2013-It Was a Very Good Year

Year in review! I wanted to break it down month by month, if for nobody else but myself. If you know me in real life, you know all of these things already, but some of my blog friends only met me in Sept or Oct, so a lot of this is new stuff that shows a side of me you possibly haven’t seen yet.

January-slow month! I found out that for 2012 I was a nationally ranked triathlete-anyone is if they complete 3 USAT sanctioned races. I was 1904 of 2082, but that’s such a small, elite pool of women, I was really happy. January was also the month I started teaching classes at the YMCA. It’s been scary-I’m not good at being the center of attention or in front of crowds-but a really, really good thing for me. January I logged 34.92 run miles and 38.25 bike miles outside, in addition to plenty of gym workouts. I also took my friend Allison to a swanky “cake festival” for her birthday:

plate one of possibly too many
plate one of possibly too many

February-even slower! We settled on a honeymoon destination of Italy/Ireland. I ate things, cooked things, and possibly drank things. I also ran 25.35 miles outside and taught several terrifyingly awesome classes at the YMCA. What do you do when you’re stuck in the longest short month ever and it’s freezing cold out? Make yourself a wall to celebrate your past victories, with plenty of space for the upcoming race season.

don't mind if I pat myself on the back!
don’t mind if I pat myself on the back!

March-March was a fun month. Jeff’s birthday involved having friends over and lots of fun, and then for my birthday we took a week long trip to Boston with my friends Angela and Allison. Museums, boats, witches, and beer. And lots of seafood. I ran 33.28 miles, biked 51.78, and walked all up and down the east coast.

Laura's birthday lunch of choice? Adult lunchables!
Laura’s birthday lunch of choice? Adult lunchables!
Jeff was so excited for our lunch he couldn't see straight!
Jeff was so excited for our lunch he couldn’t see straight!
My favorite meal of the trip-Legal Seafood on the harbor. So good!
My favorite meal of the trip-Legal Seafood on the harbor. So good!
the house we rented for the trip. We had the whole first floor-Airbnb rocks!
the house we rented for the trip. We had the whole first floor-Airbnb rocks!
Union Oyster house. Their clams were all sandy and gross, aw shucks!
Union Oyster house. Their clams were all sandy and gross, aw shucks!
Jeff loves all things maritime. Yay boats!
Jeff loves all things maritime. Yay boats!
I'm a huge project runway nerd. I may have squealed when we happened upon Mood.
I’m a huge project runway nerd. I may have squealed when we happened upon Mood.
The only way I could have geeked out more was if I'd gotten to pet the store mascot, Swatch. Oh, wait, I DID!
The only way I could have geeked out more was if I’d gotten to pet the store mascot, Swatch. Oh, wait, I DID!
Our day of walking around NYC made us tired. We found the best view in town to spend our last moments until the bus ride home.
Got this photo from my brother while he was dogsitting. Foster drinks because Mommy leaves.
Got this photo from my brother while he was dogsitting. Foster drinks because Mommy leaves.

April-April was spent training for my half marathon, bridesmaid dress shopping, and preparing our monster project for the year. The previous summer was terribly dry in Nebraska, and I was quite distracted from my homeowner duties by lots of biking and running, so the first level of our backyard was a dead, scraggly mess. Jeff and I decided it would look much better bricked in as a patio. So began a project you’ll see repeated throughout here. I ran 50.04 miles and biked 104.26.

tilling the patio area
tilling the patio area
a few bricks down, a million to go
a few bricks down, a million to go
spoiler alert...we didn't pick these.
spoiler alert…we didn’t pick these.

May-Half Marathon, Lucky Bucket 7k trail run, .  I biked 231.31 miles and ran 40.79. I was a part of the National Bike Challenge on Endomondo (our city took first!) and had gotten into my IronMan training,  and it really shows here! I was excited to run the half, and I didn’t set a PR, but thanks to my friend Kristina for running every step of the way with me, I did get in another sub 2:00 half-1:58:31 to be exact. Jeff was waiting at the finish line and much bacon was consumed post-race.

am I DONE yet?
am I DONE yet?
This had to be pre-race, because I cursed that bib placement when I got too hot for my hoodie.
This had to be pre-race, because I cursed that bib placement when I got too hot for my hoodie.
Laura can't have nice things-shoes were full of mud!
Laura can’t have nice things-shoes were full of mud!
I was pretty proud of the flowerbed I built! Dug that thing up by hand.
I was pretty proud of the flowerbed I built! Dug that thing up by hand.
Pre-Half Marathon Carb loading. Tiramisu.
Pre-Half Marathon Carb loading. Tiramisu.
I was the queen of sand mountain! And then we had to haul it all to our backyard.
I was the queen of sand mountain! And then we had to haul it all to our backyard.

June-Ran 29.53 and biked 279.54 miles-yay bike challenge! I also had a pretty fantastic weekend the first of June-PR’ed my favorite in-town 10k at 54:00 flat and the next day was the second time I ran the Omaha Women’s Triathlon. My times were S21:24 T1-2:02 B-53:39 T2-1:24 R-27:20 F-1:45:51. For reference, the previous year I did S25:51 T1 1:25 B-53:09 T2-50.8 R-28:44 F-1:50:01, so I improved a good 4 minutes from year to year. And most of that was in the swim, all thanks to my friend Jen. You’ll see her below, she’s the one surfing in her wedding dress. My friends are awesome. Jeff and I also squeezed in a weekend trip to Kansas City before wedding craziness took over our lives. We stayed at Southmoreland on the Plaza, and I’d totally recommend it to anyone. Cute rooms, the best breakfast I’ve ever had at a hotel, and SO close to everything without all the city noise.

That's my girl, surfing in her wedding dress!
That’s my girl, surfing in her wedding dress!
Yes, I seriously posted a photo of me in a swimsuit. To show that I'm the only crazy out there not using a wetsuit. This always bugs me at tri's, but not enough to actually buy a wetsuit.
Yes, I seriously posted a photo of me in a swimsuit. To show that I’m the only crazy out there not using a wetsuit. This always bugs me at tri’s, but not enough to actually buy a wetsuit.
Could I BE any goofier looking? Don't fall off the bike, nerd!
Could I BE any goofier looking? Don’t fall off the bike, nerd!
There better be some good freaking sushi in my future after this!
There better be some good freaking sushi in my future after this!
Best. Breakfast. Ever. Jeff agrees.
Best. Breakfast. Ever. Jeff agrees.

July-Ran 57.99 and biked 339.91 miles. This was my biggest training month, like, EVER. SO much preparation. That’s really all I did, besides eat things. And build the patio.

IronMan planning session.
IronMan planning session.
ALMOST done!
ALMOST done!

August-Ran 50.53 and biked 270. This was the month of bridal showers, big triathlons, and bachelorette parties. I wrote a whole recap of the IronMan, so you can read that if you want. Suffice to say, much as it goes for lots of things I try, it didn’t go exactly as I’d hoped, but I still came in with what I thought was a decent time-7:24:56. Yep, that race was almot equivalent to an entire work day. I’m really glad I did it, but at this point I’m not convinced I’ll ever do that again.

carb loading. It's important.
carb loading. It’s important.
tri suits are SO flattering.
tri suits are SO flattering.
running it in after a LONG day. Is the monochromatic look slimming?
running it in after a LONG day. Is the monochromatic look slimming?

September-Ran 6 miles (according to my trackers…I may have slacked there), biked 70.19, and walked all over Europe. My numbers dipped like crazy, but I feel like I may have been a bit busy that month…Jeff recapped our honeymoon pretty fantastically on his blog, but I’ll throw in a few photos for good measure.

almost time for "first look"!
almost time for “first look”!
Our wedding party.
Our wedding party.
Mr & Mrs Anderson
Mr & Mrs Anderson
St Peter's bacilica in Vatican City
St Peter’s bacilica in Vatican City
Selfie at the Colosseum
Selfie at the Colosseum
Castle Malahide
Castle Malahide
Trattoria Morgana...amazing food.
Trattoria Morgana…amazing food.
cacio e pepe...favorite Italian meal. So simple, but so delicious!
cacio e pepe…favorite Italian meal. So simple, but so delicious!
I think we ate some meat...
I think we ate some meat…
happy girl.
happy girl.

October-Ran 20 and biked 13. October was a rough month for me. Coming down off of 2 super busy previous months was nice, and I capitalized on the much needed rest. I ran the market to market relay for the second year running, and again it about destroyed me. It’s a roughly 80 mile relay race between Omaha and Lincoln. Last year, my appendix almost ruptured 2 days later, and this year, my endometriosis started flaring up like crazy during the week after. I couldn’t do anything more than go to work and then lay on our couch at night clutching all things heating pad. I usually make it 12-14 months between surgeries for this disease, but I didn’t quite make it to 11 this time before we had to have fairly immediate surgery. In my doctor’s words, my endometriosis was severe, and my ovaries were a disaster. I felt better pretty quickly after surgery, but it was a tougher go-round than some of my previous ones, and my workout logs showed it.

gorgeous October hike at Indian Caves
gorgeous October hike at Indian Caves
relay DONE!
relay DONE!
No Coffee No Smiley.
No Coffee No Smiley.

November-Ran 26.36 and biked 39.62 miles. Trying to get back in the swing of things, when the swing fell out from below me. Had my post op meeting with my doctor where he determined there was really no more point trying to put a band-aid on things that would never get better. We scheduled my hysterectomy for the 30th of November and it went pretty well, all things considered. Spent most of November trying to get my head right and spending time with friends and family.

We're the 3 best friends that anyone could have...
We’re the 3 best friends that anyone could have…
Jeff and I at our favorite local watering hole.
Jeff and I at our favorite local watering hole.

December-Ran/Walked 42 and biked 14. Most months I left my walking out of the tally, but this month it was important as it was all I could do. It’s been a terribly hard month for someone as fidgety and impatient as me. I don’t sit still well, I don’t think traditional rules of healing apply to me, and I try to do everything too fast. As a result, my recovery had some setbacks and they were mostly my own fault. Trying to do too much too soon resulted in quite a few miserable nights, days, and frustrated one frustrated girl. We had a great Christmas together, and I’m so excited to start 2014 feeling mostly healthy and knowing for the first time in 12 years that there’s not a surgery in my future.

If you made it this far, I’m truly impressed. I wanted to give myself a monthly play by play of the year that was. There was so much good in this year that it seems trivial to even mention the not so awesome stuff. I have goals for 2014 and I hope to meet them all. But if I don’t, as long as I’m mindful of my actions and try to treat everyone as I’d like to be treated, live my life to the fullest, and fully enjoy myself I’ll consider it a success. We’re spending our New Year’s Eve the only way you should-surrounded by close friends & family, enjoying good food & drink, and possibly playing some games that prove we’re all of the same dirty mindset. Hope you’re ready, 2014, we’re coming to get ya!

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Cookie Cookie Cookie Start With C.

I’ve been working today on my “Year in Review” post that I realize will possibly bore 90% of you, only to have wordpress eat half my progress. I’m taking a step back (not strangling things) and sharing our new favorite cookie recipe.

Amen, kitteh.

I have several vegan friends. I’ve gone that way in the past (when I was in the great weight loss competition of 2007 with my ex. Please, people, never live with your ex. It will never “work out great” nor will you “stay wonderful friends”), but I love bacon. I’m of the “things in moderation” mindset and also the “I’ll run farther to eat more” mindset. But I can get down with some vegan creations-I don’t discriminate when stuff tastes good! So I wanted to treat Angela to some cookies last week on our sisterfriends Christmaspalooza. I found this recipe from the PostPunk Kitchen and modified a bit because of what we did and did not have on hand.

PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES

These are soft out of the oven, but as they cool they are nice and chewy. They are a serious crowd pleaser, for crowds with taste buds.

Note: I use flax seeds because they make the texture a little chewier, but I’ve made them without and they’re still good!

Equipment
baking sheets
2 mixing bowls

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a seperate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. Fold in walnuts and raisins.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don’t spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You’ll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they’ve had some time to cool and set. They taste even better the next day!

I subbed almonds for walnuts and cranberries for raisins. OMG DO THAT. They are SO good. They work for breakfast, night snack, or whenever. It was serendipity that while at the Library checking out a book the other night, I saw her cookbook on a display and grabbed it too. I like to go kind of meatless during the day and then eat whatever Jeff cooks me at night, and this looks like it’s got some great recipes to work with.

Other than the cookies of amazeballs, I’ve been taking it easy! Got back to running, today was my first day back at work, and I even made it through my first power pump back at the gym over lunch. Trying to decide if I go back to two a days this week or next-I suppose I should ease back in, but since when do I ease?  I’m also doing a lot of knitting, since we drove 6 hours in 2 days this last weekend and I needed to stay occupied. I’ll show you guys what I’ve been making once I have a chance to give my friend the set I just finished for her. Making stuff is fun, giving it to people you love is even better!

Five Things Friday

 

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I’m back!

Hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! We kept everything low key..so here’s an exciting 5 things Friday update.

1) I got a Garmin for Christmas! I was SO excited to try it out that on Christmas day I took off with it, intending to go for a long walk. After I got near the half mile mark, I decided to see if I could do a half and half to get back in the swing of things-run .5, walk .5, repeat. And I went 6.5 miles! Ran almost exactly half of that. It felt GREAT. So great, in fact, that I ran 4 miles straight yesterday and then had a couple of cool down miles of walking. I had been hitting the gym the two days pre-Christmas to use the elliptical, and I even lifted some tiny weights. I finally feel mostly like myself again! Still get tired a bit easily, but for the most partI’m ready to go back to work, regular workouts, and normal life next week.

2) I had Jeff hide my scale from me before surgery. I’m glad I did, because I know I’d be itching to see how much I’ve gained while sedentary and it would have probably driven me straight to the gym way before I was ready. But now I’m kind of curious to see where I stand. I’m ready to start the new year and get back to my previous level of fitness, as well as get going on my half marathon and full marathon training!

3) For Christmas, I tend to spoil Jeff. One of his gifts was an adorable rainbow colored espresso cup & saucer set. I made sure I reaped the benefits of this gift too.

photo 2

4) Tomorrow when Jeff gets off work, we head out on the 3 hour drive to his family’s house for our Christmas. I’m super excited to give his niece her gifts-we do a name draw every year. I was kind of stymied at first as to what a 10 year old girl likes-not yet a tween, no more a “baby”. We settled on an awesome chapter book and a few jewelry making kits. I think she’s going to like it. He told me his eldest niece drew my name and keeps teasing me about the awesome hints he gave her, so I’m selfishly kind of excited to see what she picked for me!

5) Last year, my parents gave us a wonderful Christmas gift-a gift certificate to an adorable B&B in Kansas City so we could have a nice weekend away from home, but not so far the travel costs get outrageous. This year, they kept the tradition rolling. We got a gift certificate to 2 B&B’s and 2 bar & grills in Weston, MO. About the same distance, and near the McCormack’s distillery. It seems to be a town with some proud Irish heritage, so it’ll be like honeymoon light!

*bonus item-wish me luck! Heading out to the DMV soon to try and get my new license with my married name. Other than that, I plan on making the most (or would that be least) of my last day of medical leave by planting myself on the couch while I still can!

photo 1

Christmas Eve selfie…

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever gotten? Mine’s easy…an ex actually gave me the full DVD set of Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease….yeah. He reaped no benefits from that gift. Ugh.

 

Spill It Sunday!

Good Morning, everyone! I thought I’d give Arman a shot and link up to Spill It Sunday this week.

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This week is all about Christmas…duh!

First request was an obligatory selfie…you don’t want to see me in my jammies right now, so I’m including one I took for my first cold bike ride of the year last year:

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What do Laura and Ogres have in common? Layers!

-> What is a traditional/cultural event you and your family/friends celebrate? I’m cheating on this one…Jeff and I are celebrating our first married Christmas this year. I’d say the tradition we’ve observed most over the years is that I’m the most impatient gift giver of all time. I also like to get lots of smaller gifts, so we usually do a “x” days of Christmas. X clearly represents how ever many gifts I got him this year. So far, he knows he’s gotten some cigars, a travel humidor, some new argyle wool socks, and he gets to take a class on how to butcher a whole hog and bring us home some literal bacon!

-> Do you have any traditions which you partake in on a consistent basis? My aunt Lynette alternates Christmas and Thanksgiving with her husband’s family and ours. This year, we get her for Christmas. The whole family gets together at her house and makes homemade Runzas. That may be a Nebraska thing, so let me explain: It’s a pocket of bread stuffed with ground beef, cabbage, and onion. It’s another food that I used to hate and have recently discovered I love, so I look forward to this every year. Then we all have some wine and break out Cards Against Humanity for some hilarious results. The outlaws (the poor saps who married into our family) always marvel at the decibel level we can reach when all members of the immediate family are present. We’re a little loud.

-> What is something special you and your family/friends do? Jeff doesn’t know it yet, but on Christmas night, we’re going to go for a little walk. There’s a street in Lincoln we’ve named “Christmas street” because there’s about a 6 block stretch that’s completely lit up with candles in white paper bags lining the walkways and sidewalks. My Mom, Brother and I always used to drive it and ooh/ahh over the “preebies” (Jesse had some fun mispronunciations when he was a kid), and now we live so close we can walk over in 5 minutes. It’s going to be fun to bring some of my family’s traditions into our marriage.

-> What does a typical day during this period involve? Food! Lots of food. I bake a lot of cookies, so usually a warm oven and a happy Laura. My Mom and I usually try to sneak out and walk off some of the cookies even if it’s super cold out. We’ve always been winter warriors and will walk no matter the temperature.

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-> Most memorable event? There’s so many memorable Christmases! We live where there’s a lot of snow, so there’s a few that have been a challenge due to blizzard. When I was about 5, we had the “ham sandwich christmas”. Somehow, my Grandparents managed to drive the 60 miles to our house in Lincoln on Christmas, but then we couldn’t find anywhere open to eat. The 7-11 down the street provided our meal that year. There’s also about 3-4 years ago when there was a complete blizzard. Luckily, my Mom & Brother had moved about 4 blocks away from my house. I loaded up all the gifts into a big trash bag, slung it over my shoulder, and walked my happy santa butt down to their house to deliver. Hopefully next year replaces these memories with a new favorite Christmas-Jeff and I are talking about taking a Caribbean vacation next year over Christmas. Christmas in Jamaica? No Problems!

Last Christmas-no idea why I’m being petted like a puppy.

Time to go clean up and get on the road for Christmas #1 at my Mom & Stepdad’s house! Have a great Sunday!

Five Things Friday

It’s Friday! All of my days are blurring together lately, but I’m excited to have Jeff back home with me for 2 days, and we get to celebrate Christmas with my parents on Sunday. And without further ado…

Buddy the Elf quotes - free printables.

1) Jeff made Brussels Sprouts last night and they were amazing. This was the first time I’ve tried them since I was a kid. When I was around 10, my stepdad and I had a standoff at the dinner table over these very veggies. I’m proud to report I won (stubborn anyone?), and after about 2 hours of sitting defiantly at the table I got sent to bed. Jeff’s sprouts, however? Well, we roasted them with a few seasonings, and bacon was also involved. Bacon is scientifically proven to make anything better, although I’m pretty sure I’d even eat these without it. My palate has been evolving and changing in my 30’s, and things I used to hate are suddenly delicious. I’m really kind of enjoying the pleasant surprise that comes each time I’m brave enough to try something I have horrible memories of. 

2) Jeff refers to me as the best gift giver in the world. It’s been substantiated by friends and family-I’m pretty awesome. I attribute it to my wicked memory for most anything. Cooking dinner at your house and we have to make do without a tool or utensil because you don’t have it? Guess what you’re getting for Christmas! Mention your favorite wool socks are getting thin? Here comes a new pair! I just have a knack for noticing stuff, I guess. Which leads to #3…

3) I am a good gift giver, but I’m impatient as hell. This usually results in a “X” days of Christmas giving palooza based on how many gifts I have for someone. I just can’t wait to give someone their gifts! I can be quite patient to receive my own gifts, but I just want to see that smile on someone’s face when they open a gift and demand satisfaction ASAP! I started having Jeff open a gift every night until Christmas starting last night. I gave him his first gift-a pair of argyle smartwool socks. Jeff does a lot of cold weather commuting and needs as many pairs as he can get! The next two gifts kind of go together, so I’m excited to see him open them. 

4) I’m faithfully sticking to walking as my sole method of exercise, and slowly increasing the distance each day. This was approved by my doctor for recovery, but is slightly maddening. I wanna MOVE! Walking is nice, and still kind of works to clear my head, but doesn’t really deliver the endorphins I desperately need. I’m an addict. It’s snowing outside today, and that’s not deterring me from going for my rec time-I actually kind of like walking in precipitation. It’s refreshing. 

5) Throwing together another pair of pinterest recipes today-crock pot corn chowder and garlic bread in a pot. I’ve made the bread before and hopefully that chowder turns out delicious as well. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend and starts celebrating with their loved ones soon! Has your palate changed since you were a kid? Are you a gift giver or do you stick with gift cards? AND, since it’s Christmas, what’s your favorite Christmas movie? I stick with Elf, but Jeff hates it so I don’t subject him to it. I can quote the whole thing, though, so it still counts. 🙂 

2014 Plan of Action

So, since I have some extra time on my hands right now, I decided it was a good time to start thinking about my goals for next year. I don’t want “resolutions” or things like “lose 5 pounds”. What I’m looking for is a few experiences and some milestones I want to hit. Some things to better myself, some things to see if I can do them, some to make sure I don’t forget what’s important.2013 was one hell of a year-recap of my “highlight reel” coming soon-but I want 2014 to be a little different.

Here’s my top 10 things for 2014:

1) Run my first marathon. It’s looking like that will be Chicago with any luck. It’s in early October, which should gives me plenty of time to prepare, and I’ll run our city half marathon in May. Last year, I had a really big training goal with my half ironman, and I really hadn’t planned on having a big goal again this year, but I think I can do it. I just hope it doesn’t take over my mind and make me skip out on some of my other favorite activities. I’m a runner, but I’m also a cyclist, hiker, strength trainer, and occasional swimmer.

2) Bike my first century. I’ve gotten close, 72 miles was my farthest. Boy, that ride was TERRIBLE. Cross winds so strong, I couldn’t reach for my water bottle or be blown over, hot as hades, and my phone battery didn’t hold up so I had to ride in stone cold silence alone most of the time. But I think a 100 mile ride, planned right and with hopefully a lunch stop somewhere, is doable. I’d love to convince someone to do it with me, but if they don’t, it’s fun on your own too. Kinda.

3) Have a professional makeup consultation and actually buy the recommended products. I’m thinking MAC. Jeff and I were sitting around watching “What Not To Wear” this week, and I was just fascinated by how much the right stuff applied the right way changes how you look. If I could pick up a few tips, I think I would look tons more presentable and maybe it would help me reach some of my professional goals.

4) Grow edible things. Jeff and I have some big plans for this backyard of ours next year, and I’m putting that as a goal to make sure we actually get things in the ground. The last few years, I’ve spent so much of my free time on fitness related pursuits that I’ve neglected my house and especially my landscaping. This year, I’m hoping to give myself a bit more balance.

5) Stay hydrated! I’m terrible about this currently. I’ll drink oodles of coffee every morning, and then a few sips of water here and there and I’m done for the day-unless there’s also wine involved. Hydration is such a key element of fitness, and I’m sure it has played a big role in my struggles through a few races. I know the Half Ironman would have gone a lot better had I been able to properly hydrate through the race, and I know the reason I couldn’t finish my first century ride was that I couldn’t hydrate properly either. I’m not sure yet how to encourage myself to drink more water, but I’ll come up with a few ways to make it more appealing. I’ve tried crystal light before to give it a bit more flavor, and that doesn’t really do the trick. I’ll take suggestions if you have any on how to drink more water!

6) Eat less junk. By junk, I don’t mean that I hit the drive thru too often, or cut out my dessert treat in the evening, but that I want to start putting less chemicals in my body. Throughout life, I’ve been on a “diet” more often than not, and I remember really getting into it in the “fat free ’90’s”. That colored a lot of the way I eat things. I’m aware enough now that fat is an important part of my diet in the proper increments, but I’m still a sucker for fewer calories however I can get them. Usually, that comes at the hands of some wicked chemicals to replace things, make them shelf stable, and generally fill me with tons more sugars. I’ve toyed around the idea of going vegan, gluten free, or paleo lately, but I think I’ll start things with trying to eat primarily whole foods and when sweeteners are needed, using a natural option instead of some splenda. Once the chemicals are eliminated, I can look towards maybe making some other changes. I don’t think I’ll ever be willing to commit to a really restrictive style of eating, but I think in general clean eating is something I can follow a good chunk of the time.

7) Does it interest me? Go for it! When I went to college, I initially went with the plan to be a dietetics and nutrition major. I stepped into my first college chemistry class, and about halfway through I was sure I wouldn’t be able to handle the amount of chem needed to get my degree. It was a big lecture class, as most entry level courses are, and the professor seemed to enjoy making students aware how little they knew, as opposed to really explaining the material. As a freshman, I didn’t think about how to make it work for me, and just changed my mind. Again. And again. I went through a bunch of majors in college before I settled on one simply because it was attainable in a reasonable time frame before my college fund went dry. Probably my biggest regret is that I didn’t stay the course and follow the career I had wanted since I was about 10. I toy with the idea of going back to school, but the reality is that I’m afraid I’d go through all that work and trouble and either not be able to find employment in that arena, or that it would end up not being enough to pay our bills like my current job does. All that babbling leads me to what this goal is all about-following your desires. So many times we tell ourselves that we’ll learn that other language “someday”, that teaching ourselves to do that new craft is pointless because we’ll just suck at it anyway, or that we’re simply too busy. I’m more acutely aware than ever that not having kids at my age means I’ve got full reign to be selfish. I can do what I want, when I want, for the most part. So if I want to try to make cheese in my kitchen, teach myself french in case we ever get to France, or bake a really complicated bread, I’m going to do it. Pinterest is full of ideas we’ve all pinned somewhere and then never gotten around to trying. Yeah, some of them might be epic fails, but those fails usually make one  hell of a story.

8) Pay it forward. Random acts of kindness are a big “thing” these days, and for good reason. They make the recipient and the giver feel good. It doesn’t have to be as big as buying someone’s groceries or the like, but I want to try and compliment someone once a day or tell people those things we’re always too insecure to say.

9) Have at least 5 hairstyles in my repertoire. I’m a bit of a jock, and it’s so tempting to just pull my hair into a ponytail every single day-I’m going to the gym anyway, right? I enjoy having longer hair because it’s so versatile, but that’s wasted if I never utilize that versatility. So I need to master a few styles until I can confidently change things up a bit. How you look isn’t the most important thing about you, not by a long shot, but when you look good, you feel good. And I’m all for the good feels in 2014.

10) Stop comparing myself to others. It’s something I’ve been working on this year, but it’s an important enough theme that I want to make sure it’s front and center in 2014. My path is not a supermodel’s path, nor a supermom’s path, or even a professional athelete’s path. My life follows the choices I’ve made, and I can’t assume because someone has something I don’t, that their path is easier or better than mine. I’ve been up and down the weight spectrum, and while I’ve always been healthy, I was not inherently happier at a lower weight than a higher one just for that fact alone. I am myself today, not last year, 10 years ago, or 20 years in the future. I’m alive right now and that’s what I need to live for. Comparison is such an easy thing to do, we’re presented with so many images designed to make us want what that person has, but would it change the core of who we are? Not really.

So there they are! My big 10 for 2014. Do you set goals or resolutions for the new year? Do you have any advice for me on how to work towards these goals?

Keep the change, you filthy animal! I

Settling in to life as a forced couch potato. Yesterday, Jeff had the day off too so we hung out on the couch a lot together. Here’s a lovely shot of me in my makeshift Christmas jammies-gotta have some use for those old race t-shirts! 

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getting festive!

We did manage to escape the house once yesterday for some lunch-we went to the Single Barrel Steakhouse. I had a fantastic steak salad, loaded with blue cheese, egg, a bunch of other stuff and a delicious vinaigrette. Jeff had a Single Barrel burger and couldn’t eat the whole thing! Yay for lunch leftovers. 

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I promise there’s some veggies under all that steak!

Today Jeff was back to work, so I was left to my own devices. I’ve been thinking of ways to keep myself occupied, so I did sneak in a bit of light organizing and cleaning as well as some baking. I made us some fantastic looking caramel brownies-recipe from pinterest, of course. I am going to try and do something that’s been hanging out on my pin boards just waiting to be attempted every day I’m at home. It’s going to be interesting, and I’m sure I’ve got some Pin Fails in me, but I think these brownies turned out pretty good. 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
6 tablespoons butter 
2 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Topping: 
 1/4 cup butter 
 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 
 3 1/2 tablespoons evaporated fat-free milk, divided 
 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
 1/2 cup powdered sugar 
 1 ounce dark chocolate, coarsely chopped 
 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder 
 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

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dry ingredients-so much cocoa powder!

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finished product-close but not exactly right

I got a bit tired towards the end and remembered I had some of a jar of caramel in the fridge, so I just used that and melted some chocolate chips for the two toppings instead of going through all the make your own effort. I bet it’s still delicious, but I just needed a nap and also didn’t want to open a container of evaporated milk for such a small amount. 

I’m also on a bit of a mission to make some interesting lunches while I’m home, using up some of the stuff I’ve got hanging out in the fridge that Jeff and I will probably never eat together. Today was a big old salad, a piece of baked tilapia, and some sweet potato puffs I found in the freezer. Odd mixture, but it did the trick! 

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that salad is huge!

Other than that, not many interesting things to report. I took a couple of short walks today, and it felt great to be outside-it was 50! Tonight, Jeff’s making us some more pinterest fare-beef & broccoli. Pics and recipe forthcoming, I’ll try to get a few quotes from the chef himself as to how he’d change the recipe next time. One thing I love about Jeff is that he always, always wants to perfect things. This can make him also a little hypercritical of himself-no dinner has ever been just “damn, that’s tasty”. They could always use more of this, less of that. His palate has been changing a bit lately since he quit smoking a few weeks ago (yay!) so everything tastes sharper to him. Now, off for dinner and my first try at a new project-teaching myself to crochet! 

 

 

Report Card

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coffee table-my office for now. 

So, I had my post op check up yesterday…it did not go well. It turns out I went back to work WAY too fast, and as a result, I’m not healing at a rate that’s satisfactory to my surgeon. SO, I’ve been sent home with instructions not to go back to work until the 30th. On the one hand, YAY, I’m being encouraged to sit around the house, wake up when I want, dawdle over some coffee and interwebs, and generally be a bum. Who doesn’t want an excuse, nay, a mandate, to stay inside during the arctic blast that is a Nebraska winter?

On the other hand…I’m not healing properly! I’m letting my small team down by making them carry my weight at work while I’m gone. And I’m not cleared to get back to workouts yet. So I guess bottom line is, there’s pros and cons here. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. Worrying about my weight, my team, or that dog hair tumbleweed floating across the floor isn’t going to change the fact that I’m not physically ready to work out yet, I can’t go back to work even if I wanted to (HR was pretty horrified I worked without clearance all last week), and I’m not allowed to run a vaccuum for like 4 more weeks. What’s the worst thing that can happen? My weight will stabilize as soon as I get back to my normal routine-hell, maybe complete inactivity followed by my normal levels of 2-a-day workouts will shock my system and break the plateau I’ve been stuck on. Work is slower this time of year anyway, and the bottom line is that it will be there when I get back. And I don’t think any of us will die if the house doesn’t pass white glove inspection for a few weeks. 

I felt a good shock of guilt yesterday, because I feel like I should be able to be doing everything already. But, on my one trip to the yard for rec time (1 mile walk per day), I got a sense of calm about it. I’m never having a baby. That’s a fact. I will never grow a tiny science experiment in my stomach and watch it grow into a person. And don’t get me wrong, I’m OK with that. But then this mandated time off is, in effect, my “maternity leave”. Because although Jeff and I may adopt someday, right now there’s nobody else I need to take care of. So I need to take care of me. 

So I’m trying! Recovery is a process. And because I like to present some of what’s going on in our kitchen, too, I present this week’s pinterest recipe: Beef & Broccoli Stir Fry! 

Image of Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

nomnomnom. 

My life isn’t very exciting these days, and when I do post I know I’m a bit whiny, so I’ve tried to pull back a bit so I’m not Debbie Downer in your blog feed. Once January rolls around, and I’m full speed ahead, there will be plenty of running posts, fun fresh recipes, and other random shenanigans. My boss at the Y just asked me to take on another class when I return-yay! I can’t wait to get back to real life, but for now-its time to resume knitting that baby blanket!