Saturday, January 31, 2015

January - It's a wrap (almost!)

Yes - January, despite my sense of lackluster motivation and a slow start, ended up being a good month and has concluded on a positive note.  Returning to work after the holidays is always a bit brutal, but the Jan. schedule at the school where I teach is pretty awesome and allows for much socializing.  Add to that my birthday and some solid training weeks, and the month rounded out quite nicely!

Yes, my birthday - another year older but not necessarily wiser.  I used to hate having a January birthday (mainly when I was a kid because I wanted a pool party which was never possible, not even in South Texas), but I've obviously gotten over that and now embrace getting older.  I think that, once I'm closer to the big 5-0, I might enjoy celebrating it a bit less, but for now, I'll continue to raise a glass to my health and happiness.

Drinking a home-made margarita by the resident mixologist and sporting a great little Smartwool pullover that my parents got me - total win!

With my birthday, I didn't move up an age group, sadly, but hopefully it will be a good year for me in the 40-44 group!  My actual birthday was filled with some star power - I attended a CalTri season kick-off meeting and met the very inspiring Hillary Biscay who talked to the group.  I admit that I didn't know who she was until I got my first Smashfestqueen kit, but then I started reading about her and wow, she's pretty amazing.  And I really do love the kits that her company makes - the designs are awesome and the kits are comfortable.  Anyway, I wavered - to introduce myself as a fan girl or not?  I finally decided that it would be kind of silly to not say anything to her, so I ended up talking about how great the kits are, showing her a picture of me wearing the Fly kit, and then we blabbed about triathlon. I was a little starstruck, I must admit, and she was very nice.

Hillary with Maik Twelsiek - the following photos are courtesy of CalTri (and Harrison Shao)

No pictures with Hillary but Harrison snapped one of me with Maik - he only came in 11th at Kona this year!  He was swiping my credit card so that I could make the following purchase:

I know, I know!  Another kit. But so cute and I love the fish scales on it!  And Maik also talked with me about the St. George course - and the hills!

My "real" birthday celebration followed - Michael and I spent an afternoon hanging out at LA's Grand Central Market , visiting the Hudson River School exhibit at LACMA and eating and drinking quite well.  To be honest, there might have been a bit too much over-indulgence over the course of the month, but how can I complain about *having* to spend time at some of my favorite places - Amigos, the York, Golden Road Brewery and POV (this last place has forever ruined pizza elsewhere for us) with friends.  Also, I had my first ramen experience - since the days of Top Ramen - at Tsujita.  The LA Weekly claims that you can find better ramen, but you have to get on a plane to do so.  I'm not a ramen expert, but I can say that it was one of the most decadent meals I've ever had.

Perhaps my favorite part of the meal (except for the ramen) - Glad that no one died while we were eating the ramen!

I mentioned drink, and I know that serious triathletes and runners eschew alcohol.  Sigh.  Obviously I'm not one of those serious athletes, and I've developed a recent crush on the Old Fashioned and variations of said drink (such as the Claremont).  Also, Golden Road's "Better Weather IPA" is one of the best beers I've had in ages which I would drink on a more regular basis except that it has 9% alcohol or something ridiculous like that.  In other words, it packs a punch.

Despite a month of eating and drinking a bit too much, I would say that the rest of my training regime is on track.  Yes, despite my mid-month groaning and moaning and belly-aching, it's been a solid training period.  I started off the month with a great run in Boulder on New Year's, and I started today with an early morning long, slow distance run.  Many of these have felt like a slog, at least at one moment or another, but I enjoyed every moment of today's run. I feel that some of the training is beginning to click, and I'm looking forward to a more focused month in February.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015 - It's happening!

I know, 20 days into the year and I finally decide to embrace it.  Good for me!  It's been somewhat of a low-key start to the year, so maybe that explains my reluctance to exuberantly celebrate the start to the new year.

Or the end to 2014, for that matter, which was a memorable year but wasn't exactly a *fantastic* year.  I think that I declared around this time last year that it would be a 'bold' year which, ultimately, it wasn't.  It's funny, in foresight, I believed that the whole Ironman thing would be an audacious experience, but that wasn't really the case.  As a family friend said to me on this topic, there is something militaristic about training for such an event.  He didn't say that in a negative way but rather matter-of-factly, and he was quite right.  By undertaking IM training, I ended up with a regimented schedule for about 6 months.  Not to say that it was easy - it wasn't - or that it wasn't a fantastic experience - it was -  and I certainly took risks and grew and learned about myself and about the whole swim/bike/running thing.  However, Ironman wasn't THE defining moment of the year, which is okay.  Maybe it's hard to find one moment in any given year, or, if you do, are you reducing all of the other moments that are pretty great?  I can say that 2014 was a year of growth, which came with good times and also harder ones.  Seeing relationships ebb and flow is natural, but it's not always easy, and I experienced some of those growing pains this past year.  Also, I know that it sounds silly to non-pet people, but I still miss Milo, our dog, who passed away last February.

I hope that 2015 is also a year of growth (I suspect that it will be!) and of tackling new challenges.  Despite some of my moaning, groaning and grumbling about lack of fitness, I have committed to another Ironman experience!  My plans in 2015 are Ironman 70.3 St. George and Ironman Boulder!  St. George was a tough choice because it's the same weekend as Wildflower, which will always be near and dear to my heart in terms of triathlon, but after last year's swim, I don't know how the conditions will be better this year (with the continued lack of rain), and Michael, Mr. Sherpa, said that he'd prefer to go to St. George anyway.  The only issue I'm currently experiencing with St. George - mentally at this point - is that it is a harder course than Wildflower.  Gulp.  This means that I need to get in gear, especially on the bike!  The bonus is that it looks like an amazingly beautiful course, so I can't wait for that.

And Ironman Boulder - it was the only 'obvious' choice for different reasons.  Summer plans, for instance, and also for the emotional pull that Boulder has had over the past 9-10 years.  It was my first Ironman experience, at Boulder 70.3 a few years ago, so it will be exciting to tackle the full distance this year.  Plus, we'll be there in June which will give me the chance to train on the course - what a concept!  Even better, I love the idea of seeing friends and family on the day of the event.

My only issue right now, is that... despite working with the same coach as last year (who is awesome) and despite the long off-season that should have reenergized me, I'm feeling...  Oh, a bit 'off'.  I was so excited to begin to train and to focus on 2015 training, and I still am, but I'm also worried that I bit off more than I can chew this year.  Maybe it's just that I'm nervous about the idea of another Ironman and I'm still waiting for things to come into focus.  I was so excited in July, still riding on the post-Ironman high, that I couldn't wait to sign up for another race, but now I feel somewhat intimidated about fully committing to the training program again - but here it is!

In the meantime, I recognize that I have much to look forward to in 2015 and exciting changes are afoot.  But there are also some scary unknowns (the Rumsfeldian "known unknowns" along with the "unknown unknowns").  I hope that I can embrace all of the experiences, good and difficult, and the changes that come my way in 2015.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The 2014 Christmas edition

I know, I know, it's 2015 already yet I'm still stuck in 2014.  With the return to work looming (ack, tomorrow!), I want to express gratitude for the fun times that we had over the Christmas break with good friends and family in Colorado.  Although it made for a busier trip, I felt particularly lucky this year that we were able to see both sides of our families, spending time with Michael's family in Boulder and skiing with my family.
Our trip preparations included dressing up Gus in his Christmas costume.  He was a very unhappy doggie as an ice cream sundae.

As usual, we drove from Pasadena to Boulder, however, we stopped in Santa Fe this year rather than Flagstaff.  We arrived late and left early, so we couldn't fully appreciate the sights, but wow, is it a beautiful place at Christmas with the lights! Also, the sunrise to which we were treated as we left town was so beautiful - such pinks and blues!  I sometimes think that Georgia O'Keefe's work is a bit cheesy with all of the pink, but when I saw that sunrise, I thought - "Wow, she didn't make any of it up".

After a few quick days in Boulder (most of which we spent running errands, although we hit some of our favorite places - Salt, Backcountry Pizza which is notable for an outstanding beer list, and Southern Sun), we headed to Keystone, Colorado to meet up with my family.  This was a repeat of our trip two years ago which was fine by me.  We discovered that a ski trip suited everyone - giving us enough freedom yet still allowing us to be together.  One of our first stops was Keystone Village where I posed with the ice sculptures alongside my niece and nephews:

And then we spent the next few days skiing:
Michael, my brother, sister-in-law and I

 Panorama view of the mountains

More posing at the top of the mountain!

Michael taking a break.

The skiing was really great this year thanks to a few days of major snowfall right before we arrived (and the day of our arrival).  I don't ski all-out, super hard-core these days, largely because I'm nervous about injuring myself, but we had several great days out there.  What most surprised us was the lack of lift lines - we rarely had to wait at all, and when we did, the lines were quite short.  It was fun to see my niece and nephews on the slopes too.  We didn't ski too much with them, but they are becoming very good skiers and it's fun to watch them on slopes!

The last day was probably the warmest, so we got in one final morning before returning to Boulder for a New Year's Eve celebration.  We closed out 2014 and brought in 2015 with a competitive game of Cards Against Humanity, plenty of champagne and caps that Michael's mother made for all of us.

A motley crew

Boulder - The Flatirons with snow

We spent New Year's Day in Boulder - going for a walk, visiting family, and I even motivated for a New Year's Day run in the cold (for me, it was freezy!), the perfect way to start 2015.  It was a full Christmas/New Year's break, and while at times I missed the low-key nature that often defines our holidays, it was great to see so many people and share the holidays with them.  We definitely ate and drank and played pretty hard, and I'm now ready to focus on 2015 and all that it will bring!