Thursday, July 28, 2011

Weighty Matters

I've extolled the virtues of my Vibrams five finger shoes, and have waxed poetically about how much they've helped me start running again. I started a new experiment back on June 12th, but I wanted to wait to make sure it stuck. Well, it has more than stuck, and even after taking a break from July 4th to July 26th due to traveling and having friends in town, upon starting up again yesterday things are going just as well.

I'm talking about lifting weights. Not just dumb bells, but being able to lift free weights again. On June 12th, Bobby and I started lifting weights together on Mon/Wed/Fri. We do three sets each of three exercises- squat, dead lift, bench press. Weight is added with each set, so that the reps are 10-8-6 (sometimes that last set is only two or three reps, just as many as you can squeak out). The first day I started off just lifting the bar- 45 lbs- for all exercises. This was too light for squats/dead lift, but a bit heavy for bench press (I was able to do a full 10 reps, but I was feeling it). Progressively over the weeks we added more weight each time, until, on the 4th of July, I had progressed to being able to easily bench press 65 pounds, I could push through  a few reps at 75 pounds, and, more incredibly, I was able to squat and dead lift my body weight- 135 pounds!
In spite of my bum hip/crap back, this actually happened
In the grand scheme of weight lifting, this is not some crazy impressive stuff. But in the grand scheme of my old creaky hip, this is incredible. The first few weeks, my left hip would just ache and ache in between sets of squats. Not in a painful, stop doing this way, but in a painful, "you're strengthening me and pulling me back into place and I've been effed up for a decade and this will take some coaxing" kind of way. It felt disconcerting, but I felt in my gut that it was not a "STOP" kind of a pain, but a "be careful, but keep it up" kind of pain.

Yesterday was my first day of lifting since we left for vacation, and man I am feeling it today. But I was able to do even more reps at 135 pounds on dead lift, and I only lost 10 pounds on my squat. My bench press has slid back a bit too- I was at the point where I could press 75 pounds a few times, now 65 is feeling a bit tough- but I know it will all be coming back to me soon. And more than that, I'm excited to see where I'll be after a year of lifting. I have some lofty goals, but I think they're reasonable. And after only a few weeks of squats, I can't believe how much muscle I've gained. I'm not much bigger (girls can't bulk up like a dude, despite all the fear mongering around weight lifting) but my shape is already changing. I've also noticed that I'm stronger on my bike, and running is easier, too. All in all, I'm over the moon happy that I'm at a point where I can throw some weights around again.

Since this is a fitness update kinda post, I figure I'll throw in a C25K update here at the end. Since coming back from the Texas road trip beginning of May, I've found it hard to get back into running. I averaged about twice a week from mid May to the end of June, and I made myself swallow my pride and start over with Week 3 to be damned sure I didn't tweak my back/hip or hurt my feet. A short road trip since then, then a long road trip, plus the focus on weight lifting has put C25K on the back burner. It's not turned off getting cold and crusting to the pot, it's just kind of simmering away in the background. I'm more than happy to continue to take C25K very slowly, because I think this is crucial to why my hip/back have been able to adjust to running, and why I have not screwed up my knees. I'm going to be at grad school orientation from Sunday, July 31st through Thursday, August 4th, so for now I'm focusing on getting back into the swing of weight lifting this week, and I'll start C25K up again next week. However, I know that all the biking and weight lifting I'm doing are also helping me to become a better runner. After the Texas road trip I came back and really fell in love with biking, and for two weeks all I did was bike, no running, but I was averaging 60+ miles a week. After that stint, I went for a run, and it felt so easy. Cross training for the win!

I will definitely have to specifically focus on some running come next week though, because I'm registered to run Warrior Dash on August 20th. I'm excited and nervous, but who wouldn't be, if you're going to be jumping over fire, and crawling through mud under barbed wire? Seriously, check out that link and look at the course. It's equal parts funny and kind of ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Son of a...

A sunny picnic in Yellowstone National Park. This picture is not relevant until the second half of the post.**
 I just realized, as I was organizing photos from our most recent road trip (the 3rd, and last, of the summer), that I have yet to blog about our 2nd road trip- mentioned here- when we traipsed back up to South Dakota for some Memorial Day weekend fun. Damn. The Texas road trip- spread out over 5 parts, I don't think any of you find Texas or me *that* interesting, haha- took up so much time that I was just road trip re-capped out. And then, of course, I realized that after the Galapagos re-caps wore me out, I was over it and didn't start the Peru re-caps until a few months after, but... damn, now that's been a month ago. I have so many posts in the can- my garden is all growin' and stuff, and it's a joke how big those tomato plants are since they avoided dying, I did some around the house craftiness, and there is a whole grip of news on the school/work/internship/life front. Per my last post filled with excuses, it's just been crazy town busy central around here. Today is the first day since the day before our trip, way back on July 7th, that I have gone grocery shopping, for example. I'm also just now caught up on laundry/cleaning and random rat killin' (errands/to-do/it's a down South slang kinda thing) that it wasn't until this evening that I finally felt like I was truly home after the trip.

I'm about to reassess every area of my life- kind of like an activity/time de-cluttering project- in preparation for going back to school come August. Technically, I go to school this Sunday, to live on campus for 5 days, take a super intensive first course, and go through all my necessary orientation to start my masters program. So, yeah there's also that- it seems like I'm finally feeling a bit settled, and then it's off to southern Colorado for 5 days. I suppose the only reason I'm feeling stressed is because of the totally optional responsibility I have placed on my self of keeping up with my blog, but still, I feel behind because I'm, well, behind. About twice a year I'll go back and read through old posts and think "I am so glad I wrote that down. I totally forgot that happened until I re-read it just now". So I'm grateful to have a random online record of my life, if only so I can look back on it and feel a little reflected shine of nostalgia via my computer screen. I'm also grateful that I froze half of the raw brownies I made, because, while typing this rambling bit of navel gazing nonsense, I polished off a little guy smeared in all natural peanut butter and I was incredibly happy for how delicious it was.**Relevance activated!

I have a really good book waiting for me, so I'm not going to keep it waiting any longer. The windows are open, the hot spell is broken, and the fan is purring some old fashioned white noise into our bedroom. G'nite, kittens. See you on the flip side, whenever/wherever that might be appearing in the midst of this busy time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Absentee Excuses

I been hangin' around (somewhere in Capitol Hill in Seattle)
 I had the best of intentions to avert such a long silence on my blog, but things got hectic, and here's why. My last post was on Thursday, July 7th. I then spent all of that day and the next cooking, cleaning, laundering clothes, packing, and organizing because on Friday, July 8th, we hit the road for a 3,000 mile/12 day road trip. I thought I'd have more time than I did, but I didn't, so my plans to blog a lot on Friday afternoon before we left were tossed right out the window. But I'm back! Here's where we went:

Summer Road Trip 2011

A night and a morning in Thermopolis, WY to check out Hot Springs State Park

2 days in Yellowstone:
Madison Campground reservation first night
Mammoth Hot Springs Cabin Reservation second night

Yellowstone to Seattle, WA- with a long visit to Helena, Montana- to visit friends for 3 days and check out their new place

Amtrak to Vancouver to visit our Canadian friends for 2 days

Back to Seattle for one last night out on the town

Portland, OR for one day/night
Portland to Salt Lake City (with a long stop in Hood River Oregon for lunch, and a stop in Boise, Idaho for dinner)to stay the night and visit my cousin before she leaves Utah for Texas

Home to Colorado
While we were gone, our friends stayed in our place for a few days to apartment hunt for their upcoming move, which is one reason I wanted it to be clean. We got home on Wednesday at 1 a.m., Bobby went straight to work a few hours later, and I got to work cleaning/unpacking/doing laundry. Thursday afternoon, our friends Brooke and Chris stopped by on their way home from a family vacation in Wyoming, and they were here until yesterday morning- a second reason I wanted the place to be neat and tidy. Bobby and I napped like professionals yesterday, an unexpected gift since the aforementioned moving friends had originally asked for our help in moving them in Saturday afternoon. The plan was to say goodbye to Brooke  and Chris and head straight over to Tyler and Amanda's. Turns out they got in a day early and unpacked everything. So we napped away the afternoon, met up with Jenny for some frozen yogurt, and crashed out relatively early. I wish I could say I continued catching up on sleep fest 2011 with a deliciously lazy sleeping in session, but nope, I woke up at 7:45 this morning without an alarm, just as I did yesterday.
But don't worry, it's 10:12 and I'm typing this in my underwear with an unwashed face and unbrushed teeth. Bobby just woke up and I'm going to convince him to go to Snooze for brunch. In random updates, my plants are still not dead, and they grew 6 inches while I was gone. Oh, and I barfed 30 minutes into a 3-D midnight showing of Harry Potter 7 in Canada (sorry, neighbors to the North!) so we're having a  re-do this afternoon with our friends Matt and Paige. I think first I need to put on some pants though.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

4th of July Weekend, or, I Discovered the Filters on My Smart Phone

I cannot tell you how glad I am that Bobby and I did not spend 4th of July weekend in Santa Fe. We were crazy lazy, sleeping in and staying up late and I didn't cook one time. Thanks to all the local restaurants for feeding us. We played in the pool and local toy stores, read books, worked out a few times, rode our bikes a bit, and had an excellent 4th of July.
 These puppets were grossly over priced, and had the most condescending faces. At least Bobby's was funny.
 Mine was kind of terrifying. Like he's muttering "Don't MAKE me do something I'll regret". Got it, bunny.
 Here's another reason I'll never have thousands of followers. I had never been to a frozen yogurt- sorry, fro-yo!- place, so we went last weekend. It was tasty, but I'm still not understanding the fro-yo obsession. Maybe it's the adorable over lapping hand hold that makes it crazy delicious? Or maybe it's pretending to kiss it while having your significant other take a picture of your fro-yo love? Who can say. Was it good? Sure. Is it deserving of more than one picture on any blog on the internet? I would say no, but that's just me.

 On the 4th, we noticed that no one was at the pool. How did we get the place to ourselves on the 4th of July? Who can say, but we were happy.
  Yeah America, let's go cowboy hats. The pool was deserted the entire time we were there, and after a few hours we decided to mosey into some dry clothes and grab some grub. We had already decided that parking 2 miles from City Park and schlepping ourselves + any creature comforts to a park filled with 4th of July celebrants was not on the agenda. Here's why (the following is slightly sarcastic and tongue in cheek, but mostly just brutal honesty). 4th of July revelers usually fall into two diametrically opposite camps- drunken assholes who are way too loud, too drunk, and wearing far too few items of clothing, or harried, stressed families dragging a bunch of kids out way past their respective bed times to watch fireworks that will either a) bore them to tears or b) scare them to tears. Now, of course, I'm being a bit hyperbolic and over simplistic. There are certainly many people, drinkers and families alike, who do not fall into one of those two groups. But those two groups tend to dominate the energy because they are mortal enemies. So the sloppy drunk college girls piss off the parents who really don't want to have to explain to their 4 year old those kind of age inappropriate things, and the parents piss of the sloppy drunk college girls for trying to ruin their good time. On top of all that, it's generally hot, crowded, and there is an unacceptable port a potty to person ratio. Then, when the fireworks are over, everyone willingly takes part in an ungodly traffic jam that rivals any Wednesday morning rush hour situation, and we all sit in our respective cars in bumper to bumper traffic, listening to terrible music from said sloppy drunk college girls, watching people get arrested, and trying in vain to just get home because we're hot and tired. Don't get me wrong, I love watching fireworks. I've also had excellent 4th of July experiences in parks, with strangers, despite all of the previous. But we weren't interested in looking on the sunny side of things while ignoring the bad, so we decided to just skip the potential bad altogether and have our own little celebration.

We did drive around City Park, just to check out the situation, but it was already madness a full two hours before sunset. People were parking miles away, and it looked like a fireworks march to Mecca. This confirmed our plan to do our own thing. We changed course and drove out towards the reservoir. There's a convenience store at the base of the foothills that services the boaters and campers that are heading towards the reservoir, and it had a huge fireworks tent set up.

These took me way back. They were my favorite as a kiddo

 We snagged the hen and a box of colored sparklers and then continued on our way up into the foothills. A lot of other people had the same idea, but even with cars lining the shoulder the hectic, packed feel of the City Park celebration was absent.
 After the sunset (which was beautiful in its own right) the horizon started lighting up with fireworks. From the hood of our car on the shoulder of the road we were able to see 3 or 4 shows at once.
I spent my time watching, not taking pictures, so this is the best one I got.
 We also played with our sparklers, which was nostalgic fun. I discovered the filters on my smart phone, that night which created some neat images. I put them all into overexposed black and white, and I really like the way it turned out.

We left our shoulder side spot and headed back home right as a storm started up. The hen was shot off in the parking lot of our apartments, a fact I regretted a bit once I was reminded that it made a shriek (sorry neighbors!). The rest of the night was spent on the back porch, sitting by candle light and listening to the storm blow through the enormous aspens in the courtyard behind our apartment. We didn't plan one bit of it, and it couldn't have gone any better.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Movin' On

ETA: The captions turned out to be absurdly small, but there are some hyper links within them if you care to mosey around in my internet past. I'm also far too lazy and tired (see closing statement) to change anything about this post other than tacking on this very long and italicized disclaimer. Good night!

Before stepping into the future with smart phones I cleaned out the random, super old pictures on my phone that dated back to 2009. Here are a few in no particular order, chosen for no particular reason.
2010- Pig rocking chair picture taken for my good friend, Jess. She loooooves pigs.

2011- Bathroom art at New Belgium Brewery

2010- A classy wall decoration- yours for a steal at the local thrift store!

Early 2010- It snowed A LOT in Texas that winter

2009- I get all my nutritional advice from gas pump placards at convenience stores. Solid.

2009- Kate works at a nursery, and I told her about how my father used to do this with his construction boots. Officially creeped me out just as much at the age of 26 as it did at the age of 6.

2009- Binkus, cat of wonders.

Christmas 2010- You know you're in a sketch store when they have anti-theft tags on the baskets.

2010- A random bar in Brownwood, right before we moved up to Colorado

2010- Also right before we moved up to Colorado- this child is now 14 months old. He was a few days old here.

2009- Front porch of Jess' apartment in Hollywood, where I lived while writing my thesis.

2009- Halloween shopping. This sums up why I love Jess so much. We ended up going with these costumes.

2009- Last night in Hollywood before returning home to Texas to walk for graduate school.

2010- Bobby and I pet sat the creepiest cat in the universe. This picture says it all.

2009- My contribution to a Christmas potluck.

2010- My favorite gauntlets and a sparkle doughnut.

 I have a sore throat, so now it's bed time. Oh, sweet delicious bed time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Isn't it Ironic?

I shared this on FB as a joke, and I wanted to put it here too. Behold, the most hipster 4th of July photo ever. Sparkler mustache, scrunchy face, vintage filter, put a bird on it. Done.

You can't see it, but I'm wearing some cute vintage shoes with my toes together, and my lap is with red velvet cupcakes and Polaroid cameras. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

My earliest memory of the 4th of July is making squiggles with sparklers at Brownwood Lake with my best friend Sarah, around age 3, while our young mothers played Tom Petty's "American Girl" into the hot Texas night. I was too young to understand anything other than the simple explanation I was given- "Today is America's Birthday"- but at that age I could already grasp that birthdays were good times, and always worth celebrating. In the years after, I learned more about the significance of the holiday, the history behind it, and like many elementary school students I memorized the preamble to the Constitution. On top of the historical significance, the 4th is forever linked in my mind to family get togethers, backyard BBQ's, and homemade fireworks displays shot off from the back patio of my Granny's house in Brownwood, TX.

Last 4th of July Bobby and I celebrated by taking a short road trip to Palmer Lake to take part in their well known festivities. Our friends were in town from Salt Lake City visiting their parents, and they invited us out to stay with their parents and watch the fireworks.

 The town of Palmer Lake is nestled around the lake, and then creeps up the side of the surrounding mountains. It's incredibly quaint, and has the tight knit feel of a good small town community. We got there early, and people were already staking out spots along the water's edge, laying claim to a prime view of the fireworks that would be going off later that night.

 We had some time to kill before meeting up with our friends, and we were starving, so we decided to grab some food at The Depot. The entire place was decked out in red, white, and blue banners, flags were everywhere, and there was a nice celebratory vibe to the whole place. It's a family restaurant with excellent service, and despite being two vegetarians in a meat heavy establishment, we still found plenty to eat.

Doin' my best All American Gal wink. I know, I know, it's not that great. Focus on the fried mushrooms.
We met up with our friends after, and spent the afternoon hiking up the gorgeous canyons (if you're ever in the area, I definitely suggest doing some hiking). After a few hours we returned home tired and hungry, ready for dinner and fireworks. Right as the sun started to set, the rain began- not just rain, but a pretty impressive thunderstorm that threatened to cancel the celebrations. It eventually blew off and turned into a persistent shower, and the fireworks were back on. We decided to nix our plans of walking down the dirt roads to the lake to watch the show. Instead we crawled up into the tower of their turn of the century home and watched the fireworks popping and sparking off in the distance. We could see the entire valley spread out below us, and the fireworks showering over the lake, reflected double in the water. Between the good conversation, excellent company, and the quirky experience of watching fireworks through a rain storm huddled together in the tower, it was altogether a great time.

This year our 4th of July will  be much more low key, spent hanging around town and laying a bit low. We're leaving on a two week long, 3,000 mile road trip this coming Friday, so we canceled our previous plans of celebrating the 4th in Santa Fe, NM in favor of checking out the local celebrations. A morning hike is on the agenda, followed by watching fireworks wherever they happen to be. If you're interested in a neat factoid story about the roots of the American movement for independence, check out this link to read about Liberty Trees.

Whatever you may be doing this 4th of July, I hope it is a safe and happy one!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hangin' Around

Bobby and I both do yoga, and we wanted to find an easy way to store our mats. I know, you can just roll them up and put them in a corner, but inevitably the fall over, roll out, or worse, they never get a chance to really air out in between sweaty vinyasa sessions. I'm sure there are all kinds of expensive ways to store one's mat, but here's what we did after brainstorming and looking around for ideas. We went to Home Depot, and bought** two wooden toilet paper roll holders and a dowel rod. Bobby measured the dowel rod and cut it to fit, and before we knew it, we had a pretty ace system for storing our mats. Check it:

 These guys are now hanging on the hallway wall, right in front of our guest room/study door. They're out of the way, and it was cheap and easy.
 Plus, they fit into the theme of "we hang our physical fitness/recreational equipment on the walls". As our friend Matt said, a bike on the wall is the most common form of art in a Colorado home. True.

While we're on the subject of cheap things to do with yoga, I highly recommend Dave Farmar's podcasts and Shiva Rea's "Yoga Shakti" DVD's for at home practice. The former is totally free, and the latter is about $20 for 4.5 hours of customizable practice. 

Happy yoga'ing!

**We did search three thrift stores before we bought them. Some things just need to be purchased new.