The Hike to Tokopah Falls

The National Park Service recently celebrated it’s Centennial birthday on August 25, 2016. I was not able to celebrate the big 100th until Labor Day Weekend. My friends, Heather and Gil, and I went on a short stay at Sequoia National Park.

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Friday Night Ramblings

I say this with every entry: I miss writing. I miss having a real reason to write to you guys. And like I also mention in (nearly) every entry, life has thrown some unexpected curve balls that were completely out of my control.

Not only has this little piece of the Internet been put on the back burner, but so have my daily vlogs that I’ve been posting on YouTube. I’ve posted a couple of videos over the last month, but the daily vlogs have been a little inconvenient to do. It’s mostly the editing that I can’t seem to do on a consistent basis. Filming is the fun part. Editing… Not so much.

In the end, I either toss the footage out, or let it sit on the memory card until I transfer it to my hard drive.

Right now, I’m sitting in the dining room drinking the High Water Brewing Campfire Stout…. I saw it while browsing the alcohol aisle at Grocery Outlet, and thought it would be a fun beer to try. It’s pretty yummy, and I love the hint of the s’mores flavor.

Coming back for the come back is always harder. I need to find some motivation, some inspiration….. I’m sure it’ll hit me one of these days.

 

Race Recap: California International Triathlon

I abruptly welcomed the 2016 triathlon season by jumping in on registering for USA Productions’ California International Triathlon. I’d been training pretty consistently, and figured I might as well try the International (or Olympic, if you prefer) distance.

Race day was early on Sunday, June 26, 2016. The day’s events took place at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton, California. Along with the International distance, USA Productions offered a Sprint distance. The morning had a nice chill, but for those who’ve previously raced in Pleasanton, you know that it heats up quickly.

Pre-Race
My mom and I were in for the International distance, my dad on the Sprint. We racked our bikes in the same area in transition, and we set everything up. I had my usual pre-race jitters and felt them creeping up as I watched all of these athletes ready to go for the kill. I had plans to have fun. I had no intention of gunning for a PR at all. I just wanted to survive.

Swim – 1.5k – 00:38:43
The swim felt like the longest swim of my life, ever. I felt like I was going nowhere, and going nowhere fast. The buoys seemed so far away, and I was feeling discouraged. Strike one, Lianna. That small moment of defeat in the swim really held me back. The funny thing, this swim is in a calm lake, with a comfortable water temperature. I really just couldn’t find my niche. I did what I could, and actually ended up with a personal best on my swim for this particular distance. 

Transition 1 – 00:05:08
I struggled to get out of my wetsuit following the swim. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve raced a triathlon, so all of this seemed “brand new” when it really wasn’t. (Note to self: Practice transitions!) Chugged some water, dried off what I could, and then got ready for the bike. I saw our friend, Isa, out by the mounting line. And I was off.

Bike – 40k – 1:47:30
This was the discipline that I’ve always been weak at. But I knew there was going to be improvement here because this is what I’d been training and working on the most lately. The bike ride was mainly flat, but then it had a long, gradual climb into the valley. That’s where I struggled, and where I think I exerted way too much energy. It was a weird feeling. I was excited because I knew I was doing better than I’d done on this distance previously, but also struggling. If that even makes sense. I didn’t drink enough liquids, and I don’t think I ate enough. I think the race adrenaline got me feeling some type of way. I did, however, set another personal best on the bike…. I typically finish a 40k in a little over two hours. This was a solid sub-2 and while I am happy with it, I knew I didn’t race smart. And ultimately, the bike got the best of me, which left me hurting on the run….

Transition 2 – 00:03:59
I saw my dad at the entrance to the transition and I was about ready to cry.I had a flood of emotions filling my body, and the bike had depleted me. My legs were heavy and I was fighting to get out of transition. I drank more water and ate a gel before making my way out.

Run – 10k – 01:39:58
By the time the run came around, it was hot. And the moment I stepped out onto the trail, I knew the run was going to be a long one. I also remembered how much I hated running at this particular park because it lacks shade pretty much everywhere. Luckily, there were aid stations at every mile. I dumped water on my head at every chance I had. I walked practically the whole thing. I tried to run when I could, but the heat was just eating me up. You could feel the heat radiating from the ground up. At the start of my second loop, I decided to just walk. I felt like the last person on the course. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. I ran the last quarter mile into the finish, where I saw my parents and felt relief.

Overall race time: 04:15:20

Post race, I felt like crap. I  started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. I think I hit the point of dehydration, but I also figured it was because I scarfed down half a burrito immediately after my finish. My body probably didn’t know what was happening between the heat and solid foods going into my system.

Despite the feelings of defeat multiple times throughout this race, I am decently proud of the personal bests I set in the swim and the bike. I know now that I need to race smarter, not harder. My body had been exhausted of nearly all energy when the run came around, and that should not have happened had I been smarter about my bike.

Lessons learned.

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I Love My Job.

May 26, 2016.

The day marked an entire year since I’d started my job working as an Instructional Aide for children/clients with Autism. It might not seem like a big deal, but it really is a big deal.

While working with children with Autism was not incredibly brand new to me (I had previously dabbled in in-home ABA therapy months prior), working with an age-specific group in a classroom setting was another level.

However, I knew that this school was exactly where I wanted to be. I didn’t even have to finish my interview to know that. I ditched the after-school program director position, took a slight pay cut, and went on to become an Instructional Aide.

I regret nothing.

Some days my patience is tested, other days I feel that I really have my ducks in a row. But one thing is for sure: I love my job. Every day is a blessing in which I get to share with these kids. Don’t even get me started on the staff that I am lucky to work with. What makes our job so much fun is that we mesh so well. The team work instilled between our classroom helps our children to grow in every aspect. I’d have to say, the kids are just as lucky, if not more, that they have such a great team of teachers/aides.

I graced the staff with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts on my one year anniversary. Because it’s not about me, it’s about all of us.

With that, here are five fun little things that I’ve personally learned in the last year:

  1. Things could be way worse than you think. Getting peed on, or having food smashed into your hair isn’t the end of the world. Embrace it, and also remember to have extra clothes in your car. Don’t forget the shower after work, either.
  2. Disney songs are a huge hit at any point in the day. You are going to find at least three kids who love Disney songs and are willing to sing them with you while swinging on a bench swing. (“Let It Go” is a huge hit right now…. Still.) Brush up on your Disney lyrics, for real.
  3. Lock the car windows. Because all hell will break loose if your child randomly decides to throw his ball (aka highly preferred reinforcer) out the window while riding home from the pool. Be thankful that your boss will notice said ball on the side of the road and will bring it back. This is something I learned on the first time I drove the kids. 😛
  4. Smiles, tickles, high fives, and hugs are the best things in the world. No need to elaborate on this. I am so lucky that most of my kids love these kind of sensory things. If you got happy kids, you’re gonna be happy also.
  5. Celebrate the little victories. It’s a day-to-day type situation with these kids. Using their AAC device to communicate feelings, setting up their lunch, counting to five… To a neuro-typical kid, these are nothing. For my kids, it’s hard work, it’s a challenge. But the moment something clicks, it’s all about high reinforcement and praises! Don’t forget to celebrate your own little work victories, either! 🙂

Work is my happy place, and it keeps me balanced between the chaos is that is my life outside. It is my hope that others find a career that is just rewarding to them as mine is for me.

Potential Revival

I have missed writing.

Surprisingly, I have a lot of time on my hands these days that I don’t have any real reason why I shouldn’t be blogging. Lately I’ve been trying to try my hand at vlogging, and you can click here for my YouTube channel.

I want to try and revive my blog, for what seems like the one millionth time, and we’ll see what happens. I feel like I have a lot more flexibility and freedom when it comes to vlogging; just turn on the camera and go. Blogging is a whole different situation. I’d like to say I’m a decent writer, I just haven’t quite found my niche in particular topics.

Keep an eye out on this space, though. I’m sure I can find something to fill it with.

~Lianna