Jul 22

Radweg Reisen

Remember when I mentioned that I went on a bicycling adventure around Germany, Switzerland, and Austria? Well, I plan to tell you all about it! Today, I’m starting with a little intro.

It all began when I decided that I wanted to go on a bicycle tour around Thailand. I googled something along the lines of “bicycle tour Thailand,” which led me to an American website that had bicycle tours for various areas around the world. I couldn’t afford any of the Thailand trips, but I clicked on their “Best Deals” page, where I read about a place called Lake Constance, which is a lake that borders Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This sounded like fun, AND was something that we could actually afford!

The website that I was on offered bicycle tours around the world, so I figured that they were probably just working with local companies. I thought I’d cut out the middle-man, and more googling led me to a German company called Radweg Reisen (loosely translated, it means “bicycle path travel.” Husband Saign and I decided to book with them. They offered higher class tours, in which we could stay at fancier hotels, and economy class tours in which we stayed at simpler hotels. As you might guess, Husband Saign and I opted for the budget option.

Here’s what we got:

Tricked out bikes: I loved my little hybrid. It had an odometer, lights that were powered by my pedaling, a comfortable seat, a handlebar bag, a saddle bag, a bike lock, and a little repair kit. Everything that we could need!

Our awesome bikes!

Our awesome bikes!

Planning: I used to love to take time to plan vacations. These days, I could care less. I love it that I didn’t have to research hotels or decide which town was best to stay in. I just showed up, and was told where to go!

A Variety of Hotels: It was kind of fun not knowing what to expect at each little hotel! Some had cable TV with BBC or CNN in English, some gave us special little treats like gummy bears, some were in the heart of town, while others were on the outskirts. This variety made it fun!

Luggage Transport: I could barely carry my suitcase up the stairs on my own (European hotels typically lack elevators), so I was really glad that I didn’t have to take it on my bike with me!

Ferry Transport: We had to take ferries on a few occasions, and our tour package included our ferry tickets.

Breakfast: Our hotels provided us with breakfast each morning.

Peace of Mind: Radweg Reisen staff were available to us, should we run into any huge tragedies while on our trip.

In the end, our experience with Radweg Reisen was amazing! They offer tours all over Europe. We would definitely use them again in the future!

Here’s what we were doing:

We spent a week biking around Lake Constance (aka Bodensee), stopping in little towns along the way. Our longest biking days were 35 miles, and some days were much shorter than this. There are designated bike paths around most of the lake, and the route is relatively flat. This was a great trip for a beginner! We pedaled our hearts out, rode through farmland, rode through charming little towns, ate a TON of gelato, ate our fair share of local foods, and had new adventures each day!

While we were on our trip, I kept a little journal about our experiences. I’ll be sharing those journals + photos here on the blog over the next few weeks!

Do you like planning vacations, or do you prefer to let someone else do the planning?

Jul 16

Don’t Tell me What to Do!

I have this thing where I hate doing what I’ve been told. It’s really weird, because I’m also a rule follower. I am a conundrum.

Anyway, this whole hate-doing-what-I’ve-been-told thing works out to be pretty funny when it comes to athletics. For example, in college I regularly worked out – running and Tae Bo were my favorites (I don’t know why Tae Bo lost popularity, it was way more fun than spin class or Zumba!) Anyway, I exercised on the norm. Then I took a required class called “Physical Wellness for Life.” In this class, not only did I learn about the cardiovascular system and why Mac & Cheese is bad for me, I was also required to exercise 3 times per week. So what did I do? I stopped running and doing Tae Bo. (Hey! You can’t MAKE me exercise! I’m not going to do it!) Of course, since I’m a rule-follower I still had to exercise (because it was demanded by my instructor), but I wasn’t going to do it to my full ability when it was being forced upon me! I started walking 3x per week. That’s right. I gave up running in my own silent protest against a stupid class. Oh, and guess what? As soon as the class ended, I started running and doing Tae Bo again. Yep, I just couldn’t do it when it was required of me.

This whole you-can’t-make-me, I’m-not-going-to-do-it attitude is a huge reason that marathon training is difficult for me. I hate it when Hal Higdon tells me what to do! I just want to run for fun! You can’t force me to do it!

Um, I’m kind of just battling with myself here, aren’t I?

Anyway, as you may recall, I’m trying to train better for my upcoming marathon than I did for my first marathon, and I’m also trying to have fun with training. Because training better means following a training plan, but I hate it when my training plan tells me what to do, it’s a bit difficult. But here’s the good thing: I’m having fun! I really, truly am! Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not usually super excited when it’s long-run day, BUT I’m much more content with long-run day than I’ve ever been in the past! Last year I dreaded the long run so much that I typically didn’t start until 5pm. Then I’d spend most of the run thinking about how miserable I was and wanting to cry. But this year, things have changed! I typically get my long run in before (or during) lunch, and I’m honestly pretty happy the whole time!

Here I am! Happy as can be on a recent long run!

Here I am! Happy as can be on a recent long run!

Success! I’m having fun!

Now, stop telling me what to do, stupid training plan!

Do you hate being bossed?

Jul 10

Want S’more? Nope! I Want a Cloud!

Sometimes people say really sad things to me. Things like, “I hate camping!”

Wha? You hate camping? That’s terrible. And it makes no sense!

And then I realize that the people who might say something like that probably think that I’m crazy because I LIKE camping! And I have to explain to them, “Silly, no one LIKES sleeping on the ground. That’s not the fun part of camping! Camping is fun because you get away from everything, unplug, and eat delicious food.”

And really, the delicious food is truly my favorite part of camping.

Then sometimes people say other sad things to me. Things like, “Yum! S’mores!”

Really? S’mores?

I get sad when people are excited about s’mores because I’m worried that they are missing out on amazing camping dessert culinary adventures. Guys…s’mores are a pretty inferior camping dessert. If you’ve been eating s’mores your whole life, you’ve been missing out.

Let me introduce to you…the cloud!

This is one of the greatest camping desserts ever invented. The cloud.

This is one of the greatest camping desserts ever invented. The cloud.

Yum. So delicious.

Ingredients/Materials:

Marshmallows

Chocolate bar

Biscuit Dough

Butter

Tin foil

Fire

Tongs

I usually use canned biscuit dough like Grands, but couldn't find any...crescent rolls work too!

I usually use canned biscuit dough like Grands, but couldn’t find any…crescent rolls work too!

How To:

  1. Butter a piece of tinfoil.
  2. Flatten two biscuits
  3. Rip two marshmallows into little pieces and lay them on a flattened biscuit.
  4. Break bits of chocolate and lay them on your flattened biscuit.IMG_1354
  5. Place the remaining biscuit on top, and seal the edges so that you’ve created a biscuit cocoon around your marshmallow/chocolate.IMG_1349
  6. Wrap the biscuit cocoon with the buttered tinfoil.
  7. Place on embers in the fire. Flip a few times. Check frequently.

    This cloud was perfectly cooked on one side, and burnt black on the other...still delicious!

    This cloud was perfectly cooked on one side, and burnt black on the other…still delicious!

  8. Eat. Celebrate the wonder of this marvelous creation.

And that’s it. I will give you this tip: It is VERY hard to cook a cloud perfectly. It will often be perfect on one side, but doughy or burnt on the other. The key is to check it frequently. I can’t tell you the perfect time to cook it in, because it will depend on how hot your fire is. Regardless, it will be melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Also, you can totally add other ingredients as well. Caramel is my favorite add-in!

I haven’t had anything yet, so how can I have s’more of nothing???

 

 

Jul 08

DIY Dog Car Seat Protector Hammock – How To

I have never had a nice car until now. Even now, there’s nothing particularly fancy about my car, but it’s much nicer than any car I’ve ever owned before. Because of this, I want to protect it and keep it looking nice.

There’s just one problem: I love Ada the Dog so much and want to bring her everywhere with me. And she’s kind of furry. And smelly. And dirty.

So, I had to come up with a solution. I thought about making her a cool little dog trailer, and then giving her a dog helmet and doggles to wear while I pulled her behind my car, but that seemed like a lot of work. Instead, I remembered something that I had seen in my friend’s car before: A backseat hammock. Basically it’s a heavy duty sheet that attaches to the front seat headrests and the backseat headrests so that the back of the car is protected from smelly dirty hairy dog.

I shopped online, and found that hammock car seat protectors with good ratings were running around $50. No way! I could make one myself! So I did. Here’s how I made Ada the Dogs’s cute hammock care seat protector. Ada the Dog loves it! (Just kidding, she doesn’t really care much either way, but she loves it that she’s now allowed in my car!)

Materials:

1. Blanket. It should be thick and strong (I bought a picnic blanket at Target for $20).

2. Webbing/straps

3. Thread

Steps:

1. Measure your seats. You need to know the distance between the headrests and in the backseat of your car and the headrests in the front seats or your car. You also need to know the width of your headrests.IMG_1527

2. Analyze your headrests. If your headrests are removable (e.g. if you can pull them complete out of the seat), you’re in luck! You can make your hammock with loops that are completely secured to your blanket. This is the best option, because it’s very secure. If your headrests are not removable, you will need to create ties with your webbing, so that you can tie your hammock to the headrests.

3. Measure your blanket. Plan out where you will need to put the webbing so that you can secure your hammock to the headrests.IMG_1528

4. Sew the webbing in place. In my case, I put two loops for my backseat headrests, because they are removable, and two tie-able straps for my front seat headrests, because they are not removable.IMG_1530

5. Tie/Loop it in place! If your headrests are completely removable, you can choose whether you want to wrap your hammock over the top of the headrest (I chose to do this because it protects the seat better), or simply hook the loops underneath the headrest. If your headrests are not removable, simply tie the hammock in place.IMG_1539

Wah-lah! You’re done!IMG_1532

I think my hammock turned out pretty well! When it gets dirty, I can just throw it in the wash, and I also like it that I got to choose pretty colors and a fun design since I DIYed it.

This is Ada the Dog's excited face! She's so excited that she's allowed in the car!

This is Ada the Dog’s excited face! She’s so excited that she’s allowed in the car!

Ada the Dog is ready for some road trips!

Are car seat protectors kind of dorky like pocket protectors?

 

Jun 30

Five Mile Lake Women’s Tri 2014 Race Recap

Two weeks ago, I faced my fear and completed my second-ever sprint triathlon: The Five Mile Lake Women’s Tri. Here’s how it all went down:

Pre-Race: I was really excited for this race! Last year I had tons of pre-race nightmares and a lot of fear. This year, after my confidence-boosting swim with Lindsay, I was just plain excited when I got to the race! It was also the first time ever that Husband Saign has come to a race to cheer for me, so I was extra excited! (Husband Saign was grumpy because it was early, but I didn’t let his negative attitude get me down! I was just happy!)

I racked my bike and as I began to set up my transition area, I worried that my running shoes might get wet in the rain. I hadn’t brought a plastic bag or anything to keep things dry! Thankfully, I heard a stranger offering a bag to her friend, and her friend turned her down, so I turned around and asked her if I could have it instead. She gave it to me. Thanks, nice stranger!

I started chatting with people, and found myself reassuring a lot of first-timers that they would be just fine. This really is the perfect race for a beginner! I love seeing people try new things!

Eventually the Olympic-distance ladies were off, and soon enough it was time for the Sprint-distance ladies to start!

The Swim: I opted against wearing my wetsuit after having a hard time getting out of it last year. After our pre-race meeting, we were told that we could get in the water if we wanted, though it was 10 minutes to start. Like a little lemming, I followed everyone in, even though it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to get in so soon before the race. It was kind of chilly, but for a Minnesota-girl like me, it was nothing too disturbing. I shivered a little, but mostly made jokes and chatted with those around me. I heard someone shouting “Becky! Becky!” and I thought there must be another competitor named Becky around. Then I realized that it was Nicole! She came by to cheer me on! How exciting!

Getting in the water 10 minutes prior to the race - I'm the cool one waving at the camera!

Getting in the water 10 minutes prior to the race – I’m the cool one waving at the camera!

The crowd in the water for our wave was much larger than last year. The race directors had opted for a 2-wave start instead of a 3-wave start. I did not appreciate this decision. I had intended to hold back for just a minute after the gun went off, but because the crowd was so large, I couldn’t figure out how to do this without being in the way. I ended up just having to go when the ladies in front of me took off. And just like that, we were off!

Prior to the race, I practiced sighting in the pool, and it really paid off! I was able to swim and watch out for the buoy! I felt much better and more confident than last year (just as I had hoped), but still felt like I was a bit panicky, and was not keeping the calm, efficient, and steady strokes like I have when swimming in a pool. Instead I flailed along, allowing my outward movements to reflect my inner distress. I was much more in the middle of the pack as compared to last year, and kept running into people. Worst of all, there was some inconsiderate lady doing the breast-stroke in front of me! She plagued me for the entire swim! I couldn’t figure out how to get away from her, so I kept having to slow down in order to avoid being kicked. Tip: If you can’t do the front crawl, then either 1) don’t to a triathlon, or 2) stay to the back and side away from the other competitors! She was a very not-nice lady, I think.

While in general I was much less panicky than last year, the swim was still pretty uncomfortable. I saw some ladies flipping to their backs to give themselves a little breathing time. Um. Brilliant! I joined right in – and did that a few more times during the swim! When I finally made it around buoy number 2 so that I could go towards shore, I was so excited! And then I looked and…it was so far away! So.far.away. Why was it so far??? Oh well, I swam into shore, got out of the water, and saw Husband Saign, Ada the Dog, Nicole Ricole, and Baby J all there cheering me on! While I was breathing very, very hard and was very tired, I found that I had much more energy following the swim than last year, and I even jogged a little to my transition!

So happy to be out of the water!

So happy to be out of the water!

Transition 1: This transition went pretty fast since I didn’t have to take off a wetsuit. I traded my surfing rash guard for a tech tee, slipped on my shoes, and drank some Nuun. I really wanted to take some gel, but I didn’t have any water or Nuun on my bike (I was 1 water bottle short on accident), so I was too afraid to try a gel. Soon enough, I was off. I couldn’t believe how my chest was burning, and how out of breath I felt, but I still had energy!

Bike: I don’t have much to say about the bike. I felt like I was still recovering from the swim for the first half of the bike ride – I think that I swallowed a lot of water while I swam. I tried to remember to keep my cadence up, as Lindsay had taught me at our practice. I had more trouble this year with getting stuck behind other bicyclists (because I’d want to pass, but simultaneously another biker would be passing me or a car would be coming). That was a little frustrating. I was having fun though, and feeling confident. I shouted out my thanks to each volunteer on both loops. I noticed during the last few miles that the toes on my right foot had gone numb. Very odd – perhaps getting them cold in the water and then stuffing them into tight bike shoes had caused the problem?

Biking along, content as can be!

Biking along, content as can be!

Transition 2: This transition seemed pretty fast to me. I still felt strong and confident, and I was really, really happy to have access to Nuun and gel! I ate a shot blok while I switched shoes, and soon enough, I was off.

Run: I still felt strong for the run! My toes were still asleep, which was annoying at first, and painful as the feeling came back, but I still had energy! If I had to guess, I’d say that I passed at least 15 people on the run, and got passed by only one. (Actually I got passed by two, but I passed one of them in the last mile, so she doesn’t count). The run was hillier than I remember it being, and I felt bad because before the race I told some people that it wasn’t hilly. I really didn’t mean to lie! I didn’t remember the hills! And soon enough, I was back in the park, and running for the finish! The clock read 2:04 when I finished, and I’m not going to lie: I was disappointed to see that time. I knew it meant I had gotten a 1:32, because we started 32 minutes after the first Olympic ladies left. I really hate feeling disappointed with myself after a race, but I had felt so confident and strong through the whole thing that I had myself believing that I might get a 1:30.

Feeling happy and strong for the run!

Feeling happy and strong for the run!

Finish!

Finish!

Post-Race: Ada the Dog and Husband Saign sat with me while I ate a few snacks. I checked my time, and learned that I had finished less than a minute faster than last year! I was surprised and disappointed!

Proud finisher!

Proud finisher!

Time Comparison: 

Swim: 11:17.5, T1: 1:54.7, Bike: 52:55.9, T2: 1:18.9, Run: 25:10.6, Overall: 1:32:37

I wish that I could do a direct comparison to last year, but because of a timing chip malfunction for the 2013 race, I have limited information to compare to. Here’s what I know: Last year, I finished in 1:33:16. So I was only 39 seconds faster this year! The reason this bothers me is that I felt so much stronger this year! I should have been able to do better! Further, my transitions were much faster, which means that I was SLOWER in the actual events! My swim time from last year was 11:20, so despite feeling WAY better this year, I apparently didn’t actually perform any better. Perhaps my bouyant wet suit was more helpful than I realized??? My first transition was 3:21 last year, which means that I cut almost a minute and a half off of my transition time by leaving the wetsuit out…but again, this also means that I was much slower at the actual events in order to finish in almost the same amount of time. Now, I can’t really compare the bike or T2 to last year, because I don’t have actual numbers for these from last year. I don’t have a specific time from the run last year, except that last year I wrote in my blog that I was running 9-minute miles. According to the race website, I ran 8:15 minute miles this year. Sooo…that means that I sucked it up on the bike this year! I was so busy trying to use new biking technique that I got really slowed down! I now know that if I want to triathlon again, I need to start working on my biking speed.

Husband Saign also pointed out to me that I didn’t train this year, which is totally legitimate. I guess that if I want to do better, I need not just feel more confident, but I need to actually practice. Whoops.

Overall: It was a really fun race again this year! Last year was a roller-coaster of emotions, and this year was just plain fun! I still haven’t totally decided what I think of triathlons. I think they’re really, really fun, but I just can’t imagine putting the time, money, and energy into becoming a serious triathlete. I think for now, I’m content just being a runner who dabbles occasionally into other sports!

If you had to choose one name for yourself, would you call yourself a runner or a triathlete?

 

Jun 18

The One Simple Rule to Personal Finance

Sometimes I get a little caught up wondering what is “right” when it comes to personal finance. I might come up with a strategy for saving, but then I’ll read an article, or have an experience that makes me second-guess my strategy, and then I get a little worried, wondering, “Am I doing it right?”

Here’s an example of my worry conundrum: I have a goal to put 27% of my gross income this year into long-term retirement savings. When I originally made this my goal, I planned to have 27% as my minimum goal, and I planned that I’d also take any excess money at the end of the month, and split it, sending half to paying down the principle on our mortgage, and half into long-term retirement savings. But then the conundrum happened: I bought a car, and cleaned out our Car Fund, and took a little money from our Emergency Fund. Now, that sent me into a panic: Our Emergency Fund is much too low! Much too low! If we were in a true emergency, I had always thought that we’d pull money from our Car Fund as well as from our Emergency Fund…but now our Car Fund was on empty! Oh no!

This little conundrum got me re-thinking my strategy: Should I be focusing on paying down our mortgage (at 4.125%), building up or Emergency Fund (which has about 2 months of living expenses in it), or saving for retirement (with an expected 7% return)? What’s the right thing to do????

Now, I could spend all day weighing the pros and cons: A liquid Emergency Fund could make a huge difference if I lost my job, but the money sits in a low-rate savings account, losing value (because of inflation) as time goes on. Long-term investments could mean good returns, but carry risk. Finally, paying down the mortgage has a guaranteed “rate of return” for me, but with my interest rate so low, it might make more sense to invest.

So, what’s the right thing to do?

Well, it’s my opinion that there is only one right thing to do: Spend less than you earn! That’s the most important key to financial success. Beyond that, whatever you choose you do with your “excess” money is just fine. (Of course, if you have high-interest debt, the rule changes and the “right thing to do” is to make paying off the high interest debt your top priority). Spending less than you earn is absolutely the best thing that you can do when it comes to personal finances…What you choose to do with your overflow money is not nearly as important as making sure that you HAVE overflow money to invest, save, or use to pay down debts.

Do you sometimes find yourself caught-up in confusion over the “right” way to spend or save money?

 

Jun 14

I Ran my Best Possible Personal Worst! Helvetia Half Marathon 2014

This past weekend, I ran a personal worst in the half marathon. I tried my best, and I couldn’t be any prouder of how the race turned out!

Through my relationship with Nuun, and Nuun’s relationship with the Better Series, I was given a free entry to the Helvetia Half Marathon. I was also given the opportunity to give away a free race entry, and an acquaintance (now friend) of mine, Molly, won the race entry! It was great to have a friend at the race.

A little back story here: I’m marathon training now, so this race was just going to be a fun training race. Yet, I always, always, always like to see a 1 at the front of my half marathon times. I had been having some foot pain, and therefore had cut some of my runs short over the 2 weeks prior to this race. The pain typically flared up when I ran, so I decided to take a complete rest for the week of this race so that my foot could recover.

On race day, I was optimistic! The weather was perfect (slightly cloudy, but no chance of rain). I felt confident and calm. Because of my foot pain, I thought I might fail to pull off a sub-2 marathon, but I still felt strong enough to try. My stomach was hurting slightly at the beginning of the race, but it wasn’t anything too terrible. I was excited and ready!

Molly positioned herself near a pace group that she thought appropriate for her, while I positioned myself right in front of the 2-hour pacers (I hate getting stuck in the midst of pace groups).

The gun went off, and we took off. I felt good for the first 3 miles. I was following the run-walk plan that I used last year at Wenatchee, and was on track for that sub-2. In mile 4, we hit some hills that seemed particularly overwhelming to me. I let my pace slip. I realized that I probably wasn’t going to get a sub-2 at this point, but I wasn’t totally off track…as long as there weren’t too many more hills, I still might get that sub-2 race that I was hoping for.

In mile 5, I took some food, and that’s when things fell apart. It’s not abnormal for me to not want to eat while running. At this particular time, I felt hungry and yet the thought of food was nauseating. I usually try to take at least 2 shot bloks after 45 minutes of running, regardless of how I’m feeling. If I can’t eat two, I eat just half of one and then wait a bit until I can stomach the other half. This method usually works pretty well for me, and I’m typically able to get appropriate fuel even when I don’t really want to eat.

My usual fueling plan did not work out well during this race! I forced down half a shot-blok (15 calories) during mile 5, and after about 10-15 minutes, I began to have stomach pain. Ouch. It wasn’t excruciating by any means, but I felt like I was going to vomit, (and I did a little…in my mouth…nice to know). The pain seemed to get worse when I pushed myself. I found that when I walked, my stomach settled. I went into a grand cycle of walking to let my stomach settle, and then running until the vomit-feeling became too intense.

There was a turn-around point in the race at mile 6.5, which gave me the opportunity to see Molly again. I saw her when I was at about mile 7, and she was at about mile 6. She looked really good and really strong!!! I thought about waiting for her, but I was worried that if I did I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. She certainly looked a lot better than I felt! I spent the rest of the race checking over my shoulder: Hopeful that I’d see Molly and yet terrified that I’d slow her down if she did catch me.

The race continued on like this: Running when I could, walking when the stomach stuff got intense, and hoping to/dreading seeing Molly. I tried to force down more shot bloks, but in the end found that doing so just seemed to make things worse. My pace was sloooooooww.

Now, if you’re a runner, you know how a situation like this could go: I could have gotten really frustrated about my stomach problems. I could have gotten annoyed with how slow I was going. I could have just given up and walked the rest of the course. I could have been angry at myself for not pushing through the pain.

I did none of the above. I tried my best to appreciate the absolutely beautiful course. I pushed myself when I could, and allowed myself to walk with the stomach pangs got too intense. I smiled and thanked volunteers. I listened to the conversations of others. I thought about how grateful I was that it was stomach pain and not injury pain slowing me down.

I let myself be in the moment, enjoy it for what it was worth, and ran the best possible personal worst that I could!

I’m really proud that I didn’t give up or get mad. In the circumstances I was given, I did my best.

Here’s to embracing our personal worsts: You can’t have a personal best without a personal worst!

My personal worst time: 2:13:11.

Me & Molly at the finish!

Me & Molly at the finish!

FYI: Molly did awesome and got a PR that day on a rather challenging course! Way to go, Molly!

Do you get down on yourself when you don’t race up to your expectations?

Jun 04

Good-bye, Charlie!

Something crazy happened two weeks ago!

Uh…actually, it wasn’t that crazy. It was totally and completely logical. It’s crazy that it didn’t happen several YEARS ago: I sold my beloved motorcycle, Charlie. (FYI, Charlie was a female motorcycle).

Me & Charlie the Motorcycle

Me & Charlie the Motorcycle

Charlie the Motorcycle was never meant to be a toy. I bought her when I lived in LA and gas prices got really high. I had to commute pretty far for my practicum experiences, and had to commute somewhat for my job as well, so I was spending a lot of money in gas (particularly because Dora the Ford Explorer took a lot of gas). I wanted a motorcycle to reduce commuting costs.

While vehicles are generally a poor investment (because they depreciate in value), Charlie the Motorcycle was a great investment from a practical standpoint: Not only did it cost me almost nothing in gas to get around Los Angeles, I often was able to snag free parking that wasn’t available to cars. When I commuted 40 miles round-trip to UCLA, it was actually cheaper for me to take my motorcycle than it was to take the bus!

When I lived in Los Angeles, Charlie the Motorcycle was my primary vehicle, while Dora the Ford Explorer sat at home unless it was raining (which was almost never). I saved thousands of dollars by riding Charlie the Motorcycle for 3 years all around Los Angeles. When I moved to Miami, I continued to commute with Charlie the Motorcycle as much as possible, though the horrible rain and humidity forced me to ride less than I wanted to. Finally, when I moved to Tacoma, motorcycle commuting became nearly impossible for most of the year…and running injuries made motorcycles an impossibility during my first summer here. Charlie the Motorcycle sat in the garage, collecting dust.

Finally, two weeks ago, we (and by we, I mean Husband Saign) posted an ad on Craigslist, and Charlie the Motorcycle went to a new home. I was sad to say good-bye to my faithful motorcycle, but happy to have extra money to throw at the mortgage!

These Benjamins went to the bank and were used to pay down our mortgage!

These Benjamins went to the bank and were used to pay down our mortgage!

I’m hoping to continue to find things that I no longer use, and pass them on to happier homes, while taking the money I make to reduce our mortgage!

What things do you need to get rid of? If you were to sell a few things, what would you do with the money?

Jun 02

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

Oh my goodness! I’m not going to drown! I’m also not going to panic! I can swim!

I feel that I should give you all a little of my swimming history, in point format, to help you understand exactly why the swimming portion of the triathlon is so scary for me:

  • I grew up in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, so swimming is not really a foreign experience for me.
  • Like any normal Minnesotan, I took swimming lessons as a kid.
  • I failed the same swimming class twice before my mother let me quit swimming lessons.
  • The reason I failed swimming lessons is because I could not rhythmic breathe. I tried, but I would start breathing really fast, and just couldn’t get it down.
  • This inability to rhythmic breathe was never really a major problem for me – I still spent my summers swimming at the lake, and could swim an appropriate distance – I just kept my head out of the water!
  • I decided that I wanted to learn to swim 2 years ago when I running injury left me so incapacitated that I could not even bike…swimming was the only option.
  • I still could not rhythmic breath, even though I was a grown adult, and had to teach myself how by focusing on one swimming technique at a time.
  • Eventually I could swim like real swimmer! (E.g. the whole length of the pool, and with my face in the water!)
  • However, when I completed my first triathlon, I found that swimming in open water is a LOT more difficult then swimming in a pool, and my amazing new swim skills took second stage to my panicking during the swim.
  • My goal this year when I complete the Five Mile Lake Women’s Tri is to panic less during the swim. However, the race is in 2 weeks, and I’ve only swam a couple of times.

So with that background in place, you can understand my shock when I went open-water swimming this past weekend, and didn’t freak out! It was amazing! I just…swam. No fear!

How did I accomplish this? Well, through a little something called “exposure.” See, if you’re scared of something and you avoid said thing, you typically remain scared of the thing. Avoidance breeds fear. HOWEVER, when you face your fear, gradually your body and mind get used to the feared thing, and your fear lessens. Exposure is the process of facing your fear, and it typically results in reduced fear!

For me, I was scared of rhythmic breathing in open water. Last year I had 3 open water swim practices (all involving panic), and 1 triathlon swim (also involving panic). Each open water experience was a bit easier than the previous experience, but I still found myself pretty scared on race day. Well, fifth time’s a charm! Lindsay and I went swimming at Five Mile Lake this past weekend, and while I had a nightmare the night before our practice, on the day of, I just paddled around like Ariel, singing at the top of my lungs, happy as can be!

Lindsay and I after our swim.

Lindsay and I after our swim.

So there you have it! Face your fears, friends! You CAN do it!

What fear have you overcome lately?

Remember to use my 10% discount code: RUNFUNDONE14 when you sign up for the Five Mile Lake Women’s Tri!

May 26

Confident Swimming

As you may recall, I plan to complete the Five Mile Lake Women’s Triathlon this year, and my goal is to panic less during the swim than I did last year.

I still think that this is a great goal, but I’ve been focused on other goals (namely, having fun while following a marathon training plan), and pushed triathlon training to the back burner. In fact, it’s so far back on the burner that the race is in less than 3 weeks, and I’ve swam just 3 times. Whoopsie.

So excited and ready!

So excited and ready!

Here’s what I think that my panic-less plan should entail:

  1. Swim. The more I practice swimming, the more confident I will feel on race day, right? I’m pretty sure that’s right, but with time ticking away, I feel like I’ve missed out on some pretty prime swimming time!
  2. Open water swim. Truly, this was the most difficult part of the swim last year – I had no idea how to track where I was and how to get where I wanted to go without having pool lanes guiding me. For this reason, practicing open-water swimming should be helpful. Again, time is running out! I brought my goggles along to Europe and for my Memorial Day Weekend camping trip, but found that the lakes were simply too cold to swim in. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to have one open water swim practice before race day.
  3. Think calming thoughts. This is the only area where I see the potential to still do well. It’s a two-part technique: First, I’m going to spend a little time imagining swimming calmly and confidently. Secondly, I’m going to tell myself “Hey, I’ve done this before, and I can do it again!” Positive thoughts for the win!

There’s still time to sign up for the Five Mile Women’s Triathlon! Remember to use code RUNFUNDONE14 to save 10%!

Do you have any great ideas to help me feel more confident during the swim?

 

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