Sunday, January 31, 2010

It Was True and It Was Awesome

It was a busy, fun-filled and action-packed weekend. I'll have to tell you all about it, but not tonight. By the way, in case you don't recognize him, that's Dave Wiens sitting next to me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Don't Know if It's True, But It's Awesome If It Is!

I heard it from a reliable source, though. The rumor is that Dave Wiens is actually going to race in the short track race on Sunday. How cool would that be?

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Few Random Things

I realize I never did the post I was going to do about my new eating plan, but I don't really feel like it tonight. Maybe I'll post it in the future and maybe I won't. Instead, here's some randomness.

Last week: I ended up with 2 hours and 50 minutes of trainer time last week, with about an hour and 15 minutes of bike time on the road. I also did two circuit training workouts (25 min.) with Jillian. I did all the workouts I was supposed to, but I'm thinking this does not seem like a lot of time on the bike. I think this week I'll need to add another hour on the weekend. As far as my eating goes, I did pretty well. I mostly stuck to my plan, although I got a little carried away on Saturday. I'll give myself a B+.

Short track race: Thanks to our esteemed Mid-state VP Brad Potter, there will be a short track race in Lansing on the day of the Expo. It's doubtful that I will race, but I'm going to go to take some photos. It should be a fun race to spectate. All proceeds go to the Mid-state Chapter, and trust me, we could use the support. More info is here.

Bike Basics: Someone awesome and I are holding a women's bike clinic for beginners at a local bike shop in March. Actually she's doing it and I'm helping with promotion and will make a short presentation from a more inexperienced (self-deprecating comment left out here) cyclist's perspective. We're doing it at a local bike shop, and it's going to address things like clothing, basic bike maintenance, etc. for women who are just starting out (or occasional recreational riders looking to get more serious about riding).  I'm trying to think of some catchy verbiage that will attract some partipicants so we can do some advertising. I'll post more details here as it becomes more fleshed out. 

Wiens: Have I mentioned that Dave Wiens is coming to town this weekend? Woo hoo! Do you think they need someone to pick him up at the airport? Or maybe accompany him back to Gunny?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

28 Weeks

I've been thinking about where I want to be. Late in the year 2006, I had a goal. That goal was to get down to a certain weight before my wedding in May 2008. What I really wanted more than anything was to look as good as I could on my wedding day and not have to feel regret when I looked at the wedding pictures. I didn't want the permanent physical memories of this very important day to be marred by how fat I looked. Of course, that's not what happened.

On my wedding day, I think I looked pretty darn good, and that's hard for me to say because my self-esteem isn't what you'd call great. I set the stage for everything to be perfect—the hair, the makeup, the nails, the dress—and all those things really helped. 

Most girls want to feel like princesses on their wedding day and I did feel that way. Still, all was not perfect. When I looked in the mirror, I saw that my dress was tighter than I wanted it to be and my upper body didn't look like it should be on display. Even though I tried to lose weight before the wedding (and I did lose 35 or so pounds), I started to gain it back before the actual wedding.

It didn't make my wedding any less beautiful or make me any less happy to be getting married, but it was a missed opportunity. Since that time, I've gained weight, lost weight and gained it back, but I never reached that goal I set for myself before the wedding. It seems like it's never-ending. I've seen all the statistics. I know that chances are the weight is going to return every time I lose it. I don't know what, if anything, is ever going to make it different for me. This has been happening my whole life.

What I do know is that I'm not going to give up. There are all kinds of reasons I want to lose this weight—some of them are good, valid, responsible reasons and some of them have more to do with vanity. I've been thinking lately about how much weight I should shoot for losing on this go round and I've decided I really need to keep the promise I made to myself in November 2006. I'm not going to share what that number is because I'm too embarassed and I'm not ready for full disclosure.

So what does that mean, in practical terms? It means that, according to my scale this morning, I have to lose 50.5 pounds. I have a decent start—I've lost 5 pounds in the last week and a half, so if I can keep those habits up, I'll hopefully keep that going.

One thing I have also learned in this process is that I have to be very specific about my goals, so I'm giving myself a time limit to lose the weight. (If I don't meet that, it doesn't mean I'll quit. It's just something to work toward.) I'm giving myself 28 weeks to lose the weight. It's a somewhat aggressive goal, but I think it's doable. By my calculations, that means I will reach my goal by August 9.

One more thing is that I know this weight thing gets boring to read about, particularly for people who don't have a problem with their weight. So, I'm going to try not to dwell on it too much or turn the blog into a weight loss blog. Still, I want to use this blog for some accountability, so I'll probably report once a week and keep a running total on the sidebar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ali's Friend

I had been having trouble with that whole motivation thing lately, as I think I've mentioned. So I thought to myself, "Ali's fast. She's in good shape. You should copy her!"

This is Ali's friend. We'll call her Jillian. And all those big plans for the upcoming season—she's going to help me with them.

Last winter, I rode miles and miles on the trainer. It helped a lot. I went into the season in pretty good shape. But the truth is, I was bored, and I don't think the long-suffering martyr act is going to cut it for me through another long winter. So I've decided to mix things up a little this time around and hopefully get into better shape, drop some weight and go for a well-rounded (not literally) approach. I'm also hoping that this will help me get more out of the time I do spend on the trainer and allow me to push myself more.

So, here's what I came up with for a loose schedule:

Monday Spinervals on trainer
Tuesday Jillian
Wednesday Spinervals on trainer
Thursday Jillian
Friday Spinervals on trainer
Saturday and Sunday outdoor ride or other activity (skiing, showshoeing, etc.) and one day of rest

Last winter, a bit of the time I spent on the trainer was done using Spinervals DVD, but I mostly did intervals from the Friel book, which I mapped out ahead of time and did while watching t.v. This year, I've decided that using the DVDs is better for me. The structure of someone telling me what to do the entire time will hopefully keep me from getting too lazy and loose with my trainer time.

I'm going to start doing three different DVDs a week and do that same rotation of DVDs for a few weeks straight. I'm starting with Sweating Buckets (45 min) on Monday, Recovery & Technique (45 min) on Wednesday and Aero Base Builder (80 min) on Friday. After a couple weeks I'll switch it up a bit and do some harder DVDs. That should help keep it interesting.

The last part of my training plan is that I've decided to switch to morning training. As much as I hate having to get up extra early, if I wait until after work, there are just too many excuses (I'm tired, I had to work late, etc.). I started this plan on Monday. I set the alarm for 5:45, it went off and I promptly set it for an hour later and went back to sleep. However, I did complete my training when I got home from work, and I had much better luck getting up early Tuesday and today.

Speaking of which, I'd better get to bed so I can get up early tomorrow. In my next post, I'll talk about the eating part of the equation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2010 Plans, Goals and Dreams: Part 1, Cycling Goals

I never ended up doing the season recap I meant to do, but I have analyzed my season over and over in my head. The season began with a lot of promise and fizzled out somewhere near the middle. My accomplishments were the following:
  • Finished Barry-Roubaix and came in first in Beginner Women 35+ (beat all the beginner women and about 18 beginner men), basically, my best race ever
  • Finished Yankee Springs Time Trial, took 20 minutes off my time from 2008
  • Finished Hanson Hills XC race, but didn't do very well
  • Raced in four endurance races: 8 Hours of Cannonsburg, 6 Hours of Ithaca, 6 Hours of Stony Creek, 6 Hours of Addison Oaks (came in 3rd in Michigan Endurance Cup)
  • Completed my first Iceman ever
  • Completed six Kisscross races
  • Completed my first Ithaca Grand Prix of Cyclocross race
This makes it look like I actually did a lot of races, even though I wasn't happy with my performance in many of them. My biggest disappointment was the fact that I didn't sustain the fitness I started the season with.

As I look toward the coming season, my hope is that I will be able to move before the end of it, but that's looking less and less likely. We haven't given up the idea of moving, but it looks like it will take longer than we were hoping it would.)

Given my disappointment with last year's season, it only stands to reason that my most important goal for the 2010 season is to improve my fitness level as the season progresses, rather than getting worse. I'd like to again concentrate on endurance races, with a few other select races mixed in. I also want to renew my determination to complete a longer (12 hours) endurance race. That was also a goal last year, but it just didn't happen.

So, here's my tentative schedule for the 2010 race season:

March 27 Barry-Roubaix
April 18 Yankee Springs TT
May 15 6 Hours of Stony Creek
June 6 Hanson Hills XC
June 12 8 Hours of Cannonsburg
July 17 6 Hours of Ithaca
July 31 8 Hours of Bloomer or August 14 6 Hours of Pando
Sept. 18 12 Hours of Hanson Hills
Oct. 9 6 Hours of Addison Oaks
Peak to Peak (?)

I'm sure I'll refine this and make changes as necessary during the year. I'm finally starting to get my act together, so I'll write about that, as well as the details for how I'm going to make all this happen, in the coming days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Clawing My Way Back From Hedonism

For something like two months straight I wallowed in hedonism. During that time period, the only thing I really did that was productive was the stuff I had to do at work. I let the dishes and laundry pile up and let the house get even messier than usual, if that's even possible. I ate everything in sight, drank much more heavily and often than usual (normally I drink about once or twice a month, though, so don't send me to Betty Ford just yet). I trained a total of two days and spent most of my time at home reading, surfing the Internet, watching t.v. and dreaming about getting out of Michigan for good.

I got more exercise when we were on vacation in Crested Butte than I had in weeks. Still, my eating on vacation wasn't exactly low fat (although it was healthier than meals made of Christmas cookies and candy, which I had been eating before we left), and we went to the bar every night.

I resolved to get back on track as soon as we got back home, but that's been harder than I anticipated.  Since we came back in the middle of the week, I told myself I'd start on the following Monday morning. When Monday came, I weighed myself and wanted to cry. It was bad, very bad. Then I did clean up my act, at least a bit. My eating habits certainly haven't been perfect, but they've been seriously improved. I can count the number of pieces of candy I ate this week—unlike before when I actually lost track—and I confined it to mini Special Darks and mini York Peppermint Patties.

As for training, I had the best of intentions. I went snowshoeing and tried to use my new (old) cross country skis. However, due to equipment malfunction, operator error or both, I didn't get much of a workout either day. I set out to ride the trainer, but forgot that I still had Chris' racing tires on my bike. I was supposed to change the back one so it wouldn't get ruined on the trainer. I rode the trainer for about 45 minutes on one night, but used the tires as an excuse not to ride anymore this week. It's become too easy to make excuses for why I'm not doing what I need to.

But I do have goals for myself (none of which I have posted yet here), and I do have a plan. Now I just need to muster all the motivation I can find, reach into my suitcase of courage and find a way to completely escape my tendency toward hedonism. I'll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's a Dry Cold

As my loyal readership will remember, one of the reasons for taking our recent trip to Crested Butte was to see if someone like me, who spends most, if not all, of the winter freezing and complaining, could really hack it living there. Now I realize that we were there for a relatively short period of time and that spending a handful of days somewhere is much different than spending an entire season there. Still, I figured it would be immediately apparent if I couldn't handle it.

Before we left, my husband attempted to quiet my main detractor by telling him "It's cold, but it's a dry cold," each time he mentioned the temperature in Crested Butte. Of course, said individual was extremely skeptical about this statement. So it was extremely humorous when, as we were chatting with the woman at our hotel's front desk the day of our arrival, she said "But it's so wet in Michigan in the winter. Out here it's a dry cold" or something to that effect.

The fact is that we loved Crested Butte, and it wasn't in spite of the winter—it was because of it. For a person who has spent most of her life hating and dreading winter, that's a crazy admission to make. My only explanation for this is that I've lived in mid-Michigan all my life and here, winter's not so much fun. In Crested Butte, it just is, and here are a few of the reasons:
  • It doesn't feel that cold. I don't know if it's because it's dry, but I do know that 15 degrees feels a lot warmer there than it does here.
  •  It's sunny most of the time. That ever-present, big, warm gleaming orb and expansive bright blue sky beat the hell out of overcast, which seems to be what it looks like here for most of winter.
  • There's always enough snow for fun winter activities: downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and so on. It makes people want to be outside instead of hibernating all winter.
  • The snow coats everything—mountains, valleys, ridges, aspens—and makes them look beautiful. It's much better than brown slushiness.
So what does all this mean? It means that I'm more convinced than ever that Crested Butte is the place for us. But since realistically we're not going to be able to get there for a little while, it also means making the best of the here and now and transferring a little of that CB mentality to mid-Michigan. I can't bring the Elk Mountains here, but I can do the following:
  • On the occasions that we do get enough snow for winter activities, take advantage of it as much as I can. Take every opportunity to get outside and enjoy the white stuff.
  • If there isn't enough snow here, make short trips up North or to the West side of the state. There's usually snow in Grand Rapids, which is only 45 minutes or so down the highway.
  • Try out downhill skiing here, where it's easier and cheaper.
  • Work on polishing my skills and getting fit, so that when I do make it out there I'll have the fitness to do all I want to do.
In my next post, I'm going to set some short- and long-term goals. After that, I'm going to try not to talk about Crested Butte for a while. I'm sure even my most dedicated readers are getting sick of hearing about it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Birthday in the Butte

What better way to celebrate my birthday than hanging in Crested Butte. We spent the afternoon trying out our newly acquired mad ski skills. We took a trail that was a couple blocks from our hotel. Beauty was all around.

After doing a little souvenir shopping, we made our last trip to the Last Steep for some key lime margaritas. Yum!

Then we hung out at the Forest Queen with Jeffro until we got hungry for dinner. Chris, Steve and I went to the Lobar for some sushi and something they call "crack fries." They were delicious dipped in wasabi ketchup.

After a few more drinks at the Forest Queen, we said goodbye to our friends and headed back to the hotel to rest up for our 4:30 wake up call.

It was such a great birthday, it almost made up for being old!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Sun Always Shines in Crested Butte

I thought I was hopeless at skiing after seeing no improvement whenever I skiied. As it turns out, either the simple magic of being in Crested Butte or a good lesson was all I needed. That's not to say that I'm an expert now, but I definitely saw quite a bit of improvement just in the hour we were in the lesson. Besides our ski lesson, we did a bit of browsing at a couple of shops in town, had lunch at the Last Steep, ate dinner at Ginger Cafe and finished the evening, as is our custom, at the Forest Queen. Here are some photos from our day:

Chris with Christian, our Norwegian ski instructor

Chris showing off his technique
Awesome crab cake po' boy I had at the Steep

Ahi tuna tacos Chris had

Pork pot stickers at Ginger Cafe

Beef satay with peanut dipping sauce

Shrimp and vegetable concoction Chris had (I forget what it was called)

Ginger fried rice with shrimp (the best fried rice I have had in my life)

Hangin' at the Forest Queen

Today's our last day in Crested Butte—gotta live it up!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paradise Found

I've been on some pretty cool vacations in my life. I've been to the UK three times and have taken incredible trips to Maine and Alaska. And of course, there's Key West, which is undoubtedly my favorite place to let my hair down. Those were all fantastic trips, but I have never been anywhere like Crested Butte, where I feel like I truly belong.

The thought of moving away is certainly scary. As I've said before, I've lived pretty much within 75 miles or so of where I grew up my whole life. I don't like the idea of leaving my family and friends, but I just feel so much at peace here. I can't explain it. This is just the life I want.

Sure it's cold here, and there's quite a bit of snow, but yesterday, I found out just how much fun that winter lifestyle can be.

It was stormy when we left the hotel to go get some lunch. (I know this photo is out of focus, but it's the only one I took of the snow.)

We had lunch at a place I have been meaning to try. It's called The Secret Stash. It's a favorite with the locals and is famous for its pizza, although it also has other interesting things on the menu, like alcoholic snow cones.

The atmosphere is kind of quirky, eclectic eastern, the music is soothing and the wait staff is extemely friendly. They have two pages of specialty pizzas, both meat and veggie. I talked Chris into one called New Potato Caboose. He was a bit skeptical about potatoes on a pizza, but I had had them before and convinced him it would be great. It was potato pieces, sauce, cheddar cheese, scallions and sour cream. Delicious!

After lunch, it was still storming, so we went back to the hotel for a bit to take a nap and see if visibility improved. A couple hours later, blue skies had returned, so we headed over to the Nordic Center to rent snowshoes and poles. I thought the trip was going to be a bust when we used up about all our energy putting the snowshoes on, but we recovered. We headed up a road behind the Nordic Center. The views from the ridge were quite spectacular.
We headed up the Green Lake Trail, where more views, quite a bit of climbing and lots of aspens awaited us. (Have I mentioned I love aspens?) I had never used poles before; I don't use them with my snowshoes at home, but I soon found out why we needed them.
We were out for a couple hours. As we headed back down the mountain, the sun was starting to sink and the colors in the sky were beautiful.
We then decided to pay another visit to the Forest Queen, where we met up with Steve, the owner. He asked us to go to dinner with him and took us to a place called Slogar. The food was family-style fried chicken dinner, complete with cottage cheese, tomato chutney, corn, biscuits and mashed potatoes and gravy. There was also an interesting relish tray with carrots, celery, pickled pear slices and (best of all) bread and butter pickles. It also came with ice cream, but we were all too stuffed to eat it.
We finished off the evening at the Forest Queen watching the Alamo Bowl. Interestingly enough, we were sitting at the bar with one MSU grad, one current MSU student and a Texas Tech grad. It was all very civilized, though. The drinks were flowing and Chris and I led the group in several renditions of "On the Banks of the Red Cedar."
The sun is shining again today and we have more adventure on the agenda. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Day in Crested Butte

Our New Year's Day in Crested Butte was pretty low key, but very enjoyable. We started out with an early continental breakfast at our hotel.

We spent the rest of the morning hanging out in our hotel room, updating my blog, reading and resting up for the day ahead. We started out taking some photos outside of our hotel.

We wandered around town for a while and had lunch at The Last Steep. I, of course, had the fish tacos, and Chris had the black bean casserole. Good stuff!

Then we headed up the mountain to see what was happening up there. We checked out the views, watched the tubers and skiers and investigated an igloo.

Then we went to The Avalanche for a cocktail at the fire bar. After checking out the ice sculptures in Mountaineer Square, we headed back to town.

We wrapped up the evening with dinner at Donita's Cantina before going back to the hotel for an early night. We still had some sleep to catch up on from the day before.

We got a few inches of snow overnight and it's still snowing. I think we're going to take advantage of it to try out some winter sports.