Tuesday, August 26, 2014


One of my first ever climbing bottoms was branded Verve and I loved them - they were green, tailored for my bod, and comfortable; I snagged them from one of the early clothing swaps hosted at my place.  I still have them, but two babies later and a change in taste to cut off jeans, not to mention a little peri-menopausal action (and okay, there's rice, quesadillas, and nachos to factor in too), my first few pieces of Verve clothing wear are tucked safely away in a drawer with marked memories of places like Wild Iris, Sinks, Spearfish, Shelf Road, Red Rocks, American Fork, Maple Canyon, Devils Lake and my beloved Boulders Climbing Gym - all areas that carry strong memories of really fun climbing.


Tomorrow I start my official teacher contract day and lately I've been thinking about teaching and verve.  Verve is that spirit and psych for life that makes its way into teaching- it's the enthusiasm you bring and foster because you just can't not be psyched!  It works the other way around too - when a teacher is just so psyched about teaching that it makes its way into their personal life because the two transform and enrich the other.  As much as I've basked in a premium summer filled with good quality days and relationships, it's time.  Time to make the 12 week re-charge go to work.


So here are my top ideas for promoting verve as a parent, educator, as a citizen and most definitely, in our kids.

1) Be fresh.  If you're not feeling it then for sure your kids aren't either or they're not maximizing it - yet. In the hip-hop world, being fresh is flipping something out of nothing.  Help your kids blend their instincts with ingenuity and create masterful stuff to get them psyched.  And while you're encouraging them, you may as well do it too - dust off that journal and make your next page a scrapbook of doodles, cut-out pics and quotes from magazines to help raise your verve meter.

2) Ask yourself, what is my new iteration as an educator, parent, student, athlete, friend and colleague? To quote Bettina Love, one of my all-time favorite and dopest hip hop scholars I've learned from to date, "Let the trends of the times be damned.  Ask yourself: How are you going to improve your greatness?  How are you going to promote and tell new stories, stories of yourself that will end up being a gift to others?"  To that piece of verve, I say, don't be shy or subdued or hesitant or locked-up.   Find new ways to represent yourself or uncover what you've been hiding and let it out - every role we play can inform and enhance who we are.


So get your verve on. To start, right now, make a realistic, attainable, fun goal that will be vital to your life, long or short term.  Mine is to climb with a focus for 4 days a week even though I'll be hammered, stressed, sleep-deprived, and lonely for summer, for the next 3 weeks.  Write down yours and tell someone about it!

#thatsmyverve #befresh #newiterationofself

Sunday, August 24, 2014

50 year Birthday Challenge Down

I'm wrapping my head around the concept of warriors because it links me back to my heritage, particularly Sanglo, a Chamorro warrior and it reminds me of different people who matter - warrior type people, people who change or influence me because of who they are.  I've always loved the original Birthday Challenge website and visit it often to reignite my stoke.  I recently went to it as I was planning my next curriculum unit on warriors and was once again inspired by all the people on that site along with the likes of Jack LaLanne and inferences to Bruce Lee - two historical warrior figures in my mind.  Most people who know even a little bit about me know that I've been doing Birthday Challenges since I turned 40, and y'all know I just completed another one having just turned 50.  Above most things, and I mean most of my fitness goals, it's my annual Birthday Challenge and BC's of others (check 'em out here) that keeps me psyched!   

So here's the recap of how my 50th went down.  The tally list.

And here's why I do them . . .  

1) I look forward to that single goal that falls on the same day every year.
2) It's creative.  I take the age I'm turning as the base, think up physical and mental challenges and plan different things in decimals, halves, multiples, fractions - whatever makes it hard and fun. 
3) I want to train. 
4) It brings people in my life together and I get to see the best ones in-person. 
5) It's hard and painful and it's good to model recovery from all things hard and painful. 

Hardly recovered.  I wasn't supposed to run my 5th half marathon 6 days after my 4th, but that's how it worked out.  Ideally, doing 5 half marathons in 50 days put each one 10 days apart which was possible if it weren't for vacations and traveling, not to mention some lazing around which made for some recovery glitches. Thankfully each run was better than the one before and it's what I felt really well-trained to do so I was pretty psyched to end it on a high note. Plus, with my sister Geri and brother-in-law Dan flying in from San Diego to run it with me, I had a bigger stake in it because I wanted it to be fun. And it was! 

After the run and while my dad was prepping traditional celebratory Chamorro food, we headed to Boulders Climbing Gym to climb 50 routes and 50 boulder probs, do 150 pull-ups, 150 push-ups, and five 5-minute planks.  It went as expected which was

long and 

Semi-hard.  That's right.  The hardest things were the pull-ups and the 2nd and 4th planks.  Climbing was hard but it wasn't because the grades were particularly difficult, it was because it was more of a volume rush.  That played on my mind because it seemed to take forever.  The push-ups were more a rest and probably the most enjoyable.  By the end I was wondering if I did more of a workout and not so much a Birthday Challenge!

So what does that mean for next year? It means I get to up the ante.  Admittedly, I realized once again, that I can do more than I think I can.  Vices and all things drinkable, I got to my 5 white sangrias, but not to my cheesy quesadillas which I blame on my dad who made this goodness.  

The week leading up to my Birthday Challenge, I remembered a post about Jack LaLanne that I read a few years ago when he died.  It's such a great read, especially in the end where the author, Steve Edwards, included a list of all Jack LaLannes Birthday Challenges.  Man if you want stoke and psych, go there to get it.  That guy is a true-to-life warrior.  In the end, I did feel super strong and motivated, and I loved having Brad, the kids, and my closest family members right there to witness me living my life so that this birthday was more memorable than the last which is why I started doing these Birthday Challenges in the first place!   

PS:  It's not over 'til it's over right.  My son, John-Pio added 50 free throws to my challenge which arguably was where I felt the most challenged.  Here's a video after I got warmed up . . .

Birthday Challenge Free Throws from Vera Naputi on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Warriors: Choosing the Right Battle

I've been thinking a lot about inspiring people - particularly about Bruce Lee whose wisdom and practices are inspirational, not to mention, one of my guiding forces growing up. I didn't do martial arts. Bruce Lee was just a popular guy in my environment and his films dominated our household as I was growing up.  My favorite quote by him, "The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus," is how I think of Sue, my good friend who just completed a helluva Ironman and who not only had a laser-like focus on her training but who did it all in the style of a warrior.  So being fresh off the Ironman course in Boulder, CO, I asked her to write about her experience and here's what you get: an honest recap of an amazing performance.  Enjoy!  --Vera
When Vera asked me how my Ironman went, my reply was, "Ugh, I hated it." I love Vera for the fact that she knew exactly what I meant when I explained it to her.  Of course, Vera gets me like few people do.  When she asked me to write a blog on the experience in the context of being a warrior, my first reaction was that well, my thoughts mid-race weren't very warrior-like.  But, really, we are all warriors in our own way at the things we care about.

Given what I've read about others' experiences, I had a perfect race: I met my time goals, was comfortable 95% of the time, finished healthy and strong, and my recovery has been smooth.  But, when I crossed the finish line, I said to my handler and to my husband, "Never again." I should have nothing to complain about.  So, why the negative reaction?

It comes down to what is the best fit.  I'm happiest in small events when my competitors are friendly and chill.  Where I have my own space and can just compete to my level of fitness.  I could never be a road racer, and I'm not suited to big mountain bike events like the Leadville 100 or the Firecracker 50.  Give me a small local race any time.  I don't want to jockey for space or be affected by the safety or the behavior of my competitors.  Ironman brand races are the opposite of this; you are beat up in the swim, and have to be on constant watch for other bikers either for safety reasons or for race-related reasons like drafting. The run is less stressful, but by that time the race has taken its mental and physical toll and you are still running amongst 2400 other athletes.

So, what lessons can be learned when you are in a situation where you just have to grind it out?  How can you be warrior-like when you don't feel like you are a warrior?  These are the ones I learned.

1.  Be graceful even when its hard.  The coach I worked with to prepare for the race said, ''Don't be that
person." Meaning, don't be the person who brings people down with your woes.  I made sure to be positive to people on the course, thank the volunteers and cheerers, high five the kids, stop for pictures and hugs with friends, and not mention to them how awful I felt.  Of course it's hard, everyone knows it!  It's just hard in different ways for different people.  It's an easy thing to be graceful;  it pulls you out of a funk for a short while, and helps other people have a good experience.

2. Smiling makes everything better.  On the run course, people cheered for you like crazy if you smiled.
 I'm not sure whether I was smiling for joy, smiling to make people feel good, or out of embarrassment.  It didn't matter - as I found out when I smiled, running felt tons easier and was fun as a result.

3. Quitting is worse. Quitting loomed on my mind repeatedly on the swim as I was pushed, pulled, and smushed.  And, it loomed early on
the run when 26.2 miles seemed impossible.  But, I knew I could finish and that quitting meant I'd have to do this all over again.  I'm so grateful I pushed through and had a strong race.  I am one and done - nothing to improve on; a future race could not go better!

So, with IM checked off the bucket list, my training season is over. It is time for fun.  My friends are already looking ahead to next season for races but I'm just going to play.  The thought of racing holds no appeal.  I'm sure that drive will return, but I will be sure to look for events that challenge me but are also a much better fit.  Part of being a warrior is choosing the right battle, isn't it?

Hate the role or love it, Sue Lottridge is a psychometrician. She leads the efforts at her company to develop and use an automated scoring engine which employs computer programs to score test-taker responses to constructed response items, essays, and the like. In short, she is a geek, but reasonably pleasant to hang out with in spite of it. She loves rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and open water swimming and just completed the Ironman Boulder.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Birthday Challenge Countdown

It's time for my Birthday Challenge Countdown.  If you don't know the history of Birthday Challenges, you can check out the original site by Steve Edwards who along with Todd Mei, was inspirational in helping me do my first one at age 40.  I actually have my first challenge posted on that site from 2004. There's also one up on Epic TV of Alex Johnson - a strong competitive rock climber who did her first birthday challenge this year when she turned 25.  

One week to go and I have a few things in store for myself.  Let me just say that the quality of a Birthday Challenge takes a little training, some pain and suffering, and of course a celebration.  While the training and pain are a given, the fact that my dad, brother, sister, and brother-in-law will all be here means the celebration will be super special.  And of course, nothing happens til Brad and the kids are full-on there with cheers and encouragement, not to mention, joining in for the hell of it.

So here's what I'll be doing . . .

Run my 5th half marathon in 50 days
Hold five 5 minute planks
Climb 50 routes
Boulder 50 problems
150 pull ups (of course)
150 push ups

In classic and true Birthday Challenge style and from what I've learned from the challenges done by mastermind Steve and my underground BC mentor Todd, is that the vice of choice could do you in.  I don't remember with accuracy which vice was theirs but I know there were apple fritters as big as your face for one, and a certain number of burritos for another.  Ech.  Mine?  Quesadillas of course - fresh corn tortillas, cotija cheese, lots of pika dunni (that's hot peppers in Chamorro).  Not 50 of them though. I'd rather eat gummy bears, chew 50 pieces of bubble gum or pop some Lemonheads, for real.  And the drink?  5 white sangrias sound pretty refreshing to me.

I'll be happily and sufferingly busy next weekend.  But what I'm really psyched about is my family - it'll be a quick trip for them so my focus is on getting through my challenge to spend some fam time together.  A full report with pictures to come.  Going hard and long to make this birthday year better than the last!

I can't die.  It would ruin my image.  --Jack Lalanne