Things I’m excited about in February!

By , February 1, 2017 7:53 am

Looks like it’s shaping up to be a week of lists and bullet points. That’s about all my brain can handle! I feel so distracted lately!

  1. Continuing to write a weekly training plan for a friend. It brings me so much joy to see a friend work hard and make progress, and feel good because of those efforts.
  2. Training hard on my bike! I’m starting to do some indoor incline training to get ready for RAGBRAI, but I also want to work on my speed – I am doing the bike leg of a triathlon relay in June!
  3. Teaching indoor cycling! I am teaching it twice this month, and I work hard on my playlist and the class sequence to make it fun (but also challenging MUAH HA HA) for my students.
  4. Seeing this guy!!! And family!
  5. Meeting our friends’ newest baby! Some of our friends here had their second son in December and we get to meet him this weekend.
  6. Saving money! I opened my first savings account as an adult (I know, I know, we won’t get in to why I didn’t have one until now) and plan to put my part-time job money in it.
  7. Having a new 5K to focus on (the race is April 1). Normally, I’d be putting Frosty on a list of things I am excited about in February, but I don’t even know if I’ll go. What a clusterf*ck.
  8. Celebrating our one year anniversary of closing on the house! It’s this weekend! We took January off from house projects, but I think we are picking them back up this month. We are going to do some work in the basement – clean up the ceiling (it used to be finished, then was flooded, and a lot of old ceiling structure needs to be cleaned up) and set up an area for Steven to put an Olympic weight set.
  9. Date nights with friends. Nothing planned yet… but I know we’ll get a few things going! And hopefully some date nights with Steven. I have some movie theater gift cards burning a hole in my pocket.
  10. Strengthening my swimming. I want to get better at breathing on my left side without it feeling like I am drowning myself!

Happy Monday things

By , January 30, 2017 12:36 pm

So many things are making me happy this Monday:

  • Gina and I planned out a March get-together! Yay! And it’s in KC so we’ll see Steven’s family, and my snis and Will and baby William!
  • I just signed myself and FIVE family members up for a 5K in my hometown in April. And since it’s in Iowa, it was only $109 TOTAL to sign up six people. New goal 5K?
  • Steven’s brother said he’s in for RAGBRAI Day 7 this year! He finally gave in after three years of asking, woot woot! My dad, Will, and Gina have all confirmed they’re in too.
  • The sun was out for my run today! I forgot what’s that like. It was in the low 20s, but the sun and low winds made it feel awesome to be outside.

  • I got to pet a pony during my run! And the neighbor (who I just met for the first time today) the pony belonged to said I was welcome over anytime to ride her horses or exercise her pony.

In conclusion, planning time with friends and family, nature, and animals (all still) make me happy.

Training Week 380

By , January 29, 2017 11:57 am

Highlight of the Week: Doing something active every day – I feel crummy (physically) if I don’t.

Monday | January 23, 2017: 1,029 yd swim + 3 m run + teaching strength class
Loc: FitNation, Time: 22:02, Pace: 2:09 min/100 yd avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: frustrated with gear
Loc: Gurnee, Temp: 37°/37°, Time: 31:47, Pace: 10:35 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: tired legs!
Strength: AireX pad and medicine balls, Difficulty: medium, Felt: good

Tuesday | January 24, 2017: 1.65 m walk (w/Steven)
Wednesday | January 25, 2017: 8 m run + 15 m ride (incl. 2×15 mins incline)
Loc: VP Woods loop, Temp: 38°/38°, Time: 1:27:25, Pace: 10:56 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: really good
Indoor Ride Time: 1:00:08, Pace: 15.0 mph avg, Difficulty: mostly easy, Felt: good until 8 mins in to the incline intervals!

Thursday | January 26, 2017: 5 m run (incl. 4×800)
Loc: Lake Andrea, Temp: 33°/33°, Time: 49:42, Pace: 9:56 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: clunky at first then smoother
Friday | January 27, 2017: teaching strength class + 1,008 yd swim + 3 m run
Strength: kettlebells and circuit, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, not coordinated enough to jump rope!
Loc: FitNation, Time: 20:47, Pace: 2:04 min/100 yd, Difficulty: medium, Felt: sore in the shoulders!
Loc: VP Woods, Temp: 26°/26°, Time: 32:52, Pace: 10:56 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: legs good, stomach bad

Saturday | January 28, 2017: 10 m ride + teaching fitness boxing + 2.7 m run (w/Anne)
Indoor Ride Time: 39:08, Pace: 15.3 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Strength: Whole body & boxing, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Loc: Grayslake, Temp: 27°/26°, Time: 34:30, Pace: 12:46 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: happy to run with Anne and chat!

Sunday | January 29, 2017: 8.5 m run
Loc: ML/Russell Loop, Temp: 26°/26°, Time: 1:37:01, Pace: 11:25 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, slow & steady


  • Colder weather came back at the end of the week, and my stomach had to learn how to deal with it all over again. It’s odd that running in cold weather upsets my stomach.
  • I used my climbing blocks to stimulate an incline on my Wednesday ride. It actually felt more comfortable to have the bike at the angle, but I definitely started to feel the rise about halfway through each interval (I did two 15 minute intervals with the double blocks – otherwise my front wheel just sits on one block).
  • I was happy to get back in to running more days this week! I like to do something physical each day, even if it’s something small. I sit around so much for my day job that I feel crummy and lethargic a lot of the time and working out helps.

Link to Training Week 379

Random Thoughts Thursday 125

By , January 26, 2017 11:27 am
  • We took Khali to the vet today and it went really well (Snow had an appointment too, but he ran off in to the woods when we tried to put him in the carrier). She was super chill in the car and at the vet. I’m impressed. Khali is now chipped (as Khaleesi OurLastName), has all of her vaccinations, and is confirmed FIV free. And she has an appointment to get spayed. She was (is?) definitely in heat which has made for some x-rated interactions with Snow recently. Sigh.

  • File these two studies under “duh, but good reminder” (and as with most studies “questionable research methods”) -“Facebook can actually make us more narrow-minded” (pdf here) and “Get Up and Move. It May Make You Happier” (pdf here). Like I said, both very “duh” statements, but ones I have been thinking about lately – how one-sided most of the social media I follow is, and how while I LOVE working from home, that all that sitting around is BAD for my mood. Bad, bad, bad.
  • Milky Chance’s second album comes out in March! I wonder if I will love it as much as the first. I am not digging the first single, but I think it’s because it was accompanied by a music video – watching music videos often ruins the song for me.
  • Did anyone else watch Beware the Slenderman on HBO? The stabbing happened close (well, within 60 miles) to where we live and it’s something I’ve followed since. I didn’t care for the documentary though and was somewhat shocked the girl’s parents agreed to be in it.

Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 124

Fog as far as the eye can see…

By , January 25, 2017 12:15 pm

… and it doesn’t bother me!

I love dreary, overcast days and don’t mind that we’ve had them for, what… almost two weeks now? I’m actually more productive and motivated when it’s like this.

But I could do without the weird weather shifts giving me headaches!

So inviting

By , January 24, 2017 6:23 am

We have a tarp draped over the side of Khali and Snow’s temporary housing, and we place their food under the tarp when we feed them, so that they have a dry place to eat.

Apparently this tarp is very inviting. (Just kidding, I know it’s the food that’s inviting.)

Last month, when I went out to give them their nightly meal, both Khali and Snow were outside of the tarp, but when I stuck my hand under it, there were glowing eyes in there. Um, wth, is there a third cat now?

Um, no.

I quickly learned to always check before I put food back there. And sure enough, he returned.

Usually picking the tarp up is enough to make him go, but he wouldn’t budge this time. We gently tapped him with a (plastic) shovel and he still wouldn’t move. Scraping the shovel against the deck got him to go.

Just to have this guy show up.

It’s interesting to me that the cats give zero f*cks about these visitors. Who knows, maybe they invited them.*

*I know we did, by putting food out. Ha.

Time for hill training!

By , January 23, 2017 6:44 am

The RAGBRAI 2017 route was announced Saturday night! The course goes way north this year – it doesn’t even leave the two northern most counties in Iowa!

I am confused by the starting town NOT being on the western edge of the state. You traditionally start by dipping your back tire in river (Big Sioux or Missouri) at the western edge of the state, and end with dipping your front tire in the Mississippi River on the eastern edge of the state. I must not be in the know.

They’re calling this year’s course as “Take it easy, go north,” but the day we plan to ride, Day 7, doesn’t sound easy – it’s the hilliest ride of the week with 3,200 feet of climb over 44.8 miles. That will be the hilliest RABGRAI course my dad and I have ridden. When we first rode, in 2014, we climbed 3,073 feet, but over a longer distance of 67.5 miles (other years we’ve done have been tame – 1,644 feet, 2,377 feet, and 1,314 feet). I have a feeling Day 7 this year will be BRUTAL.

But I’m super pumped to train for it to make it as not painful as possible! I am guessing my dad won’t be in for riding Day 6 too, which is 60.1 miles with a climb of 2,483 feet. Hey, I don’t know until I ask though, right?!

Training Week 379

By , January 22, 2017 6:01 pm

Highlight of the Week: My first runs of the year with people!

Monday | January 16, 2017: rest
Tuesday | January 17, 2017: 10 m run + 1,512 yd swim
Loc: VP Woods loop, Temp: 36°/37°, Time: 1:48:45, Pace: 10:52 avg, Difficulty: easy-ish, Felt: good, but a bit sluggish
Loc: FitNation, Pace: 2:03 min/100 yd avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great

Wednesday | January 18, 2017: 3 m run
Loc: Chicago Lakefront Trail, Temp: 37°/38°, Time: 29:45, Pace: 9:54 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Thursday | January 19, 2017: 13 m ride + 5 m run (incl. 7×400)
Indoor Bike Time: 49:20, Pace: 15.8 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, just sore butt
Loc: Lake Andrea, Temp: 36°/36°, Time: 49:14, Pace: 9:51 avg, Difficulty: hard, Felt: challenged but strong

Friday | January 20, 2017: teaching strength class
Strength: AireX pads and medicine balls, Difficulty: medium, Felt: good
Saturday | January 21, 2017: 4 m run (w/Jen)
Loc: Lake Andrea, Temp: 49°/51°, Time: 48:30, Pace: 12:07 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great
Sunday | January 22, 2017: 8 m run (w/Rachel)
Loc: White River Trail, Temp: 39°/42°, Time: 1:22:31, Pace: 10:19 avg, Difficulty: medium, Felt: fine, just a bit tired!


  • I thought my legs would feel fresh Tuesday since I hadn’t run in two days, but they didn’t. I suspect that long car drive home the day before was to blame. I also thought it would be nice to run outside in the warm 30 degree temps… what I wasn’t accounting for was the shoulders I normally run in being sheets of ice! Eek! The temperature was nice at least.
  • We had unusually high temps a lot this week – I ran in shorts three times (and really could have for every run)!
  • I’ve been keeping up my planned speedwork for Frosty, even though I don’t plan on doing it. I’m still on the fence if I will pick another 5K or not!
  • I do want to get in better shape (read: lose weight) so the Wisconsin Half doesn’t suck though. And I just found out I need to do major hill training for RAGBRAI (more on that later). And I’d like to do a triathlon relay with some girlfriends. I am looking forward to training for those things!

Link to Training Week 378

Zie Magic Flute!

By , January 21, 2017 7:24 am

The performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute we saw last night in Milwaukee was a great introduction to opera for me. The presenters mostly stuck to the original story line (which Steven and I had learned about in advance to know what was going on) but translated a lot of it in to English, using colloquialisms and modern language. A few of the songs were still sung entirely in German, and the program had translations (as well as a helpful synopsis and breakdown of the acts by songs, which I used to follow along).

I was expecting to recognize some of the music, and I did! But not from where I was expecting – I’d heard it before from Trans-Siberian Orchestra! One of my favorite songs of theirs, “Queen of Winter Night” is a rework of The Magic Flute, particularly “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen.” (If you listen to :28 and :46 here and here you can hear it.)

The singers/dancers/musicians (yes, some did all three!) were amazing. I was expecting the production to be cheesy based on the program cover, but it wasn’t (thankfully)! It was playful and funny and the cast was FANTASTIC. They were great singers but the Queen of the Night really outshone everyone.

The opera was performed in the Tripoli Shrine Center, a nationally registered historic place whose design is based off of the Taj Mahal and is home to the Milwaukee Shriners… which is interesting for this play, because The Shriners are Master Masons and there is a lot of Masonic symbolism in the original version of this opera. And… that is as much as I will pretend to know about the meaning of the opera, from what Steven and I learned before going.

The opera was performed in the space under the dome, and had action going on on the main level and balcony. It was an intimate performance – we were only a few feet behind the musicians and the performers went by us countless times! Their use of the space was clever and created the scenes without any backdrops.

Photo from here, showing the Queen of the Night

Their costumes were neat, but what really amused me was their use of props. When Prince Tamino is shown a “portrait” of Pamina they used a view-master! And there was a pause in the performance of that song for the First Lady to hand Tamino a new slide reel. That cracked me up. They used hand puppets for a scene where Tamino is traveling in the forest and has to use his magic flute to tame the animals (that is what I interpreted was going on), and they had an impressive huge (paper-mache?) dragon for the end scene.

One of the singers sometimes did her scenes on roller skates, zipping around the audience and musicians, which impressed me. She could sing, dance and skate at the same time. Like I said, it was extremely playful and we laughed a lot! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

And it was fun to dress up! We didn’t need to AT ALL, but wanted to.

I rented my dress, earrings and clutch from Rent the Runway, and got my hair done at a local favorite salon, which was a treat and fun for date night!

I did my own makeup, and remembered, less than an hour before it was time to go, that I threw out most of my makeup when we moved to the rental house at the end of 2015. Oops. Quick CVS trip to get lipstick!

We ate at the Palomino Bar in the Bay View area before the show. This is one of my go to places with vegan options in Milwaukee. We all ordered dessert to enjoy after the show and I dug in to mine as soon as we got home (well, after finishing my leftovers)! I needed sustenance to stay up for a few more hours playing games!

And, as I am up writing this, I’ve gotten three and a half hours of sleep. Totally worth it for a fun night! (And I totally see a nap in my future!)

Walking in like they own the place

By , January 20, 2017 8:07 am

Khali has walked in to the house before, but this is the first time Snow did. And Khali is getting much more comfortable and walking in further!

And what did Data think?


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