Tuesday, January 31, 2012

East Coastin' It

Since moving to Denver, I have realized how timezone-centric those crazy East Coasters are. I'm not without fault, I, too, believed that EST was the center of the world, or at least of the U.S. The markets open and close on the New York City time, much to the chagrin of a buddy of mine who drives to Boulder every morning at 5:30, and those on the East Coast constantly forget the time difference for us west of the Mississippi.

So that's how I found myself riding to work this morning at 5:50, getting to work in time to settle in for a 6:30 am conference call. For most of last year, I had bi-weekly status calls for a project at C&O Canal that also started at 6:30, so I'm not unfamiliar with this hour of the day. My favorite part of the ride, and why I start it at just about 6 am, is that at 6 am, Logan Street goes from one lane with parking on both sides up to two lanes, removing a row of parking. Every morning an army of tow trucks go up the street, stopping to haul away any poor, unsuspecting vehicles that have overstayed their welcome.

I don't know why, but I thoroughly enjoy watching this. Denver isn't quite as quiet as DC was this early; I really used to enjoy being out and about by myself in the stillness of the city. Since Denverites are active no matter what time of day it is, I have to settle for delighting in the misfortune of others. How very unColorado of me.

I guess I enjoy watching the tow trucks because I'm a rule follower. I don't like breaking them and I get all "that's not fair" when people break rules and get away with it (life? fair? ha!!) while I meticulously read posted signs and the fine print and instructions. That's not to say I won't break rules or ignore signs - like the time Morgan and I played Russian Roulette at a parking meter in LoDo, hoping that since the meter reader had just been by, we wouldn't get a ticket. (We did - a $50 one).

I guess I just feel that following the rules shows a respect for others. And mostly, Coloradans are a state full of super nice rule followers. They are even so nice that they let in the jerk in the expensive car who drives down the shoulder of a backed up highway. But apparently I am the unfeeling East Coaster in their midst, who delights in watching cars get towed and will be all up on the bumper of the car in front just so that no cars can cut back in.

Some East Coast habits are just hard to shake.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) I'm trying to resist the urge to go skiing this weekend. This was supposed to be my "no ski" weekend full of sleep and house cleaning and running and swimming, but now a friend is going up to A-Basin on Saturday and I really wanna go. Given that I've had a crazy work week and will be done by noon on Friday, I may give into temptation.

2.) Today would have been a perfect day to ride to work, but I am scared to try clipped in shoes on Colfax, certain I'll tip over into a bus and die. Someday this weekend I am going to just ride around in circles in my back parking lot and practice clipping in and out on a moving bike. It was all well and good while I was on the trainer, but trying it while moving is filling me with dread.

3.) I'm really, really liking not drinking so much that I may carry it through until my half marathon. The no-beer idea goes all the way until then, but really, its just easier to not drink at all. Between not eating out and not drinking, I'm saving a ridiculous amount of money. Which is good, because buying a new bike and new car all within one year is also extremely terrifying to me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I officially own a bike worth more than my car.

And I'm officially a two bike family.

Over/under on how long it takes to break my face. Clip pedals are terrifying.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And the Oscar goes to....

Well, the Oscar nominations came out and, boy, was I disappointed. There were the movies we all knew would be big with the Oscar crowd - The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, but I thought there were a good amount that were missing in action.

For one, Tilda Swinton was shut out of the acting categories, as was her movie "We need to talk about Kevin." Also shut out? Ryan Gosling, who had not one by two critically acclaimed performances this year in "Drive" and "Ides of March" and Michaal Fassbender in "Shame." I'm never quite clear what's lead versus supporting, technically speaking, but either one of those could have replaced Brad Pitt's lead actor nom in Moneyball. I watched Moneyball this weekend and while it was good, I wasn't blown away or really drawn into the emotion of the storyline, like I was for The Descendants. I don't think it deserves a best picture nom either, but do agree that Jonah Hill deserves his nod for supporting in the film. Like a lot of other comedians (Will Ferrell/Jim Carrey), I like him much more in calmer roles with a quieter humor.

The ladies of The Help cleaned up with 3 nominations in 2 categories. Although the movie I'm dying to see, Albert Nobbs, scored a nomination for Glenn Close. Her peak acting days were when I was far too young to see her movies (Fatal Attraction came out when I was 3), so I have no basis for previous performances, unlike powerhouse Meryl Streep who is managing to out-do even herself. Rounding out the best actress category are Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams, but I think its clear the race is between Close and Streep.

For best supporting, I think Octavia Spencer is the favorite (however, can't fully judge until I see Albert Nobbs, for which Janet McTeer is nominated), but was very happy to see Melissa McCarthy, cousin to Jenny, get a nomination for Bridesmaids. A raunchy, female-led movie doesn't often get the critical acclaim that Bridesmaids has received and I glad to see the recognition continue.

I was surprised that only 2 songs were nominated for Best Original Song, none of which were nominated in the Golden Globes. There were some big names attached to some of the original songs this year, including Elton John, Madonna, and Mary J. Blige. Even Glenn Close wrote the lyrics for Albert Nobbs' original song. But none of these were nominated, instead the academy stuck to 2 songs from animated features, The Muppets and Rio.

Since such a small range of films got acting nods, leaving off 50/50, We need to talk about Kevin, Drive, Ides of March, Shame, J.Edgar, A Dangerous Method, and Pariah, my to-see list before the Oscars has been trimmed substantially. While I really liked The Descendants, I didn't think it required much stretch of the imagination for George Clooney to play that role. He's a great actor and will make great films. Overall, I don't think the quality of films were included this year, like they were last year. Last year brought us The Fighter, Winter's Bone, Black Swan, and the King's Speech - all just incredibly well made and well acted films. Other than The Artist, I guess I am just left with the feeling that this year's choices just aren't as great.

Either way, I will still plow through the list of movies I want to see. And, hands down, I'm more excited for the Oscars show this year than I am for the dinky Giants/Pats Superbowl, which is ridiculously underwhelming.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Boom, Boom, Pow

I hate when the people here call powder 'Pow Pow'. I don’t know why, it just bugs me. That being said, I’d never really skied in it. Being from the east coast, what I called powder, they called a standard day on the groomed runs. This weekend, I got my first crack at real ‘pow’. And boy, did I suck at it.

Our first run, a black diamond which was a poor choice for a warm up, already had several inches of snow on it, which I found difficult to maneuver in. By the end of the day, I had it down, but moguls on your first go, well, I’ll never do that again. My thighs were burning by the time I got down to the bottom, even at my snail pace. After a few more runs, I was warming up and getting more comfortable. Then we went up the T-bar.

I’ve ridden T-bars before, but not one up the ridge of a blustery mountain (winds were reaching 50-60 mile gusts with whiteout conditions at times). It also didn’t help that the message boards while waiting in line for the lift kept saying “Expert Terrain Only!” with double black diamonds. I thought, uh guys are you sure about this? They are much better than me, of course, but I figured, hey, what’s the worst that can happen? (Broken legs, arms, and necks, in case you were wondering).

The T-bar took some getting used to, but I was finally getting the hang of it. At some points, I was too short and my skis lifted up off the ground, which was a bit disconcerting, but my buddy Josh kept pushing down on my shoulder to try to keep me on the bar. I should also mention that balance isn’t my really a strength of mine. When we could finally see the top of the lift, I promptly got my skis crosses, fell, and took Josh down with me. All I could do was giggle and do my best to roll out of the way of the next rider. Thankfully, 3 people behind us had already fallen off too, so I had plenty of time to shuffle over. As people rode past me (still laying on the ground, giggling), no one laughed at me – they just gave me knowing smiles. Apparently falling off of T-Bar is a right of passage.

But then I actually had to ski down. I’ve heard of snow so deep your skis just disappear in it, but I’ve never seen it. Not only did my skis disappear, but the better part of my legs did as well. It was insane. I got about four feet before promptly face planting again, giggling again (what can I say, the peak of Breck is pretty high up. Perhaps I was delirious!). I slowly got the hang of it and made my way down, but it was definitely a new experience! At least whenever you fall, its pretty much like falling into a pillow!

The rest of the day was spent safely away from double black diamonds. Towards the end of the afternoon, I got split up from my group and actually really enjoyed just skiing blues at my own pace. I’ve been working on my form (the hardest part lately is remembering to actually use my poles!) and I enjoyed not worrying about how fast I was going, just going back and forth on moguls and resting when I wanted to.

So I'm calling the day a success. And I'm eager to head to Vail in two weeks and ski three days in a row! And then schedule a massage for that Monday...

Snowbeards are all the rage.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) I always knew my road bike was crap. It is low end. As in, the lowest end you can get. But, at the time I was living in oh-so-expensive DC, was signed up for my first Tri, and was switching from years-old hybrid to a road bike: anything would have been lighter than that sucker. I hated biking it up the hills of Rosslyn and Courthouse and was delighted to get a good deal and put a reasonable amount of money into the new road bike. I mean, at that point I didn't even have a credit card! I was living within my means (what a crazy concept!) and it was all I could afford.

Last night I went bike shopping. I'd been doing a little bit of research, trying to understand the different components, but was still pretty confused so I was just hoping to get an intro lesson from someone at the bike shop and then text back the info to all my bike-knowing friends.

The first shop was a bit unimpressive. I didn't realize this, of course, until I went to the second shop but that is besides the point. By the end of the night, I had about 4 bikes in my mind, ranging from $1600 - $1850, which was happily in my budget. Soon, I will own a bike that is worth more than my car. And, if you're choking on your coffee reading how expensive these bikes are, just know, these are the CHEAP, 'entry-level' bikes. Ouch.

On Saturday I will go back and test ride them all, figuring out which one suits me best. Its a lot of information to take in all at once, so I'm feeding all the information I'm learning back to the people who know what it means, getting their feedback, then will figure out which fits best!

2.) Since I was already down south on I-25 near one of the Landmark Theaters, I stopped over to a movie once I was done picking the brains of all the bike experts. I went to see Carnage and I loved it! Allison posted a review of it earlier this week that was pretty darn accurate. Overall, I'm glad I went to see it and the actors were all great, but I'm not sure it would nab a best picture nom, even as one of the extra five they've started giving out. Tonight I'm hoping to finally see My Week with Marilyn, followed tomorrow night by Moneyball, which I've gotten in the mail from my newly res-signed Netflix account. Little does Netflix know, I'm planning on ditching them again just as soon as the awards season is over.

3.) The mountains are FINALLY getting snow. Finally. Sunday is looking like a great powder day, with upwards to a foot of snow falling on Saturday into Sunday morning. After a bit of bartering and negotiating, my buddy Kyle and I will be heading up bright and early to get some fresh powder (I have negotiated for a Starbucks stop - for both his safety and mine). It will be one of my first powder days since moving and already my 5th day up on the slopes, already surpassing the number of days I made it up last year. My goal is double digit days.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Over the last two weeks, you may have noticed the changes I've been making to this blog. First and foremost, I've actually been posting! Amazing what a normal work schedule will allow. I was then inspired to change my format once I designed my Dad's blog for him (seriously, have you read it yet?) I found out all the cool things blogger could do, so I futzed around a bit and created my new design.

I also had changed up my subheader. When I started this blog nearly two years ago (!!), I was documenting my big, scary, life changing move out west. Somehow, typing out my progress and decisions helped make the move to Denver somewhat less terrifying. Then the blog charted my progress into making friends, finishing up my grad degree and getting my AICP. Check, Check, and Check. So last week I changed the header to simply "Adventures in Denver"

But I was no longer Movin' on Up. I had moved. And was already up. 5,280 feet up, to be exact. It bothered me a little, that this blog no longer really had a focus or one defined topic or issue. It was basically just a way to keep friends and family in touch with all my goings-on in Colorado.

So today, as I was stalking my own Facebook profile to see how embarrassing my well out-dated "About Me" was, I remembered my favorite quote. I've blogged on in before, on one morning that just made me especially grateful for where I was in life. "Thank you, God, for this good life, and forgive us if we do not love it enough" - Garrison Keillor

Well, there can't be a much better theme than that. I try to be appreciative and grateful for everything that life has to offer, not just the big things or events. Its easy to get grumpy and lose sight of how fortunate we all are and this title will be a constant reminder to me to keep perspective. A family friend, Mrs. McClure, also inspires me to do daily - her Facebook statuses are always so full of joy and gratitude. On Saturday I read one aloud to my friends - it recapped her day, from a morning breakfast with friends, to hiding in the bushes with her camera (to capture birdies, not neighbors, of course), to the exciting end to the 49ers/Saints game. They always make me smile and remember to find joy in every day.

So thats the complete re-tool. Thanks, gratitude and trying to love life more than enough to make God proud.

Weekend Recap

My weekend was pretty awesome. After I left work on Friday, I ran into Orange Darth Vader, stumping for the Broncos/Tim Tebow. The city was full of excitement and were even pretty darn cheery after the Patriots manhandled them.

Then I went to the Pro-Rodeo at the National Western Stock Show. It was something else. And I learned that in order to make the bulls and broncos buck, they tie their balls down. I dare say I'd buck, too.

I went to bed early and was up with the sun (begrudgingly) Saturday morning. I skied at Keystone with a couple of friends and it was a beautiful day on the slopes. We couldn't figure out why it was so crowded, then remembered it was MLK weekend. I've been working on my form a lot this year and felt much more in control at higher speeds. While the snow was much better than in December, I still fell victim to an icy patch and ate it pretty hard on a black diamond. I'm not quite sure how I landed, but I slid about 40 feet, lost a ski, and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack Truck on Sunday am. But I kept skiing Saturday and felt pretty good.

Courtesy of my wonderful fall, my knee was all sorts of angry with me on Sunday, so I skipped my planned run and took a rest day instead. I iced, ibu'd and watched football and the Golden Globes and it was delightful.

It was a wonderful weekend and, once again, I was sad to have Sunday night sneak up on me so quickly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Movie Review Friday

Last night, after an accidental two hour nap on my couch, I met up with the Denver Cinema Club at Chez Artiste to watch The Artist. Having never seen a silent film, I was excited but also a bit worried that I might not pick up everything the movie was trying to convey.

Those worries were unfounded. The film made excellent use of emotions, sound, and color to bring the audience into their storyline. There was one part of the movie I really enjoyed, but I won't provide any spoilers here. While I thought it was a French film, I was mistaken; it is Belgian. The movie follows a few years of the life of George Valentin, a wildly popular silent movie star, as movies begin their transition from silent to 'talkies'. The take home message could be applied to anything, especially in our current climate of rapidly changing technology: if you aren't able to adapt, you can quickly become obsolete.

The discussion after the movie was one of my favorite parts, though. One gentleman was a connoisseur of silent films and said the movie took a lot of shots and lines from many famous films of that era, which he enjoyed. The group went out for a longer discussion at a local restaurant, but it was 9:30 and I was tired. The youngest member in the group, I clearly had the earliest bedtime. I was disappointed, though, that no one else in the group has seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy yet.

Yesterday I also got my latest weekly email on the new movies at the local Landmark theaters. I have been checking off the list of movies I want to see, one by one, but now two more have opened nearby: Carnage and The Iron Lady. I have heard that while Meryl Streep does an incredible job (duh) the rest of the movie is somewhat disappointing, so that film may drop to the bottom of my list.

What Oscar-worthy films are on your list?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) Tonight I'm going to see The Artist. I've never seen a silent film before and certainly not one in a theater. Its showing at the same theater I went to last weekend, which I was underwhelmed by. The parking was terrible and I have to take I-25 to get there, but I'm excited to be meeting up with the new movie-going group I joined and have someone to discuss it with after. (Seriously - has anyone else seen Tinker yet?? We need to talk).

2.) The National Western Stock Show is in town and I'm finally going this year. Last year I watched the opening parade as it went by my office building, but never made it to the actual event. I'll be attending the Pro-Rodeo Friday night, featuring the Pikes Peak Rangerettes! Whatever that means.

3.) Last night I tried my hand at turkey burgers from scratch. I didn't follow a recipe, which I tend not to do, and just threw some spices, an egg, and some bread crumbs into a bowl with the ground turkey. I think the burgers themselves were ok, but I topped it with a new "simply heinz" ketchup that has no high fructose corn syrup. It was pretty gross. Super sweet, kind of like the ketchup in Australia. I cooked up another burger to bring for lunch today, so I'll investigate and make sure it wasn't something in the burger. I'm a little bummed that ketchup was so nasty. I'm going to take the rest of the turkey, make up some meatballs, and make enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. I'm actually getting pretty good at the whole leftovers concept!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Always make sure the popcorn back is sealed tight before putting it away. Otherwise your entire kitchen will look like this and you will have to vacuum the insides of your stove.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Social Butterfly

Last night in an effort to further expand my social horizons (and have someone to go to the movies with) I joined both a book club and a movie club.

I used MeetUp, the same site I had used to find people to run with when I first moved to Denver. essentially, you log in, search for whatever activity you want, and voila, a vast assortment of choices. I quickly found a film club that goes to the movies every other Thursday and polls what movie the group would like to see. This weeks choice had all four movies that I wanted to see, minus Tinker Tailor, which I saw this past weekend. After the movie, the group goes for dinner and discusses it - wonderful! My nerdy tendencies were digging it.

The book group I'm a little less enthusiastic about, especially since I just realized I will have to miss their first meeting. I have never been a part of a book group before, mostly because I'm somewhat picky with what I like to read and fiction has never been a sell for me. Take last night, for instance, I have book ADD and very nearly started reading my new biography on Mary, Queen of Scots instead of finishing In Cold Blood (I'm starting to think perhaps I should throw a cheerier book into rotation, as well). I just bought this month's read: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stenger, but may just return it seeing as I won't be able to go to the meet up anyhow. Have any of you guys read it? Is it worth keeping around?

What was more disturbing, however, was what I discovered when I went to Barnes and Noble at lunch today. Within the fiction section, there is a whole row - multiple shelves and bookcases - filed under the category "Teen Paranormal Romance." Seriously? I get it. Sparkling vampires in the shape of Robert Pattinson fueled a bit of a craze - but was that enough to create a whole new genre?

As I rode the escalator down to make my purchase, shaking my head and thinking "kids these days" I suddenly realized: I can't judge. Not only do I own all four books in the Twilight series (not one of my finer choices) but I also own, on DVD, the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And really, wasn't Buffy the original Bella? Except with brains, strength, and substantially less complaining, of course.

So maybe I'll keep the Stenger book anyhow, lest people judge me for the "teen paranormal romance" books sitting on my bookshelves at home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weekend Recap

Most of my weekend was spent horizontal, snuggled in my flannel sheets. I slept until 11 both days, which is pretty unheard of.

Given the amount of sleep I got, I was happy with the amount I accomplished. Saturday morning I jumped into my ill-fitting swim suit and headed to the pool. Given that I am not a long-distance swimmer, I wanted to get a baseline for where I was at on the 1.2 mile swim. I was delighted to feel really good in the water.

1.2 miles is 2,112 yards. I figured I'd round up to 2,200, or 88 laps of the pool. Most of my swimming workouts in recent years have been between 1500 to 2000 yards, mostly because I get bored and stop. I jumped in and got right to it, not bothering to start with my usual 900 yard warm up. The most difficult part was keeping track of my laps. I have a tendency to let my mind wander and then forget how far I've gone. At the halfway point, I saw 18 minutes on my watch and knew I could finish under 40. With the last 1000, I started counting backward and increased my pace. I happily finished at around 37 minutes, so my official 1.2 mile time would have been around 35/36 minutes. Not too shabby for a baseline!

The swim really energized me and I felt great for the rest of the day. The best I've felt all year 0 all 7 days of it. As the snow began to fall, I headed out to the movies to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - a movie I desperately need someone else to see so that I can discuss it with them. By the time I got out of the theater 2 hours later, all of Denver was blanketed with snow, including the Echo. I had been planning to see another movie that night, but happily made dinner and snuggled under my covers and went to bed early.

Sunday morning I woke at 6:30 to go cook breakfast for the kiddies at the Ronald McDonald House. However, I was still sick and opted to crawl back under my covers and promptly slept for 5 mores hours. I woke up with a pretty serious headache that stayed with me all day, but slugged out my 4 mile run. I then headed to a local bar, nalgene in hand, and watched Tebow defeat the Steelers. It was pretty incredible to watch that game in a crowded bar full on Broncos fans. I wasn't all that jazzed up over the game, but at the end, I was on the edge of my seat, nervous like all of the other faithful followers. The bar erupted during overtime and I was screaming and jumping as if it were the Eagles (if only it had been!).

Afterward, I met a friend for a quick dinner. I hadn't eaten at the bar and had stuck to water. We hit up the grocery store and I was back in bed by 9 - a mere ten hours after I had woken up. All in all, it was a relaxing and fun-filled weekend and I'm hoping a low key week will kick this bug for good!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mission: Success

Last night I went to the DU hockey game. In what turned out to be quite the exciting third period, they lost to the Chargers from Alabama-Huntsville - a noticeably smaller (in stature) team that had been winless yet this season.

But more importantly, I did not drink beer. When we showed up, for whatever reason I was cranky. Tired, still not feeling well, and just plain old ornery. I want a frosty beer. I pouted in my seat for a bit and texted Lauren about wanting a beer. She, being the good friend she is, tried her best to dissuade me from having one. I think mostly it was my pride that stopped me. Who makes wide-sweeping claims about not drinking beer and then gives up in the first week? Not this gal, thats for darn sure.

And you know what? After about an hour, it wasn't even hard to resist. Those suckers were 7 bucks and I was saving money! After the game we all went out to the local bar and resisting wasn't even a challenge. One friend gave me a little bit of a hard time and tried to coax me into a mixed drink, but honestly I was looking forward to waking up feeling refreshed the next day. Which I did, mostly, when I finally awoke at 11am this morning. I guess my body really was worn out!

I've never been one for having a great amount of willpower. I like pizza and beer and my body reflects that. But I really like the feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small the feat, that I feel this morning. So now I'm off to the pool and then to the movies, taking my pride along with me.

Happy Saturday!

And seriously, read my dad's blog.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Facts

1.) Tonight I'm going to the DU Hockey game. I've gone to two other games and still don't really understand why sometimes just one dude hangs out by himself with the puck behind the net.

2.) I'm still bitter the Jets didn't beat the Giants. Eagles could have been staring down a post season game.

3.) I buy new purses occasionally but usually revert back to an old, dumpy one I got from American Eagle at least a decade ago.

4.) The stock show is in town. Longhorn cattle roamed the streets of Denver yesterday.

5.) I'm really enjoying not drinking beer during training. Its the most hydrated I've been in months.

6.) Miles (the Denver Broncos Mascot) is marching down 16th with a crew of marching band drummers handing out towels. It will be the Broncos first postseason game in 6 or 7 seasons. Timmy Tebow is going to be creamed by Big Ben.

7.) My Dad has started a food blog. You should read it.

8.) I own one pair of jeans. I wear them until they get holes in them and then buy a new pair of the exact same kind. I've done this for 6 years.

9.) When I wear high heels, I can't feel my smallest toes for the next day or two.

10.) I haven't turned on the heat in my apartment yet.

11.) I have a serious problem with buying pj pants. Not just my annual christmas jammies, but all pj bottoms. I have a whole drawer full and its overflowing.

12.) I have a really hard time coming up with these things. Sometimes I wait until Katie has posted hers, then steal some (ie: See #3).

13.) I don't have much patience. It's something I need to work on.

14.) I am putting off taking down my Christmas decorations because that means I have to wait a whole 11 more months to put them back up again. But part of my OCD brain wants them down so the apartment is in order again.

15.) I used to bite my nails constantly. One day I just stopped. I still don't know why.

16.) Sometimes I have trouble really relaxing because my brain is always planning the next thing I have to do.

17.) Oscar season is upon us! Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is on my list for tomorrow.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) No Excuses. That is the theme of the new season of Biggest Loser, which started Tuesday. I'm not an avid BL watcher (although I may be changing my tune - Hellooooo Dolvett!), but when I'm home and its on, I don't mind it. While I didn't care for them showing people throwing up in buckets during their first workout, I really liked the mantra of the season: No excuses. No, I'm too tired, or I'm never home, or I'm always on travel.

I'm putting this mantra into practice today. I'm sick again (or still. And yes, mom, I've been washing my hands) and all I want are my covers and jammies. But my training plan says three miles are my destiny. Do I want to work out? Heck no! But, no excuses. So instead of doing an internal workout like I had planned, I'm just going to crank up the incline on the treadmill and walk/run for three miles. It's not the best, but its something.

2.) Today I finally sucked it up and started writing a section for a project that I'd be majorly dreading/putting off. It was complicated and big and one giant headache and I had been avoiding it like the plague. After bumbling along, I finally got into a rhythm and really started plowing through it. It's 90% done and I'll come in with fresh eyes tomorrow and polish it off. I am no longer filled with dread and even started to feel better, knowing the weight was lifted. Amazing how much taking something off your plate can make you feel better!

3.) I rejoined MFD, the site my sister and I both use for calorie counting. I'm not a huge fan of calorie counting (as evidenced by my expanding waistline), but I have found it very informative in the past for tracking nutrition, namely protein and vitamins. It does, however, make me think twice before eating something I don't need and shouldn't be consuming, so I guess thats a good thing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I love Denver graffiti.

"I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Adventures in the Kitchen

For Christmas I had asked for new pots to replace my woebegone-$7.99 for three-set from Ikea bought several years ago. I was delighted to receive a full set of new pots, pans, and lids which arrived on my doorstop yesterday morning.

So shiny and new!

I cooked up my usual egg white breakfast in the smallest pan and couldn't believe the difference it made. My pans were actually more recently bought, and not Ikea-made, but I still needed to empty about half a can of Pam onto it to cook my eggs normally. I sprayed the new pan and, while flipping the eggs around, just about threw them across the kitchen because the non-stick coating worked so well!

After cooking breakfast, I happily emptied my stock of pots and lids (non-matching lids, I might add, from my original set my junior year in college) and put them in the cardboard wasteland that was beginning to pile up in my entryway.

After retreating back to my bed for a few more movies and napping, I planned a menu for the week, created a grocery list, and headed out to the store. It was a madhouse. Apparently everyone else was using their day off to catch up on their to-do list as well. There were a few items already sold out, but mostly I'm set for a week of healthy eating (minus those Poptarts that just jumped in my cart when I wasn't looking!).

For dinner I attempted to recreate the absolutely delicious pork chops (yes, pork chops) that my dad made last week while I was home. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the other white meat, but my dad's meal was so incredibly good I even went back for seconds.

He sent me the recipe and, while my concoction turned out ok, it was not the bouquet of flavors that he had created. I think my main problem was that I didn't measure things out and forgot to halve the recipe for some of the steps. Whoops! I also didn't use real paprika, but instead a blend that included paprika, which I think may have made the major difference.

I forgot to take pictures during prep and before I started eating

Given the lack of proper nutrition in my diet, I had also picked up "Veggie Pasta" at Safeway and a new kind of red sauce to add to the meal. They were both terrible. The sauce was sweet and the pasta disgusting (although I brought the leftovers to try again today, sans sauce). So that part of the meal could be greatly improved. I threw in a salad for some greens (yes, I recognize it is pathetic looking) and would have had broccoli, but the store was out.

Overall, it was a decent meal that yielded leftovers for me to bring for lunch. I will try this recipe again, but pay a bit more attention to the instructions and maybe buy the real ingredients :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh hello there, 2012

I don't do resolutions. I have never found them helpful. Instead, a few years ago, I started setting goals or picking one thing each year that scared the pants off of me or just deciding to do something I'd always wanted to do.

The first year it was the Philly Sprint Triathlon, the second year I moved to Denver. Last year it was completing my first half marathon in spite of being a pretty terrible runner.

This year I'm going big. I've picked two main goals - complete my first century race (I've picked Elephant Rock, in June) and the biggie: my first half Iron Man tri. That pretty much scares the beejeebies out of me.

I like training for Tris because I have exercise ADD. I don't like to do the same thing for months on end, like I'll be doing this winter as I ready for the DC Rock N Roll half in March. Thanks to two friends back home, I've started out my training well, completing a 3 mile and 4 mile run without stopping; no small feat considering I haven't been running consistently since July. I love winter running and, while I don't like to set time goals for myself, I'd like to take ten minutes off of my SF race time. I recognize that seems a bit lofty, but my SF pace was something along the lines of 11:20 miles, which really needs work. My original goal was a 10:30 pace, so if I can hit that, I'll be delighted.

So, as I rang in the new year with some of my oldest college friends at a lovely cabin in the Poconos, I thought about my goals for each of these races and how I would get myself to the starting line of each.

DC Half Marathon - March 17
Yep, that's St Patty's Day, folks

I'm running this race with a lot of my friends, which only makes it that much more fun. While talking about our training plans, Lauren and I made a pact: No beer from January 1 - March 16. Red wine is allowed, but no more that two glasses on any given night (I mean, c'mon, red wine is good for your heart! Can't lose that!).

Follow my training plan to the letter.
Work on pace, not just mileage, for the shorter runs.
Continue to do yoga 2-3 times a week so my calves don't freak out.
Invest in the stinkin' Garmin watch so I can get an accurate feel for my pace/distance.

Elephant Rock Century - Castle Rock, CO - June 3, 2012

For this race, I'm officially investing in a new road bike. I bought my REI-brand road bike several years ago, but it is heavy and fairly poor construction and not suitable for anything other than my 3 mile round trip commute, which it will still continue to do. For about 6 months, I've been mentally preparing to drop upwards to 2K for a new bike, shoes, pedals, and gloves. I'm hoping it will amount to much less than that, but the mental preparation is there nonetheless.

Steal Katie's 30 days of cycling in April to get my butt and legs in biking shape.
Finish. Don't die.
Maybe ride up Lookout Mountain. Maybe.

Beach to Battleship Half Iron Man - Wilmington, NC - October 20

All fall, I kind of floundered around looking for a race I'd like to do. Two weeks ago, Katie mentioned she was contemplating doing this one and I was sold. After looking it up, it was all of the pieces I was looking for - a fall race (a solid two months of not "hot as balls" training, when I'll be getting into my longer distances), ocean water, and a pretty destination. Mentally, I haven't really tackled what individual goals I may have for this race, other than really I just want to finish. In August, I'm tentatively scheduled to spend a week at the Outer Banks, so I'm planning on sticking to the training schedule and being able to get some Atlantic Ocean swimming in and may possibly do a ridiculous amount of miles on a rented beach cruiser bike. I'm sure my butt will love that.

Also, this race may be around the time of UMD Homecoming, so I'm contemplating driving to the race and then popping up the eastern seaboard (or vice versa).

I've got other assorted non-athletic goals for 2012 as well, some of which are more "stop talking about it and just do it" and other little silly ones, just for fun.

Buy a new car (front runner: the Xterra)
Aim to save $1000/month towards new car deposit (the no beer challenge will help this goal!)
See all Best Picture/Best Actor/Actress-nominated Oscar films
Finally start a Roth IRA
Pay off student loan by March. Enjoy being debt free.
Stop being cheap and starting paying for internet at home.

Those are just the few I've been throwing around in my head. They may evolve, as most goals are wont to do, but generally I am happy with them. I also, like every other American, want, and need, to lose weight, but I don't like to set a number or a specific goal. In order to finish my races, my exercise will ramp up and in order to be able to complete solid workouts, I will need to eat better and drink less. The combination should result in a happier, healthier, more energetic Ru and the weight will be what it will be. I'm the heaviest I've ever been (presumably - I'm scared of the scale), and just really unhappy that I've let myself get to this point and I hate always being tired. I'm ready to be healthier, that readiness (and slow down in travel schedule) just happens to overlap with the coming of a new year. How cliche of me!

So here's to a happy, healthy, event-filled and goal-driven 2012!