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A Prisoner in My Own Home aka Snakes in the Mother F*!#ing Yard

DSC_0019I used to love my backyard.  It was my oasis, my getaway.  After a long day of work, I would love to hang out in the backyard with my better half and the pups.  Grilling and eating dinner on the patio, setting up the pool to cool off with the pups on a hot summer day, and lounging in the hammock and reading a good book.  This summer everything changed.  This summer I could count on my hands the number of times I’ve just hung out in the backyard.  That is because of the invasion of the Plains Garter Snake, scientifically referred to as, Thamnophis radix.

exclamation markIMPORTANT NOTE:  I almost passed out doing a little snake research to make sure I was telling you the exact type of snake that has been terrorizing me and now I feel the need to burn my computer just because of all the snake pictures I saw, but I did it all for you!

It started in early summer when my better half saw a garter snake near the foundation of our house while he was on the patio brewing beer.  He took a picture of it and that picture seriously gives me nightmares – I didn’t even see the live snake, the picture was enough!  From that day, I knew that there was at least one (possibly HUNDREDS) of snakes slithering around my house and yard and it gives me the serious Heebie-jeebies. 6957636  I seriously haven’t been able to go into our backyard very often.  I will briefly go out when I get home from work to let my better half know I am home and will venture outside if the dogs need my assistance, but other than that I has been a prisoner in my own home.  Just writing this post is causing me to break out in a cold sweat thinking about those little buggers hanging around my backyard.

Yesterday I was letting the dogs out and there he (she?) was…slowly slithering across the patio towards the grass…another garter snake!  I had worked for weeks to convince myself that the snake that was hanging around months earlier was long gone.  My better half, who was so kind as to chase the snake out of the yard so I could let the dogs out, let me know that while he was chasing the snake he saw another one (HORRORS!) and that it definitely wasn’t the same snake as before because it was much smaller.  Leading my mind to come to conclusion that it was the baby of the first snake and that again there were HUNDREDS (a garter snake can have 30-40 babies at a time with the record being 98 babies at one time…98)of snakes hanging out around my house.

From my short (and terrifying) research on the Plains Garter Snake I have found that they indeed live in Colorado and that they could potential terrorize me year round because Plains Garter Snakes do not hibernate, but instead partake in brumation (AWESOME!).  I did, however, some across a list of the Plains Gartner Snakes predators.  It appears that I am now in the market for some hawks, birds, skunks, raccoons, foxes, badgers, minks, bullfrogs, and a house cat.  Domesticated dogs were nowhere on the list of risks to garter snakes – thanks for nothing Paterno and Coaly.

So where did these little buggers come from? For almost five years I have found our backyard to be a safe haven to everything going on in the world and now it’s been taken over by a slithering enemy.  It appears we live in a prime snake area.  Garter snakes are commonly found living near water sources such as streams and ponds, but can also be found in urban areas and vacant lots.  This pretty much describes our current yard situation.  We live next a goat farm who has been flooding the irrigation ditch between our houses all summer and the vacant lot behind our house is currently being turned in to a Starbucks.  So, next time you see a cute goat or enjoy a nice beverage from Starbucks remember the terror they are causing me!

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Okay, so why I am sharing this really strange phobia with you?  Well, because my Year of Yes. This year I am going to be braver and I’m was going to try new things, but I have realized that there are certain places I have to draw the line when it comes to putting myself out there and snakes is one of them.  So, while I am still committed to saying yes more, I am still saying no to hanging with the garter snake in the backyard and I’m sure as hell saying no to ever stepping foot in to the snake house at the zoo.

question markSo, make me feel better – what’s your phobia that you are just going to live with?

 

 

 

 

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How Could I Forget this Feeling?!

This weekend was supposed to be a great weekend away.  I was excited about the getaway but there was a lot that needed to be done before I headed out of town to meet Brandon in Gunnison.  I had to work in the morning and host a big meeting, pack, get the house ready for the pet sitter, track down our new iPhones that were being shipped separately and by different carriers, and get out of the house so I could make the 3 ½ hour drive in time for dinner.  This was all after a super stressful work week with lots of events whose success laid on my shoulder and a 12 hour day.  There was a lot on my to do list and suddenly I notice a huge lump on our dogs ear.  Paterno had a hematoma on his ear in August that the vet drained and said either it would come back or not – it chose to come back twice as large as the first one.  So, along with everything else that needed done I also needed to run Paterno to the emergency vet to make sure it was okay to leave him with the pet sitter for the weekend.  We get to the emergency vet and were told our wait would be several hours.  I could feel the minutes ticking away and myself getting later and later.  One of the vet techs took mercy on me and told me she would look at Paterno and let me know if he needed to be seen that day or if we could schedule something for later in the week.  She checked him over and told me the hematoma was relatively small (I would hate to see a large one because this one seemed pretty crazy) and scheduled Paterno for an appointment and potential surgery on Tuesday.  I ran Paterno back home, finally tracked down our phones, and headed out the door with exactly 3 ½ hours until our scheduled dinner.  While I finally made it out the door and on my way to our mini-vacation I just felt stressed and anxious.

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Fast forward a couple of hours…I made is safely to Gunnison, enjoyed a nice dinner, and headed to an observatory to check out the stars.  As we are getting ready to leave the observatory all sorts of warning lights lit up my dashboard and stated with quite urgency that I needed to have my car serviced.  But, it was almost 10pm in a town that doesn’t have a Chevy dealership that is open on the weekends.  I tried to put the car trouble out of my mind and decided that now is a good time to activate my new iPhone 7.  To match the rest of my day the phone would not transfer my old data and just kept giving me all sorts of error messages.  Finally, I surrendered to the day and tried to sleep but spent the night tossing and turning stressing out about Paterno, the car, and the thought that I’m wasn’t going to be to have any phone access.

When the alarm went off I get out of bed and still feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  I realized I was on a mini-vacation and I am too stressed to enjoy it.  I was being snappy and mean and felt like I was seconds from a full-fledged panic attack.

img_4481Now that I have set the stage of my fragile mental state I will fill in the details about my running.  Last Friday I decided, on a whim, I was going to get a tattoo on my foot (the tattoo wasn’t a whim I had been planning that for months, waking up one day and deciding today was the day I was going to get it was the whim).  The tattoo artist said I shouldn’t run for three days but after that it should be okay.  After three days I was still nervous and decided to take a whole week off to let the tattoo heal.  For some reason I irrationally thought that running would cause the tattoo to wear off (I do realize that is not realistic, but that is what my weird mind kept telling me).  So, Saturday morning it had been eight days since my last run with the plan to go for a run Saturday morning in Gunnison while Brandon was at his conference.

So, in the midst of my mental breakdown, I decided there was nothing I could really do about any of my issues at the moment and I would go for a quick run and deal with everything when I got back.  I put on my running clothes, carefully slathered my tattoo with tattoo goo, put on some super soft socks, my shoes and headed out the door.   In Gunnison at 8am in September the temperature is 32 degrees.  I was completely unprepared for this and was just wearing my running shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt.  The upside of this was I was ready to run from the very beginning just to warm up.  Because it had been awhile since my last run I just told myself if I could make it three miles I would call it good.  I set out running around the neighborhoods and downtown of Gunnison and then headed east of town to the Western State University campus.  The longer I ran the better I felt.  The beautiful sunshine, the fresh crisp air, and the new scenery was exactly what I needed.  One mile quickly turned in to two and before I knew it I was rounding out six miles.    As soon as I get in to the groove of running I love being out there but I have to play mind tricks with myself to get started so I can get in that groove.  At an even 10k I ended my run and headed back to our hotel.

The run was exactly what I needed.  When I got back from my run I felt at peace, focused, calm, and ready to tackle my to do list.  I contacted Onstar to figure out what to do with my car and they said that it wasn’t really urgent and I should be able to make it home and I should set-up an appointment for next week (the should was a little concerning but in my new mental state I could deal with it).  While I was away I had connected my new iPhone to my MacBook and when I got back it had worked out its issues and downloaded all my data and music and was ready to be activated.   I was still stressed about work stuff and dog stuff but it all suddenly felt so small and manageable when just an hour before it felt like the end of the world.

This summer has sucked and when I should have been running the most to deal with the stress, I did just the opposite and used my running time in the morning to sleep in and try to escape reality and it just ended up compounding the problems.  This weekend was a huge wake-up call that no matter what I need to make running a priority.   Running is my natural stress, anxiety, and depression buster and I need to never forget that.  I don’t want to end up back on the verge of a panic attack because that is a horrible feeling!  I am excited about the new week, the healed tattoo, and the reminder about how important it is to take the time for yourself.  Find the activity that centers you and don’t make excuses for not taking the time for yourself.  I am so excited that I found this feeling again and I am going to work my butt off not to lose it again.img_4501

 

 

Sub 30 Club

When I first started running my only concern when racing was to finish the race.  The time didn’t matter – the only thing that mattered was the medics didn’t have to come and scrape my crumpled body off the pavement.  As my running got stronger I started to push myself at races with the only goal being to beat my time from the race before and I was doing that pretty consistently but then I got the bug to get my 5k under 30 minutes.   I had been getting really close to the 30 minute mark but hadn’t been able to slip under it, that was until the beginning of August.

ETR_Main_ImageIn early August I ran the Evergreen Town Race 5k in beautiful Evergreen, Colorado.  I had run the race last year and finished in just over 30 minutes so I knew my goal was obtainable but I just needed to focus a little harder.  This race course is awesome because the majority of it is downhill.  It’s not a steep downhill but a nice easy downhill slope so it’s naturally a faster race.

I have become really fond of this particular race because it’s always the weekend before my birthday and a way for me to celebrate making it through another year and still being able to run.  Okay, so I may be a little dramatic but damn being in your mid 30s isn’t all kittens and puppy dogs – suddenly you have aches you didn’t have before and you start feeling the need to tell people about your new pains.

Anyways…back to the race….

Despite the crowd and the need for the walkers to get right up front at the start line I felt like I was off to a really strong start.  I was slightly frustrated by the number of children running the race who would be right in the middle of the trail and run for a couple hundred yards and then stop suddenly making the runners around them have to zig and zag as to not take one out or trip over them.  Yes, I understand they are children but obviously their keepers (I mean parents) are runners so why haven’t they taught them race etiquette?!  I had been training with a 2:30/0:30 interval and was planning on following this during the race but when my iPhone indicated it was time to walk for the first time I felt strong enough to skip the walking and just run.  I was so excited when I came around the corner to the finish line and saw the beautiful clock showing 29 minutes….finally I had joined the sub 30 club!!  My final time was 29:14 and I don’t think I have been that excited in a really long time.  After the race I found my husband and was telling him all about my time and he showed fake excitement but I know he didn’t really get how big of an accomplishment this was for me.  But, then again I probably don’t show the proper amount of enthusiasm when he comes home from a good skiing trip or climbing a hard mountain…to each their own.

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Since the race I have gotten a little lazy with my running.  Hot summer months tend to suck out my motivation but I have been out for a couple runs and spent some quality time with the treadmill and can honestly say that I am feeling stronger and stronger every time I run.  For so long I felt like I was on a running plateau.  I wasn’t getting faster or stronger just staying exactly the same.  Each run was just a mirror image of the last and it was getting really frustrating.  Joining the sub 30 club has definitely given me a new lease on running and has motivated me to run longer, stronger and faster.

Running with Asthma

Right after Christmas this year I started getting a really sore throat and everything went downhill from there.  It started with a sore throat and it quickly moved in to my lungs.  I was coughing and hacking non stop annoying everyone around me.  Around mid January I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis.  I was given antibiotics and an inhaler and sent home to rest.  By the end of January I wasn’t feeling any better and had to return to the doctor.  Again they told me I had bronchitis and was given a heavier dose of antibiotics and was told to continue the inhaler.  By mid February I found myself in urgent care on a Saturday because my primary doctor was afraid I had pneumonia.  I had xrays and a full examine and was told I did not have pneumonia but I still had bronchitis and to top it off I had asthma.  Asthma?!  I was given another round of antibiotics and some strong cough medicine and sent home again.  This time, after two months, I started feeling better.  I slowly felt myself getting my life back and I was so excited.

At the beginning of March I had a half marathon schedule which I downgraded to a 5k but was still determined that I was going to run.  I had actually run a 5k in January while I had the bronchitis and that was horrible (I would not advise anyone to do that)!  My 5k in March was rough but I was still feeling better than the last couple of months but I started wheezing about a mile in to the race.  I could still run but I could feel and hear the wheezing and it was definitely not something I had experienced before.  Shortly after the race I went back to my doctor for my final check-up and was told that because of the bronchitis and the scarring in my lungs I now have exercise induced asthma.

IMG_2751I figured that this would be short term and I would be back to myself in no time and be asthma free.  I used my inhaler before longer runs and was feeling better.  Then summer came.  The heat and humidity seem to be my asthma triggers.  I was told that it was cold weather that usually wreaked havoc with asthma! I would warm up and within minutes of running I could feel the wheezing starting again.  In all honesty I keep forgetting my inhaler and have had trouble getting in to the routine of using it regularly but I can definitely feel the difference when I use it and when I don’t.

The weirdest thing is going through 34 years of my life without asthma and suddenly having it.  If I have had to deal with an inhaler since I was little maybe it would be easier to deal with but I have found it to be very discouraging.  At a recent boot camp we were running steps and I had to stop because I couldn’t breathe.  I knew I could still physically run the stairs but my lungs were failing me and I had to stop and step to the side to catch my breath.  This was the first truly terrifying moment I had with my asthma.  I have been proud of myself from not letting this be my excuse for not continuing to run and exercise.  I just need to work on managing it better.

If you live with asthma do you have any suggestions on how to cope with it?