think positive thoughts

Friday, April 14, 2017

I'm running the Hot Chocolate 15K tomorrow, but the last thing I feel like doing right now is racing. (OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Of course I'd much rather run a race than, say, projectile vomit onto a wall with a velocity so forceful that the vomit immediately splashes back on my face. That would clearly be much worse.) I'm exhausted from training, I'm frustrated because my last two swims have been pretty craptacular, and "heavy thunderstorms" are predicted for tomorrow.

Accurate feelings.

Blah, blah, blah. Whine, whine, whine. You get the picture.

I need to fix this, so I'm creating a list of 10 times when I felt like a goddamn champion so I can call up these happy memories if I'm still feeling dumpy on the course tomorrow. So much of training and race prep focuses on the physical, but mental strength is just as important and often gets taken for granted.

So here goes. Let's flex those mental muscles, baby.

1. IMAZ 2014, the first Ironman. It was a culmination of hard work, a celebration of strong friendships, a turning point in an otherwise shitty year. Quite possibly the best day of my life.

2. The first time I completed an Olympic distance swim. After struggling with my fear of open water for so long, I wanted to cry with joy when I did that swim without freaking out even once.

3. Canyoneering in Costa Rica. Want to feel like a bad-ass? Jump off a cliff.

4. When I climbed Green Valley Road for the first time and didn't have to get off my bike and do the walk of shame.

5. The night I arrived in Seattle. After driving for 14 hours from Sonoma County with two very confused cats (Mouse did not yet exist at that time), it hit me I'd be starting a totally new life in a city where I knew no one. And I felt excited.

6. When someone asked me, in French, for directions in Paris. This is how you know your outfit looks good. (Also related: When I successfully bought tampons in French.)

7. When I broke the two-hour mark for a half marathon. (Side note: I'd really like a new 13.1 PR. It's been awhile. But that's another goal for another time.)

8. Cutting my CSS pace and realizing I don't have to be in the slow lane forever. God, I want a sub-2:00/100 swim time so badly.

9. When I was on a relay team for Iron Girl and it felt so good to pass a ton of people on the bike and our team kicked ass and we had a blast.

10. Vineman 70.3. My favorite race ever. I'll never forget the first time I crossed the finish line -- again, a feat I never in my life thought I'd be capable of. Or the year I set a PR there and it was cathartic and I ran straight to Layla and cried my little heart out.

You know what? I'm feeling better already.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Yesterday morning I heard a cat crying in the juniper bushes outside work, so naturally I dumped my bag and jacket in a pile, flagged down a facilities guy and made him listen for the cat (which he heard too, thereby proving I don't just make this shit up).

And since I didn't have any meetings for another hour and he was having a slow morning, we both dove into the bushes to rescue the cat, which sounded like it was in trouble or trapped.

Entering the abyss.

We spent 50 minutes crawling through the juniper, which was like a cave under all that green. (I won't lie: The entire time, I was picking out cat names.) We found two empty cigarette packs, a coffee cup lid and a spent bag of Ruffles, but sadly, no cat.

And now I have tiny, itchy red bumps on my wrists and hands because apparently I'm allergic to juniper sap. Also, let's not forget the stellar reputation I have no doubt earned with the coworkers who happened to walk by while I was in the bushes calling for kitty.

(I'm currently trying to convince myself there really was a cat and it wasn't some recording that an art student put out there to trap crazy cat ladies as part of some kind of social commentary on toxoplasmosis or something.)


Thursday, March 16, 2017

I'm a big fan of listening to podcasts during pre-dawn trainer workouts, when I'd rather watch the sunrise than stare at a screen. Since March is "Try a Pod" month, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

For real horror: You know what's scarier than ghosts, vampires, zombies, haunted lighthouses and being buried alive? Actual real-life contemporary murder. In "My Favorite Murder," the hosts (who are from my homeland of California) recount their favorite true crime stories. One episode talks about the Night Stalker, who was all over the news during my childhood growing up in L.A. Another focuses on Mary Vincent, whose attacker hacked both of her arms off, yet she still managed to survive. The show also talks about child murderers (as in children who are murderers), a murder in a lululemon store (WTF), a woman who faked pregnancy and then tried to kill a truly pregnant woman so she could take the baby out of her and claim it as her own (seriously WTF), and other equally pleasant topics. I can't stop listening. (True story: My parents were visiting recently, and I was on the trainer listening to murder and they literally started praying the rosary.)

Be warned, however: Every time I go running now and see someone out there, I'm 99 percent sure they're going to murder me. It also doesn't help that this just happened in a park I used to run through in Seattle. And my paranoia isn't limited to the trail. One of the creepiest stories in the podcast is about a woman who was swimming laps and a guy stood on the deck and stared at her and she got a bad feeling, so she didn't get out of the pool and just kept swimming and eventually he went away and then later she saw his picture on the news and he was a murderer. Now I think about this all the time. (I do feel like I should sign up for a self-defense class and carry pepper spray. I'm curious -- if you're reading this, do you do anything to protect yourself while running?)

"Phew! Didn't get murdered!"

For shits and giggles: On a completely different note, I also love "My Dad Wrote a Porno," which is basically three friends reading aloud from their dad's horribly written erotic novel. The novel in question is "Belinda Blinked," and it is so unbelievably bad that it's amazing. (The word "cervix" should never, ever be used in a sex scene.)

So you know you're not alone: "Terrible, Thanks for Asking" tackles the awful things that happen to us and how we learn to live with them. Expect tears. But expect hope too. (Also related: "The Hilarious World of Depression." I love that we can have honest, adult conversations about mental illness because it really is a thing and we shouldn't be embarrassed to talk about it.)

For tunes: The Current is my favorite local radio station, and I'm a fan of their "Song of the Day" podcast. It's a great way to find new music.

For politics: The "NPR Politics Podcast" is a good overall view of the shit circus that is our current administration. (Side note: Is anyone else freaking out about the proposed budget? EPA cuts? Elimination of arts funding?) If you're looking for politics with a much more adamantly liberal slant, check out "Pod Save America." And finally, "Civics 101" explains all of the government terms and entities we hear about in the news so we can decipher what's really happening and how things actually work (or should work, or perhaps may not be working at all).

adulting and stuff

Friday, March 10, 2017

Since my last post, I've gotten married, traveled to Costa Rica (where running on a shadeless beach in a very humid 90 degrees is ill-advised), organized my first media event at work, experienced my first art opening, applied for a home loan, advocated for saving the NEA and NEH, witnessed the ugliness the current political climate seems to be unearthing, joined an interfaith women's book club (yes, I am very unsettled by current politics), improved my swim speed (holy shit, right?) and finally washed my car (and of course it snowed the next day).

No wedding photo for you; instead: The car wash!

Naturally, my apartment is an explosion of shoes and dirty spandex and kitty litter crumbs and unopened mail. And my front closet is packed so full of boxes of god-knows-what because whenever anyone comes over, my "cleaning" strategy involves throwing all of my piles in a box and hiding it. And the other night Mouse barfed in the bed, and I was too tired to get up and clean it, so I just kept sleeping. And I never actually finished the reading for the book club. And I haven't cleaned my bathtub even once since I moved into my apartment a year ago. And I need a haircut and a chiropractic adjustment and a pedicure. And there are a bunch of vegetables in the refrigerator that are going to go bad unless I cook them immediately. And I got a power meter but it's still in the box because I haven't had time to sit down and figure out how to install it.

And thus we have the adulting paradox: The more you do adult things, the less you feel like an actual adult.

whole 30 update

Sunday, January 29, 2017

So technically, if you are really into the Whole 30 "tough love" philosophy, I failed.

Because on Day 8, my boss took our team out for Greek food, and my dressing-free grilled chicken salad came with a cup of avgolemeno soup, which had rice in it, and I couldn't resist and ate the rice.

And then on Day 17, I had two friends over for brunch, and even though everything I made was completely Whole 30 compliant (I have come to loathe the word "compliant"), the girls brought over mimosas to toast the fact that I may or may not be getting married soon and it would've been rude to refuse, so I had a very small mimosa.

And then last night, Day 23, a bunch of us took the mister out for a belated birthday celebration, and I had wine and a pupusa (which is made with corn).

So if I were being really, really strict with the Whole 30 rules, I would have had to start over from Day 1 after every single one of these "slips."

Which doesn't seem right to me. Because besides these three instances, I've been spending all of my free time cooking, meal-planning, packing my lunches, trying new recipes and changing what I reach for when I'm hungry. I've broken my chip addiction. Instead, I eat apples, carrots and other whole foods as my snacks. I made plantains for the first time (amazing), learned how to cook with coconut milk and came up with a really awesome way to make killer roasted potatoes. And I've stayed away from gluten, soy and dairy, which are the three things I really wanted to avoid through this diet.

I don't feel like a failure, no matter what the Whole 30 rules say. And I actually really enjoy being in the kitchen.

So I'm going to keep going and not worry about starting over. And I hope the habits I've learned will continue even after I reach Day 30.

(Speaking of recipes and cooking and trying new things, I made deconstructed samosas today. Yum.)

dead animals, new beginnings

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

So today I was e-mailing back and forth with someone who wants to borrow my taxidermied rabbit and squirrel for a 4-H photo shoot.

This is Frank. He has creepy teeth.

No living squirrel would ever pose like this.

(Thank you to the lovely and talented Bri Leahy for taking these photos and downplaying how bad my taxidermy skills are. Fact: I'm good at skinning things but suck at stuffing them.)

I kept trying to explain to the dead-animal-seeking-lady that my taxidermy is not very good and pretty much downright deformed. But she insisted it was fine. So now some unsuspecting 4-H kids will have nightmares about squirrels with dislocated shoulders. Dear parents: You've been warned.

In other news, I started my new job last week and it is awesome. I've been in PR for more than a decade (I know, right? I'm old) and have struggled with the idea of "doing good." Yes, the wine industry was fun and exciting and full of decadent caloric intake, but I didn't feel like I was doing anything to help make the world a better place (unless getting people tipsy is considered philanthropic). And my recent and very brief stint in the corporate world left me feeling even more disconnected. So it is amazing to now be able to bring beauty, freedom of expression (especially in the current political climate) and curiosity to the community. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and I want so much to make a difference!

Also, how cool is it to be able to leave my desk, walk upstairs and see this mural?

Way better than my taxidermy "skills." 

take that, winter!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

I did it.

I ran outside in -2 windchill and didn't die. And I still have all my appendages. (Side note: Did you know penis frostbite is a thing? I learned that today. I also learned you should never google "frostbitten penis.")

The key is good gear and covering every bit of your skin. (Read Megan's winter running tips for an awesome breakdown.) I was a little nervous about getting it right -- would I be too hot or not warm enough? What about my eyeballs? And dear god, would it be horrible waiting for my Garmin to find a satellite? (Answer: Yes, it was uncomfortable but doable.)

I wore a fleece-lined beanie, a ninja mask balaclava, sunglasses to protect my eyes from the wind, a long-sleeved technical base layer, a 2/3 zip pullover, my North Face Isotherm jacket, fleece-lined gloves, tights, Smartwool socks and trail shoes for more traction. My core, fingers, toes and face were warm throughout the run (just 40 minutes), but my butt and thighs started to go numb after awhile. (I think next time I need to double up on the pants.)

The run itself felt great. I can't tell you how excited I was to be outdoors after being cooped up on a treadmill for so long. (Is this how I get out of my running funk? Only run in ridiculous weather conditions to keep things interesting?) I took it easy over the icy patches, though -- I'm terrified of taking a nasty fall. (This happened to me in grad school a long time ago. I got out of my car, slipped on a patch of black ice and hit the ground hard -- in front of a lot of people, of course. I've been paranoid ever since.)

What I loved: How quiet it was out there. Like having the whole world to myself. And the scenery -- the snow transforms everything.

Also: These signs that the nearby elementary school made are pretty much the best thing ever.

I don't ever want to see my poop cry.

The Minneapolis PD is standing by.

(Huge thank you to The North Face for the cold weather gear! It's great being part of the TNFLocals program!)

whole 30

Friday, January 06, 2017

So here it is, Day 1 of the Whole 30 program. I ate a slice of frittata for breakfast, a baked potato topped with ground turkey for lunch, some celery and sunflower butter as a snack, and a stuffed pepper and roasted potatoes for dinner.

I'm not craving sugar or even any rice (yet), but I really want chips. Specifically, an enormous bag of Fritos. All I want is Fritos. And this is likely because I've had Fritos as my mid-afternoon snack almost every day this week. I even miss the way they smell -- sort of oily and semi-nutty. And they're just so salty.

And there are 29 more days of this.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Good-bye, grey cubicle. It's time for the next adventure.

this probably comes as no surprise, but

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

... you guys, it's fucking cold.

And yet, it's not as bad as it was several weeks ago, when the "feels like" temperature said -31 degrees. (And for some insane reason, we still went outside anyway and walked to the Vikings game and then walked to a bar afterwards for burgers and then walked to another bar, where there was a mechanical bull and two guys got in a fight and accidentally hit a girl and it was really upsetting and I had the worst drink I've ever had in my entire life. Do not ever -- ever -- let the pint-sized, 22-year-old server talk you into a Jeremiah Weed.)

Anyway, you learn to cope. I own a lot of puffy coats and hats and gloves and scarves and those face mask things that make you look like a ninja. And I love snow boots. Actually, "love" is an understatement; I'm completely obsessed with them. I honestly feel like I've been waiting my entire life for an excuse to only wear snow boots, especially this pair with the fur:

And you adjust your perspective because -17 is really "not that bad" when you know things could be much, much worse. And you convince yourself the sensation of having all of your nose hairs freeze at once is actually "refreshing." And you tell yourself that doing all of your runs on the treadmill builds "character" and "mental fortitude."

And when friends post articles like this one on your Facebook page (thanks, Layla!), you announce that the authors must be mistaken because North Dakota is so much worse.

party's over

Monday, January 02, 2017

All I can think about right now is how I really don't want the long holiday weekend to end. I need one more day of pajamas and sleeping in and "Gilmore Girls" (yes, the original and not the Netflix update because somehow I spent my whole life not ever seeing this show until now) and reading trashy novels and dressing the cats in tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits. (Confession: As I typed that last sentence, I briefly thought about dressing the mister in tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits. And then I realized what I was thinking and was sort of horrified but really proud of myself at the same time.)

Anyway, here are some highlights from the Christmas and New Year celebrations over the past few weeks.

Holidazzle in Loring Park: Love this art installation.

Santa is a Vikings fan, which means he's also destined to a life of disappointment and sadness.

My first white Christmas ever! At last!

Tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits!

I made Christmas dinner: Gluten-free ravioli from scratch.

Ultimate breakfast sandwiches on New Year's morning!

Children vs. mister: Children win.
(Please don't tell the mister I posted that last photo. He's probably already concerned about the tiny, cat-sized holiday outfits.)

hello, new year

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Wait, what just happened? 

Mouse's thoughts exactly.

Oh right. It's 2017.

And since I am completely incapable of doing anything in moderation, I'm jumping in full force. I have a new coach -- fellow Coeur teammate and all-around inspiration Liz Waterstraat (read this immediately because it summarizes all the feelings) -- and did my first bike-run of the year today. (IM Wisconsin, I'm coming for you!) I'm also obsessed with the insanity that is the Coeur century swim challenge (100 x 100), and even though I'm in no shape to swim that far all at once, I'm breaking it into pieces and did 3,000 yards Thursday and another 4,000 yards yesterday (thank you, pull buoy and fins).

And I'm cleaning up my nutrition, too. I spent Christmas in Wisconsin with the mister's family, and every day involved Wisconsin-style Old Fashioneds (brandy or whiskey, sweet or sour, garnished with asparagus spears or mushrooms, for real), a shit-ton of cheese and the world's most amazing egg bake -- hash browns, cream of mushroom soup, ground meat, all topped with another shit-ton of cheese.

See? Mushrooms.

So I'll be attempting the Whole 30 program -- no dairy, no grains, no soy, no gluten, no sugar, no legumes, no alcohol. I'm gluten-intolerant, so that piece is nothing new for me, but no grains at all means no rice. Um, hello? I'm Asian. There's a strong possibility I might shrivel up and die. (Note to self: Teach the cats how to dial "911" in case of a rice emergency.)

Whole 30 egg bake: Awesome, but no shit-ton of cheese.

I've started incorporating some Whole 30 recipes into my meal planning the past few days. (I even made my own mayonnaise because apparently store-bought mayo has sugar in it.) I'll dive in completely this Friday because Thursday is -- wait for it -- my going-away happy hour to celebrate the last day at my current job! That's right: I've got a new adventure lined up. (But more on that later. Because I know you love suspense. And waiting three months for my next blog post, in which I will totally forget what I previously told you I'd write about so then you will actually never know anything about my new job. See? I'm self-aware and know my flaws.)

This year is going to be big, folks. Assuming I don't go into rice withdrawal and jump out the window, of course.
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