Friday, September 28, 2012

Turtle Time

My family and I recently visited Bald Head Island, staying at a friend's most lovely home. Bald Head is a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina on the east side of Cape Fear and has both beautiful shorelines and a maritime forest. 

Loggerhead and Green Sea turtles nest here. As all the nests were empty, we were too late to go on a night turtle watch to see the hatchlings head to the ocean. One of the volunteers at the Bald Head Island Conservancy suggested going to a nest excavation. Three or more days after the nest has emptied, they carefully sift through the sandy nest, counting the shells to determine live births, eggs that fertilized but arrested, non fertilized eggs, and check to see if there are any late bloomers. 

There were seventy nests this year, sixty-seven loggerhead and three green sea turtle. This Loggerhead nest had 91 hatched eggs and 23 unhatched eggs. Some eggs were unfertilized, some had arrested development.

Hatched and Unhatched Eggs

Occasionally, there will be one or two found alive in the nest. To my delight, this nest had six very lively hatchlings.

After allowing those  of us gathered there a close look at the little fellows, we watched them be placed on the sand and scramble their way into the Atlantic. It was a joyous experience. I felt very fortunate to be on this beautiful beach on a sunny breezy morning witnessing this miracle of life. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I was SO not last!

Here's my medal from the USAF Marathon 5K on September 14th. I registered last January. I've done the 10K at this event and plenty of half marathons and even one full (one was enough!) but of late have not been walking consistently. I strained my psoas muscle over the Memorial Day Weekend which not only limited my activity but made me miss the wedding of one of my favorite people. It was summer and the pool was open so I substituted water aerobics. Then a few weeks ago when I started preparing for the 5K I started having hip pain. This is not the first difficulty I've had with my hips but in the past managed to work through it. Not this time! I was discouraged but kept looking for a solution and found one. I had an appointment with body worker Linda Vanarsdall and she determined that I had a couple of compressed vertebrae. Linda is a beautiful, kind, compassionate, woman with fantastic healing abilities but fingers of steel! The difference between when I laid down on the table and when I got up was profound. No. More. Pain. 

So it was just a few days until the 5K and I had done almost no preparation. The most I had walked was my daily mile with my Yorkie, Buddy. I did not want to miss this event. I decided to just go and walk at my own pace. The goal was to finish. It would not matter if I finished last, I just wanted to cross the finish lane. 

I remember my first 5K. I walked with two girlfriends and my then husband. I had never walked that far. Our little group was indeed last but my husband was courteous enough to allow me to cross the line before he did, thus keeping me from finishing last. The irony was that he received a trophy because although he was numerically last, he was the only male walker so he was first and got the award.  

In this race, at mile one, I felt pretty good and was walking a steady pace. I had decided if I finished before 70 minutes I'd call it a win. At the mile two water stop, the woman who handed me my cup of water looked me in the eye and said, "You're walking strong." She had no way of knowing what that meant to me; it reminded me of Lori's mantra, "I don't exercise to be skinny; I exercise to be strong."  There was a man and woman with a karaoke mic just past mile two playing LMFAO's I'm Sexy and I Know It. I think the young woman with the mic was fairly surprised that I knew all the words. It's a favorite of my son's and we sing it in the car all the time so it not only brought a smile to my face but more energy to my steps. 

A bit after this a young woman, early 20's maybe, ran by me. Then I walked past her as she had slowed down to catch her breath. She was heavy but I know heavy people can be quite fit. What concerned me more was her lack of muscle tone and the erratic way she was taking this on. I engaged her in a bit of conversation and she shared she had not trained and that her younger brother was ahead of her. As I kept my pace she lagged behind me, struggling to breathe. Yet, just a bit away from the finish line she ran past me again, heavy footed and gasping for breath. This broke my heart. I hope she finds her way to better self-acceptance and better self-care. 

My friend Lori volunteered to greet me at the finish. I cautioned her that I was out of shape and would finish late, maybe even last. But I didn't! I walked my pace, and felt stronger and faster as the race progressed. When I saw Lori I yelled, "I am SO not last!" She yelled back, "Look at your time, under 56 minutes!" I was walking strong and felt fabulous. Here's the glamour shot.

Lori is a yoga teacher extraordinaire. Post race she lead me through some stretches to baby my hips a bit. I'm in the white shoes and socks; she is rocking it in the black shoes and fabulous polka dot socks.

Race results don't get posted until September 17th but I already know I'm a winner. There were plenty of people behind me and many, many ahead of me but this wasn't about them, it was about me. It was about being happy with who I am and proud of my own tenacity. It was knowing I can set physical goals and master, even surpass, them. It was about the sensuousness of being at home in my body and at peace with myself.