Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life Lessons Learned on my Bike

Smile. It helps.
Today I spent another handful of hours pedaling on Suzie Slice in pursuit of my Ironman dream. She and I have logged many hours (but not nearly enough, in my opinion), and I was thinking about how cycling is a perfect analogy for life - you suit up and try to navigate the road ahead the best you can while trying to avoid spills, wrecks and mechanical malfunctions. Here's what I've learned about life while powering myself mile after mile.

  • To keep upright, you have to move forward.
  • Don't panic. Panicking is how you end up on falling on your ass and bleeding everywhere.
  • Always adjust to meet the challenge. You have many gears, use them all.
  • Don't stop halfway up a hill because you're tired. You'll lose all the momentum you've gained in conquering the challenge and basically have to start over again.

Sunscreen, child, sunscreen

  • With proper training and gear, any ride is pleasant. And in the unpleasant portions, just remember that this discomfort will make the next challenge easier.
  • Save when you can. Belle the Bike was a $550 Craigslist find. Much like how I'd be hard-pressed to show you anything in my closet that I paid full price for.

Life is too short to be uncomfortable in cheap shorts

  • But know when to spend. The $30 bike shorts will not do for 80 miles. My comfort is worth the $75 price tag of my shorts.
  • Breathe. Hydrate. Wear sunscreen.
  • A hill only looks bad from afar. When you're halfway through, it flattens out and you can see it for what it is - a temporary infliction of pain.
  • Take care of what you've got. A good bike, properly maintained, has a nearly infinite shelf life.
  • After every painful, stomach churning, leg burning hill, there's a few moments of elation as you scream down the hill. Every hill in life is the same - once you're over it, you can smile at the boost it's given you.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Little Dog in the Big City

As I've eluded to before, Napoleon is not a city dog. At all. When my sister watched him while we were out of town a few times, I think he nearly drove her to the edge because he barked at every.single.person. walking by. He did not do well in Chicago, and has had a rough go of it in Seattle.
"Excuse me, did you fill out your TPS report this week?"
Granted, it didn't start well for him. Our plane was delayed, so I screwed up the timing of giving him his little sedatives. I had to dose him again halfway through the flight because he was get antsy. Which means he was still high as a kite when we arrived and was terrified of the airport.
Napoleon is so high he's actually seeing colors
Then, the apartment was a brave new world for him. An empty world. There wasn't a couch to jump up onto or squirrels to look at him. He wasn't so hot on the dog relief area, either. He didn't get the idea of peeing inside and still wanted to be walked.
"I really must insist on a fully furnished home"
But, walks in the city aren't going so well, either. I took him to an urban dog park and he was just confused. He sort of played with the other dogs, but not very well.
"Is this how dogs make friends?"
He also didn't get this whole walking on the sidewalk thing. He wandered across the entire sidewalk, stopping to sniff or jump onto people. He also won't walk over manhole covers and insists upon pooping in the middle of the sidewalk. And elevators? Napoleon has never been a fan.
"What is this motion?"
He spent the entire first week sleeping on me. Not near me, but touching me. I think he's confused and forgot that he doesn't really like me.
"You are a fine pillow, food lady."
Can't take this adorable face anywhere.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm in Spokane this week for a conference and am having a blast. I went for a glorious six-mile run today along the river and through Spokane Falls. It's a good thing because it's now like 482 degrees outside.

2. Salted watermelon gu. Go get this and try it and love it and thank me later. I had one on an 80-mile ride I did last weekend and proceeded to order a case. It's like a slightly salty liquid jolly rancher.

3. My stuff arrives Monday! I seriously cannot wait. I had to buy everything I wore at the convention this weekend, because my closet is so incredibly sparse you would think I've taken a vow of poverty.

You may have seen this outfit in such places
as yesterday
So fresh and so new, new

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Speedo Triclops Triathlon Backpack

I've been meaning to write up a post about this bag for-ever. I earned this bag through my relationship with Aquagear, so although I didn't pay the retail price of $140 for this bag, it wasn't comped. Either way, opinions are always all mine and can't be bought.

I've been trying to find the perfect transition bag for a while. The reason you need one of these bad boys for a triathlon is athletes usually have to park some distance away from transition and it can be tough to tote everything you need in one trip. The last thing I want to do when I'm trying to find my zen and get in the zone before a race is to worry about making multiple trips back and forth from my car for all my stuff. It's way easier to throw on a backpack and ride your bike to transition. Except you need so. much. stuff. to do a triathlon that not just any backpack will do.

Enter the Speedo Triclops Triathlon Backpack. This thing is the Rolls Royce of bags. First of all, it's massive. I've never had a backpack that came with instructions. There are so many zippers, pouches and pockets it's a little overwhelming. On the upside, this sucker has a spot for everything. There's a lined pouch for sunglasses and goggles,

a vented bottom section for a wetsuit, a removable lined bag for wet/dirty clothes,

an expandable outer pocket for a helmet,

spots for water bottles, an area for your ID and valuables, and hip pockets to stash items you'd like easy access to.

There's even a spot to add a hydration bladder, in case you want to take this thing hiking, I suppose.

Because this bag is designed to hold everything (and then some), the straps are heavily padded to help your shoulders bear the weight. There's also a chest and hip strap that buckle to reduce the strain, and a vented panel against your back so you don't get too sweaty.

Overall, this is the most sophisticated, highly engineered and thoughtful item of triathlon gear I own. While I wouldn't say it's an essential item, it does make my triathlon experience much easier. Short of having your own sherpa, this is the best solution for staying organized on race day. I used the bag during the Esprit de She triathlon and it was more than enough room for all my gear, including toiletries and a post-event outfit so I could get cleaned up afterwards.

The only downside of this bag is that there are so many damn pockets, you really have to remember where you put everything, or be in the habit of packing your stuff in the same way every time. Otherwise, it's easy to lose something in this bag. It's practically a portal to Narnia in there. Also, I'm petite and imagine this bag could topple me right over if it was any bigger. This thing is serious business.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Motivation Monday

Ugh, where did the weekend go? I can't be the only person wishing there were more days in between Friday and Monday. Today's thought:
It's super easy to get caught up in the details of daily to-do lists and the ins and outs of getting through projects. Now's the time to focus on the end result, not the path there. Otherwise it's just way too overwhelming.
Happy Monday.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Seattle Sights: Theo Chocolate Factory Tour

My love of chocolate is well-documented. I mean, what person owns a chocolate fountain? This kid.
I saw the Theo Chocolate Factory Tour online and made a note that I should go. They take reservations online, so I figured why the hell not. It was $10 for an hour-long tour and every attendee gets a specially made chocolate bar, so it's actually a great deal.

When I walked it, I was immediately struck with how delicious it smelled. I hoped I would smell like chocolate at the end.
Because it's a working factory, everyone gets a hair net. I make this look good, folks. The tour starts with an educational session about how chocolate is grown and made. And tastings. Lots of chocolate tastings. Chocolate tastings = happy Kelly.

Then, the tour moved to the factory tour. The tour guide showed us where the beans are delivered, cleaned, roasted, then ground down and made into chocolately bars of bliss.

We were also shown the testing kitchen, which is where they come up with new combinations like basil pine nut and monkey munch (banana chips). It's also where truffles and toffee are made, which we got to try as well.
It's actually a well-done tour. You learn a lot about chocolate, as well as what makes Theo Chocolate different. They're a bean to bar, organic and fair-trade certified operation that coordinates every step of the process.
If there wasn't enough chocolate in the process, the tour ends with getting a bar created just for tour goers (your choice of milk or dark), and ends in the gift shop where samples are plentiful.

I really enjoyed this tasty tour and recommend it for tourists. It's fun, delicious and cheap. Of all the things I'm thankful for, the fact that I am not allergic to chocolate is at the top of the list.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Virtual Happy Hour

If I wasn't so far away, I could totally go for a happy hour today. Starting at 9 a.m. Mimosas are happy hour worthy, right?
So in lieu of actual drinks and conversation, let me just pretend I'm tipsy and ready to spill my guts. Random thoughts on this week:

This Elysian Immortal IPA needs to be on your to-drink list. It is delicious and not that expensive ($11.25 for a six pack). Come to think of it, drinking in Seattle is pretty damn cheap. There's an entire fridge display case of bombers for less than $6 near the dog park. And yes, I shop for beer at 6 a.m. Please don't judge me.
The other thing that's cheap around Seattle is happy hour bites. Those cajun tots (which Mandy and I destroyed while staying at the Kennedy School in Portland) were $2, the burger was $4 and the pork slider was $3. More money for beer.
My amusement with in-mirror television screens continues. Selfies, now with baseball.

 I love that my probiotics smile back at me, but this batch had an added bonus: there was what appeared to be one of the seals within the drink. Ick. This one is broken, can I have another?
As a devoted fan of bananas, I had to try the tiny ones at least once. They are adorable, but I learned they also taste different. Maybe less startchy? I don't know, but I noticed the color was more beige and the flavor was slightly different as well.
 This is where I've been swimming lately. Isn't it gorgeous? I watch the sun rise as I go back and forth. And I'm absolutely alone, which is lovely.
After lots of thinking, I'm going to continue on and do the Ironman. I'm undertrained and underprepared, but I'm doing this for me. It boils down to the fact that I'd rather have a DNF (did not finish) than a DNS (did not start). I've trained a lot (not as much as I should), so I might as well see if I can lumber through it. Here goes nothing.