Monday, January 19, 2009


Remember a couple of posts ago when I was talking about increasing my training mileage which left little time for the internet? Hah! I haven't even been keeping track of my computer time the past three days, because I found a new diversion. Facebook. I have been re-connecting with friends whom I had totally lost contact with. I know once the initial catching-up has been done, then I will spend less time on the site, but I must admit I've been obsessed the past couple of days. Initially I was concerned about privacy issues, but you can restrict access to your page to only people you identify as friends. Your name will be displayed on a search, and people can view your friends list, but that's all, unless you choose otherwise. Pretty sweet!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Early-morning awakenings

Last night our dog wanted to be let outside in the wee hours of the morning. Being that I am a very heavy sleeper, she had to nudge me several times to bring me fully awake. Reluctantly, I got up and let her outdoors. She did her thing and came back inside. As I was crawling back into the toasty warm bed, I was reminded of my days as a kid when we were raising sheep. Since my brother and I both showed the sheep at the county fair, we tried to plan the breeding so that the lambs would be born in January or February (the coldest months of the year in upstate New York, but also allowed for more time for growth of the lambs). When a mother sheep was approaching her due date, we would watch carefully for impending labor because all too frequently, momma sheep needed our help to deliver successfully. Usually my mother and I would split the task of waking up in the middle of the night to go check on the sheep. What willpower it took to crawl out of bed, put on warm clothes and trudge to the barn to check on the expectant mother! More often than not, the sheep was not in labor and we could go back inside and go back to bed. It was delightful to slip back underneath the covers and drift back to sleep. After a couple of years of trudging to the barn in the middle of the night, my father rigged up closed-circuit television cameras and monitors so that we could just roll over, turn on the monitor and check out the sheep from the comfort of our beds. Ahhh, we were really spoiled then! Of course, it wasn't always perfect; try as we might to get the camera so that it covered the whole enclosure, the expectant mother would sometimes manage to get out of the view of the camera, thus ensuring that we would have to trudge to the barn anyway. And sometimes the resolution of the image wasn't clear enough to make a determination that everything was all-okay and we'd have to go check the situation out in person. What fun we had!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Communing with nature

Yesterday was spent skiing in New York's Tug Hill region, an area of 150,000 acres sitting just east of Lake Ontario. The region receives massive amounts of lake effect snow each year (typically around 400 inches). The day was picture-perfect; bright blue sky, abundant sunshine and about 4 inches of snow clinging to all the trees. It was cold, somewhere between 10-14 degrees Fahrenheit. Each time I put a pole into the snow, there was a little "squeak" and I easily fell into a rhythmic stride. It took me back to when I was a kid and my mom and I would go skiing in the neighboring woods. I am grateful that she took the time to encourage and join in on our outdoor activities.

Today I'd like to get a long-ish run in, since it's so hard to squeeze it in during the week. I finally feel like I've got the appropriate ambition to train properly for my long-distance race goals and I am itching to do longer distances. I am having to hold myself back from increasing distances too quickly, as I don't want to risk injury. Right now I'm comfortably running 4-5 miles at a time, but at a very slow pace. I'm currently researching training plans for the half-iron distance in July. All indications are that I should start a 20-week plan around March 1st so that I can be adequately prepared.

All of this training time is going to leave little time for accessory "stuff", so I am trying to trim unnecessary internet surfing time. This past week, I loosely kept track of the time I spent on the internet and I was surprised at the total number. And that was when I was purposefully trying to keep it down. Well, that definitely means there's room for improvement!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another step

As in - another step closer to chasing my Ironman dream. Registration for volunteering at Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) opened up yesterday and I am registered. See, entries into the race fill up very quickly, but preference is given to people who volunteer the previous year. Since I want to race in 2010, I need to volunteer this year. I don't know yet what my assignment will be - my first preference was to help athletes at the bike transition, second preference was to help pass out food and drinks on the bike course. I will be happy to be doing just about anything - I just hope it doesn't rain all day like it did last year!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Change is not necessarily bad

Yesterday was another organizational day for me. Mostly, I cleared paperwork from my desk. I did get out to the local drugstore for some supplies and I stopped at the grocery store for ingredients for homemade pizza (including homemade dough!) Now, our neighborhood grocery store remodeled about 6 months ago. The last time I made a pizza was well over that timeframe. I had gotten used to a specific brand of mozzarella cheese which both my boyfriend and I decided was superior. Wouldn’t you know that they are no longer carrying that brand of cheese? Rats. In fact, I could only find one brand of mozzarella and it didn’t appear that it would be very good. Nonetheless, unwilling to scrap my plans for pizza dinner, I purchased the “inferior” cheese. I spent part of the afternoon making the dough, kneading it, leaving it to rise and forming it onto the pizza stone. Now it was time for the toppings and the second ingredient that we’re both very particular about – the sauce. We use a jarred sauce from a different grocery store that’s about 20 miles away. Yes, we had made sure that we had a jar of sauce before we decided on pizza. Problem was, when I opened the jar, it didn’t appear to have been sealed well. There was black debris all over the inside of the jar. Rats times two! Now what do we do? I searched the freezer, hoping for a half-used jar that I had frozen and forgotten about. No luck. My BF suggested we make our own sauce. Not at 7:00 at night! I considered using pesto, but my BF didn’t like that idea. We finally resorted to using regular pasta sauce, which I thought would be too thin. It was perfect! In fact, the whole pizza turned out to be way better than I’d ever made before. Three cheers for change!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

And so it starts....

When I went downstairs yesterday with the idea of doing some light weightlifting, I realized that our weight bench had become a catch-all bench. Not cool. This was similar to how it looked for most of 2008, until I cleared it off in September when I began the Strength for Life program. Thankfully, I had enough motivation and extra time that I was able to get it cleared off and still get my workout done. Come heck or high water, I will strive to keep it from becoming a storage bench, because most days it would be too easy to scrap the workout instead of clearing off the bench. (I'm blaming the cat for putting the stuff there!)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Daily must-do!

I'm going to try to include more photographs in my blog this year. Heck, I'm going to try to include more posts, period!

Here's a photo of our bird feeder. One of my absolutely necessary daily tasks is filling the bird feeder. I so enjoy watching the birds, knowing that their lives are a little easier because they don't have to work so hard for nutritious food. In the summer time I also set out a bird bath, which I'm religious about cleaning and re-filling daily.

Today is filled with possibility - some chores that I have to get done, but also some cleaning and organizational "stuff". It's going to be a great day!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Past year's reflection

I don’t “do” resolutions. I find them too broad and hard to fulfill. Train harder, love
more, procrastinate less? What do all those really mean and more importantly,
phrases like those do not provide any idea of how to accomplish them.
Instead, I prefer to look back upon the previous year. What went well? Where can I
improve? How can I make it better?

When I think on my frustrations for the year, it seems to boil down to time
management issues. And one diversion in particular – the internet. I spent way too
much time sitting in front of the computer screen. It’s like TV to me. (Since I rarely
watch TV, I guess that’s not too bad, but I still feel I spend too much time online). To
aid myself in correcting this, I am going to start keeping track of my time on the
computer using a timer. I’m sure it will be an eye-opener.

As for exercise and weight management (specifically the “Strength for Life” program
which I blogged about earlier). I am happy to report that the SFL program helped me
to shed my last 5 pesky pounds. But. It took constant vigilance to do that. I was
ferociously consistent with training. I didn’t miss a single day for two months. I was
also very strict with my food consumption. I ate very few sugary sweets, no soda, no
processed snacks (chips, pretzels, etc). I felt great, but I was pretty miserable. I felt
that my entire existence was centered around me and my physical needs. I don’t
mean to imply that I felt like I was depriving myself of foods that I enjoyed, because I
didn’t miss the junk. I was filling up on healthier stuff and just didn’t have room for
the junk. No, it was the feeling that I had to rush home and get my workout done. It
had crossed the line into an obsession. I have set some specific, measurable exercise
goals for 2009, but I’m going to try really hard to be realistic. If a day goes by without
exercise, I will be okay. I’ll just try to make sure it doesn’t turn into three, four or
more days without exercise. I will accept what I can do without settling into

Enough with the psycho-babble. How did we ring in the New Year? Sleeping.
Really. I haven’t been awake to ring in the new year since 1999. I even got an extra
second of sleep last night because an extra second was added onto 2008. Boy do I feel
refreshed! We did treat ourselves to a movie (Million Dollar Baby) and homemade
popcorn. Forget about the healthy, air-popped popcorn. I delight in doing it the way
my father taught me – in a pan, over the stove with vegetable oil. And then I add real
butter, too (gasp!) And salt. Lots of salt. And we washed it down by splitting a bottle
of beer. Do we know how to party or what? It was a completely enjoyable evening –
a great way to say farewell to 2008.

I rang in the new year by going for a run with my uber-fit boyfriend. Well, truth be told, I ran and he jogged. I don't think he even broke a sweat. That's why we don't train together much, but it was fun to push myself today. The remainder of the day was spent cleaning up from the Christmas frenzy and generally organizing the house. Tonight we will cook a good dinner (seafood risotto with a green salad) and maybe even share another bottle of beer! Here's the recipe for the risotto - it's very easy and wonderfully delicious!

Seafood Risotto

3 cups each water and vegetable broth or clam juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (10oz.) can whole baby clams (optional)
3 cups Arborio or other short grain rice
1 cup HOLLAND HOUSE White Cooking Wine
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Ground pepper to taste

Simmer water and broth in pot. In other heavy pot, saute onion in oil over medium heat, 4 minutes. Into pot with onions, add garlic and seafood, stir 1 minute. Add rice, stir 3 minutes. Stir in cooking wine, then tomatoes.

Once above mixture is stirred well, add one ladle of broth water. Stir until absorbed. Repeat until broth is almost all gone. Stir in seasonings.

Dish is done when rice is creamy but still firm, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 (courtesy Holland House cooking wine)