Monday, February 18, 2013

Blog Moving

For those of you who followed my blog “The Budding Enthusiast” at , thanks a bunch.  I’ve definitely come a long way from when I started that blog.  Now that I’m no longer “a budding enthusiast”, I have decided to update my blog.  I have moved the blog to The Ultimate Adventurist.  I hope you all continue to follow me and find my adventures interesting.  Please feel free to comment with your questions and motivation.  Until the next adventure…

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snow Angels 2.0

Last weekend, I headed up to Hidden Valley Resort with my friend Danielle to participate in the 2nd Snow Angels Women Ski and Snowboard weekend.  I attended the event last year where I met Danielle and our boarding instructor Julia. The gang was all back for 2012 and ready to get on the snow.

On the first day, Dani and I were the only snowboarders who showed up (winning!!!) so we had Julia all to ourselves. If you can recall from my previous blogs, Hidden Valley was the place I broke my wrist last February.  Traumatic events sure have a way to get into your head.  This was my 2nd time boarding since the accident and 1st time back at HV.  Needless to say the first run was in fact the run I had my accident on.  Everything felt good going down until I approached the spot of the accident and I tensed up.  Dani even said that she could sense my anxiety as I would immediately put on the breaks and practically stand straight up.  I actually considered stopping, taking off the board and walking the rest of the way (thankfully it didn't get to that).  Anywho, aside from my heart rate shooting up every time I was at the bottom of the Continental slope, being back on the board felt great.

*Breaking News ---- I'm now pretty good at getting off the lifts! Maybe only one fall the whole weekend! Whoop Whoop

At the end of the 1st day, Julia took us to a different slope, Cobra, which gave the challenge of a steeper grade.  Now there is something about not being able to see the bottom of a slope that terrifies me apparently. In my defense, it was my first time trying to attempt turns on steeper terrain.  As you could probably guess, first time was not a all.  I actually managed to make 1 turn before sliding down the hill to the next headwall (a headwall is a point in the slope that takes a steep drop. If you were looking up mountain at it, it would appear as if you "hit a wall").  It's kind of funny when you slide down and you have a mound of snow between your legs and snowboard.

Dani and I at the top of Cobra

To make the 1st Cobra experience worse, a storm was brewing and the wind picked up as we were on the top of the mountain.  I literally would stand up and couldn't move.  After about 3 attempts at Cobra, I was done.  My confidence had been defeated, fatigue was settling in, and I just wanted to end on a high back to Continental!

The next morning I felt like I had gotten hit by a car.  My muscles were SORE!!! You don't realize how much energy you use going up and down with a board attached to you. No, I didn't fall THAT much.  We were in a teaching setting so when our instructor wanted to evaluate how we were doing, we would do a part of the run, stop, watch the others and then wait for further instruction.  Talk about a crazy arm workout.  I managed to get my life together before Dani picked me up and we headed to HV.  I was determined to conquer Cobra.

Julia started to have us practice short S-turns, preparing for the ultimate snowboarder accomplishment, carving.  After correcting some errors in my form, Julia decided that I was still a little too "in my head" and needed to relax a little when approaching Cobra.  She let me borrow her headphones and boy did that make a difference.  Standing on the top of Cobra, I select "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 to attempt the first run.  I must say music helps. In boarding you want to get in a rhythm, something I was having a little trouble doing. But with music, I can move to the rhythm of the song and TA DAH, turns on Cobra! I still have more work to do to perfect them but hey, this weekend was about progressing and boy did I improve leaps and bounds. Here are the other songs that got me amp'd on the slopes for the rest of the day:

1.  Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
2.  Look at Me Now - Chris Brown
3.  A$$ - Big Sean
4.  Who Run the World (Girls) - Beyonce
5.  Beast Mode - Lil Boosie

A$$ was playing on this run

All in all, Snow Angels weekend was all I expected and more.  Dani and I will be hitting up HV tomorrow! Wish me luck!!!! I'm coming for you Cobra!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour De Cure 2011 - Pittsburgh, PA

This post comes almost a month late but hey, never too late for a story.  This year I participated in the annual Tour De Cure charity bike ride in Harmony, PA.  The Tour is put on by the American Diabetes Association and is a fund raiser for diabetes research, prevention, and education.  As I have people in my own family and know of people with diabetes, I decided not only to participate in the ride but also make my best effort to raise $500 towards the cause (the ride required only a donation of $150).  Thanks to my family and friends I was able to exceed my goal and raised $535!!!!!

Originally I planned to participate in the 50 mile route; however, due to a later release from wrist therapy and time (I def was out of shape) I decided I would do either the 20 or 30 mile route.  The morning of I was feeling a little groggy and sore from exercising during the week and felt that 20 miles was going to be enough.  The drive to the race start was about 1 hour and I arrived a little early to check in, check out my bike, and stretch.  I rode under the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling team but the other members had already started the 50 miler so I ended up tagging along with a team I met a the race start.

Race start line
The 20/30 mile ride started at around 9:30 am.  We started out led by all of the "Red Riders", riders with diabetes.  They all had red cycling jerseys and the rule was that every time we pass a red rider during the ride we chant "Go Red Rider".  It was nice to see though pretty sobering given there were Red Riders of varying age, size, sex, color, and background.  Diabetes really can affect anyone.

The first 10 miles of the course was BRUTAL!!!! I don't know if it was because of the time, the fact that I hadn't really did many long rides, the steadily rolling terrain, or the Burger King Crossaintwich I had that morning but I was STRUGGLING.  By the time we reached the first rest stop, I didn't know if I'd even be able to finish the 20 mile ride!  Thankfully there were snacks at the rest stop to provide a "pick me up" if you may.  I will say this.  I have found that when cycling distances and in hilly terrain, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and orange slices are like magic.  I pull up to the rest stop, tired and winded.  All it took was a PB&J, 3 orange slices, and a shot of Gatorade (yes they had shots of Gatorade) and it was like my energy was restored.  I knew for sure I could push out another 10 miles definitely.

The second 10 miles was very nice.  There were a few nice downhills and the scenery was very calming and beautiful.  Thankfully, it wasn't a terribly hot day and the cloud coverage made it the perfect weather for a distance ride.  Also, since people were arriving and leaving the rest stop at varying times, I sometimes found myself as 1 of a few bikers in an area with no cars, no noise, just the sounds of nature and the occasional gear change. I must say, it was a very pleasant 10 miles.

As we approach the 2nd rest stop (at 20 miles completed) I am pretty confident that if I eat another PB&J that I can finish 30 miles and be proud.  And behold, nice delicious PB&J's waiting for me prepared by the sweetest little volunteers.  I told one of the PB&J makers (a little girl about 6 or 7 yrs old) thank you for helping out and making us sandwiches.  When I was walking away I heard her tell her mom "Mom, she said thank you to me for helping".  Awh sha baby.  LOL.

The last 10 miles was great and at the end we were welcomed back across the finish line to people clapping and congratulating us for finishing the ride.  Also, there was good food and ice cream waiting for us.  The ride was great and I would recommend it to anyone.  I know people who battle diabetes on a daily basis and if I can endure a 30 mile ride through the back hills of Pennsylvania and raise some money to help find was to make their lives better, it's the LEAST I can do.

Snapped this pic in leg 2 of the ride

I would like to take the time to thank all of my donors who supported me on my ride.  Your contribution, whether big or small, was greatly appreciated and for a good cause:
Paige Taylor                                                                Xavier Hariston-Khan
James Tolbert                                                              Rickey Thomas
Tyelisa Shields                                                            Lorant Szasz-Toth
Harlan and Jeanine Hardy                                           Harry Clarke
John Porche                                                                 Kevin Washington
Shavia Jones                                                                Sarah Harris
Satish Singh                                                                 Brian Becker
Frank Richards                                                            Brandy Guillory
Daphne Isom                                                               Prince Chavis

Me sporting my Champions of Diabetes medal for raising over $500. Thanks to my supporters!

Me and the other PMTCC members who participated

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where'd She Go????!!!

Sooo, it has been a while. I know.  Last you heard, I was becoming a snowboarding G.  Had gotten my heel and toe side turns together and even managed to exit the ski lift with an error of only  0.32 (no I didn't really calculate it....but if I wanted to I could :-)  Well let me update you on the happenings of the last 3 months.

It all begins with a thesis proposal....

I am a PhD student (if you didn't already know) and part of our requirements is called a thesis proposal.  This is were PhD candidates present his or her great plan to change the world to a committee who will then tell you if you are lazy, brilliant, ambitious, crazy, or just out right stupid. This tends to be a slightly stressful time in a student's life. 

Two weeks before thesis proposal:  Snow Angels Clinic, Hidden Valley Resort, January 29, 2011

Hidden Valley was hosted a women's snowboarding and ski clinic called Snow Angels.  Though the clinic was scheduled for 2 days, I could only spare the time for 1 day given thesis proposal preparation and was able to register for the 1 day.  The skiers and snowboarders were separated.  There were only 2 other women snowboarders in my group which ended up being awesome in terms of learning.  Our instructor, Julia was awesome.  I also quickly became friends with the two other ladies Danielle and Newlin.

Before going to Snow Angels, I could not turn well and I could not get off of the lift well.

Danielle and I posing at Snow Angels Camp
Thuggin on the slopes
After Snow Angels, thanks to Juila's awesome instruction and a visual exercise she gave us, I was a threading machine!!! It was that day I gained a little confidence in myself and comfort in the board. I was becoming a snowboarder!  Check out my little clip taken by Julia.

Weekend before thesis proposal....... Newell Simon Hall, Mrs. Sumitra's desk

I was very very stressed about the proposal and was taking a stroll around 4th floor Newell Simon.  I decided to have a chat with Mrs. Sumitra, the receptionist.
Me:  I need to do something to get my mind off of the proposal for just a couple of hours.  I think I'll go snowboarding.
Sumitra:  No, don't do that. Got for a walk or shopping or something.  You don't want to snowboard the week before your proposal.  What if you get hurt?

OH BOI....

Day of thesis proposal, February 14, 2011

OWNED the thesis proposal!!! Passed without modification and with great comments from the committee.  Needless to say, I'm pretty amp'd and pretty excited.  The first thing I can think about doing is......yeah you guessed it. SNOWBOARD...

....but for some reason I didn't go that day.  I waited until the next day.

February 15, 2011, Hidden Valley Ski Resort

The day was beautiful and I was about to OWN the slopes like I OWNED my thesis proposal.  It was a beautiful day.  Sunny, kinda warm actually, and the slope conditions were pretty good.  I explored more difficult terrain at Hidden Valley that I had never tried and even perfected dismounting the lift!!!  It was a Tuesday in the middle of the day so there were not many people on the slopes in general.  Run after run I felt more and more in touch with the board. It was my first day on my new DC board and I was loving it.  Life was good!

It was getting to be 4:00 pm and I decided to try to make it back to campus for the weekly Graphics Lab meeting at 6:00 pm.  But before I would leave, I needed one more run!  The run was great. My speed and confidence were up. My turns were crisp.  I was approaching the bottom of the mountain towards the "Slow Zone" so I started to slow down.  I was riding heel side when I noticed a teenager on skis to the left of me riding a little close and a little wild.  So I decide to switch to toe side and turn right as to get more space between myself and the kid.  I wasn't going too fast but when I made my turn, the kid decided to come behind me at the same time and switch to my right side.....the side I was turning into!!!!! Needless to say, he was not quick enough to clear my path and I caught the ends of his skis with my board.  Queue the tumbling........

When I realized what happened, I was crouched down in the snow on my knees facing up the mountain, holding my tailbone for dear life.  I really thought I would loose my butt (literally) that day.  After the initial pain subsided a little and I was able to breathe normally, I rolled over to take my board off.  That is when I realized that I had no function in my right hand.  I pull off my glove and said "Dang, that doesn't look good".  The kid stopped and asked if I were okay.  I started to curse him out and say what the $%$# was that but I refrained and just sternly requested that he take my board off my feet.  Once it was off I picked my board up with my left hand (right hand is broken) and carried it and myself to the Ski Patrol office where I was put in a makeshift splint and sent along the way.

Here is a picture of what my wrist looked like post fall.  Swollen and shifted to the right.  Not good at all.  Now wrapping up the story.....

I decided that driving 1 hour back to Pittsburgh to the emergency room was not a great idea (at this point I figured the bone was broken but didn't know for sure).  So I drove about 15 minutes (in the opposite direction of Pittsburgh) to the Sommerset Hospital emergency room.  There I spent about 4 hours of my life, had to request ice, and the receptionist had the audacity to ask me only after my xray's were taken/viewed and I had been waiting for 3 hours if I wanted pain meds.  Seriously woman!!!! I've been sitting here for 3 hours with a broke ass wrist and you ask only after the obvious was confirmed if I wanted pain meds?  Naw I'm good.....really it didn't hurt as much as it looks.  Actually I wouldn't describe it as pain but as extreme discomfort.  I knew the wrist was broken but thankfully the discomfort was manageable.

After hearing the bad news, I am written a prescription for Vicodin and sent on my merry way.  Back to Pittsburgh.  A 1 hour 15 min drive.  At night. That I made with one hand....

I was able to get a doctor's appointment that Friday in Pittsburgh with the sexiest orthopedic surgeon ever, Dr. Lance Brunton.  I was scheduled to have surgery on February 21, 2011.  It went well.....I'll tell that story another day.  Below are some pre- and post-surgery xrays.  I sustained a distal radial fracture to my right wrist.  Apparently its one of the most common fractures in snow sports. Go figure.  I had surgery in which Dr. Brunton placed a plate and screws in my wrist in order for it to set in it's proper place.  I am happy to say that I am now bionic!!

Now that's a nasty break

My arm looked like a sausage from all the swelling

I am now bionic!

And fixed!!!! Thanks Dr. Brunton

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Story for the Yungins!

When I picture my future/imaginary family, the conversation goes like this:

Kid 1:  Mom, snowboarding is so hard.
Me:      You have to keep at it.  I didn't always know how to snowboard. I had to keep trying.
Kid 2:  REALLY! But you are so awesome at snowboarding.
Me:      Yes mommy is awesome at snowboarding but I was not always that way.  Let me tell you a story  
             of my first time at Seven Springs

Date:  December 18, 2010
Location:  Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Time:  4:00 pm - 10:00 pm

My officemate Henry informed me of a group ski trip to 7 Springs and of course I was more than ready to hit the slopes.  In my last post, I wrote about my trip last weekend to Hidden Valley and that I had learned a lot by taking a 90 min private course.  After last Sunday, I was pretty confident in my abilities to progress and that I had learned to leaf and stop both toe and heel side.  So you can imagine that I was pretty eager and probably a little too confident of my really good Hidden Valley experience.

My officemate Henry and I

Slight digression:  I decided to rent snowboarding equipment from the Peaks Ski and Snowboard Center since I am pretty determined to make this my "winter thing".  The shop is pretty nice and the prices pretty good.  They gave me new boots and new bindings since I was doing the seasonal rental and the board is used but in very good shape.  I ride a 141 and I ride "goofy" :-)

Back to the story....

I arrived at 7 Springs geared up - snowboard, boots, gloves, snowboard jacket and pants, helmet, and goggles.  I looked like I knew what I was doing.  I tried to hit the beginners area to practice a bit but it kinda sucked.  I think that Hidden Valley has a better practice/bunny area than 7 Springs.  Anywho, I quickly became uninterested in the practice area and decided it was time to progress to the real slopes.  At 7 Springs, there are 4 different levels of slopes - green (easier), blue (more difficult), black (most difficult), and then professional (self explanatory).  I was determined to conquer a green slope and little did I know "easier" ~= easy.

Even before I laid foot, or board, on the slopes there was the task of successfully getting on and off the ski lift.  Now this task should not be looked at as trivial.  First there is the problem with having a board stuck to one leg that will be hanging. Second, the lift does not stop moving so you must be rather quick with your boarding and unloading.  I haven't quite mastered the art of walking with the board let along doing it in a timely matter as to get on the lift.  Third, the darn thing is just out right scary.  Once you get onto the lift and start ascending the mountain, you realize just how flimsy the contraption is.  I mean really, I kinda freaked out and was talking to everyone around me to keep from focusing on the height.  Lastly, the probability of a beginner getting off the lift successfully (success defined as getting the board onto the snow and gliding down a safe distance away from the lift while maintaining one's balance and vertical posture) is pretty low.  Here are my lift scores from 1-10:

Attempt 1:                            Attempt 2:                   Attempt 3:                  
Loading     8                        Loading       9              Loading     9                
Staying Calm   5.5               Staying Calm    7        Staying Calm   8          
Dismount    5                       Dismount       6           Dismount     6              
Balance    2                          Balance         8            Balance 8                    

Attempt 4;
Loading    9
Staying Calm  7
Dismount   5
Balance    0

At my 1st attempt at dismounting the lift, I successfully got out of the lift, glided about 10 ft away from the lift area, and then fell and twisted my left knee. It's pretty difficult especially when there are others in the area and because you have a foot that is not connected to the board.  My knee still is actually sore from that.  After a little "sit down" time, I pick myself up and look ahead to the trail I am about to embark on.

I take the Lost Boy Trail to another lift that took me to another green trail.  In total that day I rode over 5 miles of trials.  It was the most frustrating thing sometimes though.  Unfortunately I had not retained much of recently learned techniques and to much avail could not successfully ride "toe side".  I pretty much resorted to riding the brakes for a lot of the trails when there were more down hill areas. The session we attended was a night ski session.  One would think that the trails would be well lit but that was not the case. In fact, there were times where I was the only person on the trail, with trees around and darkness.  Pretty creepy.  Attempt 4 of the lift was going to be my last time down the hill back to the lodge.  There was a toasty fireplace and water waiting for me.  I was exhausted so I didn't even try to balance on the unloading of the lift.  I kinda half-heartedly let the lift help me down the little slope to clear you from the area and then just let myself fall.  Hence the 0 score on balance.  I had about 5 really bad falls total:

1)  The chair lift fiasco I told before
2)  While trying to ride toe side I caught the REALLY caught the edge.  A couple seconds later I was on the ground on my right knee with my face inches from the snow.  That knee, the right one, is swollen. Agh :-(
3) 4) 5)  The worst thing about the snow at 7 Springs for beginners is that it's really packed, really slick, and really hurts.  Needless to say I fell right on my tail bone 3 times where each time I kinda just laid in the snow a couple seconds to let the throbbing pass.  For the next couple of days, sitting, standing, and a number of other things made me grab my butt in pain.  Not good when your in public but hey, what else could I do?

At the fireplace in pain after 5 hours of boarding
Honestly, if I were a normal person, I'd return the board today and give up on snowboarding.  But I'm crazy and I WILL CONQUER THE SLOPES!!!! It just might take a lot longer than I was hoping.  I know one thing is for sure.  Next time, I will have KNEE PADS and ELBOW PADS.  Also, I will take more lessons at Hidden Valley.  I like my body too much to keep banging it up.  I need to learn and I need to do it soon.

At the end of snowboarding, a defeated beginner sits at the fireplace trying to figure out how the hell she could suck so bad.  But this is the making of not only a snowboarder but an athlete.  Take the beatings and the frustration and one day it will be rewarded.

That is what I will tell my kids....

Officemate after skiing

Monday, December 13, 2010

The New Biker is now The New Snowboarder

Hidden Valley Resort

Winter has hit the Pittsburgh area making cycling not too appealing.  Snow + 8 degree windchill + me + bikes + hills just don't equal anything positive.  So what am I to do for the rest of the winter season you ask?  SNOWBOARD!!!!  This past Sunday, a friend and I headed to the Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Pennsylvania.  The official opening of the resort season occurs on December 17, 2010; however, because of early season snow, they opened this past weekend.  Sunday was Free Ski/Snowboard Day when you bring 2 canned goods per person.

The morning of, the weather was pretty rainy....actually very rainy and after much coercing, I finally convinced my friend to get out of bed and drive the 1 hour to the slopes.  To little avail, it was raining still when we go near the slopes.  After more coercing and resorting to my "sad face", we decided to go into the resort anyway and check out the scene.  Guess what we found!  SNOWBOARDERS, SNOW AND LIFTS, OH MY!

Too excited, I rent my gear and hit the bunny slopes.  The only way to describe the first hour of my snowboarding experience is "too fast, too soon".  My friend was impressed by my apparent need for speed and disregard of personal well being.  My "style" was to bend my knees so that i was lower to the board. Good for seasoned racers, Bad for beginners.  I learned quickly that falling is the most energy draining and butt hurting experience and I was tired of doing it.  I signed up for lessons to speed up the quest for snowboarding awesomeness.  Lessons were being held for $15 and lasted 1.5 hours.  Because there were not many people at the resort I ended up having not one but TWO teachers for the entire lesson and THREE for 30 minutes of the lesson.

By the end of the 1.5 hours, I was a "leafing" Princess and my friend could not believe his eyes.  I must say, I was pretty proud of my natural athletic abilities and the transformation I made in just a few hours of practice.  Next time, we take on the big slopes muh ha ha ha (evil laugh)!!!!  It was a good day!

Next time videos and pictures will accompany the post but until then, Adios!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Ride to the Strip!

Today, my lab mate and I took a ride to the Strip District in Pittsburgh. The weather was pretty good for cycling. The ride started off a little cool and cloudy, but by the end of it, there were blue skies and it was pretty warm. We started out in Squirrel Hill and took Shady Avenue to Penn. This was my first time cycling through East Liberty and though the city is trying to rejuvenate the area, there are still many old, abandoned houses. Nevertheless, East Liberty has a certain charm of it's on. Some may disagree; however, I tend to find beauty in the unlikeliest of places.

First stop was Nature's Way Market where I got an awesome homemade gourmet candy cane (Oh how I love Christmas!). After, we continued to the Strip District to Penzeys Spices. This place has more spices than you can imagine. Definitely a must for trying your cooking skills on some exotic cuisine. I got the Bicentennial Rub compliments of Ronit's free coupon! Holla!!!

To return to Squirrel Hill, I had the brilliant idea of taking the Panther Hallow Trail. Lets just say, when I got off of my bike at home finally and went to carry it upstairs, my thighs were shaking. Whew, today was a workout. It was great to hang out with Ronit again! I will miss my cycling buddy when she graduates.

Time: 1:45:47
Distance: 13.96 miles
Bike: 2009 Giant Seek 2