In 1985 I ran my first race.
It was at a Fourth of July picnic in one of the county parks. It couldn’t have been more than a 100 yard dash, perhaps even 50 yards. That distance seems longer to a four year old, but still.
I won the race. My prize was the doll you see me clutching ever so proudly. You could feed her a bottle and she would pee. It was magical.
Looking back I should have known I would be a runner. I will probably never win another race, but I hope to experience many more moments of great joy as I push myself to achieve what I once thought impossible. And years from now when I look back, I will be proud of all that I accomplished, and all the hard work that got me there.
“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You have got to set your self on fire for it.”
Over the weekend my little brother got engaged! Please look at what an adorable couple they are.
On their first date they played Scrabble. Three years later he took her out to dinner. They went back to his apartment to play Scrabble by candlelight. He had written out “Will you marry me” on the Scrabble board.
How cute is that?!?
Congratulations Mike and Omoleye! Love you!
Dear Downtown YMCA,
I have been a loyal member of your establishment for the past eight years (or so). I enjoy the cleanliness and the general upscale feel of the place. I am satisfied with the quantity and quality of the equipment. The only thing missing is a pool, and I understand that due to the location above a shopping mall, it is not feasible to add one. I love the spin classes, and that they are included with my membership. Overall I am satisfied with what I get for the money.
However, I do have one major issue. In an attempt to make sure that all members will have an opportunity to use the cardio equipment, you have imposed a 30 minute time limit on the treadmills. And to make sure that no one bends the rules, the treadmills are actually set to go into cool-down mode and shut off after said 30 minutes. This is where I have a problem.
The thing is, if all of the treadmills were full and there were people waiting to use them, I would have no problem adhering to the time limit and letting others use the machine after 30 minutes. It would only be fair. The thing is, I have never seen this happen. In fact, at the times I frequent the Y during the day, most of the treadmills are empty. The 30 minute time limit is a huge inconvenience for those of us hoping to run more than 3.5 miles.
I happen to be training for a marathon, and part of the reason I pay to use the Y is so that I can take my training indoors when the weather is bad. Take today, for example. The windchill is well below zero, and I had a 12 mile run on the schedule. I figured if I could make it 10 miles inside on a treadmill, I would be satisfied. I fired up an audio-book on my iPod and got to work. After 30 minutes, the treadmill went into cool-down mode. I had no choice but to clear it out and start over. Thirty minutes later, same thing. As a result, I do not have an accurate workout summary, and I have to do my best to guess on exact time and pace. Never once during my 90 minute workout was there a person on the two treadmills next to me.
Here’s the thing. People are going to use the equipment for more than 30 minutes one way or another, and as long as no one is waiting, I don’t see any problem with that. The fact that you have set the treadmills to stop after 30 minutes just pisses off your paying members. I urge you to take this ridiculous time constraint off of the treadmills so people like me can go about their training without being inconvenienced. Running 10 miles indoors is mentally challenging enough without the added distraction of worrying about a time limit on the damn treadmill.
Another January, and another trip to beautiful Colorado has come and gone. We lucked out with the weather this year, as most of the week was sunny and in the 30′s. Here is the view from the top of one of the peaks.
The first two days were a bit cold and snowy. Day one I under-dressed and was freezing all day. I decided not to make the same mistake on day two, so I piled on the layers. I call this look the uni-bomber.
This photo was taken on our last run of the trip. I picked a beautiful spot with a breathtaking mountain backdrop. As you can see, my mother-in-law didn’t quite see my vision, and instead captured some trees in the background. It turned out cute anyway.
Steve was able to do a better job of capturing the majestic scenery.
Though I feel like my snowboarding improves every year in Colorado, I did have one pretty big mishap this trip. On the third day, I caught an edge on an easy run and fell. Hard. Like as in did several somersaults down the mountain and hit the back of my head on the hard-groomed snow. The next morning I woke up and could barely move my neck. I had some serious whiplash. I went out anyway, which was dumb, because I was so shaken still that I felt like a beginner snowboarder. I couldn’t make turns because I was afraid to fall again. I knew it was all in my head, but I couldn’t get past it.
Day two after the fall was even worse. My neck was more stiff than the first day, and my whole body hurt. Even my stomach muscles were so sore that it hurt to cough. I realized that my body had taken a bigger hit than I thought, and decided to take the day off.
Friday was our last day, and I woke up feeling much better. We left early to have breakfast up on the mountain, and followed that with a full day of fun in the sun. I can never get over how beautiful it is up in the mountains.
Now it is time to hunker down and wait out the rest of the nasty Wisconsin winter. I realize it is only January and we have a long way to go, but a girl can dream of spring and birds and leaves and sun, right?
We leave today for our annual week long trip to Colorado (yay!). Steve’s family has been going out there every year for over 20 years now, and this will be my fifth year in a row. It is always a fun week consisting of snowboarding by day, outdoor hot tubbing by night. I am very psyched about the weather forecast too. It looks like it will be in the 30′s all week with lots of sun. The past few years have been bitterly cold, so that will be nice. They have already gotten over 12 feet of snow this winter, so conditions on the mountain will be perfect.
I am bringing my laptop, so I will try and update with some pictures throughout the week. With that, I’m outta here!
I recently started on a huge project for my dad that involves scanning the 35mm negatives of all of my childhood photos, spanning about 20 years. As you can imagine, there are quite a few. I will periodically post some of them that I find to be hilarious, or that triggor the memory of a good story.
This is my childhood cat, Whiskers. In the jar is my pet goldfish Tiffany (named after the pop star, of course). Whiskers looks pissed, like what? stop looking at me. this goldfish is such a tease, you evil human. Moments after this photo was taken, Whiskers got his revenge. Once everyone was out of the room, we heard a big crash. We ran back in to find Tiffany flopping around on the floor, water everywhere. take that. Tiffany survived the fall, but the trauma must have been too much for her. Sadly, days later, she died. I walked into the kitchen to find my mom putting Tiffany down the garbage disposal. I freaked out, as would any 8-year-old who witnessed this nightmarish scene. Heard of a toilet mom? Talk about traumatic.
The beginning of a new year is always a time to start afresh. We set goals for ourselves and resolve to meet them. 2009 has brought with it something else for me this year, in the form of the never-ending cold from hell. It started the Monday before Christmas, when my throat started feeling a little sore. I spent most of the day Tuesday laying on the couch whining about how crappy I felt, but by Christmas Eve on Wednesday I was already starting to feel better. Sweet!
I got through all of the festivities feeling pretty good. A sniffle here, a cough there, nothing major. Then Friday I started to cough. And cough. And cough. And one week and one day later, I am still coughing. A lot. And now to top it all off, my sinuses are acting up again and I can’t stop blowing my nose. Fun! I am a wheezy, sneezy, snotty mess and I don’t know how much longer I can take it. I can’t sleep, because every time I lay down I immediately start hacking my lungs out. Like to the point of gagging. Good times.
So where was I? Ah yes, 2009. Though it’s been off to a bit of a rough start for me, I do have some goals that I would like to accomplish this year.
First let’s talk running and triathlon. 2009 will be known from here on out as the year of the Ironman. My goal for this is simply to finish the race. I know that in order to accomplish this, I need to do the time in training. No skipping workouts, no excuses. I know it will be tough at times to choose training over, say, laying around on the boat all day, but it will be worth it to cross the finish line. There will be other races this year, but everything will be leading up to Ironman.
My second goal is to keep our condo clean and clutter free. I am seriously terrible at cleaning, but I love a clean house. This will probably be the hardest thing for me to keep up, but I am going to try. I am going to spend a lot of time in the coming week getting everything spic and span, and then the challenge will be to keep it that way.
My third goal is to cook more. Towards the end of last year, I made a concerted effort to plan meals ahead, grocery shop, and cook dinner. I did ok, but I can do much better. I want to get to the point where I can plan out a whole weeks worth of meals at once, and grocery shop once a week. It will save time and money, both on the grocery bills and the savings of not having to order out.
My forth and final goal is to be more productive. I know that is kind of vague, but I feel like I waste a lot of time. Working from home, it’s hard to stay focused sometimes. I find myself surfing the internet, facebooking, browsing online shopping sites, etc, etc. That time would be much better spent brushing up on some of my software skills for programs relating to my business. I haven’t totally thought through the steps I can take to make the productivity thing happen, but it is going to be an ongoing goal this year.
So there you have it. Now that I’ve put my goals out there for everyone to see, I am hoping that motivates me to keep up with them. 2008 was a great year for the most part. I got married, did my first half-ironman, ran a marathon, took a fabulous honeymoon, and much more. The only thing that got off track was my video business, due much in part to the crappy economy. It’s not the best time to be a freelancer, but I am hoping this year that things will start to turn around. I am excited for everything that 2009 has in store for me. Now if I could only shake this evil cough, I could start to enjoy it.
Our last day at the Hidden Valley Inn, we woke up to find this outside our door.
Everything was covered in a misty fog. It was beautiful, but I was a little worried about our plans for the day. It was chilly, and we had reserved a waterfall for the day. That’s right, our own private waterfall, how cool is that? There was nothing we could do about the weather, so we decided to just go and make the best of it. Here is the trail leading down to Secret Pools and Falls.
There was even a “do not disturb” sign stretched across the trail.
When we got to the bottom, we were greeted by a little thatched roof shelter set up with chilled champagne and lunch in a cooler.
It was too cold for swimming, so we hung out in these cool chairs for a while.
Then we popped open the champagne.
I wanted to get an artsy shot of the glass with the waterfall in the background. Cheesy, no?
We enjoyed a tasty lunch of meatballs, pitas, salads, and fruit.
After lunch it was raining quite a bit, so we lounged in the hammock and actually took a little nap too.
Obviously the weather could have been better, but we made the best of it and still had a very enjoyable day. It was a nice relaxing way to end our trip. The next morning we had to leave pretty early to make the drive back to Belize City and catch our flight home.
We thought that 9 nights was a perfect length for the trip. We were able to stay in two totally different areas, which was cool, and we had enough time in each place. Seven nights would have been way too rushed for us to enjoy everything that we did. I would definitely recommend Belize for an active adventure type vacation, which was perfect for us. There is a lot to do, and the people of Belize are very friendly. It is definitely not very budget-friendly though, so I would recommend planning this as a “big” trip, for an anniversary or something like that. I am glad we got to go all out for our honeymoon, because it will probably be quite some time before we are able to take another huge trip like that. Would I love to go back someday? As the locals say, “You better Belize it!”
Our third day at Hidden Valley, we decided to pay a visit to the ancient Mayan city of Caracol. It was a 30 mile drive from the inn, and we had a guide with us named Rick. Since Caracol is so close to the Guatemalan border (about 4 miles), we had to sign in at a military check point, and join a convoy to the ruins. Several years ago, there was a problem with Guatemalan rebels coming over the border and robbing tourists, so though the machine guns were a little unnerving, I was kind of glad that we were guarded by the military. It sounds more dramatic than it really was, but it was nice to be safe anyways.
Caracol is much different than some of the other, more famous Mayan ruin sites. It is largely un-excavated, so you can kind of get an idea of the massive amount of work the archaeologists go through to uncover the ruins. Here we are with our awesome tour guide Rick.
Rick is part Mayan, and he was such a wealth of information. A good tour guide always makes the difference, and he made this day one of our favorite experiences of the trip. We walked through some wooded areas before we got to the actual ruins.
Some of the trees were amazingly huge, and they have crazy huge roots because of the shallow ground.
Then we got to see some actual ruins. This would have been the base to a Mayan house.
Soon we started to see the taller buildings.
We were able to climb up on the buildings, which was really cool.
It is really amazing to think about the fact that these structures were built by hand, much of it BC.
Then we came to the mother load. This baby took 600 years to build, and to this day is the tallest man-made structure in Belize.
You can’t even see half of the building from here. Once you climb up to the top of what you see here, you encounter this.
It was like another structure on top of the structure. And just for reference on the size of this, can you spot us standing on the steps?
The view from the top was pretty nice too. We could see into Guatemala.
As we were climbing back down, the highlight of the whole trip for me happened. Before we left for Belize, I told Steve countless times that I really really hoped we could see some monkeys. We could hear some howlers off in the distance, but Rick didn’t seem to think it was likely that we would actually see any in the area. Then he spotted what he thought was a tail in the trees, and sure enough, it was a whole family of howler monkeys, including a baby. Steve and I hurried down to the ledge, which was about even with some of the treetops, and there they were. At first, they were a little far away.
This little baby was very curious. She kept coming closer and closer to us, until she was literally within 5 feet. So cute.
As she got to close for comfort, the adults would get closer and make a noise to call her back.
This one was keeping a stern eye on the baby.
The huge male that was the leader of the family kept a watchful eye from a distance.
The baby was so cute and playful, I swear if the adults hadn’t been there she would have come right up to us and sat on our shoulders.
I could have stayed there and watched them all day, but it was time to go. We ate lunch at a pavilion in the park, and headed back. On the way, we stopped to look at another waterfall.
I liked the sign they had as you walked down towards the falls.
We had rick take this photo of us. Notice my right foot.
As we were waiting for him to snap the photo, I felt a fiery stinging itch on my foot. I was trying not to move for the picture, but as soon as he took it, I looked down, and my whole foot was being swarmed by fire ants. I freaked out and ripped off my shoes, and Steve had to carry me to safety.
We headed back to the inn and did our usual hot tub, dinner, fire in the cottage routine. All in all it was a great day, and it remains one of my favorite experiences of the trip.