Jul 202015
 

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My weekend was spent with family and friends, good food and drink, and the calm and peaceful world of farm life. Look at those gorgeous horses!

It was my family reunion! It’s been happenin’ since 1981 on my aunt’s farm not far from Salem, Oregon. Out in the country. We packed up our camping gear (which sadly hasn’t been used for a few years) and dropped Bella off at the dog walker’s house for the weekend. Bella was having her own little weekend getaway with her boyfriend Raja! Check out this photo:

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Amy said she caught them smoochin! So adorable. Raja looks pretty proud of himself and Bella looks a little guilty. :)

My aunt’s farm is huge and two families have been meeting there in July for the last 34 years for a weekend of festivities and catching up. Most of my happy childhood memories revolve around this weekend and this place. Running around unsupervised as a kid, swimming in the river, playing flashlight tag in the dark, trying to avoid your parents so they don’t make you go to bed when you just want to stay up and play!

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That tree was planted in 1997 in memory of my grandpa. It’s so huge now! My aunt’s house is an old farmhouse that they’ve been adding on to over the years.

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They recently added on a new section of the house (which is so weird to see) and they uncovered some old newspapers from behind the walls! This one is dated October 1899!!! How cool is that?!

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They also discovered an old letter that someone had written that had somehow fallen between a wall, too. Looks like it was written in 1912.

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And here is the long shot of the newspapers:

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Here is the barn:

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As kids we spent so much time in that barn! Jumping down from the loft into the soft hay. Playing games and hanging out. Aww so many memories!

Everyone camps in the hazelnut orchard. Over the years some people have graduated to RVs, but we’re all still camping together. It’s so much fun.

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Friday afternoon Michael and I arrived and set up our tent next to family that flew up from Texas. The furthest anyone has ever traveled for the reunion is England. Most of the family is from Washington and Oregon, though, and a few from California.

Here is my cousin Adam with his new boot courtesy of Michael! :)

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Friday night my aunt and uncle grilled up brats and burgers. There was potato salad and baked beans for dinner. It just felt so good to be with family and unplug for a weekend, hanging out in nature. Friday night we built a bonfire (very carefully because everything is so dry in Oregon this summer) and hung out drinking and chatting and making s’mores.

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It’s so cool to watch the “next generation” experience the fun. It’s like I get to relive my own childhood watching them running around. I went to bed a little earlier than usual Friday night (11:30). I was really glad that Michael brought our solar-powered tiki torches from our backyard. He set them up around our tent and made it so much easier to find our tent in the dark!

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Saturday morning I woke up a bit early–that tends to happen when camping. I just wake up with the sun. I laced up my shoes and Michael and I went for a run. We’ve got a 5k coming up in a month and I wouldn’t say that I’m actually “ready” for it…the back injury set back my training a month. :(

It was early but already starting to get warm out. We ran down the country road and into the little town nearby and ran by the river.

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We did a little bit more walking than running, honestly. Run a little but, walk a lot, run a bit, walk. We made a loop and ran by some giant cows (longhorns) and then by this old country church:

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Then back to the house. It was a good little run and I was glad I got my butt up to do it while on vacation! Here are our stats:

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Not too shabby. There were muffins and pastries and coffee for breakfast. I had half a muffin and some fruit. I should have brought some more “real” food and was kicking myself all weekend for only bringing snacky stuff. Thankfully my cousin Kristin shared some of her stuff with me! I was dying. I had two mini bagels, one with cream cheese and one with hummus and cucumbers. Delish.

I was sweaty and gross and REALLY HOT. Saturday was going to be a really hot day. Me and a few of my cousins changed into our swimsuits and walked down to the river to go swimming. It felt so good to “wash” the sweat off. :)

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The bad news: our “usual” spot at the river is no longer accessible. The new owners didn’t want us cutting through their field to walk to the river where we’ve swam for 34 years. :( It was such a bummer. But one of my aunt’s friends up the street offered their swimming hole which was so generous! It was an easier walk, too, on the road and not very far. Then just a few rickety, steep staircases down to the river and we were in the secluded spot!

The water felt fantastic. I love swimming. :) We swam for about an hour and then walked back. Soon it was lunchtime and then the SCAVENGER HUNT!

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Jul 152015
 

Recently at my physical therapy appointment my doctor gave me some new exercises and also gave me some progressions for exercises I was already doing to heal my back. My goal with PT was to fix my back pain, but more importantly to get back to the activities I love (biking, running, yoga, kettlebells). My therapist said that if you want to run, you should be doing a few specific exercises on a frequent basis.

Want to be a runner and not have to deal with frequent/chronic injury? She said you should be doing the glute bridge exercise and be able to hold a plank for 60 seconds. And maintain those goals. Both exercises will keep your core strong and stabilize your hips during running; in turn it will keep Runner’s Knee and low back pain away. Sold. Sign me up!

I wanted to share what I am currently doing to improve my body. So far the exercises seem to be helping a lot!

Glute Bridge

The glute bridge exercise might sound familiar to you. It’s a yoga move and common in PT. There are so many benefits to this exercise but the biggest one for me is that stronger glutes fix my runner’s knee. Period. It also helps stabilize your core and helps alleviate low back pain. I’ve been given this exercise before but in the past, even though I did it diligently, I never really felt a difference. I mentioned that to my therapist and she suggested this variation:

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One simple change– doing it on your heels instead of with your feet flat– made a HUGE difference for me. Suddenly I FELT the exercise in my butt and glutes when I did it this way. This is now the only way I do it. And I feel it after I’m done, too. It’s important to engage your core, tighten your glutes and hold them as you go up and down. If not, you’re not getting the same benefits. I love this move. I feel it the next day! I also found a website with examples of other variations I may try in the future.

One Leg Glute Bridges

This is a variation of the basic glute bridges the physical therapist is having me do. It’s supposed to be harder than the traditional way, and it is! Here is a short video of the demonstration.

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Like the regular glute bridge, do it on your heel. When I first tried it at physical therapy I was like, Oh holy moly this is a LOT harder. I sure did feel it! My doc said the leg doesn’t need to be straight out (like the above picture), just raised. The important keys: do it on your heels, engage your pelvic floor while you do it, and then make sure your hips are staying level as you raise them. If you’re twisting the raised hip, you’re not getting the benefits. And probably messing up the low back.

One Leg Romanian Deadlift

I’ve written about this move before. It’s a must for me when I want to keep Runner’s Knee away from my life. It was a regular part of my weight lifting workout for a long time. When I had my back flare up I stopped doing this move (and most weight lifting) and it didn’t take long for my knees to start to act up. :(

When my therapist watched me do this exercise the one correction she made was to have me hold the weight (or kettlebell) in one hand instead of holding two. Then put the free hand on the small of your back as you bend over. This helps you to make sure you aren’t raising/twisting your hip as you bend. I was! Granted I usually do the move in front of a mirror to make sure I don’t twist, but it’s easy to twist and then there’s no point in the exercise because you putting strain on your lower back. Good to know!

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Plank

I know, I know, love/hate relationship right? Planks suck. They are hard. But when you finish doing them you feel accomplished! My therapist suggested doing the plank on the elbows instead of hands (it will be harder that way) and to make sure that you are engaging your core muscles while you hold it otherwise you are putting pressure on your low back. Especially if your back is sagging in any way. I see that a lot in the gym–people doing a plank (side plank, traditional etc) and they are sagging. Do it in front of a mirror if necessary to hold it!

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Clam

This exercise is one I’ve been given for pretty much every running injury I’ve gotten. This move is supposed to help strengthen your hips. I didn’t always like it because I never really “felt” it. I tried it with a stretchy rubber PT band and that helped a LITTLE bit…but still, didn’t really feel it when I did the exercise. Recently my therapist suggested I try a different way to do it. I hope I can describe it properly…

So same position as the photo below (minus the band). Except instead of having the knees and feet touching, she had me raise the higher leg so it was parallel to the leg resting on the floor and THEN do the clam move. So the legs aren’t actually touching as you do the move, but you’re still doing the same form. If that makes sense? Okay, if it does, good. Because this variation was much better! I could feel the exercise doing it this way.

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So far it’s been working. I think the combination of the standing desk and doing the PT exercises during my workouts on a regular basis have helped my back AND my knees! I also started doing the cobra/up-dog yoga stretch after each set of kettlebell swings. It helps a lot!

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