OK, so it’s not technically summer until Friday, but you’d never know it from the weather we’ve been having. It’s sunny and warm and the sun is up until nearly 9:30 pm.
Things I’m excited about for the summer, in no particular order:
The New West Grand Prix – watching professional cyclists ride around and around and around and around my home is actually a lot more exciting than one might expect. Plus my gym will have beer and snacks
playing tennis – Scott and I bought some tennis rackets that were on super duper sale at a sports store that was closing down, right before I sprained my MCL. And while the MCL healing has been going slower than I would like, it’s definitely getting better. So much so that I’ve been able to play hockey with a knee brace – so I think I’ll give tennis with a knee brace a try too!
the New West Farmers market – while the Farmers Market in New West runs all year, the winter market is uptown on Saturdays and somehow I never manage to get all the way uptown! But the summer market is at City Hall, which is just a short walk (up a very steep hill) from me on Thursday afternoons/evenings. I haven’t gotten out there for the first few weeks, but I’m planning to go soon.
canning/jamming more stuff – my friend Patricia has some pear trees near here that have those most amazing tasting pears EVER. I can’t wait until they are ready because I’m going to pick some and can them!
tackling stuff from my 2019 goals list– I am VERY behind on my goals for this year (I blame teaching too much in the January semester), but now that that is behind me (along with all my work travel for May), I can actually do some of that stuff
hiking – every summer I say I’m going to do more hiking. Hope springs eternal!
I also have a bunch of vacay that I need to book, but I don’t really want to go away when it’s so nice out and there’s so many fun things going on. Perhaps I’ll take some days off to do stuff around here (especially if a certain friend of mine comes to visit and wants to jump out of a plane with me, as we may or may not have previously discussed).
And maybe I’ll look at the fall for a trip somewhere…
So nearly half the year is gone. WTF? I really feel like it was January about 5 minutes ago and now it’s June! And, as I tend to do when I haven’t blogged in a while, I’m going for a bulleted list!
May was cray-cray. In addition to my week in Prince George for work, I was away another week in May – first at the Canadian Evaluation Society conference in Halifax and then I stopped in Ottawa for a few days to visit Sarah and Dave.
The highlight of the conference for me was that the team that I coached for the student case competition won! They worked really hard and produced a kick ass evaluation proposal presentation – I was beaming with pride for the whole conference!
It’s a funny thing to be a coach of a winning team. They did all the work and I kept getting congratulated! Not only at the conference, but I got congratulated by someone on the plane on my flight from Halifax to Ottawa and again by someone at the baggage carousel in the Ottawa airport.
I decided to do a stopover in Ottawa since I was flying all the way across the country, I figured I should make it worth my while. I hadn’t seen Sarah and Dave in eleventy billion years… or possibly two years which is (a) much longer than I usually go without seeing them and (b) far too long. I’m glad I was able to spend a few days just hanging out, catching up, and chilling with them. I may have also gotten them and their kids addicted to Pokemon Go. And they introduced me to Pokemon battles with trading cards (which is so much more challenging than PoGo) and to the TV show, so now I feel much more well versed in Pokemon.
Speaking of their kids, omg, their kids are adorable. And sweet. And very funny! Their youngest, Susannah, when asked if she preferred to calling me Aunt Beth or Dr. Snow, said she preferred Aunt Beth because “what is she, a doctor for cold people?” At first we thought she meant a doctor just for people who had a cold… and then we clued in that she was being much more clever!
Since I’ve been back, I’ve had a flurry of work to do – it took me a good week to clear through the back log of emails, but I ended Friday by checking off a lot more things from my to do list than I thought I would, so that made me a happy camper.
Making me less of a happy camper is that I’m *still* rehabbing my knee. I was expecting it to be a couple of weeks to heal and it’s been nearly two months! I’ve had it worked on by various health care professionals and my trainer at the gym gave me a knee-friendly training program (basically stuff to work on strength and stability in my leg, plus some stuff to make my biceps look awesome. Not that that will help my knee, but it gave me something where I could push myself without risking my knee and who doesn’t want to have awesome biceps, amirite?). The chiro tested my knee out today and I could see that it was actually improved – more stable and also I don’t have discomfort on the part of the MCL below the knee like I used to -only a bit of discomfort on the part of the MCL that is above the knee. So that made me feel better because I was thinking that the healing had plateaued, but now I think it’s just that it’s been getting better so gradually that it’s hard to tell from day-to-day.
My knee has been better enough to play hockey, as long as I wear a knee brace. I played two weeks ago (and scored a goal, I might add!), then was away for a week, and then played again this past week. So that makes me happy. And as an added surprise, someone who I played in the Longest Game with just joined my summer team, so that’s fun!
So pretty much catches you up with what’s new with me. And now that I’m back from my various travels, I guess I should figure out what I’m doing with my summer!
Yes, the title of this blog posting should be sung to the tune of YMCA.
On Wednesday night at hockey, I twisted my knee. I’d like to say that it was in some heroic act, like scoring the game winning goal in overtime, but alas it was by running into my own defencewomen in a playoff game that we would ultimately go on to lose, thus being eliminated from the playoffs. I went flying one way and my knee went flying the other way and now I’m pretty sure I have a grade 1 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL).
As far as knee injuries go, this is one of the better ones to have. If you twist your knee and hear a popping sound and if your knee can’t bear weight after that, you’ve likely damaged your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and that can require surgery. A torn meniscus, or an actual tear in the MCL or its partner from the other side of the knee, the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), or a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), or a fractured patella (a.k.a., knee cap) are all other ways one could injure their knee in worse ways than this.
I happened to already have a massage appointment booked yesterday, and I also talked to one of the trainers at my gym, and both agreed with my self-diagnosis that a grade 1 sprain of the MCL is likely what I have. It’s a stiff knee and some pain on the medial (inside) of the knee, most bothersome when going down stairs (as you load the weight onto the knee in such a way that that ligament bears a lot of your weight). The recommendation for a sprained MCL is to keep the knee moving, but take it easy1. And it should get better in a week or two2. The massage therapist also worked on the muscles around that knee that are working overtime to compensate for the MCL, especially this one muscle in the back of the knee (the popliteus) and my adductor muscles that were insanely tight. So once the knee feels better, adductor stretches are going to be added into my workout warm ups and cool downs for sure!
Diagram of the ligaments of the knee is from National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and is posted in the Wikimedia Commons. It is in the public domain.
So the silver lining to both of my teams getting knocked out of the playoffs on Wednesday night is that I know have a few weeks off from hockey so that my knee can heal before the start of summer season. [↩]
You know that thing where you go on vacation and then you come back and not only did all the work that you didn’t do while you were away not get done, but it seems to have made some new friends while you were gone so you now have about eleventy billion emails to deal with and decisions to make and meetings to present at and assignments to grade? That is officially my excuse for why this blogposting about my trip to Hawaii is coming 25 days after we arrived back how!
Anyhoo, I’ve managed to mostly catch up so now I’m just back to my baseline level of crazy busy, plus it is a 4 day weekend, so I have found some time to sit down and tell you all about our trip to Hawaii. Spoiler alert: it’s amazing and I didn’t want to come home.
We arrived in the afternoon on Sunday, after an uneventful flight from YVR to Seattle and another uneventful flight from Seattle to Honolulu. We’d booked our trip through Costco1, as it was the best deal we found, and the package came with transportation to and from the airport. The person greeting us also had leis for all, so here’s a selfie of us at the airport”
In what would become a theme for the trip, after a day of flying, my hair looks like crap.
The rest of Sunday was basically just getting checked into the hotel (the Aston Waikiki Beach hotel) and then wandering around to get the lay of the land. Since we got in around 2pm, which meant we didn’t have much time to see stuff before the sunset because omg, the sun sets early. I knew that Hawaii was near the equator, but I hadn’t really thought about the implications of that in terms of sunrise and sunset – it’s pretty much sun from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm every day, all year long. I’m used to living quite far north of the equator and so my brain thinks summer weather = suns sets at 9 pm, so it was kind of trippy for it to be 27°C and have the sun set at dinner time! Fortunately, it stays warm even after the sunset, so it’s still nice to wander around even after the sun goes down. If you’ve never been to Honolulu, it’s basically just all beach and open air malls, with an ABC store every 12 feet.
We decided to start the holiday off with a bang by taking a surfing lesson. As long time readers may recall, I have been surfing only two times in my life and had only managed to get to a standing position for about half a second on one of those two surfing days. And that was more than a decade ago. So I figured that an actual surfing lesson, which I didn’t do the last time, was in order. We found a Groupon for lessons through Moku Hawaii Surf Shop, which was close to our hotel, so we decided to take our lessons with them. And I’m happy to report that having a surfing lesson resulted in a much more success in the amount of standing on the surfboard! We had a fantastic instructor named Jennifer, who was the only female instructor we saw in Waikiki. She went over the safety basics and the basics of how to surf, and told us that the hardest part of surfing isn’t getting up on your feet – it’s all about timing – picking the right wave and then figuring out when to start paddling and when to jump up. We headed out to the beach and then Scott and I basically took turns getting some help from Jennifer – she helped us pick a good wave, helped us with timing when to start paddling, gave us a little push to get going, and yelled “up” to let us know when to pop up. Once we got the hang of that, she helped us with timing but without the push (which made me realize how much the push helped!). She also had a GoPro camera that was on my surfboard for the first half of the lesson and on Scott’s surfboard for the second half. She also remembered part way through my time with the Go-Pro to tell me to turn the camera off when I was just walking/paddling back out to the waves, which meant that there were a million photos of me walking/paddling back out from before she told me that, but no photos of Scott like that. We got footage of a few of our runs each, but of course none of my really good runs were captured on video!
Waiting for a good wave:
Starting to paddle – you have to make sure you get up enough speed before the wave gets there so you can catch the wave:
Then you have to pop up:
First up on your knees:
Then pop up to your feet:
Then you are surfing like a pro:
Until you fall off:
We had an absolute blast! Jennifer said that most people don’t last the full two hours, but Scott and I did. I credit all the hard workouts we did leading up to our trip2.
The water was pretty shallow and the reef was very sharp and what with all the falling off and getting knocked about by the waves, I managed to rip up my foot pretty badly:
It looked worse in person than that photo, if you can believe that.
Also, this picture is awesome:
After our lesson ended, we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach. It was at some point on this day that I said “Let’s send for the cats! I want to stay here forever!” Sadly, the reality of not having jobs there or a place to live there or the necessary citizenship to do that quickly quashed my dream, so I had to just make do with 6 more days.
Here’s a video of me surfing (you really only need to watch the first couple of minutes – after that it’s just me sloooooowly walking back out to sea as I didn’t know I was supposed to turn off the camera!):
And here’s Scott – this video actually includes him surfing twice:
We had so much fun surfing that we decided to do it again the next day. Since we’d taken lessons from Moku, we were able to get a discount on renting boards the next day. We were just going to rent for a few hours, but they gave us the whole day, so we spent the day surfing, then lounging on the beach, then surfing, and repeat.
We also tested ou snorkelling gear3 in the hotel pool.
We rented a car for a couple of days because we knew we wanted to check out more of the island – and because I wanted to go swimming with sharks and you have to go to the North Shore to do that. So Wednesday we drove around the island, including stopping by the beach at the Turtle Bay resort to do some snorkelling. The water was pretty murky, but we still managed to see some cool looking fish. Sadly, there were no turtles!
We also managed to find Ted’s Bakery, which my friend Heather had recommended that we check out. They make some pretty fantastic pie:
Thursday was the day I’d been waiting for since we’d decided to go to Hawaii – swimming with sharks! When my sister went to Hawaii ages ago, she did this and it sounded so cool that I wanted to do it too! We found a Groupon4 for a trip with North Shore Shark Adventures, but then I discovered that if you book directly with them online, you get the same price as the Groupon, so I just booked directly. The concept is simple – you get on a boat, go out to a place where there are sharks, and then jump in a cage that’s floating off the side of the boat and snorkel while you watch the sharks swim all around you. Apparently the sharks are attracted by the sound of the boat because they go out to an area where people fish for crabs and the sharks have become accustomed to the crab fishers dumping their used bait out of the crab traps there, so the sharks hear a boat and think “dinner time!”5. The sharks in the area are mostly Galapagos sharks, with some sandbar sharks. I totally thought that Great White sharks were common in Hawaii, but the crew told us they are not.
We were supposed to be on a 10 am trip, but we got a call from the company a day before saying that forecast was for really choppy water so they were going to cancel the 10 am trip, but we could go on the 7 am one instead. Despite this meaning we had to get up at like 5 am to make the drive from Waikiki to the North Shore, we decided to do it ‘cuz we really wanted to swim with the sharks!
Here I am on the boat:
Here’s the cage:
And here are some of the freaking sharks, as seen from the deck of the boat:
There were 12 people on the boat who wanted to go in the cage, along with some crew members, and a few people who were just along for the ride. So one group of six went first while the rest of us watched and then the second group of six took a turn after. Here’s the other group after the ropes had been loosened to allow the cage to float a bit away from the boat:
While the other group was in the cage, one of the women popped her head up and asked the crew “What’s the little shiny silver shark?” One of the crew members said “Is it about this big [holding his hands about a foot apart] and kind of pointy?” When she replied “Yes”, he said “That’s a barracuda. You should watch out for that. It can get inside cage and it will bite”.
After the first group’s turn was up, we got to go into the cage. I was the first one in our group to get in the cage. It was such a cool experience! The sharks were so beautiful – so graceful swimming by, all around and beneath us. Some of the Galapagos sharks were quite big – the biggest one we saw was probably 10 ft long. I really, really wished I had a Go Pro camera of my own as it would have been amazing to capture it! I wasn’t scared of the sharks at all – there was no way they could have gotten into our cage and they really seemed pretty docile. I mean, I wouldn’t have wanted to stick my hand in their mouth or anything, but being in the cage felt totally safe. The barracuda showed up while we were in there and honestly, I was more afraid of him, because he could totally have swam into the cage and taken a bite! And he just sat their next to the cage, staring at us with his cold dead eye. I found this photo of a barracuda on Wikipedia and this is just what he looked like:
Scary barracuda is scary!
As I mentioned, the water was pretty choppy and eventually it got the better of me and I totally puked from sea sickness right in the cage! So gross! But I did feel better after losing my breakfast, so at least there’s that. (I also found out that several other people also got sea sick while we were in the cage – they were just puking off the side of the boat!) As much as I hate puking, it was totally worth it to see those sharks!
Also, while I didn’t have a Go Pro to capture this, some other random people who did the same dive as us on a different day did and put it up on Youtube. So check out this video and imagine that Scott and I are in that cage, because this is exactly what it was like:
After we finished with the sharks, we decided to head back to Turtle Bay for more snorkelling and lounging on the beach. Still no turtles!
Later that day, we hit the Dole plantation. We decided to go on the aptly named “Pineapple Express” train that goes around the plantation and features a narration that tells you about how the Dole Food Company is the most successful and generous company on the planet, pineapples are the greatest food ever to have existed and probably can cure cancer, and James Drummond Dole could walk on water6.
We did get to see some cool stuff, like how pineapples actually grow on bushes on the ground – I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I’d kind of assumed they grew in trees, like coconuts!
In addition to pineapple, the Dole plantation had a bunch of other stuff – sugar cane, lemons, limes, avocados, cocoa, coffee, coconuts, bananas, etc.
After we finished our Pineapple Express trip, featuring the musical stylings of a band that was willing to record a song called “Pineapple Express”, we checked out the shop to get some delicious Dole whip, which is basically like ice cream except that it’s made of pineapple instead of cream. I have to admit, it was pretty delicious. We also stayed for a pineapple cutting demonstration, during which the demonstrator took about 20 minutes using a special pineapple cutting knife while repeating “So easy!” over and over and over again. I will admit that it looked pretty cool when she was done, but I don’t think I’ll be adjusting my pineapple cutting ways.
Scott is a pineapple
After we were full of Dole whip and indoctrinated into the cult of Dole, we decided to try to find a waterfall that you can hike to at the Waimano Public Hunting Area. I was a wee bit concerned to start a hike that starts with a sign that says I might be hunted with a rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, a knife, a spear, and/or a bow and arrow (should I be mistaken for a pig or goat of either sex).
Also concerning were the angry looking clouds in the sky and, not fancying the idea of driving all the way back to Waikiki in soaking wet clothing, we decided to just snap this pic of us with the scenic background and head back to the car without getting to our destination. I guess this is why they say don’t go chasing waterfalls.
As usual on this trip, my hair is a mess. But I had to fight off sharks and a barracuda earlier that day, so I guess it is to be expected.
On Friday we jumped on the city bus and headed to hike Diamond Head, which is a 300,000 year old crater.
It’s not a super tough hike, thought these stairs at the top were not my favourite:
but they get you to pretty cool views;
I don’t know what that lighthouse is called, but I’m totally adding it to my upcoming blog posting “Dr. Beth’s Worldwide Lighthouse Tour”7
Since we’d already paid for a day pass for the bus8, we decided to head to the other side of town after our hike and checked out what was going on over there. Highlights included, this turtle who was hanging out in a fake pond by a restaurant:
these beautiful birds that live at the Hilton:
and possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten:
It was surprisingly difficult to find ice cream in Waikiki. You’d think there would be an ice cream shop on every street corner. But you’d be wrong. We had to go all the way to the other side of Waikiki to find it.
Another reason we had decided to go to that side of town was that every Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort has a fireworks show. So after strolling around to see the various sights and eat the various ice cream that was on the side of town, we strolled over to the beach to watch the fireworks.
Yet again, my hair is craptacular! Given how much time we’d spent in the ocean on this trip, I’d pretty much given up hope that I could do anything with my hair by this point.
We followed up the fireworks display with a meal at Morton’s steakhouse, which was super freaking delicious. We were also somewhat amazed that we could walk into a restaurant on a Friday night without a reservation9.
On the advice of my uncle Harry and my friend Sarah, neither of whom have actually been10, we visited the USS Arizona Memorial. The USS Arizona is one of the ships that was sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbour and it still sits where it sank, with the 1,177 who died that day still on the ship. In addition, some of the survivors of the USS Arizona have decided to have the ship as the final resting place of their remains when they subsequently died, making it both a memorial to those who died in the attack and an active military cemetery. When you visit, you first watch a movie about the attack on Pearl Harbour, complete with footage of the attack and some explanation of how and why the attack happened. Then you go on a navy boat to the memorial, which is basically a platform that sits astride the remains of the ship.
The white structure in the background is the memorial, as seen from our boat as we headed towards the memorial.
Parts of the remains of the ship.
Oil still leaks from the ship, more than 75 years later.
There were some divers going into the water near the ship. I’m not sure what they were doing.
Divers in the water near the oil leaks.
Names of the men who died on the USS Arizona are written instead the memorial
It was very sobering to see so many names – 1,177 men died just on this ship, let alone all the others who died in various other parts of Pearl Harbor that day – and to think about how young they all were – just boys, really, and their ship was sinking, and then exploding, before they even knew what happened. Today, there are only five remaining survivors, ranging in age from 94-96 years old.
After the navy boat brought us back, we wandered around a bit to see the other things that were around, like this nuclear torpedo:
And read the various signs with more information about the event:
After that, we headed back to Waikiki to do more wandering around, eventually hitting Duke’s for dinner:
Delicious drinks at Duke’s
and then stumbling upon a hula show that was going on at the beach:
Sunday was our last full day on Oahu and we decided to spent it at Hanauma Bay, a beach on a bay that was formed by volcanic activity about 32,000 years ago, It became a very popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beach and amazing marine life, with about 400 different species of fish living there. They state has turned it into a nature preserve and when you first get there you have to watch a movie that basically just says “Don’t touch any of the living creatures, including the coral. Hey, did you know coral is alive? Well, you do now, so don’t touch it!” Then you are allowed to head down the hill to enjoy the beach.
Hanumba Bay was definitely one of the highlights of the trip, which is saying something because I loved pretty much everything about this trip. But the snorkelling here was amazing! The water was so clear and there were so many different kinds of beautiful fish! I was really regretting not having a GoPro while snorkeling here. You can see some of the types of fish that we saw on this Hanauma Bay Education Program Fish Identification Card – ones we saw included Bluespine Unicornfish, Bird Wrasse, Hawaiian Sergeant, female Spotted Boxfish, male Christmas Wrasse, Moorish Idol, many types of Parrotfish and tonnes of Reef Triggerfish and Convict Tang. There was also a giant purple fish that I think was a type of Parrotfish and it was so big that you could actual hear it eating when you were underwater with it!
I found this video on Youtube from someone who had a similar experience – it’s a different colour of fish, but you can see what I mean about hearing the fish eating:
Apparently there are sometimes reef sharks in the bay, but we didn’t see any. I would kind of loved to have seen one because sharks are awesome, but even knowing that there has never been a shark attack in the bay and reef sharks don’t feed on humans, I may have freaked out if I’d actually seen one because OMG SHARK!
We basically spent the whole day there, alternating between snorkelling and lounging on the beach. On one of our later times out snorkelling that day we finally saw the second thing (other than sharks) that I wanted to see in the wild: a turtle! We were just snorkelling around on the opposite side of the bay than we’d been before and Scott called me over to where he was and pointed down into the reef. And there was a beautiful green sea turtle, just swimming around and eating from the reef! Again, I was kicking myself for not having a GoPro! I did find this photo on Flickr of a turtle that looks just like the one we saw:
I spent a bunch of time just swimming around following the turtle – he was just so cute11!
Here’s a video from someone who was smart enough to bring a GoPro with them while snorkelling there (this is pretty much exactly what my day was like, except for the soundtrack):
Also at the beach were a whole bunch of cats, who apparently live, feasting on garbage and having somewhat of an uneasy truce with a bunch of mongooses.
At one point, Scott was petting the kitties and a little kid who was probably three or four years old and had clearly paid attention in the “don’t touch the wildlife” video admonished him “Don’t touch them!!!!!” Of course, not touching the feral cats is probably more of a safety rule for you rather than the cats, but he didn’t end up getting bitten or scratched, so I suppose we’ll call that a win for all.
And just like that, the trip was over! We got one last morning in Honolulu, where I snapped what is probably the nicest photo I took on the whole trip, and from the restaurant in our hotel, of all places!
On top of being a super amazing awesome fun time, my trip also allowed me to knock two items off my 101 list: #1 – Cage dive with sharks and #91 – Go to Hawaii. And as soon as I hit publish on this posting, it will put me 1/6th of the way towards achieving my 2018 goal of having “published at least six [blog postings] that are long form (minimum of 3000 words).”
In conclusion: A++, would Hawaii again.
Image and Video Credits: The barracuda photo is from Wikipedia and the Green Sea Turtle photo posted by FHKE on Flickr with a Creative Commons license. All the other photos are mine or Scott’s. The two surfing videos are mine and Scott’s and for sources of the other videos, follow the links to YouTube.
I’m reasonably sure that I’m slowly drifting towards an entirely Costco-based life. First it was just for food… then clothing… and now travel! [↩]
I told my trainer for January & February to give me a training program that would help me with surfing and/or looking good on the beach. So she gave me some crazy tough workouts and I think it really helped! [↩]
Which we bought at Costco (of course) before we left Vancouver. [↩]
Apparently some companies will chum the water to attack sharks, but it’s controversial as it can affect shark behaviour and even lead to sharks equating humans with food, which is not a good thing. [↩]
Honestly, the whole time I kept thinking that the narration should have been done by Troy McClure. [↩]
Note to self: write that blog posting that you’ve been meaning to write since forever called “Dr. Beth’s Worldwide Lighthouse Tour”. [↩]
As a day pass is the same price as going somewhere on the bus and then returning, we decided just to get the pass to get to the hike and back, and then use it to travel around town some more. Because frugality. [↩]
Though Sarah did plan a visit for her parents when they were in Hawaii and thus was able to give me detailed instructions of how to get there, get tickets, etc. [↩]
I’d also stalked some fish throughout the day – I’d find an interesting looking fish and then just follow it around to see where it would go. It got me wondering what the fish and turtle think about all these snorkelers – do they just think we are some weird looking fish? [↩]
Three weeks ago (three!), I hurt my thumb. I was playing hockey and I was in screening the goalie and making a pest of myself (as usual) and a defencewoman from the other team knocked me to the ground, catching me off guard and I guess just the way I was holding my stick resulted in my landing directly on the end of my right thumb and it hurt like a mofo. I mean, I continued playing the game, but I couldn’t really use my thumb. By the next day, it was swollen up quite badly and bruised1 and I thought it might be broken, so I called my doctor, whose office is conveniently a block from my office, who had a look at it and said that we should get it X-rayed as it could be a compression fracture (happily, it wasn’t twisted or bent funny, which would indicate a fracture that might need pins in it). So then I walked a few blocks to the X-ray place and within about 10 minutes I had some X-rays done2. The verdict came back the next day – it wasn’t fractured, so I must have (and I quote my doctor verbatim here) “jammed it real good.”
Anyway, that was three weeks ago (three!) and my thumb still freaking hurts. And it’s swollen:
As you can see, my right thumb is swollen. This photo was taken today.
Granted, while I took my next hockey game off (on the advice of my doctor), I did play the one after that and the one after that and then the one after that. And then I played five hockey games in three days3 – I had a weekend tournament, a regular season game, and then got called in as a spare for a friend’s team. And in the tournament I happened to get slashed *twice* directly on my thumb! Also, after the game, there seems to always be at least one person in the handshake lineup who won’t take off their glove to shake hands4 and so when I go to shake their hand they end up jamming their hockey glove directly into my thumb and it hurts like a mofo!
In other hockey news, I broke my hockey stick in my game yesterday. I was battling for the puck in the corner and as I was skating away afterwards, I thought my stick felt funny. I looked down and didn’t see anything odd, but after a few more strides it still felt funny and I looked again and heard a weird noise as I lifted my stick to try to look closer and then I saw it flop a bit. Yikes! I immediately dropped my stick – as a player must drop a broken stick because it’s dangerous to skate around with one – and skated to the bench so someone else with a stick could jump on the ice. Fortunately I had brought a spare stick – as I’m a 5 ft tall person who plays left-handed, there’s not likely to be anyone else who has a stick that I can play with – so was able to jump back out on my next shift.
So today I headed out to the Hockey Shop in Surrey5 to buy a new stick. I’ve never bought a stick there before – the last sticks I bought (which were this broken one and an identical one like that – I bought two because they were on sale for half price and my then-back up stick was an old wooden monstrosity) were from Cyclone Taylor in Coquitlam – but I was glad that I did this time because I found out that they have a shooting room in the basement where you can actually test out the stick, which is much better than just flexing it against the ground to see how it flexes (which is what you typically do in a store). The guy in the shop helped me select a few to test out – and also informed me that the stick that I had (as I brought in my spare so that I could get them to cut my stick down to the right size for me) was one that has its flex near the middle, which is more for slapshots. But I don’t really take slapshots6! So he got me one where the flex is near the bottom, which is better for wrist shots and snap shots, which is more what I want to do! I tested out the sticks and the one with the flex near the bottom (which is also a bit lighter) was waaaaay better for me. And so now I’m the proud owner of this Crosby stick:
So I’m going to blame my *terrible* statistics for the last few years on my inappropriate stick and I am confident I’ll now be scoring like gangbusters. Playoffs, here I come!
And unbelievably, I forgot to take a picture of it! [↩]
For people who are worried that single payer healthcare systems mean you don’t get to see your doctor and wait lists are years long, I would like to point out that I got a same day appointment and then got an X-ray within 20 minutes of seeing the doctor and that included me walking from my doctor’s office to the X-ray place. I realize that the Canadian healthcare system is not perfect and that this situation worked out so well for me because (a) it’s a pretty routine health problem and (b) I have a family doctor, which many people don’t since we have a shortage of them. But still, no wait time, great care by a doctor that I’ve chosen, and I didn’t have to co-pay or pay for my own X-ray or anything. [↩]
Before anyone goes and makes a comment (*cough* Kalev *cough*) that I shouldn’t play hockey until my thumb is totally healed, we already know that I make poor life choices, so that wasn’t going to happen. [↩]
What is the deal with people who won’t take their glove off to shake hands after the game. Are they seriously worried about the germs on my hand after they have just spent 60 minutes with their hand in a sweaty hockey glove? I hate to break it to you, people who won’t take their glove off to shake hands after the game, your hand is already covered in germs! And if they think that the germs in their smelly hockey glove are at least their own germs and other people’s germs might make them sick, all I have to say is “aren’t you going to wash your hands anyway, since they’ve just been in that smelly hockey glove??” /. [↩]
As per usual, this is an unsolicited mention of a business on my blog. I just like their business and want to give them a shout out! [↩]
so I’m not sure why the person at Cyclone Taylor suggested that stick to me! [↩]
Played my first (and second) game of hockey since my injury! As previously mentioned, my physio told me that once it felt OK to skate *and* it felt OK the next day after I skate, I was allowed to play hockey again. And since I felt OK on Friday after skating on Thursday night, I was approved to play today! My lower division team had a game at 2 pm, so I played that and it went fine – I’m definitely not as strong on my right leg as I’d like to be, but that will take some time and continued strengthening exercises to get to, and I wasn’t able to go as all out as I usually go, but I was actually surprised that I managed to have some jump in my step and didn’t suck wind too hard. My slightly higher division team had a game at 6 pm and since I felt OK after the first game, I stuck around and played that game too1. Game #2 also went well – I even got knocked down at one point and it didn’t hurt my hip (which was something that I worried might hurt). Afterwards, I came home, took some naproxen (an anti-inflammatory), took a long hot shower and did a bunch of stretching. I can feel that my back is definitely a bit tensed up, but that’s pretty typical when I haven’t played in a while – and it’s been three months since I last played!
Anyhoo, I’m going to see how I feel in the morning, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I might actually really be functional again!
I brought some work to the rink with me so I could get work done in between the two games.Wasn’t a long enough break to make it worth going all the way home and then all the way back to the rink, but was long enough to get something to eat and get a bit of work done. [↩]
So I ran a half marathon last Sunday. And despite it being my second worst finish time of the 14 half marathons that I have run, it turned out to be the one that required the most perseverance and I am actually proud to have finished, yet a bit mad at myself for even having run it. As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from a gluteus medius issue that was so bad it was causing me to limp and it hurt to run. And nothing I was doing was working – it was like it was too tight to even get it to stretch at all, no matter how much I tried. Then I went out for dinner with my friend Linda and she told me about a physiotherapy treatment called intramuscular stimulation (or dry needling1.). This technique uses acupuncture needles, but instead of poking the needles into things that have never been scientifically demonstrated to exist, they insert them into tight bits of muscle. It seems like the idea is that your muscle is confused and thinks it should be shortened into this tight piece of agony and isn’t getting your message to just chill the fuck out already, so you poke it to sort of reboot the system.
Have you tried turning my muscle off and then turning it back on again?2
I did a (very) quick look at the research literature and, unlike acupuncture which has definitely been shown not be any better than a placebo, there really isn’t much research on IMS to know if it’s effective or not (at least as far as I can tell from my quick look). So I figured that it at least has some biological plausibility and I was desperate, because I knew I couldn’t run the race if something didn’t give. So I decided to try it as a Hail Mary pass.
It’s a very interesting sensation to have someone poke a needle in your muscle. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels… unusual. Also, when I told the physio that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in 3 days, he decided to do electrical stimulation with the needling. So in addition to stabbing the muscles, he also electrocuted them. That felt in some cases like he was just flicking my leg and at other times it just made the muscles twitch repeatedly. Oh yeah, and a lot more muscles were messed up than just the glut med. The TFL ((a.k.a., Tensor Fascia Latae.)) was solid like a rock (which my massage therapist had also noted) and the quads and hamstrings were too. So he stabbed and electrocuted a whole bunch of parts of all of those muscles.
After the treatment, I could immediately stretch my hip more than before the treatment3 and it continued to loosen up a bit more each day. Could it have been a placebo effect? Entirely possible. Would it have loosened up in those days even if I hadn’t had the IMS. Maybe they would have, been there’s no way to know!
The physiotherapist’s advice was to try a little 1-2 km jog on the Saturday and see if it was loose enough to run. So we made our way to Kelowna on Saturday and then I went for a 2km jog, which I was able to do, but with a shooting pain with every step. It would get a teensy bit better, but if I stopped, say, to catch a Pokémon, when I restarted, it would hurt as much as the start of the run. What to do? What to do? I was of two minds: the one that said “Maybe it just needs a bit more jogging to loosen it up4. If it loosens up as much over tonight as it has the last few days, I’ll be fine. What if that happens and I don’t do the race – I’ll be walking around all fine and then I’ll want to kick myself! I can’t miss another race this year!” And then the other one that said, “What if you injure yourself more by running on this injury? That’s how you got this injury – running on the not fully healed sprained ankle! Do you really want to jeopardize your upcoming trip to Australia? The race fee is a sunk cost!” So Andrew made me an offer – I’d start the race and if after 5km, I’m still in pain, I could call him and he’d come and pick me up. So that’s what I did.
Long story short: my hip was considerably looser the next day and combined with the race day adrenaline, the first 15 km were slower than I’d usually run a race, but faster than I’d expected given the circumstances. My hip didn’t hurt, it was more just uncomfortable. As I passed the 15 km marker, I thought “I’m glad I did this, I’m going to finish much sooner than I thought, maybe I should text Andrew to let him know as he might not go to the finish line in time to see me” and no sooner did I think that than a pain shoot through my hip – pain that would continue to shoot on every step of the remaining 6 km. Every volunteer I passed gave me a look of genuine sympathy and a kind encouraging word that I could do this. As I crossed the finish line, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses because maybe that would make the tears of pain streaming down my face less noticeable.
Me at the finish line. You can see the pain on my face.
Some thoughts on the race itself:
The route itself was gorgeous – it officially replaces Victoria as the most beautiful race route I’ve run. It started in the Vibrant Vine vineyard, ran through some wine country and farm lands, down a giant hill, through some neighbourhoods, and finished up in a park by the lake, where a wine festival awaited. I’d really like to run this race again when I’m not injured so I can more fully appreciate it.
This is me at some point before the 15 km mark, where I was only in mild discomfort. Or as I call it now “the good ole days”.
While the race as beautiful, the logistics weren’t the best thought out. For example, the website mentioned nothing about a shuttle bus taking runners to the start line, so we expected Andrew to be able to drop me off there, but then out of the blue the road was closed and they said I had to go wait for a shuttle bus. Since people weren’t expecting this, they didn’t allot time for it and they had to delay the race start to allow for more people to arrive on the shuttles. Even with that, I heard that some people didn’t get to the start line until after the race started because they had to wait for the bus they didn’t know they’d have to take.
Another example of poor planning was that the place to pick up your gear that you’d checked and your wine glass that was required for the wine festival tastings was at the very end of the festival compound, which meant you had to walk all the way to far end to pick up your stuff and then all the way back to the entrance to the festival to go to wine tastings. This was particularly bad for me since I was in a lot of pain and walking was not something I was wanting to do at that particular time.
It was different to run a race at the back of the pack. I mean, I’m not a top finisher by any stretch, but I’m used to being in the top half to the top quarter. Being at a slower pace meant I did have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery – though I guess that part of that was also the I chose to do that to try to distract myself from the pain.
I also had more time and attention to think about things. Who were my fellow runners? For how many of them was this their first half? Their 50th? Who else was running hurt, pushing through despite the pain? I thought about the saying that you should “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” What battles were my fellow runners fighting, physically or psychologically, that you just can’t see from the outside? What motivated them to run today? And conversely, who was having the best race of their life? And who else was in this for the wine?
I also thought about my dad. I find I do that often when I’m running, because I know he was a runner before I was born. Also, my dad was very stubborn and I was being stubborn too, by running this race.
The race medal was awesome. When I first saw it, I didn’t clue into what it was and just thought “It’s huge!” But it turns about that it’s a coaster for your wine! It’s easily detachable from the ribbon so you can actually use it! Though I’m sure I’ll just hang it on the wall with my collection5
I do love a good race medal.
I’ve spent the past week since the race limping around – I saw the physio on Wednesday and he said I have acute bursitis and maybe acute tendinitis – and I saw the massage therapist today. I had to skip my hockey game today because I can barely walk, let alone skate. Here’s hoping the 16 hours of flying I have coming up on Wednesday doesn’t kill me!
The one silver lining – well, in addition to the awesome race medal and all the wine – was that I finally caught the damn Mankey that had been eluding me in Pokémon Go. Mankey isn’t that rare of a Pokémon – I just could never seem to catch one, until now ((Of course, once I caught one, I ended up catching a few. Now I just need to keep catching them so that I can evolve one into a Primeape!)!
As opposed to “wet needling”, i.e., injecting you with stuff [↩]
Props to Kalev for coming up with this line in a convo we were having yesterday [↩]
By which I mean to say – I could then stretch it more than 1 mm. [↩]
I had some bad shin splints earlier this year that took about 5 km of jogging before they disappeared, so this wouldn’t have been unprecedented. [↩]
Speaking of which, my medal rack is too full – I need a new one. But I don’t have time to deal with that right now, so that is after-Australia Beth’s problem. [↩]
Life seems to have gotten extra busy, so I’m resorting to writing this blog posting on my phone during my morning commute [and then posting it tonight, now that I’m home from my hockey game, with a few edits made and photos inserted!], despite just yesterday saying to my sister “I don’t know how you can write a journal article on your phone!” I stand by my sentiment that this is not the ideal way to type out a long piece of writing but (a) my evenings for the foreseeable future are booked up and (b) when I tried to turn on my ereader just now, the battery was dead so what else am I going to do on this Skytrain ride?
It’s been a month since I sprained my ankle. It’s not 100% healed, but it’s mostly there. Been sporting this awesome kin tape – I have no idea if it actually does anything, but figured it can’t hurt. I’ve gotten back to hockey (after 2 weeks off) and a running (after 3 weeks off), though on my runs on Saturday and Monday my left knee was bugging me, so I’m probably compensating for the ankle even though I don’t feel the ankle. I‘m going to get got it checked out today after work to see if it needs adjusting or strengthening or something [and I got some work done on it to work some of the edema out – because it was still a bit swollen today – among other things. Hopefully that will help me get to 100%.
As if having a sprained ankle wasn’t bad enough, last week I did this to my toe at hockey: But I didn’t do it *playing* hockey. I did it by stubbing my toe on my hockey bag after the game. It looked much worse than it felt, thank goodness!
For the most part, my garden is doing quite well, with the notable exception of my tomato plant, which died. When I was away in St. John’s I had to put my whole garden inside as my strata decided that that was the exact perfect time to power wash and paint my balcony and so I couldn’t have anything out there. The tomato plant did not survive that. I just bought a new tomato plant to replace it – hopefully there are no more unforeseen upheavals of my garden this summer.
This is the new tomato plant I bought. Wish me luck getting it to tomato!
When I put my garden inside my condo for a week, my jalapeño plant had two little jalapeños and many little buds. The buds never ended up blooming, but the jalapeños that has started kept going and now about a dozen more buds have budded. I can’t wait until the first ones are ready to eat.
My first two jalapeños
Prior to the Great Upheaval of the garden being moved indoors, my cilantro plant had bolted. I didn’t even know that was a thing until it happened – my cilantro plant shot up to about 2 ft I’m height and the leaves went all feathery. Dr. Google explained to me that cilantro plants don’t like it when it is hot, so when the temperature gets too high they start to bud, then shoot up I’m height and go to seed – the idea being that the seeds will fall and the plant will regrow when conditions are better. If you catch the buds early enough you can cut them off and keep your plant going, but I knew nothing (Beth Snow) of this until it was too late. So I let it go to see and then harvested the seeds and have now planted them. And now we wait to see if they will grow.
Freshly harvested coriander seeds
I did manage to get this parsley to grow from seed1, but it was seed that I bought rather than seed that I harvested.
Garlic Scapes2 – I made them both sautéed and BBQ’d:
Smashed potatoes ((These are delicious. I’ve made them several times now because they are good!)):
I’ve made a total of 11 so far and since it’s only just past halfway through the year, I’m ahead of schedule.
Another goal for this year is to knock 16 items off my 101 list and so far I’ve only done 3 in 2016, which means I’m way behind schedule on that one! The most recent of the 3 was to “go for a ride in a float plane”, which I did when I returned from Salt Spring Island to Vancouver last week. It was super cool!
Tangent: While on Salt Spring, we played a fair bit of tennis. I tracked it with my GPS watch to see how far I ran – here’s a map of one of our matches:
We also saw some goats and chickens at Salt Spring Island Cheese:
My cats are still the most awesome cats who have ever catted. Even despite the fact that Watson is kind of a jerk who never lets his sister on the cat tree. You know the giant cat tree that I bought them that is big enough for like 10 cats? Watson seems to think it’s not big enough for more than 1 cat. And if the 1 cat is not him, then it’s not even big enough for 1. If Crick tries to go to there, he chases her off. Sometimes he doesn’t even stay on the tree – he just doesn’t want her on there. Like I said, he’s kind of a jerk. But I still love him.
Poor Crick is relegated to siting on the fireplace mantle, since Watson will not share the cat tree.
Lord Commander Watson Snow is the Watcher on the Wall
Crick gets him back by eating his food. I always put their food in two dishes and usually, Watson will have a few bites and then wander away to clean himself. Meanwhile, Crick eats her entire dish and then starts in on his. She’s a little piglet. And I love her.
Why has no one ever told me about garlic scapes before? I got them at the New West Farmer’s Market, w It’s the top part of the garlic, is only available for a short period each year, and is like a mild garlic taste without the bite. Very cool! [↩]
On Monday and Tuesday I was in denial that this was really a sprain and was convinced I’d be fine by mid-week.
On Wednesday I realized that I probably shouldn’t play my hockey game, as my ankle was still swollen and I didn’t want to aggravate it such that I wouldn’t be able to run on Sunday1.
On Thursday, I slowly started to come to the realization that I might not be able to run the race I’d just spent three months training for and it made me really sad. Like, I was on the edge of tears much of the day. Frustrated that I wasn’t going to get to add a new medal to my collection, despite having done my three months of training. Frustrated that the Scotiabank half marathon has a “deadline” for withdrawing from the race due to injury that is *two weeks* before the event, as if you can’t get injured in the 14 days leading up to race day2. Frustrated with yet another health issue that, while minor, was enough to screw with my running season this year. Wishing that I’d gone running last Sunday, when it wasn’t raining, instead of Saturday, when it was pouring to hard that there were giants puddles to hide such things as uneven bits of pavement on which an unsuspecting running might roll their ankle.
By Friday, with my ankle still just as swollen as it was on Monday and still not able to walk, let alone run, without limping, I had accepted that I really, really wasn’t going to be able to run. And I found myself in the bizarre situation of having to justify to a variety of other people that it really wouldn’t be a good idea to run on an injured ankle. Usually I’m the one who is all “I can just walk it off” and everyone else is all “Don’t be silly! You’ll make it worse and then put yourself out of commission for even longer!”
I went to the race expo on Friday to pick up my race package – since I wasn’t able to withdraw my registration due to injury thanks to the Scotiabank half marathon’s absurd deadline for such withdrawals, I figured I may as well pick up my race shirt – it is now officially the most expensive shirt that I own!
When I try to look on the bright side, this is actually the first race I’ve ever missed out on due to injury. And when you consider that I’ve run 13 half marathons, as well as 13 races of other distances, over the past almost 10 years since I started racing, that’s actually not a bad track record. And while I missed out on a medal, this year’s Scotiabank half marathon medal doesn’t really look much different from the medal I got from running the Scotiabank half in 2014, so it’s not like I missed out on an exciting medal for my collection.
Other random thoughts about my ankle predicament:
Not being able to do any physical activity for the past week and a half has been killing me. When you are in a routine of doing regular exercise, you get really antsy when you can’t do it. I only just occurred to me the other day that, while I can’t do any of my usual forms of exercise – running, hockey, or biking – I could use this opportunity to do some upper body weight training (while sitting, so as not to aggravate my ankle. In fact, I’m going to head down to my building’s exercise room to do that right after I finish this posting).
Also killing me is that I’ve had to wear flat shoes! Last week was particularly bad, as it was too cold and wet out for sandals, and I discovered I really only have one pair of non-sandal flats that I can wear to work. Clearly, I need to do some shoe shopping!
Even hobbling on a gimpy ankle, I’m still faster than at least half of the people in the Skytrain station.
Even with a bandaged ankle, precious few will offer you a seat on the bus or Skytrain… there were even people who I saw look at my bandaged ankle and then go back to reading crap on their phones. On one Skytrain ride a woman got up to give me her seat… and she was pregnant! I said I couldn’t take a seat from a pregnant woman, but she refused to sit down, insisting that both her legs were at least working. All around sat many non-pregnant, non-bandaged people watching this conversation, until finally one person actually offered to give up her seat as well.
When my mom heard about my sprained ankle, she suggested I try out Voltaren, a topical gel that works to decrease pain and swelling. I’d never heard of it before, but when I mentioned it to some people at work they were like “OMG, it’s the greatest thing every invented!!!” I’ve been using it since she suggested it; my sister asked me today if it was working and I said “I don’t know. I have no control ankle to see how it would have healed without it.” Her reply “Common Bethy…sprain the other one along with that one when it heals to test it out!” Obviously, I have failed as a scientist.
Speaking of Voltaren3, I keep forgetting what it’s called. I may have said that I’m putting Voltron on my ankle at one point, and I may also have said that I have to put some Virtanen on my ankle a few other times4. Jake Virtanen, for the uninitiated, is an adorable player for the Vancouver Canucks (who just so happens to have been born in New Westminster!).
My ankle definitely felt better this week compared to last, so I’m hoping that another few days of rest will have the swelling gone. I’m going to start rehabbing it with some ankle strengthening exercises. And I’ve already looked into another half marathon to replace this one: the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon on Labour Day weekend. You get to run through Kelowna, which is beautiful, you get to go to a wine festival afterwards, and there is a medal (though I don’t know what it looks like, I do know it will be one I don’t have yet!).
OK, I’m off to go do some biceps curls now!
Drawing of ligaments in the ankle. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1176993
In retrospect, I think this was the “bargaining” stage of grief “If I skip hockey, I’ll get to run the race” – I seemed to have skipped right past the “anger” stage of grief. [↩]
I think they should at least let you transfer your registration to next year if you can produce a medical note to verify your injury. Because these races aren’t cheap! [↩]
Which autocorrects to Voltaire. Autocorrect, you are so pretentious! [↩]
The first time by accident and the other times because I thought it was hilarious. [↩]
While out for a run yesterday, I stepped on an uneven bit of pavement and went over on my ankle a bit. I felt the tweak at the time it happened, but it didn’t hurt and so I continued on my merry way. And I was actually surprisingly merry given that it was a torrential downpour that I was running in! When I got home, I was so wet that I looked like I’d jumped in the river! My socks contained 57 ml of water1! Later in the day, I could definitely feel that I’d done something to my ankle, but it looked fine. I’ve kept off my feet as much as possible yesterday and today, but this afternoon I looked at it and saw it was quite swollen. I’m sitting with some ice on it right now and that seems to be helping.
This just seems to be par for the course for my training this year, which has gone something like this:
went running on Jan 9, then got a really bad cold that kept me from running
went running 3 times in a week (so think I’m really getting my training going) in mid-Feb, then got food poisoning and then before I got back to running, I got zombie eyeball disease
In March, I finally got back into running regularly, but it’s just been… hard. I usually have most of my runs where I feel great, whereas this year I feel like I’ve had at least a run every two weeks that’s been tough. My zone 1 pace (which is where I am supposed to do most of my training – keeping my average heart rate at ~148) has been much slower than I’d like and though it’s improved a bit, it’s not improved as much as I would have liked. Halfway through last week’s 19 km run, my IT band started killing me (though foam rolling this week seems to have helped). And now it’s a week before the race and I have an injured ankle. I was really hoping to do some good little race prep runs this week, but now I think I’ll hold off until my ankle feels better… or until race day comes – whatever comes first.
OK, I think it’s time to switch to a heat pack on my ankle.