Monday, February 27, 2012

Its Hard out here for a Pimp

Anybody watch the Oscars last night? If so, you'll understand the title.

But more importantly, I've started out my week by big pimpin'.

I am flying to El Paso today. My original flight was scheduled for 10:11 and as I waited to board, using my fancy pants early boarding Premiere status, the airline staff kept asking for a volunteer to give up their seat. I went over and asked when the next flight would be and, hearing that it wouldn't be until 5, I held off and boarded the plane. Once again, while sitting waiting to take off, the flight attendant said they were still looking for a volunteer and added that it was for an active duty military personnel, flying on orders. Already on the fence, I volunteered.

Once I got back to the gate, the wonderfully joyful woman I had talked to earlier greeted me with "Oh honey, it was you!! Thank you!" The United staff members were wonderful, not only setting me up with my $400 voucher, but also tacking on a second set of rewards - I can choose between 10,000 reward miles, $250 voucher, or 20% off a flight purchase. A whooping $650 flight dollars just for hanging out in the airport working, instead of working from El Paso. Oh, and she threw in a $15 meal voucher, too, and I'm getting paid per diem today.

But thats not why I'm big pimpin. Faced with uncomfortable airport chairs, slow internet, and constant airline announcements, I went for broke, bought an online one-time access pass, and am spending the day in the United Club area of DIA.

Boy, I don't know if I can ever go back. Its so nice up here. Comfortable chairs, free snacks (and good ones!), coffee, wine, spirits, and beer. I'm catching up on work emails while watching CNN and I haven't even explored all of what this area has to offer. I'm slowly making my way further into the depths of the Club area, going slowly so no one spots me as an outsider and sends me back down to steerage. I looked up the membership costs ($525/year - ouch!) but boy, if I had a lot of layovers (I normally don't), I can really see why it would be worth the price!

And goodness, I'm really glad I showered this morning and put on real pants!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) Last week I had an annual doctor appointment and had blood drawn to make sure all my insides are as healthy as they should be. During the visit I found out that my blood pressure is still nice and low and, just barely, I'm no longer anemic - hooray! I got the results over the phone on the rest, including my cholesterol. I came in at a whopping 199, just skidding in under the 'bad cholesterol' threshold, but for very good reason! My lipids and bad cholesterol are all happily below the right levels and my good cholesterol is off the charts into super duper territory. I'd repeat back the exact numbers but quite frankly she read them very quickly and I just generally understood the thumbs up results. I'll get the full numbers in the mail for my records, but its good to know my insides are happy!

2.) My knee really hurt on Tuesday. I couldn't straighten it all the way in bed and couldn't lift it to be level with my upper leg, so I iced it and took the day off. Yesterday I had a long day, didn't get out of work til 7 and again took a rest day. Today my knee feels better than it has all year, since my graceful fall/slip down the slopes at Keystone. I think I'm going to take off tonight as well, let everything really get back to a happy place, then bang out an awesome 10k race pace run this weekend.

3.) Tomorrow I'm headed to Steamboat! Yay! Another weekend full of skiing, snowshoeing, and running, with a little bit of Euchre in there. I've never played it, but I'm going to a Cold Butt Euchre tournament on Saturday - who wants to be my partner?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hooray for Ouray!

On my drive back to Denver after a long weekend away, I was once again struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life. Even our six hour trek (nearly 7.5 on the way there, at night) was fun, packed into a pick up truck full to the brim with 5 people and gear. We took the 'scenic' route of 285 instead of I-70, although really, any drive in western Colorado is a scenic one.

We were coming back from a weekend birthday celebration in Ouray. Eleven of us trekked to the southwestern corner of the state from Denver, Ft Collins and Steamboat to celebrate the 29th birthday of our friend Jess VanderKwaak. For her birthday, she wanted to go ice climbing, for which Ouray is internationally known. Our pick up truck full of 5 people arrived at 12:30 Friday night and we were up with the sun (some of us begrudgingly) on Saturday am.

Our early rise was somewhat thwarted when the rental shop didn't open til 9, so Jess and Morgan made good use of our extra time by doing an impromptu photo shoot in the street.

But then we got our gear and headed to Box Canyon. We first stopped to put on our helmets and crampons, so we could hike about a mile to our site.

I really hope I don't tear my ski pants!

After a short walk down the canyon, holding onto a guide rope, we were ready to climb!

We couldn't have asked for better weather and soon we were all up on the ice. The first climb was pretty easy, starting out with a 45 degree angle before becoming vertical.

The third climb was a bit more vertical:
And here's Katie, also a birthday girl, on our last climb of the day, a solid 180 foot climb!

Since I didn't want to walk out the way we had walked into the canyon, I topped out on this last climb, with shaking calves and tired arms.

Still full of smiles!

The next day we were back at the rental place, picking up cross country skis.

All the cool kids accidentally own the same socks

After some debate, we headed 25 miles up and over a pass to the town of Silverton. Coincidentally, Silverton was having their annual Skijoring competition. Essentially, skijoring is a sport where skiers are pulled by either dogs or horses, kind of like a winter rodeo. They hold on for dear life and go over jumps and around object, collecting rings along the way. The goal is to have the fastest time and not die in the process.

We watched a few riders and then headed out on our skis.

The trick to mastering cross-country skiing is to not fall down.

After skiing a bit in Silverton, we packed up into our cars again and headed back towards Ouray, stopping in Ironton for a bit more skiing. Ironton is a ghost town that used to be a staging area for Ouray, but has since gone the way of all flesh, save but a few buildings.

Morgan and Susie hanging out in an old Ironton building.

After another night at home, making a group dinner and playing games, we slept in til 8 on Sunday, had a delightful breakfast, and began our six hour drive home. Before heading out of town, we stopped at Moose Tracks, the local chocolate store, and indulged in a few sweet treats. While I didn't buy any, my favorite were the chocolate ice climbers - talk about knowing your audience!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) Its been a slow work week, which never means good things for me. Mostly, it means I have trouble motivating to complete the work I do have - I am much better under deadlines and pressure. Yesterday, although slow, was particularly challenging one that stressed me out and really had me frustrated. In dealing with a difficult situation, though, I am proud of the way I handled it and this morning, as the situation continued to unfold, both my boss and VP of my division supported the decisions I made and my initial reaction was correct. I am also more than happy that they are both now involved in the situation and it is no longer in my hands to deal with.

But, as a direct result of my workday, I decided I needed a mental and physical break. Instead of doing my planned workout, I left work somewhat early, got a bottle of wine and a 'modified' version of my favorite 'what a bad day' meal. Anyone who knows me, knows this means bread and brie!! I haven't had any in ages and, in the spirit of moderation, I got a demi-loaf and a small sliver of brie. I snuggled into my comfy pants and watched the first season of Sex and the City. It was needed and I feel ready to get back at it today.

2.) Last night I also realized, while the wine was nice, I don't really miss it. It was expensive (money that could be better spent elsewhere) and I awoke at 3 am, unable to fall back asleep (with a tiny hangover, to boot). It was nice to take a breather, but it re-solidified all my reasons for not drinking and I'm happy to continue down that path.

3.) I've been tinkering with what I eat before runs, having had some successes and some super bad horrible failures. Today I try another method: eat nothing. I'll nom on a banana at some point this afternoon, but then head out after work on a fairly empty stomach. To supplement my run, I'll snack on some of my "SportBean" jelly beans along the way, a few at a time. Hopefully this gameplan will eliminate any gastronomical pyrotechnics or, as Katie says, the "need to go whoops in my pants." Isn't running glamorous?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Somewhat Wordless Wednesday

This is the motto/tagline of the James O'Rourke Memorial Triathlon, held in North Platte Nebraska towards the end of April. The sprint distance triathlon is held each year in memory of my friend Adam's father, who died in 1991 during the running portion of his first triathlon. I am honored to be racing the tri along with Adam and Morgan this year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The first mile of every run I want to quit. My knees hurt, my ankles are cracking and my lungs are pleading for me to go back and sit on the couch. Most days, I want to cut my run short; to take a different turn, reverse and head back home. I tell myself I would still be burning calories. I would still be getting in a workout, but wouldn’t have to put myself through 45 minutes to an hour and a half of pounding pavement. No one would be the wiser.

A big part of me wants to give in. To settle for a shorter run. But another part of my brain pushes me on.

It’s the part of my brain that knows the pain is only temporary. That somewhere between 2 and 3.5 miles, my body yields and running begins to feel good. This part of my brain didn’t always exist. I have never been highly self motivated to push my body harder and farther. When I first started running, I wouldn’t even run by myself. Instead I was dragged out kicking and screaming twice a week by the most persistent, and chatty, friend I know. Eventually she learned to lie to me about the distance, knowing I would only complain.

Now I almost always run by myself. I still complain to myself, feeling as though I can’t relax on a weekend until my long run is out of the way. I still tell myself, no one would know if I didn’t run the full distance. But I would know.

And that keeps me going.

I used to think that a half marathon was well beyond what I can do. It petrified me; like most people, I’m not a fan of failure. But now, as I’m prepping for my second one, I have moved from terrified to excited. My body can do this. It may not do it fast, but it doesn’t stop.

I may never be a strong runner and I may never get that addictive “I need running” high that others get, but I don’t quit. And its worth it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Making Moves

Today I 'officially' registered for the Elephant Rock Century Ride in June. I've got about 4 months to man up and stop being afraid of my clip pedals.

After paying my registration fee, I quickly searched around for a training plan. Essentially, the biggest part of training is getting your sitting bits used to the saddle. I can attest to the importance; my sitting bits were quite angry with me after an hour spin class on Friday where we didn't come up out of the saddle for 45 minutes. I can only imagine how 6-7 hours on bike would feel.

The length and ultimate mileage of the training plans vary as well, some running 10 or 12 weeks and building up to anywhere from 60-70 miles before the main event. Similar to half marathon training, I won't be training the actual distance before the ride. The training plan I've liked best so far has 5 days of riding; I'm hoping to find one with 4. For the first 1.5 months, I'll also be training for a sprint tri in Nebraska (say what?), so I'll also want to sneak in some running and swimming. I want to have my training plan mapped out before my half in March so I can hit the ground running - if I give myself too much time off, I don't ever start again!

Of course, while I was looking up a century training plan, I also looked up training plans for the half ironman. They are intimidating, for sure. Not because of any individual workout, but because of the overall volume of workouts. I found an 18 week plan that I like, which gives me 2 weeks 'free' in June before I start up again. This weekend I will be with a buddy who trains for full ironmans, and I am curious to ask him how he balances life and workouts. I feel as though I could easily become a zombie who eats, sleeps, and works out. With all the camping, hiking, climbing, and kayaking I wanted to do this summer, I will have a full schedule to fit it all in!

For the century ride, at least, I have my good friend Morgan to ride with. She has already schemed about doing rides up Lookout Mountain before work at least once a week (a ride that she calls 'easy' - crazy girl!). I'm eager to remain on a training plan for the majority of the year (after both my tri and my half, I promptly stopped working out and got out of shape; I hate working out, just to workout, without a race to train for), but a bit apprehensive that my whole year is already planned out.

Other than that, things are pretty quiet around here. Another weekend of running and skiing, although with ice and flat light, the conditions at Keystone weren't all that great. Its another quiet work week filled with little odds and ends, but nothing overly filling.

Have you ever done a century ride? Did your butt survive?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Random Friday Facts

1.) I can't stand to be around peaches.

2.) I get car sick really easily.

3.) I hate waking up to an alarm.

4.) When I'm not completely overloaded with work, I find it hard to accomplish anything.

5.) I'm excited to go to El Paso, but found out that neighboring Juarez is the murder capital of the world. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the country.

6.) I never quite feel 'put together', even when I've showered and pre-picked an outfit to wear.

7.) I think that chlorine totally counts as a shower.

8.) I already miss football season, but enjoy having Sundays free.

9.) I really need to clean my apartment.

10.) I think its ridiculous that weekends book up so fast.

11.) I'm still terrified of clip shoes for the bike

12.) I have a terrible memory for birthdays.

13.) I like running in the snow.

14.) In the past month, I've watched a friend get engaged and another had her second baby. There are three more babies slated for the spring, then begins the year of weddings. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the slow bus.

15.) I love my life in Denver, but sometimes I miss my friends and family back east so much that I consider some day moving back.

16.) I still check behind the shower curtain every time I come home.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1.) The last few weeks have been a constant tug of war between my knees, hips, and back. At any given moment, one or all of them are cranky, mostly on my right side. When I'm good about using the foam roller, my hip calms down substantially, but I can't seem to figure out how to please me knee and lower back. My cranky knee, I believe, is from my tumble down the black diamond with my ski still on. It doesn't hurt on a regular basis, just going down stairs (getting off the bus is fun), and when I twist it side to side. I'm beginning to think that between my knee and back issues, it may be time to get a new pair of running shoes. Crazy runners switch out their shoes every 100 - 400 miles and I've had mine for just about a year and two half marathon training sessions. I don't understand how runners can afford to buy $100 pairs of sneakers so regularly.

2.) My travel schedule is ramping back up again! I'm slated to head to El Paso Texas at the end of this month. Yee haw! I am looking forward to getting in some warm outdoor runs (don't worry mom, I'll steer clear of the Mexican border!)

3.) 2012 and 2013 are shaping up to be years of lots of weddings. Two are already planned, with a third shaping up (Congrats Risa and Paul!!!!) Between my half IM, UMD Homecoming, weddings (and associated events) and holidays, I might just move back east for a season or two!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Working on budgets today. Numbers are hard.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ramblings from a tired mind

Well the long weekend in Vail was absolutely delightful. It was so enjoyable to be able to ski all day and then be home in 20 minutes and in the hot tub. I skied all day Friday and Saturday, exploring more of the mountain, including Blue Sky Basin and the back bowls. The snow was just ok; they hadn't gotten any more snow since the previous week. But considering I still have no idea how to ski powder, I was ok with that. I came home Sunday blissfully exhausted, which followed me into Monday.

Enjoying the condo rental only furthered an idea several of us have had to put in for a seasonal rental in Frisco next ski season. Typically these rentals are about $200/month and well worth it if you are saving time and gas. So far in 2012, I've skied all weekends but the first, so I have no doubt that next year, with a car that can actually go uphill in the snow, I would make a condo worth while.

Other than that, its been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon. I've got a friend coming in tonight from DC who I'll hang out with tonight and tomorrow. Then saturday is the Cupid's Undies Run - a 1.5 mile run around Cap Hill in your undies (or boxers and tank top, if you're me). Sunday looks like I'll be back up on the slopes, but honestly, I'm starting to wear down again and need sleep. These Coloradans are like the energizer bunny! Nothing can get them to sit down!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

a picture from my weekend:

"Our lives are better than other people's vacations"