Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Long (maybe long awaited) Update – Part I

Note to self – blogging may require more than the occasional posting.

Well internet, I am two weeks away from the marathon and damn close to a first complete draft of my dissertation. Where did the time go?

Since my last post was June 2nd, let us turn back the clock and pick it up from there. Here it is, my summer (Part I), re-capped just for your reading pleasure….


Running was going well. Very well. Which was a good thing, because in June I was wrapping up a job application process, which eventually led to me being offered the job I was in as an interim for the past year permanently. It’s stressful applying for and interviewing for a job you are in. Add on top of that the fact that I’ve been working where I work for close to 10 years – people know you, you know them, and you can’t hide. Running in June was a nice way to relieve the stress and then celebrate the good news. June was also the month that I took the plunge and got contacts. I don’t wear them everyday, and I got them mainly for running. I spent a lot of time swearing and poking my eyes in June. But you know what? Running with contacts is a whole new experience. I mean, have really seen Portland? Have you really seen Forrest Park and all the beautiful trails? Apparently I haven’t really seen them all these years (running without my glasses all that time) because it was like a whole new world. Now there is no excuse for me getting lost or turned around because I can’t read a trail marker or street sign.


I was excited heading into July for two reasons. First, I was running upwards of 15 miles – more than I had ever run before – and I felt confident going into the half-marathon I had entered. Second, this marked the month were I would begin to take one day off a week from work to write and work on the PhD. Actually sit down and have a whole day to myself to just work on school.

Now, I know that working on school for a whole day may sound horrible. But, I have to say it felt luxurious. I haven’t had the luxury in a very, very long time to just say I was going to do nothing but school work. Hey, it’s the little things in life.

My half-marathon was at the beginning of the month, and I set a personal record. I ran it with a 9 minute 30 second mile pace. This is by far the best race I have on record at this length. And you know what? I felt great at the end – like I could have done it again.

So, here we are, heading into the middle of July and I am feeling good about school and feeling like a full marathon is totally doable. Enter my trip to Maupin.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to a conference where white water rafting and the river are used as a metaphor for learning outcomes and assessment. If you think I am making this up, visit http://www.white-waterinstitute.org/ (and yes that is me on the webpage with a big goofy grin). This year, I had the opportunity to return to this conference and continue the work I had started with a team of folks from my college. Now, if you clicked on that website above and looked at that picture, you will see that I was sitting in the first row of the raft. That was last year. This year I was feeling all full of myself and opted to sit in the same spot.

Maupin is a little down in Oregon that sits on the banks of the Deschutes River. The stretch of river that we raft during this conference is affectionately known as the “splash and giggle” section of the Deschutes. Don’t let that fool you – there are some tricky rapids on this stretch. We rafted three days – same stretch of river, and increasing difficulty each day. The first day we started off on a rapid called Wapinitia. You aren’t supposed to fall out on this one.

I fell out.

Not only did I fall out, I fell out on the left side of the raft and got pinned between the raft and the large rock that helps to make this rapid. Not only did I get pinned, but I couldn’t swing my legs in front of me (as you are supposed to do when you fall in the river) and my left leg from my hip bone to my ankle got smashed on the rock…multiple times.

Okay, so I fell out. No big deal. I love, LOVE, the water. I am a pretty strong swimmer, so I’m not too worried. I get back in the raft. We all have a good laugh. Ha! Ha! Did you see that crazy Katy girl?! She fell out! Our guide could not believe that happened, but we soon put it behind us. Never mind that I couldn’t feel what was to come on my hip bone and ankle - the water in the Deschutes is cold enough to numb you.

So, on to the next rapid. We get through that without me or anyone falling out. Whew. But then the guide decides that we need to run it again. But this time, instead of going to the right of the rock, we are going to “floss the cheeks”. As in, go between the two large rocks in the middle of this rapid. Hey, I’m game. No one else in the raft may be, but I am.

So we make a run for it. And I bounce out. Again. And what I remember yelling on the way down was, “Are you serious?!”. When I looked back, the raft was curled around one of the rocks, and my buddies were all scrambling to the top of the rock so they wouldn’t tip over. I was rescued by another raft and dragged on. Except that there was no place for me to sit. And since we are about to approach another rapid and my raft was still maneuvering off the rock I had to ride the bull. Ride the Bull means I sit on the front of the raft holding this rope between my legs. When I did this same move last year and we hit the rapid, I fell backwards. Can you guess what happened this time? Yeah…I rode that next rapid with my feet stuck straight up in the air while my head was wedged down by the first row and the front of the raft with water all over me.

Okay, so that was day one. We put out down the river and get back on the bus that will take us back to the lodge. That’s when I begin to feel a little sore…a lot sore. I look down and see that there is a golf ball sized lump on the top part of my left foot. I also find out that I can’t walk very well. Turns out I busted that foot pretty bad. No broken bones (which I didn’t get confirmed until 2 weeks later) but it was bad enough that I couldn’t walk without a limp and I couldn’t run for almost 2 weeks. I also had a horribly large bruise on my left hip that was about the size of a personal pizza.

Oh, but wait. The story is not over. On the third and final day of rafting a fate worse than a bruised hip or banged up foot befell me. There I was, on the river – my last day. I was determined to have one last good run of the Deschutes. I wanted to get out and ride some rapids on my own terms. And when the time came for me to do so, I dipped out of the raft to ride a suck hole. Yes, a suck hole. That’s when – right at the precise moment – you tip out of the raft and get sucked into a whirling spiral of water and get sucked in and pop out of the river a little bit downstream. Super fun. The first time I missed the suck hole – bad timing. So, the raft went around again, and out I went. I felt the water sucking me in, and then my back hit the top of the raft. Not a big deal. I have a vest on, I know I’ll come out on the other side. And I do, I pop right out on the other side of the raft. And I mean pop right out (funny how when you are super buoyant and are trapped under something you just fly right on out when that something moves). And right as my little head pops out of the water….SMACK. A beaver tail hits me. A BEAVER. And it’s all, “Go Beavers!” and I’m all, “Go Ducks!”…..

Okay, not really – but that version had a few people going for a while. The smack came from a paddle. The perfect timing of the universe had it so that just as I was popping out of the water, the guide was instructing my raft mates to paddle forward in order to give me some room. Not just any paddle forward, but one HARD paddle forward.

I saw stars. Little flashes of light here and there. And I all I could say was, “Are you kidding me?! SERIOUSLY?!” From my smack came a goose egg. A big honking goose egg. Ideally I would have gone to get that checked out. But seeing as I was in Maupin and seeing that I was going to be on a plane the next day to San Jose, I decided that I didn’t need to. I mean, it’s not like I passed out.

Never mind that the next four days I am in San Jose I am constantly sleepy and can’t get rid of this damn headache. It’s probably just because I am so tired from the conference. I mean…I did get my butt kicked by the river. Hey, is that a roller coaster? I love those, lets get on it!

Fast forward to two weeks later. Me in the doctor’s office. Diagnosis – concussion.

So, to re-cap Part I of my summer – started off great, ended with an ankle I couldn’t run on and a concussion. A concussion that prevented me from running (constant pounding motions are apparently not good when you are concussed) and made it very hard for about two months to get through a day without a massive headache. Not so good for PhDing either.

Stay tuned for Part II…..

1 comment:

  1. I see it now - a major motion picture - a story of dedication in the face of adversity. Now, let's see: who plays Katy?