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I’m done swimming outside, and my long bike rides are coming to an end with the colder weather, so I’m back at the gym, checking out Harvard’s group ex classes.  Every year I tell myself I’m going to step outside of my comfort zone (at least once) and try a new gym class. So far I’ve tried 5 new ones!  And I will probably continue attending 2 of them.

Balletone!  No.  I flunked out of ballet once already (ok, I was 5, but still).  At least there were some moves that could be called exercise as opposed to only floaty graceful arm movements.  Requires more choreography than I care for.

Zumba! No.  I guess I can see the appeal, but by the time I figured out the moves, the class was over and I didn’t even raise my heart rate or  sweat.  Actually I never did figure out the moves, and I felt more  uncoordinated than usual.  I’ll stick to straight forward exercise, thanks.  No need to sugarcoat it for me.  I do love to dance, but the deadhead in me doesn’t do well with specific moves  or being told what to do.  Maybe that  says more about my problem with authority? 😉

Aqua Fitness! Fun, but unlikely to do again.  If I’m in the water, I’d rather be swimming laps.  I can see doing it in a pinch, though, or with a group of friends.

HIIT Cardio!  Yes!  Clear, obvious exercise.

Barre!  Yes! I was a little worried that it would be too much like ballet, but the class seems to cull the exercise part  from the dancing part.  I can work with that.  Lots of small movements that really focus on specific muscles.

What’s your favorite class?  What should I keep an eye out for and try next?

And in eating news…  my mom and I made cookies when I visited recently.  They’re safe and secure in the freezer so they won’t disappear before Thanksgiving.

 


 

SWIM  I get this  email in early October:  SwimVacation needs to fill their December trip to the British Virgin Islands and  they’re offering a discount to alums as incentive.  My husband  and I went  on a short SwimVacation trip to a lake in Maine a few years back (see old blog post) thus the email in my in-box.  Lucky us!  We had been  talking about  doing SwimVacation BVI someday, but the trip isn’t cheap so we were dragging our feet and saving some money.  On a lark, I brought up the possibility of signing up – hey, discount!  To my surprise and glee, he said “sure, let’s go”.  So we did.  And here are some pictures to prove it.

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SwimVacation BVI in a nutshell:  get to Village Cay Marina at the designated meeting time, dinghy ride to the Promenade (our trimaran home for the week), stow shoes – barefoot for a whole week ! – settle in, swim at least twice a day *every day*  in beautiful places among the islands, eat (and drink, if so inclined), make new swimmy friends…  As their logo says, “Swim. Relax. Repeat.”  Sun and 80 degree Caribbean water?  In December?  Yes, please.

Check out the SV blog  to see how  it looks  and book your next trip to BVI!  Or Hawaii.  Or Turkey (new trip).  I might write more specifics about the trip in a future blog, but if you want details before then, feel free to ask in a comment.

BIKE  nothing to report.  I haven’t been on my road bike for a while now – just spin classes ().  I plan to try out a computrainer class in January.  I’m scared.  And we’re doing a run afterward.  It just might kill me.  Wish me luck.

RUN  this is  starting to be a more common  category for me:  I’ve been doing more of it (stupid peer pressure).  I did a 5k fun run on Thanksgiving and broke a 9 min/mile pace!  Nothing like the fear of getting lost to make me go faster – I had to keep the people ahead of me in sight.  Cuteness overload warning:  mini pig in a santa suit at the end of the run.

READ  I went through a brief period of bad books, but seem to have come out the other side.  Phew!  I just ready Jojo Moyes’ The Ship of Brides and loved it.  I really like her books.  Now I’m diving into The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philip Sendker.

and… EAT!  SwimVacation meant I didn’t cook or bake for a week (the food was great, by the way), but I couldn’t resist making  a  chocolate whiskey cake when we got home.

cw cake use for blog

Chocolate Whiskey Cake

I’ll blame our birthdays (mine and my husband’s).   Can’t have birthdays without cake.  I think it’s illegal.

 

And then this happened, too, ’cause, why not?!

cranapplecake.JPG

Cranberry Apple Cake


In February, when we were buried under 3 feet of snow, I just about lost it.

1st storm

Let the shoveling begin!

So I announced to my husband that we were going on a bike trip.   As soon as possible.  To Mississippi where it was sure to be warm and snow-free. Schedules were consulted and “as soon as possible” turned out to be May.  I was kind of hoping for April, but as long as we had the trip booked, I could live with waiting until May.  That gave me a chance to ride outside a few times before hitting the Trace since the snow finally melted and it wasn’t freeze-your-feet off cold anymore.

VBT van

VBT van loaded up and ready to go!

We have been on a couple bike trips before, and felt that the Natchez Trace trip with VBT would fit the bill.  Not too far to travel, a decent amount of miles/day (mostly flat), and CHEESY GRITS and BISCUITS!!! Yum.  Not that it was all about the food, but…  ok, it was somewhat about the food.  Comfort food.  Thank you, I’d LOVE a glass of sweet tea. Mint Julep?  Sure!  Gator bites?  If I must.  Taste like chicken and not worth the stomach real estate, though.

The Trace

Natchez Trace, Mississippi

Vicksburg National Military Park

Vicksburg National Military Park

It was a really fun trip with a great group of people.  The Natchez Trace makes for some nice biking.  Mostly flat with gradual rolling here and there.  Very few cars.  The trees form a canopy for a lot of the way so if it’s sunny there’s shade.  We got our hill work in when we went off the Trace and visited The Vicksburg National Military Park.

Now I have a good biking base.  My swimming has suffered a little, but that should come back pretty quick.  I’ve been swimming at a couple local ponds since the beginning of May – full wetsuit, booties, 2 caps (but I should be able to lose the booties and 1 cap soon) – and even running. It’s starting to feel like summer:  the best time of the year!  In my purple

VBT trip to Natchez Trace

VBT trip to Natchez Trace

haze of optimism (mania?), I signed up for a sprint triathlon.  It’s just way too easy to pull out a credit card and sign up.  I just hope I don’t regret it.  Happy playing and racing, everybody!


michelin-tire guy

how I feel on my commute

A friend of mine has a cut-off temperature for outside biking.  At one point it was 60 degrees, although she has been out in lower temps since she told me that.  I think she might have dropped the threshold a few points as she became a more experienced rider.  What’s my cut-off?  I’m not exactly sure, but I think we’re there!  I know I’m not happy riding in the 40s, and it snowed (ok, flurried) over the weekend.  Sure, I’ll continue to commute my 3-4 miles each way to work and swim, bundled up like the Michelin tire guy – unless it’s icy – but I am by no means hard-core enough to road ride through the winter.  Do you have a temperature range?

I did the Rapha Women’s metric century ride over the summer.  FUN!  There’s another one in December.  The Rapha Women’s Braver than the Elements Ride.  NOT SO FUN!  I won’t be doing that one – I’m really not braver than the elements.  I get cranky when my hands and feet go numb and turn funny colors.

So…

SWIM!  My last Walden Pond swim was on September 23rd.  It wasn’t awful in terms of being cold, but I could tell I was done.  I rejoined Cambridge Masters Swim Club and am happily (?) getting my ass kicked in the pool 3-4 times/week.  I need a push every few years – I was due.  I’m curious to see if my shoulders get bigger with the increased yardage and effort.  I’ll keep you informed.  I might even do a pool meet in the Spring.  Oh shoot, now that I’ve said that, I might actually have to do it.  Something I found out:  stroke workout right after spin class doesn’t work so well for me.  Swim fail!

BIKE!  See above.  No more outside riding for me.  I finished the season by joining some friends to do another metric century:  The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk on October 5th (early and chilly!).  It was my first benefit ride, and I hope to do it again next year.

Calhoun Cancer Challenge

first snack stop

It was a very well-supported ride through a scenic part of CT.  I got out for a few more rides after that, and now I’m adjusting to ~3-4 spin classes/week.  It might be time to put a crappy tire on my bike and set up my trainer, though.  There’s only so much “Maniac” and “Eye of the Tiger” that this former Deadhead can take.  I get gym class music stuck in my head and it stays there for days.  That can’t be healthy.

READ!  The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.  Suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken away.  A Nation in Pain:  Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, by Judy Foreman (friend from Cambridge Masters).  This book explores chronic pain and how it is misunderstood and mistreated and a HUGE problem. It is accessible but still not a super easy read.  I might be working on this one for a while.  Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach.  I just started it.

and EAT!  Fig and Pear Crumbles by Frugal Feeding.  Wow!  Next up:  something with apples since we just bought 3 bags of them at Clarkdale Fruit Farms while in Western MA for Cider Days in Franklin County.

 

bethel maine happy


Last I posted, I had just completed a 3-mile swim at the end of June. My first! Now it’s the end of August and I can check a couple more things off my Summer to-do list.
SWIM! I swam a 2-mile race in CT in July. It was an interesting event: one could swim 1, 2, or 3-miles, or any combination of 1, 2, and 3 miles! I opted for doing only the 2-miler due to time constraints. I was happy with my time – just under 53 minutes – which was good enough for a 3rd place finish overall AND in my age group (40-59).  The water was perfect:  no need for a wetsuit.  Ahhh!  Maybe next year I’ll do a couple of the swims.  Or all 3!  We’ll see how my shoulders are doing before I commit to that.  Oh, the best part?  The buoys were big yellow rubber duckies!  How cool is that?!  ALL races should have such fun buoys.  I wish I had a picture.

Cathy and me w/o our runner

Cathy and me without our runner, Diane

After that, I took a break from distance and swam 1/2 mile in a triathlon relay with my sister (on bike), and another Team EnVision member (for the run). We won! The award was a pint glass. Can’t have too many pint glasses, right?
And finally, the swim that got me thinking about competing in open water races in the first place! This past weekend, August 23rd, was the Race for Swim and Fin in Salem (MA) harbor.

Race for Swim & Fin start

Race for Swim & Fin start

I was worried it would be too cold. It wasn’t – I was comfortable in my wetsuit. I was worried it would be really rough. It was pretty choppy, but not awful.

What was tough was the sighting. The buoys were far apart, so it was too easy to sight on the wrong buoy, which I did for a little bit but figured it out before it was too late. Phew.  There was another small mishap, but I still managed a 1st place

Showing off our medals!

Showing off our swim and fin medals!

finish for women 50-54 (w/wetsuit). I can live with that.

Rapha 100 pic 2014

Some of our Rapha 100 group

BIKE!  In July, some friends and I took part in the Rapha Women’s 100, a worldwide event promoting women and cycling.  Our event was hosted by The Ride Studio Cafe.  We had a choice of distances – 100km or 100 miles – and speed.  We did the 100km at a leisurely pace.  It was a great day of riding with friends.  Next up?  The Honey 100 in mid-September:  100km on cross bikes! It’s an off- and on-road adventure, thanks, again, to Ride Studio!  I heard such good things about this ride last year, I decided I HAD to do it.  And it was a good (?) excuse to buy a new bike!  

Giant Invite 2

Giant Invite 2

After that, I’m joining some friends from high school for a charity ride in CT.  The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk  takes place on October 5th.  Some of us are doing the metric century (that would include me) and some team members are opting for the 1/2 metric.  90% of the money raised goes to the cause, so I feel good about taking part. I don’t usually do charity rides because I don’t like fundraising, but the obligation for this one is very manageable.  Thanks to everyone who helped me reach my goal!

READ!  I’ve read a lot this summer.  LOVED Chris Bohjalian’s newest:  Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.  But then again, I love everything he writes!  I’m currently reading Sally Ride, by Lynn Sherr, and Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira.  Both are great.

and EAT!  Unfortunately, I have discovered Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core ice cream.


SWIM!  I’m hoping to do a 5k swim “race”, maybe 2 of them, over the summer.  The first opportunity is on June 21st (Mashpee Super Swim), the second is in August (Race for Swim & Fin).  We’ll see.  I got a 2-mile swim in yesterday, so doing 3 miles in another week could happen…  I’m a little nervous, not so much because of the distance, but that it could be choppy, and the water might still be a little chilly.  I wore a shorty wetsuit yesterday and was shivering for quite a while after being in the water for an hour.

Yes, I’m a bit of a cold wimp – I think the water temp was around 73F

I figure the 3 miles (3 x 1-mile loops) will take me a about an hour and a half.  I just want to settle into a forever pace and not blow out my shoulder (thus the quotation marks around race).

BIKE!  I signed up to do the Rapha Women’s 100 on July 20th.  I’ll be doing the 101km ride through Ride Studio Cafe with some friends (unless it’s raining).  It’s my anniversary, so that’s my husband’s present to me:  I get to ride all day.  I’ve got the best husband ever!

READ!  Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes.  One of the best books I’ve read in a while.

and Eat!  nothing too exciting in the eating department, but we have greens coming up in our garden and it’s grilling season!

I LOVE SUMMER


So what’s all this about mason jar koozies?  Apparently the hipsters in Union Square are enjoying their coffee in mason jars these days. My husband, not one to miss out on such a fun fad, told me about it.  But glass jars full of coffee are HOT!  Enter, the KOOZIE, or COZY.  Are koozies only for cold beer?  But cozies are for teapots… (they seem to be interchangeable).  Anyway,  after a few false starts (pics if you’re interested) – one being so small and cone-shaped that it has been re-purposed as a bear hat – I finally got it right.  Or at least right enough.keeper koozie!

Swim!  My old swimp3 died – it wouldn’t hold a charge – so I contacted Finis Inc. and they sent me a new one.  I was expecting to get the same kind I sent back, the yellow and black 2g, but when I opened the box, I saw that they had sent me the new Neptune.  Hmmm.  I wasn’t so sure about this:  it looked a little like the original SwimP3 I had oh-so-many years ago:  a chunky box-like contraption to clip onto my goggle strap in addition to the ear paddles that I was used to.  I kind of liked the streamlined ear paddles + small, light USB port of the 2g.  But after trying it out, I’m a convert!  The Neptune is really light and the ear paddles are smaller and lighter, too.  The sound is great, not that I ever had an issue with the sound in earlier models.  And the part that clips to the goggle strap is actually informative!  There’s a small screen so I can see what’s playing (if I want to stop and look), and I can choose among playlists and whether to shuffle songs or not.  I used to have to guess if shuffle was on by the frequency of the blinking green light.  I hope this device lasts a while!

Bike!  Spin class is all fine and good, but no comparison to being outside.  Except maybe the no cars or pot-holes part…   In addition to other rides, for the last couple years I’ve been riding weekly, weather permitting, with a great group of women.  We’re compatible in terms of speed, temperament, and desired ride distance, so it works out really well.  It’s such a gift to have found the right group.  I ride with others, too, and it’s fun, but this group feels like home.  Now that it’s finally warm enough, the group is heading out again!

Read!  I’ve read quite a lot since I wrote my last blog, so I’ll only mention a few highlights.  Thirty Girls, by Susan Minot; Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson; Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; and Ripper, by Isabel Allende.  I also read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.  A lot of hype about that one, but it didn’t really work for me, and it was too long.  Actually a lot of books seem to be a little too long to me lately!  Even some of the ones I mention above could have been cut by about 100 pages give or take.  Not Shapton’s book though.  That one was just about perfect.  As a longtime swimmer, I struggle with how competitive swimming fits into my life, so I can relate to what she says (on a completely different ability level, though, of course!)

and EAT!  boring, boring, boring.  Except for cookies.  Oh, and I made a killer Chicken Marbella (mostly like this recipe) for Shady and a friend.  I don’t eat chicken, so I didn’t have any, but it smelled really good!

 



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