Thursday, May 26, 2011

Men and Yoga

I've been happily going to my lunchtime yoga classes every M/W/F and have really noticed an improvement in my mood on the days that I go. I've also been observing that, on the whole, men are not suited for yoga. At least not in public.

Now, this obviously does not include my male yoga teacher (you know the one). Or those tiny, hipster males strutting around Denver in their skinny jeans. No, no. I'm talking about middle-aged, white-collar, business-suit wearing men.

Not you, you're fine

The first time I noticed this was two weeks ago, when the guy next to me at my Monday class was sweating and gasping for air (even during child's pose, folks) so much so that I thought there was a very strong chance he was having a heart attack. I was proud of him, though, for finishing a class that was clearly very painful for him and was surprised when he showed up for my next class, too. And then the next one. He apparently goes more than I do but his ability to actually do yoga has not changed. During "dead man's pose" at the end of the session, as all of us are trying to melt into our mats, he is still gasping for air and sweating all over his gym-provided mat. Gross. One day he may actually being having a heart attack and none of us will know the difference.

Wednesday's class was chock-full of middle-aged men. They outnumbered women for the first time ever in any yoga class I've ever attended. Now, I'm not a graceful person, but doing yoga next to these men makes me look like I could be a premier ballerina for the American Ballet Company. That has nothing to do with why they shouldn't do yoga, but it sure does make me feel better about myself.
How doing yoga next to men makes me feel

Men, I've noticed, also have a tendency to show off. Yesterday in my full-o-men class, one gentleman put himself into an inverted, standing head pose craziness before we even started class or warmed up. He also did all the poses plus a little extra flair every time we did something. I'm not sure he knew he was in Vinyasa Yoga 1 with beginners who weren't at all impressed.

Which brings me to my final complaint. Women can easily wear spandex long pants or capris and a tightly fitting top to aid in covering all of our fleshy bits (me especially) as we contort ourselves into various poses throughout the hour. Men typically wear baggy mesh shorts and a loose tee-shirt, which does not fulfill the same purpose. In case you were wondering, guys, I'm not closing my eyes in each pose because I am being peacefully transported to a zen garden: I'm trying to avert my vision from seeing all sorts of your exposed bits and pieces, including your oh so attractive hairy beer belly.

But I must say, all things considered, the men in my yoga class at least provide entertainment. And for the class taught by my hot male yoga teacher, they serve the important purpose of having him focus his attention on their "well thats sort of it" poses so he doesn't come by and touch me. The last two classes of his he hasn't pushed me deeper into a pose even once and, for that men in my yoga class, I am eternally grateful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Special Delivery

Yesterday I arrived back at my apartment and was surprised when my Super told me I had package, and a big one at that. Perplexed, I read the return address to discover I had a special delivery all the way from the Herr's Potato Chip factory in PA! I got excited.

After struggling into the elevator with my bike and said package, I eagerly opened in on my living room floor.

Beep Beep!

I'm not gonna lie - I think I was just as excited that my present came in a Herr's truck as I was for the present itself. I'm definitely keeping the box. I could see the tell-tale green shimmer through the top of the box and knew what awaited me:


And not just any old chippie, Sour Cream and Onion chippies, a standard in the Byron household. Dad had bought two bags the last time Al and I were home and I think, as a family, we blew through them in under a few days. Mom and Dad don't usually buy them when we aren't home, so its a treat for all of us when we do get them. Of course, Herr's doesn't supply grocery stores in either MN or CO, so having these to bring for lunches will be a special treat for the summer. I've already told my pod-mates that I will bring some into work for them, but I'm not quite sure they grasp what a treat they are in for.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Week Two Training Wrap-up

I'm officially in the full swing of training and really digging it. I like having a schedule to tell me what I should be doing and when. There have been a few nights where I haven't done my run yet and have hauled down to the treadmill in my building when I otherwise would have just continued to sit on the couch.

My training plan calls for runs on Tues/Thurs/Sun with cross training on Weds/Sat, stretching on Mondays and lifting on Mon/Thurs. The lifting part will finally get on track - the past two weeks I have still had my trainer on Tuesdays and AICP studying on Thursdays. I've also been going to yoga at lunch on Mon/Wed/Fri and I've really been digging it. Even though I've only been going for less than two weeks, I can already see my flexibility improving from nil to "hey I can almost reach my toes" which is a vast improvement.

Last week looked a little something like this:
Monday: Yoga
Tuesday: Lift, 3 mile run (32:54)
Wednesday: Yoga (no cardio due to impending AICP test)
Thursday: Climb (I missed my scheduled run, the first I've skipped, in favor of climbing)
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 25 mile bike ride
Sunday: 4 mile run (46:00)

My running is coming back, albeit slowly. I'm running slow, even for me, but I'll get there. This week was light on the cardio due to the AICP stress, but I plan on coming back full swing this week. I did go to REI on Saturday and spent copious amounts of money, but am happy with all of my purchases. I finally got a new computer for my bike and then promptly took it out for a 25 mile spin, which my body didn't quite care for. I tried to push the pace which was fine on the way towards the Cherry Creek Reservoir but faced some pretty heavy headwinds on the way back combined with tired legs.

Sun, Sand, Water, and Mountains - What more do you need?!

I've already planned out how to get in my workouts while I'm in Hudson, WI next week. Friday Alliy and I will be going to the gym (I'm still trying to coerce her into going to yoga with me) and then Saturday is miscellaneous hiking and canoeing. Sunday I've plotted out my 5 mile run around the campground, hopeful that I will see some improvement when running at lower elevations.

Friday, May 20, 2011

REI, I love you

I recently mentioned that every time I want to go and do something active in Denver, I feel like I'm constantly hauling to REI to buy some off piece of equipment that I either a.) don't have, b.) have, but was stolen from my parents and is from the 1970s, or c.) have, but can't fit into anymore.

As much fun as it was to be mocked mercilessly when I showed up in Buena Vista last year with my canvas bag of cooking equipment, red sleeping bag with paisley interior, and Coleman lantern that actually uses fuel instead of batteries (which I still think is way better), I think its time for an upgrade. I was able to buy a new sleeping back with my dividends this year and am slowing accumulating the odds and ends required to survive the great outdoors without the sneers and laughter. This mocking continued into the winter months when I attempted to ski in snowpants from the 10th grade. Calling them 'snug' would be a generous term.

This weekend, I believe the purchase will be new hiking boots. REI has their 20% members coupon deal running, so that should help. As stylish as my old hiking boots look, with Gorilla Glue seeping out the edges to keep the soles on (for last weekend's hike, I had superglued the sole back on, but with limited success). I also have a bike pump and speedometer to return and replace (oh how I love you, REI co-op and return policy) as well as some things I bought last week are now on sale so I'm going to go plead my case to refund me the difference.

Thankfully last night I did not need to purchase any new gear for climbing at the local rock gym up in Thorton. It was awesome. My fingers don't have nearly the strength they used to, my hands are missing the necessary calluses, and my feet need to get re-accustomed to the feel of climbing shoes, but those are all things I can do for free. Also thankfully, I passed the belay test and the knots, movements, and ropes all came back to me instantly. The routes in this gym are also a bit easier than the ones they would set back in Alexandria, so I easily finished a 5.8 and am eager to get back some climbing muscles.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.) I PASSED! phew.

2.) I found out my building gets free digital cable, all I had to do was pick up the box for it which I did after my test. I feel my "oh I don't watch that much TV" days may be numbered.

3.) People have mentioned that I should celebrate with a drink or by going out or doing lots of fun things but honestly, I just want a glass of wine, my netflix and comfy pants. Is that a sign of maturity or old age? :) Thankfully the grey Denver weather (which is extremely unusual) should continue through Saturday, so I plan on watching movies, cleaning up my apartment, going to REI, and moving my winter stuff to my storage unit and my summer stuff to my spare room. Also laying out things I need to pack for MN next week. I'm excited for all of these things and not quite sure what that says about me. I might sneak in a bike ride and then I've got my long run planned for Sunday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stress City: Population 1

My AICP test has officially invaded every aspect of my waking (and sleeping) hours. I have had several dreams/nightmares about the test and wake up almost every morning grinding my teeth. I am so ready for it to be over that I almost want to call the test center and see if there is an open appointment earlier than Thursday. Almost.

But other than being stressed, I am feeling more prepared. I nixed camping Friday in favor of staying late at work and studying. After studying, I retook a previous practice test and nailed a 91%. If only I could take the test, then see what I got wrong, and retake it. I'd kill it.

I took a study break Saturday morning for a short hike and then studied some more. Sunday I was feeling burnt out and decided to take the day off. In preparation, however, I drove down to the testing site in Greenwood Village and I'm glad I did. I filled up my gas tank so I won't have to on Thursday, plotted the location of the Starbucks along the way, and found out where the building was in a sea of office complexes (Joel Garreau would call the location an 'Edge City', according to my studying).

The neatest thing I learned from studying was that one of the professors at VT is a question on the test! So that one will be easy to remember.

In other news, I've completed my first full week of half marathon training. I lost a lot of the lung fitness I had gained back in March, but its coming back quickly. I ran 3 miles on Tuesday and Thursday and dropped 3 minutes off my time between the two runs. Yesterday I felt like crap but schlepted myself onto the treadmill for 4 miles. I've taken Hal Higdon's Novice training plan and incorporated biking, boxing, and yoga into it. Saturday is slated as a 'crosstrain' day and I'm leaving it open for either hiking, biking, or climbing. Towards the last month of my training plan I'll be adding swimming into the mix as I prep to do the swim leg in a Berger Relay team for a local triathlon.

I'm also, slowly but surely, working on improving my nutrition. I didn't have a single drink this weekend (yay!) and only bought a meal once - dinner with some girlfriends Saturday night. I'm working on 'rewarding' myself with physical activities instead of celebrating with alcohol or crappy food. Thursday night, my first non-study Thursday in almost 2 months, I've made plans with my friend Morgan to hit the indoor climbing gym nearby. I figure, pass or fail, I'll have that to look forward to. I can either celebrate with an activity I love or work out my frustrations on the rock.

Friday, May 13, 2011

AICP Burnout

Apparently Blogger didn't care for my Three Things Thursday (or anyone else's Thursday blog) and unceremoniously deleted it. Oh well.

This morning I woke up bright and early for a bike ride. It was supposed to be longer but ended up only being 8 miles, which was fine by me. My legs warmed up just enough to get rid of some the soreness from running. I had intentions of going to yoga today at lunch, but a rescheduled conference call put the stop to that.

I was originally going camping tonight with a short hike tomorrow, but my pending AICP test has me completely stressed and I bailed on camping in favor of studying. I'll still go on a short hike tomorrow am to free my brain from constant case law, zoning ordinance, and whatever the heck a plat is. Oh and the location of the Hoover dam (on the border of Arizona and Nevada, in case you were wondering. What that has to do with planning, I have no idea).

Once this test is in my rearview, I'll be a much happier person. I have a constant feeling of dread over taking it, but I've only got a week left. I can survive a week.

Even more excitingly, in two weeks I'll be arriving in MN for Memorial Day camping! I haven't seen Al since Christmas and haven't been out to visit her in almost two years, so it should be a good time. I plan on relaxing, with no cares in the world. In the immortal words of Matt Stewart "If the test goes well, you should consider drinking. If the test goes poorly, you should consider drinking." A cold beer and a campfire sound like just the ticket.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.) My apprehension over taking the AICP has officially invaded my dreams. Last night I dreamt I was on a bus to a study session, but then they switched and instead of studying, we had to take the test. I woke up very confused about time and worried that I had to take the test today, not next week.

2.) Sometimes people surprise you. I called Delta today to purchase a ticket to Philly in June, but wanted to use money from a canceled ticket. I was expecting to get $90 towards the new flight, since airlines kill you with transfer fees. Instead, without me even asking, she waived the transfer fee so now I get to fly home for $2.60. I'll be flying in for Mama B's retirement shindig as she is released from NPHS forever!!! I was able to buy a one-way ticket to Philly, since I'll be traveling to Everglades the following week for work. Work will pay for my ticket to Miami then back to Denver. A co-worker and I will be staying an extra day or so in Florida to snorkle and kayak before heading back. My job doesn't suck.

3.) This weekend I'll be trying out my new sleeping bag for the first time. A friend and I will be doing a quick car camping trip Friday night followed by a short hike Saturday AM. She took her AICP last year, so I'll be bringing my flashcards to entertain us around the campfire.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Weekend Goodness

My weekends have calmed down substantially, with less weekends away and better food/drink choices. This weekend continued that trend and while nothing I had planned to do actually happened, it was still a great weekend.

On the agenda, I had the Rockies game Friday, Roller Derby Saturday and then the Pirates exhibit on Sunday. The Rockies game was a bust after the $4 Rockpile tickets sold out, but I got to eat wings and watch the NFL Draft, so I was still a happy kid. Then we all went dancing at a local bar til 2 am, which I'm counting as exercise in addition to the 2 miles I ran during lunch.

Saturday my friend Morgan woke me up with a phone call (albeit it was 10:30) and we headed out for brunch and studying/working in the super-cute Highlands section of Denver. Then we watched back to back to back chick flicks on my couch, both recuperating from the evening of dancing (we're old!). Sunday I knocked productivity out of the park - doing all my laundry, running 4 miles, lifting, and then watching a friend bottle his latest batch of home brew.

There were about 9 of us over for the home brew (I think we were more in the way than any kind of actual help), but plans were set for an early morning 30 mile bike ride to the Cherry Creek Reservoir and back. A solid group (the 'non-pansies') went this am, but a larger group, including myself, will go on Wednesday AM when it will be a tad bit warmer. I'm excited, as this route to and from the reservoir was one I kept meaning to do last summer but never really got around to.

I met a lot of great new people this weekend and I am happy they are an active bunch. Even more exciting, they are climbers! Morgan climbs every Thursday at an indoor gym in Boulder, but they also like to do one day overnights to camp and climb outdoors. I'm still accruing all of the random gear I've needed since moving to Denver - its seems like every time I want to do something, I need to acquire the gear for it (although I entertained my coworkers with my snowpants from 10th grade). While its been a bit expensive, my REI dividends have never been so high!