Biking Alone

Kris and I had a fairly relaxing Labor Day weekend – much needed, since we will probably be out of town at least 2, and possibly 3, weekends in September!

Highlights of the weekend: we found a new sushi place (not that there was anything wrong with the old one, just always nice to find additional good ones)… and we finally bought a bike rack for our car! Since I haven’t been blogging much this summer, you readers are probably not aware of how truly awesome this development is. You see, Kris and I had been attempting to shove the two bikes into the back of our SUV; this often led to HUGE arguments about bikes hitting into each other/grease getting on the carpet; bike parts potentially cutting the leather. I had been putting off the purchase though because holy cow a legit bike rack is expensive. The good news: we installed them this morning without any arguments. The bad news: we haven’t actually tried to attach a bicycle to one of these yet. The weird news: if the sunroof cover (not the actual sunroof) is open, we can hear them make a whistling noise while driving.

We had to attach them backwards so they wouldn’t hit the hatch door when it’s open.

 


We didn’t get a chance to use the rack because Kris and I actually did not get to biking together this weekend. Yesterday, it was oppressively hot and humid; we couldn’t fathom installing the racks, let alone taking the bikes anywhere and riding them. Today, Kris’s arm was hurting when he woke up. He biked downtown with me (where we went mini-golfing!) but decided against doing a longer ride. This meant I had to go by myself!

For some reason, going on longerish rides by myself seems particularly difficult to me – almost like it’s not even an option. I always feel like if Kris can’t bike for some reason, this means that biking is just out for the weekend. A couple of weeks ago, I had done a ride by myself because he was sick, and it felt just as odd. I usually can’t bring myself to go more than 10-12 miles and I feel incredibly nervous the whole time. 

really do not understand this particular issue. I commute all by myself (in the city! a city with no bike lanes!) every day and took rides of 10-12 miles with no issues at all when I lived in Indiana. I even feel guilty about how much faster Kris is at cycling than me that I slow him down when we bike together, so theoretically I should be out working harder so that I can get better at cycling and not hold him back so much and I should be happy to be doing that because it means I am not worrying about whether I am holding him back. For some reason, though, I absolutely dread going out on these solo rides.

Possible reasons:

  • I get lost easily. I know my way to work, and in Lafayette I usually only rode on trails I regularly ran, but driving to a rail trail or going out on the trail that surrounds my city are slightly unfamiliar. This is a somewhat legitimate concern; I missed a turn and took a wrong on my route today, but I had a GPS with me the entire time and immediately realized I was wrong in both instances (i.e. I wasn’t so oblivious that I continued in the wrong direction for miles).
  • Fear of getting in a wreck. I did wreck my bike a few weeks ago, and today I almost got run over by a car due to a careless mistake (Kris went through a light, so I assumed it was still green for me without checking – it wasn’t). There isn’t really anywhere nearby where I can completely avoid roads, and even on a rail-trail I’d have to deal with potholes and debris, but I don’t know why this would make me dread long rides when it doesn’t make me dread my commute (where I regularly have to blindly pass buses).
  • Not being comfortable on my new bike. I think this is part of it – I did recently get my old road bike completely fixed up and have been forcing myself to ride it around more. I’m not 100% comfortable with shifting the gears or going super fast on it yet, but again, this should be something that is easier for me to deal with on solo rides – I always feel a lot of anxiety about not being skilled at riding around Kris, so I should be happy for the opportunity to practice in private. 
  • Boredom. I have never taken a ride more than like, 12 miles, by myself. Additionally, when Kris and I take long rides, it is more for us to do something fun together than for fitness. Maybe I just dread the rides because I have to out alone in the afternoon sun and not talk to anyone for like, an hour. Then again, I do that with running all the time, and I’m not actually usually bored on the bike, so who knows?

Hopefully I figure this out – maybe I should just force myself to go on a solo 20 or 30 mile ride just so that I get over it. Exposure to things that worry me always helps!

 

Groundhog Day and First Ride of the Year

I want to start by discussing Groundhog Day (the actual day, not the film; though I must say I am a fan of the latter as well). I grew up near Punxsutawney and as that is one of western PA’s few claims to fame, we cling to it. There is seriously a billboard on I-80 near the “city” that says “Eat; Sleep; see Punxsutawney Phil” because that is all there is to do there. The movie actually makes the town look more exciting than it is, if you can believe that.

Anyway, this year, this one neighborhood in Harrisburg decided to have their own Groundhog Day celebration featuring their own “groundhog” they named “Shipoke Sheena” (Shipoke is the neighborhood name). This was supposed to be yesterday instead of on groundhog day for some reason.

A bit of background on this neighborhood: They like to make a big deal about how “diverse” their neighborhood is because they have people of different professions and ages (they are one of the whitest neighborhoods in the city). They also have a whole website that is basically about how they are the only neighborhood where neighbors are nice to each other that apparently includes info on things such as how to park politely. Note that the other neighborhoods are so inconsiderate that we are able to do this without instruction. But according to them, we never speak to each other or clean up our litter or shovel. It is a nice neighborhood, but it really bothers me how much they judge the other neighborhoods. 

Anyway, Shipoke Sheena sounded kind of cute, even if it meant going to the somewhat pretentious neighborhood, and there was a promise of donuts and coffee, so we ventured to the other end of town. When we got there, though, everyone had little kids or was really old and they all knew each other. We also saw no evidence of groundhogs, coffee, or donuts, so we left to go home and make pancakes. In the end it turned out that Sheena was not a real groundhog after all – she was a chihuahua in a groundhog suit! Note that we actually saw this chihuahua and had no idea until we read about it in the paper today (which also showed that there were no donuts; only cupcakes). I just thought her owner dressed her up for the occasion. I am glad we left such a silly event, now.


With the promised warm weather this weekend, Kris and I were excited to get out and enjoy it. Yesterday I was able to go running again – at least my 5K took less than 30 minutes this time – and while we were out walking Belle we discussed possibly taking a bike ride today. When we woke up we looked at the weather and saw it might rain in the late afternoon/early evening and therefore decided we should go around midday so that it would have time to warm up but not be raining yet. Around 11 we headed out with the goal of riding to Kris’s office and back (6 miles total).

The good news: our start to cycling this year went far better than last year. We feared the 6 mile trip would be difficult, but once we got out there we felt good. I even retained my ability to remove a hand from the handlebars! We decided to tack on some extra miles by crossing the river then circling City Island (a large public island with a lot of recreational stuff on it) before heading down to the office and coming back.

After getting onto the island, though, it started raining. It was super warm out (just over 40 degrees) so this made it quite cold. It was only sprinkling at first, but we decided to head back after getting to our side of the river rather than continuing down to the office. I was glad we made this choice, because it started to rain harder and for our last mile it was freezing and difficult for me to see (due to my glasses being wet).We still covered 7.6 miles, though, so we did stay out longer than planned.

I will admit that those 7 miles were at a “leisurely” pace (according to MFP). I am still the slowest cyclist that ever lived. Kris wants to take some really long rides this summer and he has suggested to some people that we know that they come along with us and I am quite worried that I will really embarrass myself if I have to bike with anyone else. It’s bad enough that Kris is about twice as fast as me and I have to make him slow down to come with me – I can’t imagine forcing acquaintances into that position. I wish I could figure out what exactly it is that I am doing wrong so that I could fix it. At least I have improved at cycling over the last few months, so maybe there is some hope for me.

Other than that, we have had a pretty lazy day. We don’t really watch football and I didn’t have to work (delivery drivers are busy on Super Bowl Sunday, not waitresses), so after our freezing bike ride we just had some hot chocolate then went to take a nap on the heated mattress pad. We then spent the evening gorging on hummus, crackers, and nuts while watching stuff on Netflix instead of football. At least they were healthy foods? And at least this is a reminder of why I almost never buy nuts?

Organization Spree!

Today I was finally able to go for a run! I went at some point last week, but it has either been too cold/rainy/icy to go since. The last time I went for a run I was INCREDIBLY slow (probably due to not running for like, a week) and even felt sick in the middle. Today I thought everything was going fine until I looked at my watch and it seemed that my pace had dropped precipitously. I then realized that the watch was about .3 miles behind my actual distance, but I figured it wasn’t a big deal and I’d just keep an eye on my watch in the future to see if it keeps messing up. When I got home and uploaded the workout, though, it corrected the distance. Because of it’s error, it added in a space of .3 miles where it said I ran something like 3:00 per mile, which was amusing. Hopefully it goes back to working correctly!

My run today was also interesting because of all the people out gawking at the river. It is slightly flooded right now (hoping we don’t get any rain for awhile so it can go back down) and covered in ice. Because it was sort of sunny and warm (mostly cloudy and 40 degrees) people were actually venturing out into the park and I swear I saw like 5 separate families taking pictures of the river, and most of them were taking pictures with tablets, which gave me great amusement. To be fair, I did take a picture of the river yesterday when we had super thick fog and it was really really creepy.

The dark thing in the mist is an island in the middle of the river. Keep in mind that island is close enough that Google Maps used to think I lived on it.

I also got to see a local stray cat that hangs around. There are three main cats, and this is the friendly one. He typically hangs out at a neighbor’s across the street but they must have been ignoring him today, because he followed me for a whole block and then when I got to my porch was like jumping all over me and meowing until Kris brought him (or her, I guess) out some food. Belle was apparently super jealous while I was standing out there with the cat and kept pushing the window blinds open to watch us. Then she wouldn’t stop sniffing me when I came in!

Observe my beautiful and well-matched running outfit.


Kris and I have actually spent most of the weekend re-organizing the house now that I am home for a lengthy time period. I think organizing/buying the new things that organizing entails helps us to deal with stress, too, which is another reason we are doing it. We have a lot of plans for what to do over the next couple of weeks/months:

  • Move my sewing stuff out of the living room in order to set up a bike storage area.
  • Get some sort of cabinet for the dining room to store extra kitchen stuff in.
  • Clean up our gross basement that never really recovered from the last flood so that we can store more things down there and perhaps put in a small gym/Warhammer play area.
  • Clean up the guest room so that it can be a Warhammer crafting/sewing area in addition to being a guest room.
  • Set up the office so that both Kris and I can fit in there.

This weekend we decided to tackle setting up the office. We started by moving all of the Warhammer and sewing stuff into the guest room, which is now a disaster zone and will probably have to be the next project. We then took the large desk that was in the office out to move to the basement for storage so that we could move in the desk I had been using for sewing, a filing cabinet that had been in the sewing area, and a new small desk that we bought. With a little bit of rearranging – and a lot of throwing away random old papers we had been keeping since 2007 or so – we were able to fit everything in.

“Before” (technically from the day we moved in, so it was WAY messier today):

After:

My area. This is to the right of the doorway . You cannot see this area in the before photo, the white bookshelf in the corner of this photo was where the desk was, and the big desk extended all the way to where the bookshelf is now or even past that point.

Where the old desk used to be. The taller bookshelf was moved from where Kris’s desk is now. He is using the filing cabinet as an ottoman.

Kris’s desk area as seen from mine. I am glad we were able to set up dual workspaces in such a tiny room! In the before photo, this area is to the left of the door and was where the taller bookshelf was.

The only thing that doesn’t really fit: Belle’s bed (it used to lay under the large desk). She only used it when she was scared, anyway. To give you an idea of how little she uses this particular bed, it was her first bed we ever bought her. She has gone through like 5 other beds in various parts of the house, and this one is still in near-perfect condition.

We also got a bit of a headstart on the basement – while looking for a cheapo desk for me, we found some plastic shelving units for the basement, and with that and the old desk, we were able to clean up the stuff were were storing in the basement quite a bit, giving us room to move around and clean so we can put in a full-size Warhammer play table. That will be a lengthy project, though, as the old tenant left a bunch of crap here and all of it was covered in floodwater and therefore needs to be disposed of. Some of this is really frustrating – my parents are going to give us some old weights, but they have no weight bench. There is a weight bench in the basement, but the floodwaters ruined it. This means I will have to throw it away and buy a new one. There are also two road bikes down there that are in terrible condition. I am hoping that if we wash them down we can perhaps selvage the frames, but I am afraid they will be rusted or ruined in some other way (they are so dirty/muddy I cannot tell). 

Speaking of throwing things away – re-organizing really shows me how wasteful we can be, even though we try very hard not to make needless purchases. We have so much stuff to take to Goodwill and throw away that it might take multiple weeks! If it was summer, I’d say we have nearly enough for a yard sale! Things we are giving away include a men’s leather coat (received secondhand; Kris didn’t like it); a waffle iron (purchased at a yard sale); and about 4 cups that match each other but nothing else (the others broke). In short, all nice things that people might actually want. We also have a bunch of Christmas decor we could probably get rid of – we have no less than three artificial trees (I’m allergic to pine), two of which are too small and one that is worn and needs replaced. I feel less bad about the garbage – things like Belle’s crate that she destroyed and old clothes with holes that are not worth repairing. It’s just frustrating because I feel like we must be doing something wrong to accumulate so much crap. 

Birthday Weekend Adventures

Kris turned 28 yesterday! For his birthday, he got freezing cold weather! Well, he actually got a board game (from me) and money for Warhammer (from everyone else) but I will blame him for the freezing cold weather, anyway.

Look, I know it is winter but it is particularly bad out there. On Thursday night, we had a “bad” snowstorm – just 3 inches, but when your city has approximately zero snow plows that is a problem. Friday morning everything was still covered in snow (due to the lack of plows) so state employees like my husband got a 2 hour delay for work. I’m serious about the no plow thing, by the way. NONE of the streets have been plowed yet. Not even the Penn Dot building was cleared of snow!

So how cold was it? It was also so cold that Belle would barely go outside. She is a wimp in the winter but yesterday she could hardly stand 30 seconds in the backyard without needing to come inside and warm up in a blanket (we were finally able to take a real walk today). Furthermore, while I was walking downtown (had to go deal with the lovely bureaucrats at SSA because I couldn’t find my card) I saw a man in a full-on snowsuit, a big furry hat, waterproof boots and ice spike things walking around and felt like that much gear was probably appropriate. The worst part was that Kris’s car was in the garage (it was misfiring, but everyone is clueless as to what is wrong with it) and we had to walk there to get his car in the cold! Or maybe the worst part is that I can’t run because not only is it snowy but the air is also like 5 degrees. It has warmed up a little but this morning it was still so cold that I couldn’t get the ice out of the wheel wells of my car and it was crunching around in there for quite awhile until it warmed up enough for me to kick it out of there. Yuck!

Despite the unplowed roads, cold weather, the lost social security card, and the mysterious car problems, I think Kris is managing to have a half-decent birthday weekend. I was able to test out my new Kitchenaid making him a cake. For dinner I made a veggie lasagna, then we spent the evening drinking wine and watching Battlestar Galactica. A few notes on the lasagna recipe: I substituted more carrots for the onions; used fresh instead of frozen spinach (so I cooked it with the other veg); and I ran out of eggs so our ricotta was all alone. It still tasted fine.

Preparing to make the cake. Red velvet with cream cheese frosting! Yes, I used a box :/

In the mixer!

Blurry photo of veggie lasagna and garlic bread.

I am happy to report that the Kitchenaid works beautifully. I am excited to use it for many more things in the future! You may notice that there are no FINISHED pictures of the cake, by the way. This is because, as usual, I messed up the cake. No, seriously, I mess it up almost every year. The first year that Kris and I were together my mom and I dropped the whole damn thing on the floor; the first year Kris and I lived in Harrisburg, I burnt it to a crisp – to be fair, it was our first week in the place and I hadn’t used the oven yet (we moved here the day after Christmas in 2009). This year I was icing the cake and JUST when I was doing some finishing touches the icing pulled up in one spot and got red crumbs all over the place. Then, I put the lid on the pan, thinking it was high enough, but it wasn’t, so all the icing stuck to the lid. Oops. It doesn’t even taste that great – the edges were kind of dry. My lack of cake skills is baffling, considering I’m typically a pretty good baker – I can make difficult things like pie crust and sugar cookies with ease, for goodness sake! Ironically, my mother, who is not usually as good at baking as I am (she just doesn’t cook or bake very much – my dad cooked and I baked) is wonderful and making and decorating cakes. Oh well.

Today I am just hanging out here, doing some home workouts, messing around on the internet, and pretending that I am going to finally finish cleaning up the Christmas decorations (at least most are in a bin now) because Kris went to a Warhammer tournament and Belle and I had the place to ourselves all day. Tomorrow might be more exciting – after FOUR years of living in Harrisburg, I think we are finally going to get to go to a day of the farm show (it’s an indoor state fair)! I read there would be a bunny hopping contest tomorrow and now I MUST go. Hopefully I will have a happy report on this occasion tomorrow.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

Time for the obligatory New Year’s Resolutions. Last year I made only one: to run a half marathon, which I was able to complete! Though this may have been my only legitimate resolution, I did have several other goals I set over the year and achieved (such as completing said half marathon in under 2 hours). This year I figure that I can start out by trying to plan out several of these smaller goals in addition to bigger resolutions.


Running Resolutions and Goals

  • Complete as many races as I did last year (5). The only race I had been seriously planning to do was the Indy Mini, but I’ve had to change that plan as I won’t be in Indiana in May. I’m glad I procrastinated on registering! The main race on my radar right now is the Capital 10 Miler, now. I would also like to do another 5K so that I can finally get an official time under 25 minutes; another half marathon just so that I can force myself to train up to the 13.1 miles again (and maybe decrease my time); and a 10K because I’ve never actually done one (the trail race was a quarter marathon, and was actually a bit long, so more like 7 miles than 6.2).
  • Run more miles than I did in 2013. According to Runkeeper, I ran about 818 miles last year (I’m sure I forgot some, but we will have to go with that number). Looking back at the data shows that my winter months (Jan.-Mar. and Dec.) were very low so I bet if I could increase those I could get up to 900 miles. I will see how well I do at the beginning of this year and adjust from there.

General Fitness/Health Resolutions and Goals

  • The obvious one: continue to maintain my weight loss for another year. Perhaps I should actually weigh myself for the first time in like a month so that I know where I’m starting. Ugh. Hopefully the Wii is still working, I’d hate to buy a scale.
  • Eat more vegetables. I don’t like this one that much because I like quantifiable goals, but it needs to be done. I basically eat no veggies except spinach and carrots and I eat maybe 2 servings a day. Oops. I think this is especially important as I am trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my diet – I don’t want to become a carbivore!!
  • Take a 50 mile bike ride. Kris and I did 20 last summer with almost no training so I am hoping we can work our way up to this goal if we actually try.
  • Try to strength train at least once a week. I hate strength training and do it very sporadically, but I know it helps to prevent running injuries and is healthy for me in other ways because it increases not only my strength but also my bone density.

Other

  • Read a novel. I’ve read a grand total of 3 books since starting graduate school in 2010: Under the Dome, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones. Graduate school messes up your ability to read for fun. I actually cried and yelled at Kris one time when he suggested I try to do so because the memory of enjoying it in the past was so painful. I’ve read about 100 pages of Clash of Kings so I could start by picking that back up again. I also looked up the hours for the library, which I feel is amazing progress.
  • Step outside my comfort zone with friend-making. I’m really outgoing once I’ve been put into a social situation so once I am in one I make friends easily but I am bad at setting them up because I get anxious about new experiences. I feel like while I’m here in Harrisburg I should try to join a club or something. I’ve thought about joining a gym at least, but that isn’t really the best for friend making unless you do classes or something, and it’s kind of pricey. Even my super introvert husband is in a local Warhammer club, I’m sure I could come up with something!!

Good Riddance, 2013

2013 has not been the best year. The year started with the sudden death of my grandmother, who I was very close to (my mom and I lived with my grandparents until I was 8). It also included my husband having numerous medical issues, numerous bad luck type expenses (major car issues, part of my bike being stolen, etc.), and me having to give up on my goal of earning a second master’s degree. I’m sure I’m actually forgetting bad stuff in that list, to be honest. The year also had highlights, though, so I thought I’d go through a few of them to remind myself that while it was probably one of my worst years, if I look at the big picture rather than focus on these small problems, the year has been pretty good!

January

  • I finished my first quilt! My grandmother taught me how to sew and got me into quilting. Normally I just quilt small things (table runners, purses, etc.) but she bought me the materials to make my own quilt and after I found out that she had cancer (October 2012) I made a goal to finish it before she passed away (don’t worry, I did, and she saw it over skype). In 2014 I plan to finish some of the quilts she had been working on.

The awesome quilt. It had some issues with the binding, but whatever, it was my first quilt.

  • I returned to graduate school! I had taken off fall semester of 2012 for my husband’s medical issues and was able to return for both semesters in 2013. Leaving once and returning gives me hope that I will return and finish eventually!

February

River on her first day home, being a pit-ball.

March

  • Every year my roommate and I try to throw an epic fancy cheese and wine party. We had it this year for her birthday and as an added bonus made it a masquerade!

Selfie in my sweet masquerade mask.

  • Ran my first 5k! You can read all about it on my race report!

April

  • I replaced my running shoes for the first time.

  • Played hookie from an academic conference to go see Sue (and other, lesser dinosaurs and I suppose a few other things) at the Chicago Field Museum.

  • Ran my 2nd 5K and almost broke 25 minutes (I have done it a few times in training, but never officially in a race).

Pre-race selfie.

  • Won an outstanding teaching assistant award for the political science department. Mostly because I had the patience to not yell at kids who didn’t know that Obama is not a dictator (regardless of your opinion on him, he still has to deal with Congress, so he is not factually a dictator). Hopefully my roommate wins outstanding independent instructor award this year for the patience she exhibited dealing with kids who were not only ignorant but argumentative about it (like, yelling at her for displaying statistics from reputable sources because they just “can’t be true” levels of ignorant and argumentative, and that is just the tip of the iceberg).

May

  • Independently taught my first upper-level statistics course. It was intense to teach 2 hours a day for 4 weeks but I loved it!

Bathroom mirror selfie before my first day of teaching.

  • Belle and River were introduced (because Kris came to visit in Indiana). Belle did get injured while there due to having a panic attack, but it had a silver lining: River became nicer to her because she was trying to protect her, and I bonded with my students after explaining to them that my poor doggie bled all over their exams.

Belle and River slept on this bed while Kris and I slept on an air mattress.

My roomie observed that this photo shows their true nature: Bellie begging for belly rubs and River slowing encroaching on my space.

Injured Bellie 😦

  • Two friends of mine got married and Kris was able to attend the (awesomely geeky) wedding with me.

Guests were asked to wear their Harry Potter house colors. We represented Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw!

I won the Tardis cookie jar centerpiece (as I said, awesomely geeky) and was gifted the Corgi for watching their furbabies during bachelor/bacherlorette festivities.

June

  • My roommate and I moved into a nice apartment that did not have awful maintenance men who pretend to fix your AC (ours was broken in the old place for 11 months, including months where it was so hot the dog starting throwing up).
  • Kris and I got bicycles!

Don’t worry, I bought a better lock!

  • Ran my first half marathon and beat my goal of finishing in under 2 hours! I don’t actually have any really good pictures of this, as the pro photographer didn’t catch me. There is a picture of me crossing on the post, though.
  • Finally took our delayed honeymoon to New York, where we went from loving to hating Brooklyn in the course of an afternoon and saw Wicked (which was amazing). But seriously, Brooklyn, we could only take so much hipster and you guys were apparently too cool to sell us overpriced craft beers (we were ignored in a bar).

On the Brooklyn Bridge.

They seriously gave us these cups for wine. And filled them with about 1 inch of wine.

July

  • I turned 24. Not the most exciting of ages. Really I just want to be 25 so I can save on car insurance, though I will miss saying that I am in my “early 20s.” At least I got a nice present – a GPS watch!

  • Chopped my hair off! It is so much nicer for running to be able to tuck it into a hat like a dude and wash and dry it in minutes (I can seriously blow dry my hair in under 2 minutes). I also get tons of compliments on it!

  • Kris and I went to another wedding. I mostly am posting these pictures from weddings because Kris and I are adorable. 
  • With my birthday money, I accessorizedmy bike.

August

  • Celebrated our one year wedding anniversary!

Cake from Kris’s family.

September

  • Quit the horrible second Master’s program (this was both good and bad).
  • Acquired my first running injury by falling down a hill (read:cliff) while trail running.

October

  • Ran my second half marathon. Again, it was in the rain and quite unpleasant. At least I didn’t do worse the second time around!

I look so thrilled to be there.

November

  • Made a mini-Thanksgiving for roomie/BFF and I.

  • Road-tripped to South Carolina for Thanksgiving after being stuck in the Cleveland Airport for hours.

Belle hating her harness.

Evidence of civilization.

  • Forced Kris to do his first 5K – a turkey trot – with me in record low temperatures for the area.

December

  • Got to come home to Kris and Belle to celebrate the holidays and got tons of awesome Christmas presents!

  • Kris and I plan to celebrate the new year by hanging out at home with Belle (if there are fireworks we don’t want her to panic) drinking wine and eating butternut squash and black bean enchiladas rather than the traditional pork and sauerkraut (that is the tradition in this area). I don’t really hate sauerkraut THAT much but my family always picks on me about it so I basically don’t eat it out of spite. Amusingly, I told my mom I couldn’t make it because I don’t have a crockpot and then I wound up getting a crockpot from her for Christmas.

See, when you look at it that way, the year doesn’t seem half bad! Not only did I run my first race, but I ran 5 races and was able to maintain my weight loss (well, within a reasonable range of about +/- 5 lbs) all year. Here is to hoping that 2014 is even better. Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I really meant to have a post about Christmas earlier (like, on Christmas day), but let’s just start by saying that my Christmas this year was um… interesting. I basically felt like doing nothing for about 2 days afterwards and just really started being productive yesterday. I think at some point in there I cleaned my kitchen? I did try to take down the decorations, but they just sort of laid under my coffee table for awhile (most are properly put away now!).

Let’s start with the really bad new first, so that the post gets happier as it moves on: on Christmas day, right before we were going to eat lunch, my husband had a completely random seizure. He has had some medical issues in the past that can cause seizures, but he has never had one before so we really weren’t expecting it and so it was terrifying and confusing at the time. Luckily he is already a patient at a great neuro practice nearby so I am hopeful that they will be able to figure out what is going on.

In general, he is fine – he left the hospital after only 2 hours with a diagnosis of a sinus infection – but the whole incident has really thrown a wrench in all of our plans. In Pennsylvania, if you have a seizure, you cannot drive for 6 months, meaning that I have to shift my plans to finish up my PhD out in Indiana a bit so that I can stay here with him. I’m still trying to figure some details out but things are starting to fall into place and get back to normal. I must say I am surprised at how weird it is to have to drive him around – the first 3 years of our relationship he did not have a license so I thought it would be like riding a bicycle! Then again, this is me, and my return to bicycling was clumsy, so I am fairly certain I am going to forget to pick him up from work at least once. Sorry honey.

I was also surprised at how hard this incident hit me in terms of my weight loss maintenance. Typically, structure helps me to deal with stressful situations and I loosen up on my diet when trying to relax. For example, I somehow managed to stick with calorie counting pretty closely during Kris’s previous medical adventures, while taking exams that would determine whether I earned my master’s degree or not, and even at funerals!

I don’t think I’ve actually gained any significant weight, but this Christmas was the most off-track I have ever been. It started when it was snowy in the days leading up to Christmas – I was really down on myself about not being able to run and having trouble eating the low amount of calories that resting/doing super boring home workouts permits. I then decided that I would let up on calorie counting at my parents’ for Christmas because I was already slipping and it would be difficult to do there and I could get right back on track when I got home. I think I wasn’t TOO bad about what I ate there in general but to me not having the exact amount of calories quantified always makes me feel like I’m probably eating enough to gain 10 lbs a day.

Then, I went home on Christmas day completely stressed out and accompanied by 2 gallon bags full of homemade chex mix and no less than 4 dozen Christmas cookies.  Once again, reflecting on what I’ve eaten today in comparison to the days I wasn’t counting here shows me it wasn’t THAT bad, and I have been sticking with running the whole time, but I still felt miserable and off. I think part of it is that there are additional personal worries for me compared to past problems – I was really looking forward to the class I was going to teach, and this would have been my last semester with not only many of my friends I have made at school, but also with my roommate/best friend and her dog. I’m starting to calm down about all of that, though, which is helping.

The silver lining to all of this is that I have been reminded of what wonderful family, friends, and mentors I have. Everyone around me has been 100% supportive and helpful. It was especially nice to be reminded that my family is always there for me. Last time Kris had medical problems and I had to take time off from school they eventually came around but initially were far less understanding and supportive. I am also glad that I get to spend some extra time with Kris and Belle, who I would otherwise be missing terribly pretty soon (though I will probably have to spend a different period of time away from them instead). I have really had a lot of time to think about my priorities, and while spending time with them has always been high on the theoretical list, it certainly has renewed importance.


Apologies that the first half of this post was so depressing and self-reflective. I just felt weird not talking about it at all on the blog, especially as it is directly impacting my attempts to maintain my weight loss. If I’d had a perfectly normal Christmas, I’d probably be making jokes about how I have to burn off the few extra calories I consumed eating cookies, not reflecting on the reasons I didn’t count calories for about 10 days and how that made me feel  (it really felt much longer – to say only 10 days makes it sound like it wasn’t even that big of a deal!). Now on to the good things!

  • My mom and I made a bunch of wonderful Christmas cookies and homemade chex mix! Some were really messed up (not the chex mix, it was perfect, as always) but we still had fun. Our turtles, for example, failed because we cooked the condensed milk on high instead of low (we decided to call them sea monsters). My mom nearly had a panic attack over making sugar cookies. And my grandpa bought the wrong kind of Reese cups for the peanut butter cookies so they looked like aliens.

I actually have photographic evidence of this.

  • Belle actually opened her own Christmas presents! She never does this, which is weird considering that she is pretty destructive. She got some treats, a stuffed alien, and a stuffed horse head with red eyes that we have dubbed “demon horse.” We forgot demon horse there so there are no pictures. Here, we bought her a stuffed duck that she ignores. Go figure.

Opening presents!

 

She also got to BE a present!

  • Presents! Most of the presents I got for people went over well. Even my biggest “flops” weren’t that bad – I made Kris some custom etched beer glasses and they didn’t work so well, but he liked the gesture and I will be able to make more in the future when I am more practiced. I also bought “texting” gloves for my dad that don’t work for texting, but are still nice gloves. Now I just have to find gloves that are able to text, be warm and durable enough for someone who works outdoors in the winter a lot, and fit his aesthetic (read: camo). I’m sure I’ll have fun with that!
  • More presents! Kris and I also got a number of exciting presents! He did really well buying me a new flipbelt to carry my stuff while I run (it works PERFECTLY, I highly recommend. He also got me a couple of sweaters and blouses (he really prides himself on being able to find clothes for me, and because he does a good job, I find it adorable). We got a number of things for the kitchen that I will be able to make exciting stuff with: a wine rack, a crockpot, a food processor, and a KITCHENAID!!! EEE!!! (It is that exciting that it can make me go EEE in a mostly depressing post like this). We also got some new bedding (my parents got us a down comforter and we bought ourselves new stuff to go with it).

The new mixer versus our old one that was broken and only went one speed.

 

The wine rack. My mom was super worried I wouldn’t like it because it was from a secondhand store, but I think it is perfect!

 

Belle enjoying the new bedding (less than 2 minutes after it was put on).