Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January review

Happy end of the month!  A part of me hesitates to produce a "this-is-what-I-did-in-January" report because then it reduces all of the experiences and emotions to a handful of final products.  So, we'll see if I nix this month-in-review thing before I become obsessed with some report to myself.  On the other hand, since I do want to focus more on the triathlon thing, I am interested to see if there are changes from month to month, not so much in my overall performance but in my attitude towards the whole swim, bike, run thing.
I did, however, want to start the 2012 year and an actual training cycle with a different mindset - a bit more serious one - and I also decided that to improve overall, I needed to focus on the bike portion.  My swimming skills aren't super awesome, but in the whopping two triathlons that I've finished, I don't completely suck at the swim.  I do, however, suck in the saddle.  To that end, I have spent plenty of time going to spin classes, but, more importantly, I was in the saddle a whopping FOUR times this month.  Okay, that makes it obvious to anyone that I do not pretend to be a biker chick, but it is about three times more than I rode last year in January, so I'll take it as progress.  Additionally, for each ride, I had a great time and even thought to myself, "I could learn to love this!".
The other change for 2012?  I am determined that I will not suffer an injury (love that I think that I have absolute control over that).  Last year, I endured two months without running, and I would very much like to avoid that happening.  With that in mind, I have resigned myself to being a low-mileage runner.  Not that I am limiting myself to two or three mile runs (nothing wrong with that, by the way), but as a weekly average, I barely break 15 miles and sometimes don't even hit double digits for the week.  As a result of the focus on biking and on not injuring myself from running too much, I am quite convinced that my running game has suffered.  To add to the sense that I'm a failed runner, I haven't even signed up for a running race/event for 2012 which makes me feel totally lame.  At this point, a part of me fears that I will  lose my running mojo and not remember HOW to kick it into gear, and then another part of me realizes that such a fear is complete nonsense.  Sort of nonsense.
At any rate, I am realizing that it is impossible for me to truly balance the swim/bike/run thing and feel content with every single skill set that I do or don't have.  Mainly don't have.
As for not suffering an injury - in addition to lower mileage than makes me truly euphoric, I've committed myself to continue to see the chiropractor, to weights and to pilates!  I'm not 100% that the chiropractor's snaps truly help all of my IT band/joint/problematic body issue(s), but it does make me feel that I am being proactive and I do feel better on runs following visits to him.  Lifting weights hasn't gone too well since I only lifted weights once in January.  Maybe I'll do some tonight?!  I know, however, that I need to continue to do strength-training exercises for my knee.  Finally, I attended my first pilates class in 5 years last week, and the experience was transformative!  I left feeling stretched out, as though my muscles and joints were finally in line.  Mind you, my abs were screaming the next two days, but I really liked the class.  I can't do yoga because so many poses put stress on my knees (I know that it is probably not yoga's fault but my own since yoga is miraculous for everyone - eye roll over here), but pilates rocks!
Two final notes - okay, maybe three.
One other change I wanted to make this year was to connect with a "tri-community" here in Southern CA.  Let me first say that just hearing/reading that phrase sort of makes my skin crawl a bit for a few reasons.  One is that I am still a newbie when it comes to the "tri" thing.  Secondly, community means people and that means that I have to socialize, probably with random strangers, and talk about myself and about them and relate to people that I don't know well.  I don't consider myself a social idiot, but I don't revel in meeting new people.  So, this goal definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone.  However, I met the challenge that I set for myself and joined a facebook group (I hate facebook, but that's an entirely new topic) and have now gone out on two group runs during which I actually spoke to interesting people.  This coming weekend, I am planning/hoping to hook up for a ride.  Now that will be a new experience as I actually ride WITH people!

Shew, that was a lot of talk about my body.  Moving on, one of my other goals for the year is to try out  two new recipes a month, and at least one has to be from one of the many cookbooks that we possess.  I made it until Sunday without meeting this goal, and then I ended up cooking a new chicken dish from Good Meat, a cookbook that I gave Michael for his birthday, and trying out this pumpkin and feta savory muffin recipe.  Both were pretty much successful - the chicken was a cardamon roasted chicken for which we also got to use the mortar and pestle that I gave Michael for his birthday last year (hmm, see a trend?), and the muffins are a healthy snack to eat during the day, packed with butternut squash (not pumpkin for us), kale and feta cheese.  I do feel that they could use a bit more fat in them - maybe I'll add some bacon grease?!

One final note about January - I did have a pretty rockin' birthday and am, so far, enjoying my 40's.  I still don't see myself as middle aged, but I do have to recognize that I'll be there sooner or later!  While it would be rude (I think) to talk too much about presents, I will say that I scored with these two in particular:
A 5-inch Shun Nakiri knife that is one of the most awesome things I've ever used in the kitchen, maybe even out of the kitchen.  I do worry about my fingers though!

Ah, Patagonia sweaters, how do I love thee?  I was given this in bordeaux rather than seaweed (color shown above).  I also think that I should be a Patagonia model.  They clearly haven't discovered my talent!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rest day: Good for the mind, good for the body

(I randomly changed the name of my blog - we'll see if it sticks!)
I am enjoying my last Sunday of somewhat sustained calm for the next few weeks or months as a new semester gets underway tomorrow and I pick up another class to teach.  While January is not yet over, I am mentally lumping the last two days in with February, which looks to be a pretty crazed month.  That will be in stark contrast to the past few weeks which have given me ample time to nap, eat and drink well, play a lot, and train pretty hard.
On that last note, I must acknowledge that I went from minimal tri training (zero) to over-training.  Perhaps it connects to being a forty-something-female and the sense that I need to do as much as possible soon now at once!?  But I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that I would like to actually RACE, for me, the Wildflower Tri this year, rather than be content to merely finish it.  Since the past two weeks presented me with tons of free time, I decided to fill too much of that time with training hours.  Today, since my body pretty much rebelled on me yesterday after a 2-hour hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, I am taking a very unscheduled day OFF which was supposed to happen on Tuesday.  I had planned to spend part of the morning in the saddle, actually meeting up with a group (gasp!) for a training ride.  The decision to cancel the ride had nothing to do with my fears of meeting random people and looking/feeling inept and had everything to do with the fact that my body felt exhausted, especially my left leg (IT band and shin issues suddenly coming into play).
And so, I made a strategic choice:  Take the day off to focus on resting and on preparing for school tomorrow.  I love that I have to "focus" on resting!
Sometimes, however, I find that it is more challenging to just stop and take a break.  In my ideal world, I would happily (and healthily) balance the demands of work, grade everything my students hand in within 24 hours, while also training something like 2 hours a day.  To add to that, I would eat well and sleep 8 hours every day.  Or, if I couldn't sleep 8 hours, then I could function well on 6 hours of sleep a night.  Oh, and I would have a great relationship with friends, colleagues, students and, obviously, spend quality time with my dogs and husband (does anyone else kind of hate the word "husband"?).  I can live with a certain amount of chaos in my life and don't get too hung up on the idea of a perfect equilibrium in my life, but I've also come to accept that the idea 2+ daily hours of swim/bike/run at this point is completely unrealistic given my life and priorities and physical limitations, like a terrible knee and general joint issues.
On that note, I've had to recognize the obvious:  I am a training wimp.
So, on that note, I'm giving my legs a major break today with lots of time on the sofa as I watch the X-Games (Shaun White is a beast!), lament Nadal's defeat in the Australian Open, and prepare for classes and meetings next week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A random week

I could very easily get used to my schedule this week which has included sitting around the house grading exams for a bit, then taking a short break (to snack, look at the dogs or let them out and maybe even play with them, waste 10 minutes or so on the interweb like I'm doing now, or do some light housekeeping, like fold laundry), then returning to grading, then taking a longer break to go for a bike ride or to make lunch, then grading more, and then taking another long break...
Maybe not the most productive lifestyle, but it really works.  Now, if only I could find a way to do this all the time!
Okay, that's an impossible dream, so I will bask in the fact that I have a break from my 'real life' this week which has allowed me to definitely switch around my usual schedule.  A few changes from the norm:
- Going out on a Sunday night!  That is something that almost never happens because Sunday is "crunch" time as I cram to prepare for the week, but I discovered that Sunday night is a great night to go out because it is such a low-key evening in most restaurants.

- Working out mid-morning or early afternoon is such a treat.  The pool is set up competition-length, so I can get a more exhausting workout.  Also, biking mid-day, mid-week is super fun and other cyclists seem nicer than the weekend riders.  Maybe that's my imagination?  Finally, I get to attend spin class with Rod, the most awesome spin instructor ever on Friday morning at 8:30 am!

- Along the same theme, trying out a new class.  Somehow, having more mental energy from putzing around all day means that I can push myself to try something new, like Pilates last night.  That was a great experience, and I hope to repeat it soon!

- Taking our dog Milo to the vet for his recent and unexplained weight loss.  Apparently we've had him on a starvation diet since his bloodwork is normal.  Don't I feel like a terrible pet owner?

- Brunch on a Friday morning followed by a pedicure - that plan is in the works for tomorrow.  Can't wait to be a "lady who brunches".  It might actually remind me why I *like* to work, but pretending to be a lady of leisure for a day isn't a bad thing.

The other major positive about the week is that, with the exception of Sunday's splurge (in every way possible), we have returned to a more "normalized" eating pattern.  The past 6 weeks or so have been filled with too many celebrations and vacations, so we ate out more than usual as we celebrated two birthdays and the holidays, traveled to places with good food, and enjoyed socializing with friends and family.  Now, we have no excuses about the lack of time or company or special events, so we are back to preparing meals en casa which is much easier on the pocket book and the waistline.  Hopefully this will not just be the product of a 'random' week but will become the norm again as I return to a more hectic routine starting Monday!

In the meantime, I'm back to grading essays.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Over the threshold

Ah, well, here I am at 40, looking it square in the eye thanks to help from this:

Not a great picture, but the important detail is that there is an ENTIRE bottle of wine in that glass.  Yep, that was one of my many awesome presents (a few others included a good bottle of wine, a bottle of tequila, a 40 oz bottle of Mickey's malt liquor) from an extended Friday night happy hour.  Needless to say, on Saturday morning I truly felt Hank Williams Jr.s' line when he sings "Hangovers hurt more than they used to".  At that point, I was still in my 30's, but what's a day or two?
Adding to the mix, Michael and I enjoyed our own celebration on Sunday night at Jar, a very "LA" restaurant in my mind.  That was a major extravagance but well worth it - after all, I'm never going to turn four zero again.  We've been to Jar before, but it had literally been years since our last outing there. I did, however, still remember the Porterhouse steak well from that last visit!  From our experience, there is always an interesting crowd, usually plenty of pretentious Hollywood types or the older-guy-much-younger-woman-couples peppering the restaurant.  This time, we sat between a pair of elderly gentlemen who talked about food and travel the entire meal and a young, super hip but totally silent couple who spent way more time looking at their phone than talking to each other.  Talk about a diverse crowd!  I was really craving a good steak, something that we don't often eat but that this place is known for (I had the porterhouse on my palate, I suppose).  Michael indulged me, and we split an enormous "tomahawk steak" that was cooked and cut on the bone.  I think we surprised our waiter by finishing the entire steak - but it was for two people!  We also split dessert, a butterscotch pudding with salted carmel on top.  I think that it was one of the most memorable desserts that I've had in a very long time.  In fact, the entire meal was pretty awesome - so much so that our waiter even commented to us, "You've just had the perfect meal!".
I think I agree.
Lest one think that all I did was eat, drink and be merry all weekend long, I did log in a spin, swim and a run.  Someone told me that I *had* to run on my birthday, at least 40 minutes, one minute per year.  I ended up with a 50-minute run which felt good (actually, it kind of felt like hell since I started with a crazy uphill for about a mile or longer).  I did feel good afterwards, however!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A look back at the 30's

Well, if I had anything on my before-I-turn-forty bucket list, it's a bit too late to worry about it now since that day is rapidly approaching.  Holy cow!

I fulfilled the only urgent to-do-before-I-turn-forty item yesterday - went to the DMV and renewed my license!  I only had to wait an hour too, which wasn't bad.  When I left, the line just to pick up paperwork was about 10 people deep.  Crazy!
Before I reflect on the nature of turning 40 and what that means, let me just say that I am leaving this decade in a better place than where I was when I entered it.  I feel that I actually became somewhat of an adult over the past 10 years, and not just because I finally met one of society's standards of measurements by getting married.  In every other way, I still fall into "irresponsible" category (no house, no kids, I don't even have a car to myself these days).  However, I do feel that I've changed for the better, just like a fine wine improves.
Seriously though, I'd call myself a late-bloomer without any hesitation.  I was pretty much a disaster throughout my 20's, so things could only look up.  Fortunately, they did!
Not to reduce the decade to bullet points or a quick paragraph, but looking back, I can see significant moments that have shaped how and where I am now.  For instance:
- Moving from Seattle to Monterey, Ca.  That was a hard decision, and there were so many times in the years following the move that I questioned the decision.  However, it WAS exciting to live in California, an experience that I never planned or necessarily wanted.  I explored the Central Coast and got to know the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur (one of those must-see places!), Santa Cruz and even San Francisco, which was an easy weekend get-away.
- After 3 years in Monterey, moving to the LA area where I've lived in 3 areas or neighborhoods, all very different.  Again, I never imagined that I would live in Southern Ca nor that I would stay here for going on seven years nor that it would feel so much like "home" to me.
- Getting hitched!  After a whirlwind two years of bicoastal flights and long weekends together, Michael gave up his super urban New York lifestyle.  It still amazes me that what started as a great fling in Colorado at some friends' wedding gained serious traction, and, well, here we are.  Cheers to that!

- Adopting Gus and Milo, obviously!  What a game-changer that was.  I was so dog-crazy a few years ago that we even started the search to buy a house so that we could get a dog.  Note that I said A dog, not two.  But we ended up with two pretty fantastic mutts who are great travel companions, accompanying us to San Francisco, Seattle, annual trips to Colorado and even to Texas!  And they are our daily companions too, enriching our lives and sometimes driving us crazy.  

- After bouncing around job-wise, I've seemingly become more responsible and stable on that front and have taken on new roles and different challenges.  It has been a great experience to grow professionally and personally at a place of work, and I do feel lucky for that.
- The 30's have definitely been marked by a range of travel, near and far.  While there are large swaths of the state of California and the American West in general that I have yet to explore, I do know some places quite intimately thanks to yearly pilgrimages (Boulder, CO and San Francisco come to mind) and have been north and south on the 5, east and west on the 10, the 15, and highways in between with stops in Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.  Plus, a few trips to Spain and France and Ecuador.  Peripatetic indeed!
- Other changes are more subtle - better food and drinking as I've developed a taste for dirty martinis and good beer, in addition to wine of both colors; creaking bones and more grey hairs but still enjoying fairly good health; a penchant for REI, Patagonia, and 'gear' in general; dressing better for work (that's actually kind of a bummer) while keeping up a great t-shirt collection and sock collection; doing more 'couples-things' while still being an individual; getting to run again; living in a one of the most boring towns in the world that happens to have access to so many adventures.

Maybe because I am so content with where I am now, I don't have a list of improvements for myself for the next decade.  While, yes, I am still not perfect and probably won't ever be (ha ha - the "probably" is a joke), I don't need dramatic changes in my life.  If they come about, positive and negative, I hope that I can manage them without a kerfuffle*, but maybe a bit of chaos will keep me on my toes, lest I become TOO content with my life.  That is the delicate balance for me, but I've struck a nice equilibrium at the moment.
We shall see how long I can sustain it!

Kerfuffle - A commotion or fuss.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Year of the bike!

Two things before I begin to flesh out this idea.  First of all, I know that 2012 is actually the "Year of the Dragon".  Following the rabbit (2011), it sounds pretty ferocious!  I suppose that powerful would describe it more accurately.  Secondly, I had already framed this year in such a way well before I saw the Specialized bike on Friday night.

Now, I do not by any means consider myself to be a "biker chick".  I bought my lovely Fuji -  lavender with floral details- a few years ago.  At that point, I thought that running would be a taboo activity for the rest of my life, and I wanted to find another activity that would allow me to push myself physically.  Cycling or biking did not, however, immediately WOW me.  In fact, I felt like a nervous wreck every time I went out on the bike, sure that I would fall and be subsequently run over.  And I did fall - a lot.  It took me a very long time to master clipping in and out.  Fortunately, a car never hit me and the only thing that suffered great damage was my ego.  By the end of the summer, I felt a bit more comfortable on the bike, but I couldn't say that I had developed much of a skill set.  The following year, biking 'took' a bit more.  I went to a clinic in San Francisco and learned how to climb and descend correctly, and it also helped my confidence on the bike.  It wasn't until last year, however, that I actually started to log in regular weekly miles and put time into spinning classes to build strength.  Training for Wildflower served as the main impetus to spend time in the saddle, but as I put in more miles and grew accustomed to shifting the gears and my weight, learned when to push and when to hold back, I found that I actually enjoyed the experience.  I never thought I would get to that point, so I was happy to call that success!  Additionally, I managed to mount and dismount properly during the two tris in which I participated and didn't do anything too rookie-ish.  Again, that was success to me!
All this aside, maybe the best part about the bike is for me is that Michael and I can share experiences together. Last year, we started to explore more local routes, and we also headed south and west and tootled along the coast on our bikes, taking in some wonderful scenery on PCH.  We also traveled to Colorado with the bikes strapped to the top.  In Boulder, we were able to appreciate the roads for their bike-friendly nature (huge shoulders!), and from Frisco, CO, we climbed up to Vail pass to enjoy the sweeping views that it afforded us.

Now that I finally feel competent on the bike, I'd like to push myself on it.  Yes, I'll continue to ride just to log in miles and to ride further (I'm a total weenie on the mileage front), but I'd also like to focus on strength and speed this year.  More importantly, I would like to ride with friends or a random group.  I don't mind riding solo or as a couple, but I know that riding with a group would help me improve - I would have to push myself a bit more.  While it might feel like I'm just beginning again and my ego will suffer as I huff and puff and barely keep pace, I know that it would be a great challenge physically and also in a more general sense since I would have to agree to ride with people.  And then talk to them before, after and during the ride.  Ack!

So, that is the focus for the year.  Which is why I am happy to say that I have already been in the saddle a whopping two times this year!  Once last Saturday and once yesterday.  Yes, I'm lame but I'll take that as a successful step.  I think that it was the end of January before I got out on the bike last year!  Last Saturday's ride was a good "get back in the saddle" experience, and yesterday?!  Well, I now regret not going further, but I realized that a Saturday when everyone else is inside watching football is the PERFECT moment to go for a nice, relaxed ride.  The weather was great, there were no cars out, and it was a lovely experience overall.
I'm now hoping to have many more of them this year!

Especially if I get a new bike.
(Thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not covet....)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 is a blur already!

Hitting January, mid-month, it occurs to me that the month and year seem to already be in overdrive.  The weeks back to school/work have been full of meetings, classes, general busy-ness, and Michael and I have tried to keep our social card somewhat full without overdoing it.  The three-day weekend has actually provided me the opportunity to take a step back.  While I do need to grade, plan, write an exam or two and grade some more, the extra day is a much-needed buffer.  We haven't traveled and our plans are minimal, which is perfect for a productive weekend - painting and drawing for Michael, grading for me, sleeping and eating for the pups!
Not that it's been all work and meeting some of our responsibilities around here.  I've decided to embrace our Friday night out "rut" as not a rut but as the perfect way to enjoy the end of the formal work week.  We rarely make a huge evening of it, sticking to some place local and fun.  Last night, I was in the mood for decent bar food, so we made our way to The Fat Dog in Montrose, a fun little neighborhood that is very close and convenient. Before drinks and dinner, we stopped at the local bike shop to pick up a tire that needed some tweaking.  While Michael was paying, I unfortunately saw this beauty:

I'm kind of obsessed now.

After I salivated for a while over it, Michael pulled me away - or the idea of dinner and drinks motivated me to salivate over something else.  The "Fat Dog" experience did not disappoint!  We went there for the first time in December when we had no power and were desperate for a good drink and decent food, and we really enjoyed it.  This time around was the same.  Good food and drink - no complaints from us.  
Today has been full but fun - running errands this morning and working on and off this afternoon, but it doesn't have the rush feel that sometimes happens on weekends.  I just went out for a short but fun ride (not on the beauty shown above), and since all of Southern CA must be watching the NFL playoffs, I was almost the only one on the road - or so it seemed!
So, yes, it's been nice to slow down the pace this weekend.  Not to the point that I don't have a pulse, but I'll take the breather!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Current obsession: Downton Abbey

I was on the verge of falling into a deep funk.  Not only did I have to return to WORK, which really isn't bad except for the grading papers part which just might kill me this next week (so behind!  how does it happen?), but I found a new love, by total chance, and then this love affair ended far too soon.  See, upon our return from Colorado, I started browsing Netflix's instant movie options and stumbled upon this random series, Downton Abbey, which came highly recommended for me based on my preferences and movie-watching habits.  The people or computers at Netflix gave it a whopping 4 stars.  I was skeptical, but I figured that we could give it a try.
In the past week, we raced through the episodes.  Needless to say, I was HOOKED.  British period piece, beautiful clothes, well-acted and written, and a total soap-opera?  As quickly as we began the series, it ended.  I looked for Season 2 on Netflix, but nothing.
And then, this morning, I checked Slate.com and there was an entire article dedicated to "Downton Abbey".  Season 2 begins on Sunday!  I could not believe my luck.  Okay, I am obviously the only person in Los Angeles, maybe in the US, who was completely clueless about this series since it won not one, not two, three, four or five Emmy awards but SIX!  Apparently those people making decisions about a good mini-series got it right this year, and I didn't even know that!
So, my Sunday evenings are now blocked out and life has meaning.  While I would probably have been a scullery maid with terrible hair, posture and skin if I had been so unfortunate as to live in 1914 or so, I find it completely satisfying to watch this series.  And if those designers at Anthropologie had any sense, they should make a Downtown Abbey line of clothes or clothes AND housewares, and then they'd have all sorts of middle and upper-middle class American women looking ready to go out for a garden party!  I don't plan on wearing a party frock Sunday night, but I'll happily drink beer, enjoy some good, old-fashioned drama and be thankful that I don't actually live back then!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking backward and forward and sideways

Cheers, cheers to 2011 which was over about 36 hours ago now!  The main thought as tomorrow looms over me in a menacing way is that I need to seriously detox from the holidays and maybe from the year?  Perhaps 2012 will be easier on my liver?  That would be a good goal, but I'll pause before I commit to that.
I often hesitate to do a "Top 10 List" of a week, a year, a month, but there is something nice about reflecting on a year and the experiences that defined that year.  When I think about 2011, now well in the past tense, it seems that the year flew by.  Time is no longer marching along but seems to whirl at a quick pace, faster and faster with each year.  Maybe that's what happens as you get older?  Michael and I spent large chunks of time visiting family and friends, here in CA and other places near and far (Colorado, Texas, Las Vegas, the East Coast...).  While I have 'family' fatigue at the moment, over the past 12 months we enjoyed connecting with different cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews and other blood relations.  Michael and I are also thankful on a regular basis for the awesome dogs with whom we share our lives.  It's cheesy but true!
As for great discoveries or major moments of the year, we did have a few highlights:

  •  Exploring the Central Coast (Paso Robles and environs) with my parents and on our own.

  • Trying new places to eat that quickly became favorites: La Cabanita in Montrose and Umami Burger in LA come to mind!

  • Avery Beer.  Amazingly good.  Need I say more?

  • The Wildflower Triathlon was one of the most amazing experiences for me.  While I can't repeat the thrill of the first time experience, I am looking forward to another awesome experience this May.  

  • For both of us, feeling stronger, more comfortable and more confident on the bike!  While I still don't *love* cycling, I think that I'm getting the hang of it.

  • Almost losing Gus, our dog, dealing with the stress of that and now spending a fortune on his special dietary needs!  He's pretty much fully recovered for which we are very appreciative.  (Although I'm not loving the farts right now for which I'm pretty sure he is responsible.
(I know, both of "the boys" are in the photo, but they're so darn cute that I couldn't help including them.  Plus, Tweedle De and Tweedle Dum - I do think of them together.)

There are countless great moments, some momentous, others small and quiet - 5 years of a shared life, frequent walks and hikes, some great runs and races, drives to the coast just to see the water, sharing a bowl of spicy noodles, laughing at myself, hitting the 100,000 mile mark in the car right around Santa Fe, playing in the snow.  Yep, 2011 did not disappoint!

2012 holds plenty of promise this early in the year.  A leap year. And an election year, which is both good and bad as the over-information can overwhelm.  However, it is also an Olympic year, and I am already looking forward to the Opening Ceremony in London!  On a personal note, I will be turning one of those significant numbers that end in -0, and in order to make the big four zero an awesome year, I signed up for the Boulder 70.3 which will either be a triumphant moment or an agonizing 'defeat' (do other people remember the Wide World of Sports "Thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" clip?).  We'll see how that all goes!  Finally, major travel plans if all goes well (Chicago, Pacific Northwest, Nicaragua).  
There are plenty of unknowns that are thrown into the mix, but that's the exciting part as I look ahead, anticipating a great year.