away from it all (all = the sick institution & that loud, annoying as *** pager), but plane tickets are pricey so sometimes we have to cave into the stay cation. If there ever was a place to serve up the best in local day trips, Utah is it.
5) Avoid impulse buys. Whether its a flannel shirt, a book, or a pair of running shoes- I make myself mull it over 3x before actually buying. Last weekend, I spent an hour trying on running shoes at REI, desperately wanted to take a pair home but instead went home to think about when and how it would fit into the budget. Hence, the mulling over for the 1st time. To be totally honest, running shoes are a necessity in my life- so I likely won't hit the 3x mark, but you get the picture.
It's hard to imagine the day where we won't cringe at spending money. Maybe when we're middle-aged, have repaid our debts to Uncle Sam, and have those mythical things called kids that are worth spending money on. For now, I'll convince myself that depriving ourselves of the fancier things in life is all about having a bit of Type 2 fun after all.
Most people close to me know I'll always be a bit lost. I'm a floater...a dabbler. The only things I have a steadfast commitment to (at the time) are athletics and Dr. Hottie. If it's not either of those two things, I may dip my big toe in to test the waters but will eventually run for the hills. But this post isn't about why I'm a lost soul...it's about how I was literally lost in the mountains last weekend.
Dr. Hottie & I wanted to run a loop connecting two ski resorts (Alta & Brighton) in neighboring canyons (Little & Big Cottonwood). It was supposed to be a quick 10ish miles. The first half of the loop was amazing. There was only one trail to choose from, we saw hikers & lots of lakes, and we even bagged a peak.
The second 1/2 of the loop quickly went south. We had a map with us, and would most certainly still be lost if we had neglected to bring one. We expected to take a left off the main trail- the problem was there were four options all in the same area. Our second try was the correct one. Ok, not bad. We were now walking on ski runs trying to find another trail turn off. It was surprisingly difficult. It was impossible to know the difference between a service road and ski run; or between a trampled turn off leading to a dead end and an actual trail. After more than an hour of testing out routes, we finally found the ridge leading back to Alta. Whew, that was frustrating but now we're definitely in the home stretch. Well, I'm sure you know how these stories go.
Yet another wrong turn led us up, up, up to where we could see the car- but it was SO far away! At that point I angrily stuffed the map away & started going with common sense. The car is down & to the right, so let's go down & to the right- duh! Eleven miles and almost five hours later, we were finally back at the car. The only motivation to do the loop again is to get the biggest PR ever.
The take-away of this long story is that I'm crap-tastic at dealing with the unexpected. My quads were screaming at me, Dr. Hottie kept having to slow down for me (which I can't stand), and we were lost. If I want the chance to finish a 100 mile foot race, I've got to learn how to stay calm in the face of challenges. Hell, it should probably be more of a life goal vs. an athletic one. Dr. H is great at this- I don't think you can be a surgeon without dealing with the unexpected. Long term goal- set. In the meantime though, I'll do things like blog instead of going to swim practice...because my quads are still mad at me.
The reality this week for Dr. Hottie- 101.5 hours logged at the hospital. It's disgusting really. Why 100+ hours? Lots of complicated burn patients- everything from sick babies to druggies who can't get recall how they got themselves set on fire. It was the first time Dr. H & I questioned why we went the general surgery route. Last night we were drooling thinking of what anesthesia would have been like. But alas, Dr. H is grossed out by upper respiratory secretions and would most certainly prefer dealing with a**holes (literally) and poop. If we had any money, I would have bought myself a ticket to Bali to escape this crud. So what does a poor woman do to escape the reality that her husband is being worked to death? Well some work (tutoring, coaching), but mostly obsessing about trail running.
Friday, I volunteered at the Wasatch Front 100 mile endurance run. For eight hours I checked-in runners at the 1/2 way point. Some were flying, and others were a wreck. Some were very friendly, others thought they were God's gift to the World. One of the spectators asked how much $ the winner gets...he about passed out when we informed him the winnings included a belt buckle and bragging rights. Out of the 321 runners who started the race, 240 finished in anywhere from 20 to 36 hours. Participants climb a total of 28,000 feet. It's a race where last place is still an amazing feat. It certainly led to a dangerous train of thought- if training for a 100k kept me out of residency-hating for 18 weeks, imagine what a 100-miler would do! If Dr. Hottie can work 100 hours in a week, surely he could run/walk/crawl 100 miles- or at least pace me for 60?
Today, I did my first solo run up high. I plodded along for 3 hours & hit some of my favorite trails. It was surprisingly warm, & it will be a couple weeks before we really see some fall colors- but awesome nonetheless. It felt great being able to head out alone. When I first moved to UT, the mountains scared the sh** out of me. While I still sung, clapped, and whistled my way through every blind turn (don't surprise a bear or moose...do not surprise..) - the mountains are really starting to feel like home. Running on the trails is the only time I can really just be. There's no pretense about who I should be, how crappy residency can be, or how much I miss my crazy Wisconsinites. There's a saying in sanskrit I learned in yoga- So Hum. It was one of my mantras, and roughly translates to, I am that. I'm no more special than any other person; we are all inter-connected in ways I don't care to understand; and there is an all-powerful God that oversees all of these lives. I am just that. All I can do is take each moment as it comes, & not judge myself too harshly for the fact that I'd prefer escaping to the trails over accepting residency-reality any day.
Utah served up a weekend of lovely weather for all the outdoorsy folk. Dr. Hottie & I hadn't been up in the mountains in a month! Although he is still a bit dinged up from our 100k race, going for some epic hikes was in order. Saturday we hiked 7 miles roundtrip to see Red Pine Lake. The weather was cool and gray- fall comes early at 10k feet. The highlight was seeing a HUGE bull moose off the side of the trail on the way down. It's head was about the size of me. As I was hightailing it down the trail, Dr. H was trying to get closer for a good picture. Unfortunately for him, the moose had no intentions of leaving its feast of dense leafy branches.
Sunday we completed one of the most popular hikes in UT- Mt. Timpanogos. It was 14 miles round trip, and I honestly did not want to come home. I would have been content to pitch a tent at the nearby campground & stay until winter. The Timpanooke trailhead was a short 1 hour drive from our place. Along the hike you go through three unique ecosystems (forest, subalpine, and alpine). We saw lush forest, waterfalls, alpine basins, a glacier lake, mountain peaks, and lounging mountain goats. It was truly epic!
In honor of the last weekend of summer, I took some time to reflect on all of the trails we experienced together this season (I don't keep track of miles). It's impressively long (considering Dr.H's 80+ hour workweeks), and thankfully there is SO much more to see.
1) Bonneville Shoreline Trail (City Creek to UofU hospital)
2) Little Black Mountain
3) Great Western Trail (East Canyon)
4) Grandeur Peak (Milcreek Canyon)
5) Pipeline Trail (Milcreek Canyon)
6) Great Western Trail, Dog Lake, Desolation Lake, The Crest (Big Cottonwood Canyon)
7) Red Pine Lake (Little Cottonwood Canyon)
8) Mt. Timpanogos via Timpanooke Trail (American Fork Canyon)
9) Sundance Ski Resort Trail System
10) Frary Peak (Antelope Island State Park)
11) Great Western Trail, Lightning Ridge, Windy Pass (Springville & Orem UT)
12) Appalachian Trail (Great Smoky Mountain National Park)