Monday, May 21, 2012

The Salt Lake Half Century

Yesterday I biked 50 miles.

I have never in my life come close to that kind of mileage.

Although I know some people that ride their bikes 50 miles before breakfast, for me, it's kind of a big deal.

My step-dad, Mark, has been doing some bike rides (not races) with his company. It started a year ago when they did one in New York which was somewhere around 40 miles I think and went through all five boroughs. Which I think sounds so awesome. Then he did one in San Diego and my brother Ryan joined them. Then a couple months ago he invited all of his children to do half of the Salt Lake Century with him.

Yesterday was the big day. And even though I had some anxiety about it I'm so glad I did it.

I did a little bit of training but probably not enough. A couple months of riding the stationary bike at the gym and then riding an actual bike short distances 3 times a week for the past two weeks.

The race (ride) started at 7:30am. The full century went from the Utah State fairgrounds (west of downtown SLC) up to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake and back. Are goal was to make it to the Island and be picked up from there.

The riders were myself, Mark, Ryan, Sarah, Sarah's friend Ali and Megan and Trent. And a handful of people from my dad's company.

We did the ride in three stages. Two 18 miles legs and the last was 14 miles. 

The First Stage: Wasn't too difficult and went by pretty quickly. Because we had all left the starting line together all the racers (riders) were together in big packs. Which was kind of intimidating as they whizzed past you. I started out ahead of the my group, but my brother passed me pretty quickly. Then a little late my sister and her friend and then my dad and I stayed pretty near each other the first 18 miles.

This is where I realized the bike I was on put me at a disadvantage. You see, (and all this info was new to me until very recently) I was on a mountain bike, not a road bike. Road bikes are very light and have super skinny tires (less touching the road = less friction = less effort to whizz past people on mountain bikes). Mountain bikes have heavier bodies (more to haul) and thicker tires (more friction). I didn't think it would make that big of a difference. But, I realized as I was pedaling as hard as everyone around me in my highest gear and they were flying past me on their spiffy road bikes, it definitely does make a difference when you're doing that kind of mileage.

Megan and Trent turned around at the first pit stop at 18 miles just south of Lagoon. The rest of us waited for my dad's co-workers to catch up. Both times we stopped we were stopped longer than we wanted to be waiting for people to catch up. 

The Second Stage: Was, by far, the toughest part of the ride mentally. I ended up all alone with Ryan and Sarah and friend in front of me (on their spiffy road bikes) and Mark & co. behind me. The thing that made it so tough was I had nothing to gauge distance or time and had no idea how far I had to go before the next stop. Every biker I passed I wanted to ask if he knew the mileage and every person I passed in their yard I wanted to ask what township I was in. Centerville? Kaysville? Farmington? Layton? Syracuse? I just had to keep going and going not knowing how far I had to go. Not to mention the growing physical discomfort from being on a bike that long. I don't care what anyone says. The female anatomy was not made for those saddles. People kept telling me I would get used to it. I don't WANT to get used to it. Even with my super padded bike shorts. Yeeouch. Not to mention the discomfort in your hands, wrists, and neck. And the burning of the legs.

After another 18 miles I finally rolled into the second pit stop.  

Now for some comic relief: Jill had left me a "good luck" treat  that morning, a Cliff bar and one of those packets of goo that they market as a miracle energy restorer but is really just straight sugar and some caffeine. I had opened the pouch of goo (chocolate flavored) early in the race and was taking little nips as I went on and putting it back in the pocket in the back of my jersey. Well, at the second pit stop we ended up waiting a long time and I naturally ended up laying on the grass. On my back. It took me a minute to I realized what I had in my back pocket. I sat up quick, reached behind me and my hand came away with a brown sticky mess. I asked Sarah to come and get the other things out of my other pockets now that my hands were a mess. She fell into grossed out fits. Smeared on the back of my jersey, right at my waist line was a brown, wet smear. I tried to fold my jersey on itself to get the sticky mess off my back but the way Sarah reacted I knew that the visual of it on my skin was much worse. Luckily my dad had an extra jersey he had taken off as the day had gotten warmer. I scooted to the bathroom hoping no one would notice that it looked like I had messed myself.

How embarrassing. And what a great laugh.

The last leg of the ride was 14 miles. Over the causeway on the Great Salt Lake to Antelope island. This was the toughest part of the ride physical. One because my legs were pretty beat, and two because I had moved on from discomfort and was somewhere near pain. Sarah staid with me the whole time across the causeway. Once we got to the island we thought we were through. But then we realized to go the full 50 miles we had to go around the island. It was about 4 miles. There were two small climbs and I was so worn down I had to walk my bike to the top of the second one. Right as I finished the loop my mom pulled up in the van.

Although I wouldn't have called what we did "fun" it is really fun to say I did it. And it made a great memory.

I might invest in a road bike in the future.

And, after everything, it still beats the hell out of running.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cheese Burgers and Corn Dogs

Editor's note: To my few male readers, don't let the title of this post fool you, you will probably find this post boring.

Since Monday, I've been on a carb fast. No bread, pasta, rice or potatoes or anything else made with flour until Saturday the 31st.

I've never been one to diet. I'm more concerned with eating whole foods and a balanced diet than I am severe, eliminations of entire kinds of food.

Same with working out. I much prefer being active to "working out".

So why the austere and bleak two week fast? Its an experiment.

I've never been unhappy with the way that I look. I'm pretty lucky in that even when I do gain weight I maintain my shape (meaning: my round parts get rounder). I'm tall enough that I can carry some extra weight better than if I were shorter, but the future makes me nervous. Because the sad truth is, its all up hill from here. Whether its babies, other womanly things or just a slower metabolism, its only going to get tougher and tougher to maintain the way I look. Another stark reality: if I go up one more size I won't be shopping at my favorite stores anymore. And that is the most sobering and motivating thought of all.

Thus the experiment: What will it take for me to lose/maintain my weight? Since the beginning of the year I've been working out more consistently than I have since high school. I've seen results but not anything anyone else would notice.

So if exercise won't do it a change in diet is in order. One of my challenges with that is I already eat pretty well. I'm naturally inclined to want good food (Don't get me wrong I want bad food pretty often but I'm pretty good at moderating and controlling myself).

Which leads to the carb fast. I'm going to Arizona for Spring Break in a week and the motivation of being in a swim suit for the first time in the season is helping me along.

So far it hasn't been too tough. I've been having eggs and yogurt for breakfast, salad for lunch, soup for dinner. I'm nervous for the weekend. It'll probably be tougher to do without the structure of my work day. The hardest time of day is 3-4pm. That's when I just want something quick and its hard to not eat a cracker or cookie.

I just really hope I see results. Or I'll be mad.

Tonight I started thinking about what I wanted to break my fast with. I'm thinking a grilled cheese...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Elmo's World

Last week I reached the end of my 30 Rock queue on Netflix (the horror!). Casting around for something else I watched the documentary titled "Being Elmo" which as I'm sure you can deduce is about the creater/actor/muppeteer that gave the world the little, red, furry monster Elmo.

(Is anyone else surprised that the person responsible for such a lovable child-like character is a tall, handsome, big hearted black man. I may have a type...)

The documentary was charming. Its no secret that I love the Muppets. And you'd have to have a real stone cold heart to not feel a little warm and soft inside when you see Elmo hug a sick child and tell him "Elmo loves you" followed by that adorable giggle.

Fast forward to this week. My classes are currently learning about the things of historical importance in the early 20th century. We've been learning about radios and radio plays. Next week they will create and produce their own radio plays. In preparation we covered a bit on sound effects. I found myself searching through videos of a voice actor named Fred Newman who was a sound effect guy on A Prairie Home Companion and Between the Lions. He also, apparently was a frequent visitor on everyone's favorite Street. The one Elmo lives on.

I showed the kids this video of Fred visiting Elmo and demonstrating some mouth noises. It was incredible to see their reaction. Elmo had their complete attention. They were smiling and laughing and more than a few, without any self-consciousness or prompt followed along with Fred's "popping" demonstration. These are teenagers. Responding to Sesame Street . Delightful.

Maybe my lessons would be more engaging if I used a sock puppet from now on.

(I showed the kids clip from A Prairie Home Companion before the Sesame Street one and upon seeing Fred Newman, one of the kids (an African refugee no less) yelled, "That guy is on Sesame Street!" Cute.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Scene from a friendship

Jill got a laptop this month. The following is our gchat from our respective rooms last night.

This is how we talk now:

10:28 PM Jill: can you make a word out of these letters? ENPPELIZ
10:29 PM me: Penile? Who are you playing? That's not very appropriate
Jill: haha no you have to use all of the letters
it's that drawing game...
me: zepplin
10:30 PM zeppelin is it
Jill: What the crap is that?
me: a blimp
10:31 PM Jill: I was going to say that he drew a blimp...
is that another word for a blimp? weird!
10:32 PM me: blimps and zeppelins aren't actually the same thing but its the closest thing to compare it to
a blimp is what you see floating above a baseball game advertising good year
a zeppelin was used as a form of air travel before planes became really popular
10:33 PM zeppelin's turned out to be a bad idea because they were filled with hydrogen which is highly flammable
pretty dangerous way to travel
Jill: well I'm happy to say that I've learned something new today.
me: so glad you have a computer now so we can really talk to each other.
10:34 PM Jill: are you copying this from a website?
me: no
I'm a history teacher
Jill: you so smat
me: was that on purpose?
Jill: yes
me: whatev

I promise we're still not gay.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is there a better reason?

"Hey Jill, what are you making?"

"Chocolate chip cookies."

"How come?"

"I'm on my period."

I have no problem with that.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hilarious Snow Day!

Its snowing today for the first time since...October? (We're having a bad year) And snow falling outside makes me want to do two things 1. Go skiing and 2. If I can't go skiing then I want to curl up and do nothing but wear fuzzy socks and consume media and warm drinks (not hot drinks, that's the devil's temperature).

So to help you enjoy your snow day, wherever you are, here's some links to some awesome viral videos:

1. I wish I had this much fun when I worked out.

2. "And it starts right now...."

3. This is how you make the day (year?) of a hundred sassy teenage girls. (It takes a minute for the surprise to come. Be patient and enjoy the dancing)

4. So wait...does she work at Ebay or Jamba Juice?

5. This one is 6 minutes long but you get the point after 1.

6. I'm sure you've seen this one but its so adorable I wanted to give you a chance to watch it again. Someday she's going to whistle.

7. Who knew the tiny Olsen twins were racist? Also WTH??

8. The panic in this woman's face is hilarious!

Enjoy! I wish I was skiing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 of 2011

Here's a shortlist of pop culture items I loved in 2011:

1. Best TV (most important things first): This show. I watched a little bit of its first season and didn't care for it much. I felt it was trying too hard to be the Office. But when I moved in September we didn't have Internet or cable for a few weeks so I borrowed season two from the library and really enjoyed it. Its clever, the characters are fully fleshed out, developed and one of the most unique things about it is its kind. I feel like so much of humor on TV is mean spirited. This show is really sweet and its still really funny. Ron Swanson is THE man. In a culture where man children are the norm and there's a perceived crisis of masculinity its refreshing to see a character on TV that is manly to his core.

2. My favorite album this year was this one. I think one of things I like about Coldplay (and what other people like too) is how reliable they are. Its not thought provoking, its not confrontational, its not political its just enjoyable. Their songs are vaguely revolutionary. They build and build and are really about nothing but they somehow make you feel like you belong to something greater. It makes me feel good to be human. So it may not have challenged or changed anything but it sure was enjoyable to listen to.

3. My favorite song I couldn't listen to was this one. I don't think Adele got enough radio play this year. Would someone play that girl's songs? People should really be hearing them. (wink)

4. I'm sad to say that most of my reading this year happened online. But the books I enjoyed the most this year was a young adult series known as the Flavia de Luce Mysteries. They're about a precocious 11 year old girl in 1950 England who has a passion for chemistry and solving mysteries. The author is in his seventies and had a background in engineering before he retired and tried his hand at writing novels. The writing is witty. The characters are colorful. They are a delight.

5. One of my favorite movies was this one. It was charming. Rachel Mccadams was so obnoxiously American (West Coast snob to get more specific). Hemmingway was so hilariously dramatic and literal. The Fitzgerald's were fun and Owen Wilson's baffled enjoyment was well played.

6. I love the Muppets. And I loved the movie. I thought it was a great reincarnation for them. Jason Segel and Amy Adams are probably the most muppety actors working today. I thought the song writing by Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Concord's) was clever and cute. I just smiled through the whole show. I wish Hollywood put out more movies that weren't mean, violent, sexual or sad and that were just clever and fun. Movies made for the lovers, the dreamers and me.

7. I came a little late to the Netflix game but I would not be honestly chronicling my year if I didn't include it. Instead of reading in bed I've been watching Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Sherlock Holmes, Downtown Abbey and really nerdy documentaries. My brain is probably rotting. Kids these days.

8. Although I would never let it get me kicked off a plane I do like Words with Friends. I've been playing Scrabble online for a few years now. And while I still prefer the traditional Scrabble apps on Facebook and my mobile device (iPod) I'm glad that Words with Friends has hit the big time and I now have many opponents. If you'd like me to kick you trash, please, start a game with me.

9. Spotify hasn't changed my life by any means but I'm really glad that I can see what friends are listening to and check new music out without paying for it. It feels like legal piracy. Which feels pretty good. Its probably really great for new artists. Probably bad news for the music industry at large.

10. I watched Downton Abbey when it originally aired (in January or February?)for the first time here in the states on Masterpiece Theater on PBS. I loved it and thought it was great. I didn't talk about it much because I thought it was one of those nerdy things that only I like and other people think are weird (i.e. dog shows). So I didn't really talk it up. Once it hit Netflix though all my friends were talking about it and I'm glad I could join in the conversation. It was a great miniseries. I'm really excited for the second season this month!

So there are my top 10 favorite pop culture items for 2011. It was a good year. Here's to a great 2012.