Sunday, June 22, 2014

DC/NYC 2014

This past week I spent three days in Washington DC and three days in New York City with a group of eighth graders.  This is my fourth time doing this trip.  I did one trip as a parent with my own daughter. This is my third trip as a group leader.  The last two years my friend and partner in crime was technically in charge and I was her backup.  This year I was solo but it was a small group and I had a parent along so it worked out well.

The first time I went with my daughter I had just graduated from OSU.  I literally graduated that morning and then left on the trip that evening.  I was at my absolute heaviest I have ever been.  Two years of full-time school with 21 credits each term, including summer, did not make exercise a priority at the time.  On the trip my feet were swollen and I was a hot, sweaty miserable mess.  I could hardly keep up with the rest of the group and was very aware of my size and general lack of fitness.  When we went to the Broadway play I could hardly fit into the seat and was very uncomfortable.  And because my legs and feet were so swollen I was having a hard time being comfortable and sitting still during the show.  It was hard to enjoy the Broadway play when I was in pain, uncomfortable and felt like I was invading the air space of the poor students on either side of me.  The airplane ride did not do much for my swelling and by the time I got home I had seriously swollen ankles that I affectionately termed "kankles."  They were huge, my ankle was the same size as my calf so it was big all the way down to the bottom of my foot.  It took over a week for the swelling to go down.

The past three trips I have been working on becoming healthier.  Each trip I have weighed a little less and have been a little more fit.  The last two trips I still dealt with some swelling in my ankles but nothing as bad as the first trip.  Usually it started in New York City and I would get a little more swollen on the plane ride home.  This year I was determined to not have that happen.

In Washington DC it is easy to remember to drink lots of water.  The very nice bus drivers always have a cooler filled with nice cold bottles that they will sell to you for $1.  Every time we got back on the bus we make everyone get a water bottle.  There are also many places to use restrooms in DC so dealing with the consequences of drinking lots of water is also not terribly difficult.  I get really hot when walking around so this year I usually bought two water bottles, one to chug down and the other to drink more slowly.

In New York City it is a little more difficult.  We don't have a bus in NYC, we walk or take the subway everywhere we go.  There are vendors selling water for $1 though and I just determined that I was going to make a point of asking our tour guide for a moment to grab water on a regular basis.  They were great about it.  The next problem is that many of the places we went to visit didn't have public restrooms to use.  The rule of thumb was if there was an opportunity to use a restroom you went, even if you didn't need to.  You never knew when you would get another chance to go.  But like I said, I was determined to not get swollen this year and I was positive drinking more water was the key to making that happen.

We do a ton of walking on the trip.  I have my Fitbit this year and loved being able to tell the kids how far we walked each day.  The first day we flew in to DC and didn't get going until after 4:00 p.m. and we still managed to walk over five miles.  My Fitbit goal for miles each day is five miles.  Everything over that is a bonus.  I had lots of bonus miles this week.

The next day was our first full day and we were busy!  Mt. Vernon, Arlington, the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, and visiting various memorials.  My Fitbit is water resistant so I wasn't to worried when I stuck it in the ice water to grab a water bottle.  Then I realized later that it wasn't lighting up when I tapped on it.  I was concerned because I had just recharged it the day before on the plane so I knew it couldn't have run out of juice yet.  When we got back to the hotel that night and I synced it I could see that when I stuck my hand in the ice water was when it quite working.  Luckily it reset and worked again after I put in the charger to get juiced up again. 
Only half the day recorded.  9.87 for the entire day.
So it only has us walking a little over six miles but that was as of about noon that day.  One of the other adults on the trip has a Fitbit as well and hers had us walking 9.87 miles for the day. 

Monday was another busy day which included a visit to the Holocaust Museum, a tour of the Capital Building and seeing more memorials.  
Tuesday we got on the bus and headed to New York City.  The bus ride was a little over four hours with one pit stop in the middle.  We got dropped off at Battery Park to catch the ferry to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty.  
We then were supposed to head back to Battery Park and walk over to the 9/11 Memorial.  We had gotten tickets for the 9/11 Museum but the tickets were for an appointment time so we had to be on time.  Well, that became a problem when half of our tour group ended up on the return ferry while the rest of us were still on shore when they closed the ferry because they had reached capacity.  It was over 30 minutes before we finally got on the next ferry.  Needless to say we were very late to our appointment (90 minutes late).  We practically ran all the way to the museum and it was very hot and humid.  Then we were running into issues with our dinner reservations if we tried to change our museum time.  We didn't get into the museum but our travel group, WorldStrides, managed to get our appointment into the museum changed to the next day.  At the end of the day we had had a very busy day.  
Pretty decent amount of walking considering we spent a considerable portion of the morning sitting on a tour bus.  

On Wednesday we went to the Today Show, The Top of the Rock (The Rockefeller Center), the 9/11 Museum and the Broadway show "Wicked".  The 9/11 Museum has been open for about one month.  We had about 90 minutes to walk through it.  We weren't able to see everything in that amount of time. But that was the perfect amount of time to be in there.  I was emotionally done after that amount of time so I didn't need to see the rest this visit.  It is an experience to be sure.  One I am glad I got to have.  The students were respectful and appreciated the significance of the museum but didn't have the emotional reaction that the adults did.  We lived through it and how our world has changed since that day.  They were babies and have no memories of what a world without going through security in every building was like.  If you can get tickets into the museum I would recommend it in a heartbeat.  
This was our biggest day of walking yet.  This was also our hottest day of the trip so far.  It felt hotter the day before because on Wednesday there was a breeze which felt great.  
Selfie with the FAO Shwarz guard.
The last day we were with a tour guide and just my students and parent.  The other schools that we had spent the week with from Washington, California and Texas, had all gone home the day before.  We walked all over New York City.  We did a tour through Central Park, went to Greenwich Village, went to Brooklyn, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, shopped in Chinatown and Little Italy.  At 4:00 p.m. we got on a bus and headed for the airport to begin our trip home.  The kids were tired and a couple didn't want to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.  It was sprinkling a little but I told them that would make the story better.  They walked the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain, no umbrellas because we are from Oregon and umbrellas are for sissy's.  
Now I will have proof to show next years students that when we say there will be A LOT of walking we aren't kidding.

I was rather discouraged when I looked at pictures of myself on the trip because I don't look much different than I have in past years.  But when I really thought about how I did there are a lot of things to celebrate.  The changes are there, the outside just hasn't gotten on board with reflecting how far the inside has come. (Wish it would hurry up and figure out that I'm serious about this! lol)
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

  • I wasn't exhausted.  The last few years I have been dealing with the underlying "always tired" issue and then you add little sleep and long days that made for one tired chicky.  This year I was tired at the end of the day because it was a busy day.  The end.  That was a great thing.  Helps me keep my patience with goofball 8th graders who don't always listen.  
  • I wasn't sore.  I walked all those miles each day and I felt great at the end of the day.  I didn't have sore muscles that were protesting because I was doing something out of the ordinary.  I was doing what I've been doing, just spread out over the whole day and walking not running.  I got a bit tight in my calf muscles the last couple of days but nothing too extreme.  
  • When we went to the Broadway play I fit comfortably in the seat.  Plenty of room on both sides of my bum and my legs weren't achy so it was easy to sit and enjoy the show.  If you get the chance to see "Wicked" where you live, do it!  It was an amazing show!
  • My feet did not swell, at all.  They got the tiniest bit puffy on the plane but that was it.  I could still see my ankle bone when I got home which was a first.  Being in shape helped and being consistent with ridiculous amounts of water did the trick.  Worth all the trips to the bathroom.  :-)  My friend had texted me to make sure I was drinking enough water.  I sent her this picture to prove that I was doing good.  I had two small water bottles and then this big one all before 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  

1 Quart of Water!  Just the beginning!
One of the other schools we were with had a wonderful woman along that was the aunt to two of the students in their group.  She was a very sweet woman and I enjoyed visiting with her the entire trip.  She was a heavy woman and told me that she had lost 40 pounds and been working with a trainer for a year in order to be ready for the trip.  She didn't want to embarrass her nephews or not be able to keep up.  She also had a Fitbit and we liked comparing numbers.  She focused on steps or flights of stairs while I tend to focus on miles.  She was awesome, Badass with Sparkle for sure!  She never complained one time about the heat, the amount of walking or how hard it was to keep up.  The hardest day for her was the day that we were late to our 9/11 appointment.  We were moving super fast and she got further and further behind.  I lingered back to encourage her and help her know where we were going.  She kept apologizing and I finally told her she didn't get to do that anymore.  She was doing great.  Not her fault that we were late, going ridiculously fast, that we caught every crossing light on the way and that it was incredibly hot and humid.  She was me the year I went with my daughter, just shorter.  I talked to her about it later and told her that it would have been SO much worse if she hadn't been preparing.  Now she knows that she has to keep working on it but to be proud of how far she has come!!  It helped remind me how far I have come and how much I have to be proud of.  Pictures don't tell the whole story.  I will focus on the list of good things above and remember that I also am Badass...with Sparkle.  

Next week is the Pacific Crest weekend.  I don't know if I will do very well on my 10k but I do know I plan to have a great weekend cheering on my friends, husband and daughter.  Life is good. :-)


  1. Isn't it amazing where better health and exercise takes you? I'm so glad that you had a fantastic trip. Thank you sharing your experiences and perspectives. It's good to remember that sometimes the great things taking place on the inside don't always show on the outside.