Monday, December 30, 2013

New Years Resolutions

I'm usually anti-resolution, thinking that no one ever keeps them.  But looking back, I've been reasonably successful with my resolutions over the last few years.  Lose some poundage, get more organized, do a long course tri... All check.  Which makes me think that maybe I have been setting my sights too low. 

For Christmas, M got me a new Road ID- the Slim, for which he also got me the 70.3 badge.  So I've proven to myself that I can survive stuff like this.  Maybe it's the year to step it up. 

Matt Frazier, of No Meat Athlete, has written about having a goal that seems unattainable. It motivates you, he says, especially if you tell the world.  Well, then, world... I have a few things I'd like to work on this year.  

1) strengthen my core.  This is easily my weakest area and it shows. When I'm working my core, I notice my run form is stronger and I'm faster on the bike.  So I want to get strong enough to hold a two minute full plank by next December.  

2) run a half-marathon.  And not amble it or survive it. I'm experienced enough by now to know that I can survive these things. It's time to try running it. An actual run.  This means run training.  

3) pay down debt.  We have done pretty awesome with staying on track and afloat with stuff despite some pretty challenging circumstances (blown up car engine, layoff, internship, separation, car crash and total, new car, and moving across the country to reunite...).  This year, I want us to regain our stability.  My normal goal will be 3,000 in savings and a 50% reduction in my highest interest debt.  My stretch goal will be that, plus paying off the high interest debt, paying off our (new, replacement) car, and ending the year with enough money for a vacation-vacation.  

4) RIde my bike! My BMC will get some aerobars and I plan to put my Oregon-strong legs to good use.  I would like to do a century or two, The Nation's Tri, the Richmond 70.3, and maybe one more if I can fit it in.  I think it would also be fun to take the W&OD to the C&O canal and ride out to Harpers Ferry some nice spring day. The MTB and Hybride Tank need some bike love, right?  

Those are my big four.  I also have to do normal moving things like finding a new spiritual director and doctors and vets.  And getting the damn car registered.  Those little errands are such a pain! 

I am exploring a few apps to track my resolutions (things like Lift and Everest), but I think I might go with a paper training journal.  I made one for last summer and it was really motivating for me to physically write stuff down.  I also felt better about reorganizing workouts when I could look back and the week and realize that if I didn't get all three bike rides done, that I might have gotten an extra swim done and I did more mileage overall than my goal.  It kept me honest and less anxious. Sadly, that masterpiece got lost in the move.  So I think I'll be making a trip to the bookstore soon, or just Amazon shopping!  

I think I'll also add a 5)... Work on my writing! I think I might be making this blog a little more public since it's so helpful to connect with other triathletes and to hear their stories.  And because I have a secret project that is in the works and I am going to make myself a deadline to submit the first phase by February!  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exciting Cooking News for Slacker Triathletes

Oh, how I need a race to prepare for!  We think we are going to try and get into the DC Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, but I have not signed up yet.  I was waffling for a while on Marathon v Half, and while I think I COULD complete a marathon, I don't think I would complete it happy.  I want to have a happy race.  So I think we will try for the half.  

So in exciting news…

A few weeks ago, got our Vitamix!  When I left St. Mary's, they gave me a very generous going away gift, and part of it took form as a Vitamix.  It is red.  We have been wanting one for a long time, so we are very excited.  The smoothies. The soups. The almond milk!

We noticed right away how ultra-smooth it makes our almonds as it pulverizes them.  Almond milk used to be an overnight event of soaking, several minutes of blending, and then straining.  With the Vitamix, all we do is throw in the almonds and dates and blend away. We don't even strain out the meal anymore.  I used to think how odd it was when raw food it's would drink the almond meal, but the Vitamix makes it so smooth and creamy it really is drinkable.  It is awesome in granola.  

We've also made a number of soups and smoothies. Everything comes out super creamy. I made a hummus that used only about 1 tablespoon of oil (and some water), but which turned out as creamy as store bought.  Just today, I made my very skeptical father his first green smoothie.  The family had bee teasing him that he'd spend his weekend trip drinking green smoothies and eating tofu. There was no tofu served, but he did have three helpings of the green smoothie. (Collard, parsley, banana, green apple, and a small dollop of local honey.). 

All in all, we really like that Vitamix so far! It's been so cool for our nutritional goals.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Interesting Settling In Note

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get a humidifier.  Our new apartment is a flat, instead of a townhouse.  I'm a little giddy with all the space.  Who knew that   staircases took up that much space?  (The cats have been much more active, too.  I guess they like the floor space for wrestling!)

On the other, very dry, shriveled up hand,

The heating is EXTREMELY effective.  The room we chose for our bedroom is the warmest room of the apartment.  It means that every morning, we were waking up feeling like jerky!  Hence, the humidifier.

As I walked through the store, I also bought jewelry cleaner.

As I cleaned today, I was really surprised.  I had cleaned my Pandora bracelet in Oregon several times, but I had not cleaned many other pieces.  I just hadn't worn them.  As a result, there were layers of tarnish that came off.  I was shocked at how light most of my silver really was.  And I started to wonder…

Why did I have these pretty things, and not wear them?  Was I too busy riding bikes?  (A real possibility, as many days, I went biking right after work).  Was I just too busy, overall?  I remember many days feeling almost too tired to even brush my teeth.  (I always rallied for that, though.)  Was I maybe a wee bit depressed during the long months of separation?  Without M to dress up for and go out with, maybe I fell into a comfort zone with friends of warm and cute, but not sparkly.

It's interesting to contemplate.  What is it about Virginia that brings out the sparkle? I've always said I'm not the sort of girl who NEEDS a significant other.  But I am rather attached to the guy, and I enjoy his company.  I'm feeling a sense of relaxation and easing of anxiety that I haven't felt for so long, I'd forgotten how keyed up I had felt for so long.

I'm enjoying having sparkly things again.

I also wonder about the home-of-the-soul question.  I'd always known that CT was not my home, even though I grew up there.  Every time I've left, for travel, for school, for good, I've never felt that I was missing out on something.  I don't mind going back to see people, but if my family didn't live there, I'd probably not make excuses to visit CT.  I have never once dreamed about CT.

When we lived away from VA, we did make excuses to visit VA.  Triathlons.  Visits to the Seminary.  Visits to friends.  Visits to Maryland family (and of course, we'd stay in Virginia).  Virginia showed up in my dreams at night.  Every week that I didn't live here, I felt like I was missing out on something.

I loved Oregon from the moment I set foot there.  But I never stopped reading the Washington Post and I always felt like VA was "home home".  I did always feel like I was missing out on stuff when friends cheered "Nat-i-tude!" or went to events on the Mall.

But now…
I'm wondering when I can make an excuse to go visit Oregon.  Oregon has made friendly visits in my dreams at night.  And I feel like I'm missing out when friends post about going to see the Portland Gay Men's Chorus or to Powells or to dinner at the Lab.

It's odd.

I'm comfortable, and I'm happy here.  I love DC and I love being able to jump on a bus or take the train home.  I am doing things that make me feel like myself that I haven't done in a long, long time.  Like cleaning my silver jewelry and wearing cool shoes and making sure my bag doesn't clash.  But I'm also surrounded by chain stores- I could walk to the Cheesecake Factory, but I haven't yet found the funky neighborhood pub with the microbrews or the small restaurant with the affordable happy hour.

I miss the giant trees and the silence, even as I love the energy of the city and the sparkle of other apartment lights.  I miss knowing that I could go run up to Spencer Butte if I want to feel like I've left the world behind, even as I love grabbing the WaPo on Sundays and being able to go see the art exhibits listed that very day if I want to.  

[It is possible that we are just living SMACK IN THE MIDDLE of the most commercial of all the white bread commercial districts within the Beltway, and…I'm not really a white bread sort of girl!]

And yet... deep down inside, a tiny little gremlin in my soul is wearing handmade shoes, wearing a vest and a scarf, and ordering a second historical drink for $6 from the newest cool pub.  Even though I had to drive there, and the dark nights of winter start at 4PM and the sun doesn't dawn until after 7.  That gremlin still loves the giant pines.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding the Gym and Maybe Creating A Pain Cave

I've never really liked the idea of "The Pain Cave".  Unlike most of the sensible universe, I really don't mind my trainer all that much.  (A trainer is a tripod sort of thing that you lock your back wheel into).  It helps me keep my fitness up over the winter, and has been invaluable for things like single-leg drills.  Plus, I don't feel guilty about catching up on TV.

Disclaimer, however: if you have the flu, or food poisoning, or a bacterial infection, and the doctor (i.e., a person with a medical degree and a lab coat to whom you give money in exchange for that person caring for your health) tells you to rest, moving the trainer to in front of the TV is NOT the same as resting.  What the doctor means by "rest" is "lie down on the couch".  Public service announcement, folks. 

So we have two much larger bedrooms here than we had in Oregon, meaning I have multiple options for where I could set up my trainer.  I do have access to a fitness room with dreadmills, ellipticals, and weight machines.  We have gone down a number of times so far.

But overall, I really enjoy the work of Barre3 which suits my body type, and the humming sound of my trainer.  So I think I will be setting up a room here that'll serve as a study/trainer room.  (Bonus: you can't skip your workout when you don't even have to go outside!)  Whether it's an all-the-time set up like the Holy Roller was last year, or an ad hoc thing remains to be seen.

In other news, settling is happening.  Everything is unpacked and we are slowly organizing things.  I just did the study this morning, meaning I am writing this from the comfort of my desk while the computer sings me songs via the computer speakers.  Functional space, hello there.

We have started cooking again.  Our kitchen is smaller than before, and we lost mostly counter space, meaning we are negotiating how one cooks efficiently in such a small space.  However, we did discover an Asian Market nearby and M is enthralled with it.  So far, in addition to a number of slow cooker and stovetop soups and granolas, we are also eating exotic greens salads like chrysanthemum and marinating chayote and boiling fuzzy melon.  I made the black garbanzo bean hummus.  So it's all getting there.  It definitely feels good to have veggies on hand.  Although- after a few months of chaos, I find my body is screaming for cheap carbs like the bread and bagels and stuff I grabbed while on the go.  It's a challenge to re-train my body for the veggies!