Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holidays are a time for perspective

I'm so proud to say that Matt got published again (a couple months ago he wrote this piece)!! He submitted a piece to our local paper, the Press Democrat, a couple weeks ago on the suggestion of a friend after she read it. I agreed. I thought it was a great message and was coming at the perfect time of year.

We kept waiting to see if it would be accepted for the Editorial section, but kind of gave up on it. Then some friends texted this morning and said "Great piece in the newspaper, so true!"

I thought it was really awesome that the PD waited until today to run it. So, naturally, I had to share it just like I did before. This time, it's not so much about our financial situation as it is about taking a moment to look around and realize how rich we really are.

Enjoy!

This article can also be found here.

EVERSON: Holidays are a time for perspective

Published: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 4:20 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 6:02 a.m.

''We're rich," I said innocently.

It was an honest appraisal from my point of view. And I recall the laughter that remark inspired. The reaction of my parents and their friends took me by surprise. At 5 years old, I didn't understand why they all thought I was being so silly. But they clearly disagreed with my assessment of our wealth.

Now that my son Patrick is 5 years old, I asked him if he thought we were rich.

"Yes, I think so, daddy," he told me.

"What makes you feel rich?" I followed.

"Well, we just are."

Only a 5-year-old can give such a succinct answer with such conviction. And you know what? He's right. Just as I was when I was 5 years old.

At nearly 37 years old, I now understand why my parents and their friends laughed at my proclamation. I realize the pressure of being an adult now that I could not then.

Each week, I struggle with bills. I find creative ways to stay on top of a mortgage and pay my taxes. The monetary demands never seem to decline.

I own a financial planning firm caught in the teeth of a serious financial crisis. As hard as I try to remain positive, sometimes it all makes me feel like I'm not rich at all. But aren't I really rich?

Wouldn't a boy in Pakistan crawling in the dirt, suffering from polio change spots with me instantly? I wonder what the word "rich" means to him?

Wouldn't a girl sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia take my place in a second? I'm sure she'd trade my stress and anxiety for her own daily horrors.

Wouldn't a Russian business owner constantly pressured by Mafia and government demands wish for the free enterprise system I enjoy?

Aren't I really wealthy, by comparison, to nearly 99.9 percent of the world?

I believe so.

And that is simply monetary. What about health? As Americans, our life expectancies are some of the longest in the world. Isn't health as important a commodity as money? Or nutrition? In Sonoma County, we live among the best farms in the world. A real cornucopia of organic, fresh, tasty and nutritious food abounds.

I wish my waistline could decline in size like my portfolio has during this financial crisis. But judging from my snug-fitting pants, the so-called crisis hasn't affected my ability to eat well. Can you imagine anyone living in Zimbabwe who wouldn't enjoy trading pantries with me?

What about our wealth of freedom? I can write what I please without worry at all of government or social censure. Starting a business was a piece of cake. Where else in the world is that a true statement? I'm free to travel, work, exercise, spend, save and do what I please in most every instance. Not so for nearly 75 percent of our world neighbors.

Wealth is just one area where many Americans have lost perspective. Consider our selfish interpretations of right and wrong. Or our heated and uncivil discussions about religion and politics. Americans have lost the attitude of gratitude that made us such a force in the past.

Take a moment and look around like a 5-year-old might. Everything around us is so amazing yet so few around us seem very happy about it. Wonder why?

If only folks could step back for a moment. Take an inventory of what we do have rather than what we do not have. And then compare our ledger to our friends around the globe. Isn't each and every one of us very wealthy? I believe so.

Matthew J. Everson is owner of MJ Everson Financial in Santa Rosa and lives in Santa Rosa.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two things worth seeing

Thing Worth Seeing #1:
So we all know by now I'm an astronomy geek and I love the APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day). I think my love of this stuff really came from when I taught Outdoor Education and my favorite night class to teach was the astronomy. How could you NOT get into it being up in the mountains and having ALL of the night sky to see with NO light pollution? It was brilliant.

So today's APOD is photo taken from Kahta, Turkey at Mount Nemrut. You can see Orion in the sky (a winter constellation, in case you were wondering why you never see it in the summer sky, unless of course you live in the Southern Hemisphere, where it's different; oh and if you ever want a sky map go visit www.skymaps.com). I just think this photo is really cool. (you can click on the APOD link to see a bigger picture)

Explanation: What's that in front of Orion? Forty kilometers north of Kahta, Turkey, lies Mount Nemrut, a mountain adorned with the fragments of vast statues built over 2000 years ago. The stone sculptures once stood nearly 10 meters high and depicted lions, eagles, various ancient gods, and King Antiochus I Theos, who ruled Commagene from 86 BC to 38 BC. Ruins of the bodies of several sitting figures are visible on the hill above, illuminated by moonlight. Zeus' head can be found near the above image's center, while the king's head is seen next closest to the horizon. Visible far in the distance in this image, taken three months ago, is the familiar constellation of Orion. The red patch just below Orion's belt is the Orion Nebula, while the bright star to the left of Orion is Sirius. On the far left, a red and brightening horizon announces that the Sun is beginning to rise.



Thing Worth Seeing #2:
The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. I will be honest here: this is seriously one of the best 20 minutes I have ever spent on the internet.

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Here's a quick trailer for you to check out. But instead of watching this one minute trailer, GO NOW AND WATCH THE FULL MOVIE AND SPREAD THE WORD!



I really believe we have the power to do something about this process and we can be the agents of change not only for our society, but for the world. But we have to care about it. And we have to be willing to change our ways.

I'll get off my soapbox now, thanks for listening. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pedro's Winter Training Camp: Day One (and only)

**Note** All photos shown are from Veronica Lenzi and the full set can be found here. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SAG SUPPORT AND GREAT PHOTOS, RONNIE!!!

Okay, so it was officially Day 2 of Pedro's Winter Training Camp. But I only participated in one of the three days.

I love the cycling world of connections.

I guess I should thank this guy John in our group, because he kind of was the one to start it all for my expansion into the Sonoma County cycling world. John told us about the Riviera Ride with West County Revolution. I went to the Riviera Ride. I met Jeff. Jeff rides with 2 Wheel Racing so he knows lots of other folks. Jeff said to Lee and I last week, "hey. This cool dude Pedro is having a Winter Training Camp and you should come."

Then I realized "hey, Pedro comments on Courtenay's blog!" Because Courtenay came from the cycling world. The circle was complete. And therein lies the coolness of the connections of the cycling world.

SO. I checked out the ride announcement. I hmmm'd and hawww'd.

I had a good feeling there would be some fast dudes (and chicks) on this ride. But...as I always say, I know the roads so in the worst case, I knew how to get home if I got seriously dropped. Besides, when I woke up Saturday morning and looked out the window, all I could think was "how can you NOT GO OUT? IT'S GORGEOUS!!"

Cold, but gorgeous. And the rain that was supposed to arrive that morning looked nowhere near in sight, so I had to take advantage because there will be plenty of days ahead to become reunited with my trainer.

I arrived around 9:40 a.m. at Peet's to get some coffee. There was only one guy there so far. I began to wonder how many people would show up. Within about 10 minutes, cyclists from all directions began to appear. Many in team kits, some like me in no-name gear. I began to get excited. This was going to be a *big* ride!

At 9:55 a.m., Pedro stood up on a chair to announce how it was going to go:

"Out to Occidental, up Coleman Valley, out to the coast, up to Jenner, back inland and back up to Occidental from Monte Rio. There will be a group heading back into Santa Rosa from Occidental from there. There will also be a group continuing south toward Petaluma then east and back up via Petaluma Hill Road and catching Crane Canyon on the way back. We'll have SAG support the whole time. Oh, and you guys - yesterday people went a little fast. You need to SLOW IT DOWN TODAY."

Gulp. Right...slow it down today, guys, right!!!!
Jeff, Me, Jim and Lee listen to Pedro...

And off we went. About SIXTY PEOPLE were there! By far the biggest group I've ever ridden in. It was awesome. And inspiring. And fun. And I loved it. We headed out the bike path and all the people who stopped to let us go by just smiled, some even counted because they couldn't believe what a huge group it was.

We hit the road at Fulton and out to Hall Road - that's where this picture was taken. The pace here was mellow still, just warming up the legs and chatting.


Things picked up just a tad as we headed further out, but I was still just having a ball and enjoying the gradual warm up my legs were getting. I was rather thankful, actually, given that I was STILL sore from boot camp on Thursday! We passed an empty barn that seemed to be deemed "pee spot" so I took it as an opportunity to work my way up through the group and find my friends.

Up at the front, I had an opportunity to chat with Pedro himself, who is super cool. We talked about why Courtenay wasn't there (ahem, Court...actually she was doing a 10K so I can't give her too much crap), all the beautiful rides in Sonoma County, and how much fun cycling is.

Then we all regrouped as we turned right onto Green Valley. Uh oh. Turning right on Green Valley means only one thing: Harrison Grade! I knew that's where I'd really be put in my place...but oh well.

Good thing I was up at the front, because it gave every...single...person...a chance to pass me on the way up. Yes, Pedro said to take it slow...half these guys weren't even BREATHING HARD as they danced on their pedals past me. There were a few other women there, too, and they also passed me. Nothing like getting dropped on a huge climb to remind you where your real ability is.

Me, on the other hand...HR skyrocketing, going faster up Harrison Grade than I've ever gone (had to keep them in sight, AT LEAST!), breathing harder with every pedal stroke and just thanking my lucky stars that I've done this climb before and knew 'how much longer.'

Then Ronnie, our awesome sag woman, drove up next to me. I didn't want her to think I was hating life or anything (because even though it was hard I was still loving it in that weird sadistic sort of way), so I smiled a huge smile. And then I kept smiling. Because it felt good, and it sort of made it better. Not easier, but better.

This picture is from Harrison Grade...don't know if I was smiling at the top or that was before the pain really started, but it was a genuine smile. :)


Wheezing, I reached the top. "YESSSSSSSSSS!" I shouted. "PHEEEEWWWWW!" I yelled. All I could think was "now THERE'S a climb I need to do more often."

Jim and Lee weren't too far up ahead. We regrouped and began to make our way down to Occidental. As we made our way down, all I could think was "wow. Those guys kicked butt. I need to do that. I need to get better at that. I can do that. YES I CAN!"

Flying down the hill I got this huge smile on my face. Because my goals for 2009 became much clearer. I want to ride. And I want to ride a lot.

Once we reached Occidental, Lee, Jim, Jeff and this guy Michael all were going to head back b/c they had to get back home. I initially had the same reason for cutting out early, and admittedly was afraid the rain would catch up with us. But after Harrison Grade I thought "yeah...my butt is going to get dropped SO BAD on Coleman Valley..." so I joined them to head home.

We had some coffee when we returned. Not bad - about 40 miles, some good climbing and great company. THANKS AGAIN, PEDRO! (and THANK YOU to Lee, Jeff, Jim and Michael for the good company on the way home!)

*********************************************

I was so inspired by the group I was with. And I realized that no matter if I'm by myself, with a small group or a ginormous group, I love cycling. Whether it's a slow ride, a medium ride or a ride that makes you wish you'd stayed in bed because you're going so hard (but only for a few minutes and then you forget the pain and keep pushing), I am always glad to be on my bike. And I want to be better at it because I know I can be.

I will still do some tris in 2009 but I have been doing this sport for four years now. I'm ready for a slightly new adventure. For new experiences. For new lessons. For new accomplishments.

It's time to ride!!!!! (yes, this means I will be posting my 2009 schedule soon...)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Boot camp

Writer's Block: we've all had it. I feel like there is some great post just waiting to be put out there, but I have so many thoughts that sort of tie in but could be their own posts and I go back and forth about what to write.

Then there's the little issue of TIME. This week has been insane. Yesterday felt like it should've been Friday because every day was so exhausting but now I think "where did the week go?" I worked late almost every day this week. Missed the Tuesday evening run. Missed the Wednesday morning swim practice. Had a dinner on Wednesday evening to go to so I thought I'd run either at lunch or leave work a tad early and squeeze in a run in before dinner. But I worked through lunch and right up until I had to go home and change for dinner!

It made my resolve to get to Thursday morning boot camp that much stronger.

For about the past few months I've had my YMCA spin students chiding me about coming to the Thursday morning boot camp that's put in by Lorenzo, a US Coast Guard guy that volunteers at the Y. Lately the chiding has gotten more intense. About a month ago, I finally agreed to go. As I left the Y one Monday morning, I saw Lorenzo and I said "I'll be there on Thursday!" "Okay," he said, "See you at o-five-thirty on Thursday."

Gulp.

5:30 A.M.??????

Needless to say, my tired butt has NOT made it there the past few Thursdays. So now they've upped the ante: the rumor has been that I'm too SCARED to go to Lorenzo's boot camp.

I decided that enough was enough, and no matter HOW much great wine we drank on Wednesday evening, I was going to GO TO BOOT CAMP, DAMMIT.

Yesterday morning, the alarm went off at 5:00. Ugh. The little voice crept into my head:
"you could just sleep. Sleep off that dinner and wine. Boot camp will only make you feel crappier. You know you want to keep sleeping. It's so cold out there. Stay here, where it's nice and warm. Could sleep for another hour or so, get up, have some coffee, read the paper, do some light stretching and get set for the day."

NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOO!

As I rolled out of bed, I felt a faint dizziness come over me. Was I slightly hung over? Okay, now I know I'm getting older...I drank nothing but WINE the evening before...no MIXIES...so WTF?. But I had to keep moving forward.

Moving very slowly, I began to get ready for boot camp. At 5:25, I closed the front door and began to jog down the street to the Y. The evil voice was still there, though. "You could turn around and still get back into bed. That dizziness would go away if you laid back down."

No way. I didn't care how bad it hurt. I had slacked enough this week. I was going to go.

As I made my way into the gym, a triumphant smile made its way across my face. Somebody said "hey...she MADE IT." A few others turned around and a loud bunch of cheers and applause erupted from my friends. "WOW! NOW LORENZO HAS TO GO TO SPIN CLASS! SHE ACTUALLY CAME," one remarked. Ha.

As for the boot camp itself, it was 30 minutes of HARD WORK!

Lunges across the gym (ouch). More push-ups than I've ever done in one session. Sprints across the gym. Ab work with Lorenzo yelling repeatedly, quickly "NEVER GIVE UP! YOU CAN'T GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE UP, YOU CAN'T GIVE UP!"

It wasn't even so bad DURING, but now that the DOMS has begun to set in...ooooh. Upper back, legs, butt...ouch. It gave me a whole new sense of respect for the people that do this every week. Actually, I really admire their commitment overall - many of them are NOT triathletes or runners or cyclists with a strict plan - they simply go to the gym at 5:30 a.m. every day, day in and day out, committed to their fitness and routine.

I had a great time. Then I went home, showered and climbed back into bed for another hour of sleep. Now that's a way to start the morning!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Best Birthday EVER

(okay, it could've been warmer. That would have been nice.)

Big big HUGE THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to everybody who came out for the ride today. You really made my day and it just meant so much to me that I have friends who would brave 35 degree weather to join me in my crazy idea to ride this morning.

Not only was it about 35 when we met up, but the fog was THICK!! All in all, 40 miles, 1835 feet of climbing, one bakery stop and good times were had by all. The weather was pretty consistent the entire time so thank goodness for the hills I threw in there!

Even in the cold, though, we managed to get some great cycling and some good laughs in. Enjoy the pics - I enjoyed every moment of this ride! The best part was knowing we had treats in store, between stopping at the Wild Flour bakery and enjoying a great lunch at Rosso afterward.

**Also: a HUGE thank you to Lee for providing extra clothing for my friends to wear!! That was a huge day saver, Lee. :)

Just click on the album below - it will take you to my Picasa album - much easier than posting all the photos here!

Sarah's Birthday Ride

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Birthday Ride - 12/7/08

So here's the birthday ride route. Just about 40 miles, 1585 feet of climbing and includes a stop at the Wildflower Bakery in Freestone, of course. :) Some of Sonoma County's best scenery, including my most favorite road - Bohemian Highway!

If you want to come out and ride, join in the fun! We're meeting at Rosso Pizzeria & Wine Bar at 8:30 a.m., shoving off by 8:45 a.m. As JP would say, "ressies" for Rosso at 12:00 p.m.!!

I can't wait, wooo!!


Oh and...Happy Holidays

Most people have probably already seen this but I couldn't resist posting it for any of you who haven't. It's pretty cool - all the sounds are from bike parts!



From Specialized...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Blogging


I decided to play tourist a couple weeks ago after my XC race in Golden Gate Park; I drove through the Presidio and snapped some photos on this gorgeous day...


UPDATE: Thanks for everybody's comments on the Alcatraz Tri post. And Greg, thanks for seeing the light. I just wanted to share that if you're really intent on the idea of swimming from Alcatraz, there are plenty of other events around here that allow you to do that. AND there's also another Alcatraz Tri - it's not the 'official' "Escape From Alcatraz" Triathlon; it's called "Escape from the Rock" and is put on by Envirosports - costs $175 to do it and you don't have to enter a lottery. How about that? There's also a duathlon that is just the swim/run (thanks, Arthur!) called the Alcatraz Challenge. There are a few other swim-only events as well - I will do some info gathering and post the different events for people in case they're interested.


I've got a zillion thoughts flying through my mind right now, so much to write and say, never enough time to get it all down.

One decision I've made is to take a little more time with some of my posts (inspired by a wonderful conversation I recently had about writing). Some posts will continue to be the same 'this-and-that' nature with random things thrown in, others will be longer and more prose-like (like my Thanksgiving post). I miss writing in that style and I recently realized that I got away it. I thought I was keeping my writing practice going with this blog, but as I looked through posts of late, I realized that I wasn't really writing in the style I favor most.

And I had to ask: what IS the purpose of my blog?

I know, I know, such a SERIOUS question to ask on my blog, isn't it? Before you know it I might be pondering the purpose of life.

Not really. I ask the question of purpose not to invoke deep philosophical thoughts of 'why do we blog?' but more to invoke the thought of 'where do I want to take this?' During the race season, we pepper our blogs with our stories of pre-race jitters, race foibles and successes, and post-race assessment of what we learned and how next time will be better.

And I enjoy that. It is so great to go back to old race stories and see how much I've grown, or re-live the memory of my first Wildflower, or my first triathlon.

But what about the in-between? I mean, in-between the training sessions, too. I enjoy using my blog as an outlet to express my frustrations (read: Escape From Alcatraz Tri) and random thoughts. However, I also think it is the perfect opportunity to take up the practice of challenging myself to write in a more structured manner. It is something I really enjoy but really don't do much of anymore.

SO, if you occasionally happen on a post that is more serious or less conversational, that is what it is!

ON a more conversational note, I had a great run last night. I don't say that very often it seems, but it really was. Tuesday Track workouts are now Tuesday Street-run workouts, where we run through the neighborhoods and go hard for two blocks, easy for one, then hard for two, etc. We did twelve of those. I had a ball! Slightly less hardcore than track workouts, but still a good push and in spite of the upper-forty-degree temps we were running in, I was still drenched in sweat (which actually made me colder when we slowed down...brrr).

I was also very proud that Holly showed up. That's TWO people I've recruited to join in the workouts on Tuesdays!


Tonie, Holly and I at the Girls on the Run 5K

Not only was I happy because I like it when more people join the fun (and/or pain), but I am convinced that anybody who goes to these workouts regularly will really see benefits. I know I see improvements in my running since I started. Group workouts are so wonderful in the way that you push yourself harder than you might if it were just you, yourself and...you.

Somebody was recently telling me about how, as a Team in Training coach, it is so rewarding for him to see how far his runners come - to being able to run a marathon from their first days where running two miles was a big deal.

It was very similar last night. Holly exclaimed excitedly after we finished, "WOW! I looked at my Garmin and I was running at a pace I've NEVER run at before!" I smiled outside but I was really beaming on the inside because I just know she's going to continue to see improvements. It was so incredible to feel like I played a small part in initiating growth and improvement for someone.

I was also really impressed with her motivation to partake. The people who do the Tuesday run workouts are FAST. I think anybody who's somewhat new to running would be intimidated to join in. But I convinced Holly that it's a very welcoming group. As I ran up to meet the group, there she was! Now, let's hope she comes back...


I took this last weekend on my ride out to Napa. This was riding through Kenwood (Kunde Vineyards), still in Sonoma County...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Because I have so much money lying around

I am SO steamed right now.

One of my friends forwarded an email to our tri list: "FYI the Escape from Alcatraz Lottery opened today."

I thought "hm, that sounds cool. Let me check it out."

I did the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon back in 2006. Good race. Kind of cramped on the bike course and I almost crashed about 5 times. The swim is kind of cold and while I really enjoyed it at first by the end I kept thinking "omg I am so cold I just want to finish I need to swim faster." The run was actually the best part, now that I think about it.

But I would do it again. Local race, good spectatorship - why not?

BECAUSE IT'S FOUR HUNDRED FREAKING DOLLARS, THAT IS WHY NOT.

For an Olympic-distance race (okay, the run is 8 miles and the swim is about 1.5 miles...but the bike is only 18 miles).

$400, just like that.

Gee, for $400...I could enter a half-ironman, an olympic AND a sprint race. Or I could buy a Garmin and still enter a half-ironman. Or I could put that away toward a Power Tap. Or...

This is where my real issue with this sport comes in. Why so cost-prohibitive? "Yeah, you want to have the privilege of "Escaping" from Alcatraz? That'll be $400, please. Cough it up and deal."

Oh, I'm sorry, if you're poor-er (because you really can't be poor to do triathlon...or if you are, you'd better have credit) you'll just have to do the more local no-name races. Yep, sorry.

I am so tired of races fees going up and up and up. When I did this race only TWO YEARS AGO it cost me $230. That's a price increase of almost 100% in TWO YEARS.

So I say no thank you to the Escape from Alcatraz. They can kiss my Envirosports-supporting bum.

It's Monday: Time to Weigh In

I seem to get further and further behind in writing about the things I want to write about. I still have yet to post about the Girls on the Run 5K, still have yet to write about our last XC race, and really would like to write about my fabulous ride from Santa Rosa to Napa, along with a report of the ride the day after.

But maybe later I'll do the Reader's Digest Condensed Version and that will have to be that.

Or I should stop having fun weekends so that I won't have anything to write about. Ha, yeah right!

In any case, I just wanted to remind you that if you're playing the Winter Weight Challenge, it's WEEK 3: head over to Maggs's blog and weigh in!


Oh...and I caved. I went back to Facebook. I almost made it a month but then...I just had to go back. IT'S LIKE CRACK!

Honestly, I just missed the interaction I was having with my friends. The coolest thing was that when I went back, my friend Alison had just posted pictures of her and her NEWBORN BABY! I would've totally missed out on that, had I stayed away. And there are more babies to come from some other friends, too. Along with engagement announcements from two friends. Granted, they're not friends I talk with regularly outside of Facebook, but they are old friends that I'm happy to be in touch with. So there.

Friday, November 28, 2008

More thankfulness

I've been a bit behind on blogging lately. Reading others' blogs and writing my own. I'm in the process of writing another post but had to get this short one in!

Bree posted a fav song (one that I also LOVE!), then Kathleen followed suit and I realized I wanted to post a couple recent favs, too.

But I also just want to take a moment to say thank you to everybody in the blog world for all of the great support throughout the past year. It was so incredible to stumble into this community late last year and I feel like I've made a whole new circle of friends who really get this crazy sport and why we do it.

I appreciate all of you for who you are; for sharing your ups and downs, your challenges and successes, your mistakes and secrets, some of your personal struggles, and some of your daily sources of happiness.

It has become a great source of joy for me to look out into those sea of tri-blogs and read about the different adventures you all partake in. So many different personalities and interests with one common one that has brought us all here. I hope that 2009 affords me more opportunities to meet more of you in person. Until then, keep blogging with the best of them!

Now...onto the goodies:

**Mark your calendar for Dec 7 if you're in the area. It's my birthday and I'm planning on doing a ride followed by a bday lunch at my favorite place in the whole world, Rosso (pizza and wine bar...can life get better?). Route and timeframe to come.

-I watched a movie two nights ago that I think EVERYBODY NEEDS TO SEE. It's called Young at Heart. Seriously...go out and rent this move, THIS WEEKEND. Right now. Watch this trailer, then open a new tab in your browser and put this movie to the top of your Netflix queue. I promise you will be so inspired! I'm still thinking about this movie, two days later. I hope that I will grow old and be this cool. That's all I'm going to say about it.



Some recent tunes I've been hearing and loving:

Tracy Chapman - Sing for You
(Off her latest album. I am LOVING this song...I HEART HER!!!)



Tracy Chapman - The Promise
(Hadn't heard this in years...but fell in love with it all over again)



Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up

(This is my inspirational song of the moment...)



Nina Simone - Sinnerman (Felix da Housecat Heavenly Mix)
(GREAT video...unfortunately they won't let me embed, BOO!)


You and I Both - Jason Mraz (yes Bree, I love him too!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Being thankful for tradition and change

I'm grateful we have a day where the whole point is to simply look around, acknowledge what we have, be thankful, and eat great food (the last part being conditional; I supposed it depends on where you end up on Thanksgiving).

Last year at this time I believe we were just kind of hanging around...in one day my family (and extended family...29 of us to be exact) would descend on San Pedro to catch a 3-day cruise that took us down to Ensenada and back. That trip was so much fun, it's difficult to believe that was already one year ago. The family time was incredible and while I never thought I would see myself actually enjoy a cruise, I came back thinking "now THAT'S how to have a family reunion."

Nobody had to fight about what time to meet up, what restaurant we should go to, who was going to pay, or how we would all get there. And I could be doing one thing with my sister and my cousin, and all of a sudden we'd run into our other cousins and I'd drift away to go hang out with them for awhile. We managed to get about 20 of us together to fill up a bingo row so we could be the loudest and most obnoxious group in there. I laugh a little just thinking about it.

I wish every holiday could be that much fun.

This year is back to normal; feeling bad as I tell my dad that I'm headed to Napa to my mom's for dinner. "Well, I'll be around all weekend, so if you're in the area..." he trails off. "Dad," I say sternly, "I am NEVER just 'in Vacaville.'" Instantly I regret my condescending tone. Like one of his many casts of his fishing line, he's just trying to put it out there, hoping I might bite.

In that way, I'm thankful for traditions. It's so much easier when you don't even have to think or make decisions. Kind of like the triathlon season - you've got your training plan set so all you have to do is follow it. No decisions need to be made, you just go and enjoy the moment (or at least...suffer through it, knowing you had no choice).

But life goes on with its twists and turns and road splits, and traditions crumble and form into new ones. And some don't. Some traditions simply stay behind, lingering only in our memories as we reminisce about 'the good old days.'

I'm also grateful for change, though. I can remember so many traditional Thanksgivings where things weren't so great, whether it was because my parents were upset with each other, or my mom was upset with her sister, or I had grown tired of the same old carrot-jello salad and over-cooked Gołąbki (pronounced "Go-lump-ki": my mom's side is Polish and very ingrained with food traditions).

My parents first decided they would be the black sheep in 1997 and *gasp* do something OTHER than go to my grandparents' house. We rented a cabin with some close friends up near Tahoe and went skiing and made our own Thanksgiving dinner. I can recall thinking "wow...I like this idea of doing something different."

Ever since then Thanksgiving has been something different. In 1999 they got together with friends, took the trailer out to Dillon Beach and ate BBQ oysters and drank wine. I was in college then and brought along a friend who was from Argentina; she had a pretty nice impression of what Thanksgiving was.

I'm grateful both my parents have empowered me with the idea of breaking tradition and embracing change. But with that empowerment comes the responsibility of making a decision. That's where the tough part comes in.

As the holiday drew nearer this year, I still had my head in the sand, thinking if I kept it there I might be able to put off my decision-making for just a little bit longer. Before I knew it, though, Thanksgiving week was here!

I had friends asking "so, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?" As I replied "not sure," they blinked back incredulously, as if I was some sort of rogue human for NOT having my Thanksgiving plans set in stone weeks ahead of time.

Just as we must step back from our training plans every now and then to evaluate and make sure they're working, it's good to step back from the usual things we do and see if there's any changes we can make. Any enhancements we can add.

I am a creature of habit in the way I like to have coffee (little cream, no sugar) every morning, I can't go to sleep without putting chapstick on, and I must have classical music on at work in the background. But besides my little daily practices, I generally embrace change. I tire of routines. By the time Vineman rolled around in July I was so tired of the same old schedule. In that vein, I had briefly entertained the idea of getting away somewhere for Thanksgiving and being thankful elsewhere. But I realized that I don't visit my family as much as I used to last year; I'd like to be with them today.

I'm thankful for where I'm at. I often 'escaped' Berkeley each Sunday to go be with my family in Napa. As much as I enjoyed living there, it never quite felt like home. Having been in Sonoma County for almost a year, I feel like this is a place I can call home. I don't need to escape anywhere. It's a nice feeling.

So, as I get ready to embark on my traditional Thanksgiving Day activity (I would say bike ride, but I've changed that tradition this year; I'm going to be doing a day-after-Thanksgiving ride; probably a run today), I would like to say that I'm grateful for friends - new and old, internet and real-world; I'm grateful for traditions - ones that have fallen out of practice and deep into my memory and others that have yet to begin; I'm grateful for the unconditional love of my family; I'm grateful for my health; I'm grateful for the promise of a new year; and certainly not least, I'm grateful for the opportunity to eat a great meal and not go hungry today...or any day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Use your lights...please...

I can't say it enough: if you're riding in the dark, PLEASE use lights!! We as cyclists are difficult enough for drivers to see in the daylight; we need to do everything we can to ensure that motorists see us.

This is a very tragic story about a local man who was killed by a hit-and-run driver (disgusting) the other evening. He raced for the Wells Fargo team and was riding home. I know the roads out there - they are definitely pretty rural and dark. Clearly the person that hit him was a coward in every way and we won't know the real cause of the crash, but I have to wonder if lights may have helped him.

I just wanted to spread the word. Please be careful out there.

Martinez Cycling Team Member Killed in Hit-and-Run

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11-25) 13:27 PST PORT COSTA -- A bicyclist who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on a rural road in northern Contra Costa County was a longtime electrician for The Chronicle who had taken up riding to spend more time with his sons, relatives and colleagues said Tuesday.

Mark Pendleton, 49, of Martinez was struck around 5 p.m. Monday while riding south on McEwen Road near Highway 4 south of Port Costa. A northbound vehicle apparently crossed over the center line and hit him, said Officer Scott Yox of the California Highway Patrol.

Pendleton, an avid cyclist and a member of the Wells Fargo racing team, was returning home on the two-lane road from a training ride. Darkness had already fallen and Pendleton was not using lights or reflectors at the time of the accident. He died at the scene and his bicycle was destroyed.

From debris found at the scene, officers said the car that hit Pendleton may have been dark in color, and the crash apparently broke a headlight or turn signal. Anyone with information should call the CHP at (925) 646-4980.

From 1994 until 2007, Pendleton worked as an electrical foreman at the main Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission streets in San Francisco, as well as at outlying printing plants.

His friends remembered him as a dedicated craftsman who was an expert in the electronic devices throughout the newspaper building, particularly the microwave transmission system that connects the editorial offices to its printing plants.

"He could do anything, and he did it with gusto," recalled a friend and colleague, John Elliott. "He was good at everything around here."

Pendleton, his friend recalled, was a trim, athletic man who took his cycling seriously. He was always in training, and he ordered his morning bagel without butter or spreads and his club sandwiches without mayonnaise.

He was in the habit of drilling small holes into the chain rings of his carbon fiber bicycle to reduce their weight and lighten, even infinitesimally, his load.

Pendleton was a native of San Pablo and a graduate of Pinole Valley High School and of UC Berkeley. He was a longtime volunteer with Community Bible Church of Vallejo, leading camping trips and Bible study groups for young people.

He took up cycling to spend time with his younger son, John Mark, whose doctor recommended bicycling after a knee injury. With his older son, Paul, they competed in local amateur races.

Earlier this year, he began riding with his wife, Denise. She took a liking to the sport after picking out a heavy yellow beach cruiser - the opposite of her husband's sleek road bikes. But, she recalled, he didn't care what kind of bike she rode, or how fast she rode it.

"He'd pick out flat routes and stay right with me, the whole time," she said. "He'd never leave my side."

Pendleton is survived by his wife and his sons. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weekend post is postponed

I really wanted to get home from teaching spinning, stop by Lee's to pick up some persimmons from his tree, settle down to eat some dinner, and write all about my fantastic weekend, complete with cute pics from the Girls on the Run 5K.

But that isn't happening tonight.

I either ate something horribly wrong at lunchtime (I hope) or I'm getting the flu (I hope not).

The worst part is that as I began to feel progressively more nauseous as the afternoon went on, I began to think "hmm...this needs to get better...I'm the SUB for spin this evening...how would I find a sub for the SUB??" I decided I would HTFU and deal.

A few trips to the bathroom and some pepto bismol later, I was feeling acceptable. I warned the spin class that while I am normally quite a high energy person, I wasn't feeling all there this evening so I apologized for my more subdued nature.

First 30 minutes of class were okay. I would try to push it a little and then inevitably had to back off because I could tell my body wasn't having it. Felt a little faint 5 minutes later but was doing alright.

Time for sprints! Normally I like to sprint with my students but I know that wouldn't be smart this eve. So I hopped off the bike and got them ready for the first round.

Then it started.

That feeling in the pit of my stomach. No. Please, no.

One sprint down, next up! I took a deep breath. Really tried hard to push down whatever it was that was starting to come up.

Got through the third sprint and I knew I couldn't hold it off anymore.

Embarassingly, I said to the class "excuse me, I think I'm going to be ill now."

They shouted back "GO, GO, GO!!!"

As I began to run out of the room they yelled "don't take the mic with you!"

[Thanks, guys...I remembered to turn it off...]

After my little puke fest I felt much better, and I returned to lead them in one more sprint, with color back in my face and a genuine smile. Phew.

But that was SO embarrassing. And now, I'm going to take my contacts out, put on my fleece reindeer pants and tuck myself in for a long night of sleep and hope this is just something I ate.

The BP update is good: so far it's been in the 130/80 range for the past few days so I'm quite pleased. Woo!

Tomorrow's post: Weekend recap!

Friday, November 21, 2008

What to say?

I feel like my blog is SOOO BORING RIGHT NOW! Especially because all these other people are doing so many exciting things like going to the Wine Jar in SF or visiting Seattle or doing a FOODIE TOUR in SF or maybe visiting gorgeous Santa Barbara...

...and I'm...well, I am heading into a fun-packed weekend myself, now that I think about it.

- Girls on the Run 5K tomorrow morning and carpooling with Holly, yay!

- Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow afternoon/evening with friends in Oakland, yay!

- LAST XC RACE OF THE SEASON on Sunday morning, boo!!

- Birthday party out at Stinson Beach (inside a house...not on the beach, thank goodness, TOO COLD) Sunday afternoon, woo!
Stinson Beach on a nice day...

But I'm also just a little bummed right now. I really try to keep this blog about my activities in tri-land/bike-land/etc but I can't help but write about this because I am SO FRUSTRATED!

I went to the doc yesterday. Just wanted to get established with my new doc, and figured it's been about 2 years since I got labs done and since my family has this lovely history of great things like high BP, heart stuff, high cholesterol...well, these are things I need to stay on top of because in spite of my great exercise and healthy eating habits, genetics are what they are. And while I'm grateful that cancer doesn't run in my family, this other stuff does.

So the medical assistant takes my BP...I look away because I'm praying it will magically be the right numbers.

Pause.

"Do you have high blood pressure?"

Gulp. "Um, well...a couple years ago when I was on cold meds we realized I had insanely high BP and monitored afterward but then it came back down to normal and it's been pretty stable since, so um...not really. I stay away from cold meds now."

So she said the doc would check again. Okay.

Go through my family history, what my concerns are (basically I just want to stay healthy and stay on top of my cholesterol and BP but I live a pretty darn healthy lifestyle and never had any health issues, so...that's ALL, DOC!), etc.

Then we get to the blood pressure thing. He checks it again. Ugh, STILL high. Basically was around 140/90 which is right at the Hypertension/High Blood Pressure line. Here's a chart in case you were interested.

In the past few months that I'd checked occasionally, I was in the 130/80 range, so still not the BEST, but not high either.

We discussed all the possible reasons, genetics being the probable main cause, but he's going to have my labs done so we can look at everything else that's going on with me. Then we talked about the dangers of having a borderline high blood pressure, which I basically knew. It's awful because it's living at that borderline for years and years that can really do the major damage and cause heart disease.

So the one cool thing about this guy was that he was very thoughtful in considering how we'll go forward. I've got a pump at home, so I'm going to monitor it a couple times a day for the next few weeks. And get my labs done. We'll meet up again in a couple weeks to see if we can determine the cause. Whether we can or not, the most important thing is to determine how to move forward. He said as an athlete, if I did end up going on meds, I wouldn't be a candidate for the most common ones due to the side effects they have - aka slowing you down.

I really appreciated that.

And I know I'm making this sound like such a big deal. But for someone who has never had any health problems in her life, IT IS!!! I hate that I work so hard to live such in such a healthful way and yet I'm looking at possibly going on meds for high blood pressure. Yes, it's common in the US but to me that doesn't mean it's okay. And I hate the thought of being on meds to control something, even if it's through no fault of my own. I still somehow feel guilty.

So all of a sudden this morning I started examining things...looking at salt content, wondering if I eat salty foods without realizing it? But so far, nothing crazy yet. Took my BP this morning, still 140/90. Ugh.

Anyway, on with the day, on with the adventure! Hope everybody has a great weekend.

AND, to all those doing IM Arizona, BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The spoiled under 25 crowd

The original title of this was "The Spoiled Under 30 Crowd." But I'm under 30 and I can actually relate to very much of this (esp the part about making mixed tapes!). So I'm changing it to 'under 25.' Enjoy!

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up, what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning. Uphill... barefoot...BOTH ways...Yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today...

You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia.

And I hate to say it but you kids today you don't know how good you've got it.

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email. We had to actually write somebody a letter, with a pen. Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take a week to get there.

There were no MP3' s or Napsters. You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

We didn't have fancy crap like call waiting. If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that's it!

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was. It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know. You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics. We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'asteroids'. Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination. And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever. And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on. You were screwed when it came to channel surfing. You had to get off your butt and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up we had to use the stove...Imagine that!

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled. You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980.

Regards,
The over 30 25 Crowd

UPDATE:


Paul from Kirkland posted this video link in his comment and I thought it was simply so fitting and hilarious I had to post it here. THANKS, PAUL!!!



Thank goodness for the Winter Weight Challenge

I've been having a problem. At work we have a little candy dish (for clients). And lately it's been getting filled up with Halloween candy.

Now, I'm not much of a sweets person so I generally don't have a problem avoiding candy when it's out.

But this is GOOD candy. Like, a mini Heath Bar. Or a mini butterfinger. Tootsie-roll pop. Milk Duds. ALMOND JOY. (my fav)

And they're all MINI so you think "oh, that's not as bad." Making things worse, it's all different - variety. So there's something new all the time.

My temptation has basically crumbled so that I might allow myself one of these delicious sweets after lunch.

Normally not a problem, but if you start doing it every day, that could amount to a problem.

BUT THANKS to the WINTER WEIGHT CHALLENGE, I've got enough of a reason to restore my willpower to its maximum level and simply walk past the candy dish with not so much of a glance.

Phew.

(that and I think I've already eaten all the good stuff. All that's left are Crunch bars and Mini M&Ms. Sorry M&M lovers, but those M&M's just don't do it for me, THANK GOODNESS)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This and that

I feel so behind but it's only Tuesday! I guess that's a result of being a little ill. I hate being sick. You feel like you don't want to do ANYTHING and all I could focus on all day was wanting to just curl up in bed and sleep.

ANYWAY, starting to feel better, thanks for the well-wishes. I made it to the (dark) track workout tonight. We did 12x300 (with 100 recovery) after our warm up. I don't know if it's because I took a little running break (about 1.5 weeks) or that kick-butt bike ride from Sat, but my legs felt surprisingly spry. I managed to make every four sets faster, so started around 1:12 and steadily made it down to 1:08 and the last one pulled off 1:07. Nice!

It was challenging because the usual crowd wasn't in attendance - only 6 of us tonight. And it was cold. And dark. But I figured if I could get through things like this it will make Sunday's cross country race a piece of cake, right?

On a cool note: When I arrived there was this woman there I didn't recognize (and hello, it was dark). So Tori introduced us and she suddenly seemed familiar and she said "yes, we met at the Fleet Feet Run two weeks ago."

A big smile spread across my face. "Tori," I began, "do you realize that Lydia and I met two weeks ago and I told her about how great Empire Runners was and how she should join us on Tuesdays - and HERE SHE IS!" Turns out I made a good enough impression that she came out last week and even CAME BACK FOR MORE this week. Cool!

We've got our last XC race this weekend on Sunday. Boo! I'm kind of sad about that. But I think it'll be a blast and I'm curious to see how I do given that now I've done the course once (it's in Golden Gate Park).

Saturday I am ALSO running - I'm volunteering with this FABULOUS organization called Girls on the Run. Have you heard of it? "Girls on the Run© is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. Our curricula address all aspects of girls' development - their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being." (from the GOTR website)

So their fall training culminates in a 5K for the girls and since I can't volunteer during the year (usually the program starts right when they get out of school, so around 3 p.m.), I am volunteering during the GOTR Sonoma County 5K to be a 'running buddy.' Bonus: I get to be a running buddy for one of my spin student's daughters!!

I also have to write a ride report from Saturdays' Riviera Ride. It was just as awesome as the first but I'd venture to say even more so. It's quickly becoming one of my new favorite monthly events. I will save that for another post, I think. Trying to have shorter posts these days and I still have other things on my list to get to.

Speaking of bikes, I think I want to have a big bike ride on my birthday. So if you're in the area on December 7, come join. I think I may try to have the ride end at Rosso in Santa Rosa for lunch and have a bakery stop somewhere during the ride.

I'm saving the best for last. Lately folks (JP and Rainmaker) have been posting some insanely amazing-looking eats (Cassoulet and pumpkin recipes, respectively). They've left me SALIVATING!

And I promised to post something about food. The bad thing about this is I haven't yet made it (this year) - that is for this weekend but I really wanted to put this recipe out there so people can see it and make it/savor it/enjoy it themselves.

Without further ado, here is the recipe for:

Salad of Fall Greens with Persimmons and Hazlenuts Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (recipe here)

From Epicurious.com via Bon Appetit, November 2001


**Note: I hate hazlenuts. So instead of hazlenut oil, I used walnut oil. And instead of toasted hazlenuts, I toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds). And they work lovely.

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup fresh tangerine juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated tangerine peel
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil or walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 head escarole (about 11 ounces), torn into 2-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
  • 1 large bunch watercress, stemmed (about 6 cups)
  • 1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
  • 2 Fuyu persimmon, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skin rubbed off
Preparation:

Boil tangerine juice and tangerine peel in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Whisk in next 5 ingredients. Season dressing with pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Rewhisk before using.)

Place all greens and half of persimmon slices in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among plates. Top each with remaining persimmon slices and hazelnuts and serve.

And, I think that's a wrap for tonight. Thanks to everybody who's going to play Maggs' and my Winter Weight Challenge. I'm looking forward to having even MORE of a reason not to put anymore weight on this winter!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Week 1 of the Winter Weight Challenge Begins!

It's been a crazy day and I also haven't been feeling well since Saturday afternoon so I won't be posting much here today, but I do have to say that Saturday's Riviera Ride ROCKED SO MUCH! I will hope to steal some pics from Steve and Dave and post them along with a ride report because it was a seriously glorious ride (and the ensuing lunch was also just as glorious).

Instead, I am posting to REMIND ANY PARTICIPANTS OF THE WINTER WEIGHT CHALLENGE to go to Maggs' blog today and post your weight!

Maggs did a great job reviewing the GOAL (not to see who can lose the most weight...AHEM...it's to see who can remain STEADY) of the challenge and gave a few examples.

So go see Maggs and tell her what you weighed today and let's get the CHALLENGE STARTED, WOO!

(All you have to do to join this competition is go to Maggs' blog and say "I want in!" and state your weight! The more, the merrier, COME ON, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2 IMPORTANT announcements

1) The Riviera Ride #2 is this Saturday (11/15). If you are local (or even sort of local, like EAST BAY OR SF, or Napa, or in that vicinity), you should come out for this.

It is a monthly group ride that occurs on the 3rd Saturday of the month. I wrote about it last month. Here's the deal:

It starts at 9 a.m. at West County Revolution in Sebastopol with coffee and pastries (get there before 9 for the goodies - ride starts at 9). It will be about a 50-60 mile ride depending on the group you choose to ride with. We all start out at a very easy pace, just chatting and riding and warming the legs up. We will split up about 10-15 miles in and there will be a super fast group (last month had cycling pro Scott Nydam show up and the other guys that rode with him were super fast too - they did about 60 miles and around 22-24 mph) and a moderate group that will do slightly less miles - 45-50 miles and around 18-20 mph.

We will all end up at a restaurant called Riviera in Santa Rosa. $30 buys you lunch (a 3 course lunch!) and covers tax and tip as well.

After lunch, folks will head back to Sebastopol (8 miles away) via the bike path at an easy pace.

Alternatlively, some of us will who live in Santa Rosa will meet at Riviera at 8 a.m. and head out to Sebastopol so that we can just go home after lunch.

If you're interesed, please RSVP to Steve at West County Revolution by emailing him here.

And let me know if you're coming along! We would love to have folks join in the fun!

2) ATTENTION ALL TRI-BLOGGERS (and any other blogger who wants to join in!)!!!

Join Maggs and Sarah for the Winter Weight Challenge! The more who play means the sweeter the prize!

The skinny:

A 10-week challenge beginning on 11/17/08 through 1/26/09 to see who can gain the least amount of weight.

The prize:

Each person who joins in will purchase a $5 gift card to any place of their choice (Starbucks, Jamba Juice, iTunes, Target, etc) and send it to Maggs (who promises to be honest and not spend them, duh). The winner gets the gift cards (or if there are multiple winners cards will be split).

The rules:

Maggs will post each Monday to have all participants report their weight that day via comment. Maggs and Sarah will keep a log of each participant week-by-week. If you LOSE weight and you have two consecutive weeks of being at a lower weight, that will be your new weight to maintain. At the end of 10 weeks, we will see who has gained the least pounds over the 10 week period. If there are ties, we'll split up the awards.

Why do this stupid competition?

Because some of us need a challenge to not gain any more weight in the off season. Some of us are THAT type-A that we need to make it into a competition. Some of us just want incentive. Some of us think it'll be fun.

If you plan on joining in, feel free to comment and let me know. I'll add you to the roster. 10-week blogger challenge, here we come!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TIM LINCECUM WINS CY YOUNG AWARD!

Another awesome Tuesday with yet another 'landslide' win at the polls: Tim Lincecum received 23 out of 32 first place votes to be named the 2008 Cy Young Award Winner.


If you're not a baseball fan, you should read this anyway.

Because it's about more than baseball.

It's about living and pursuing your dream. It's about believing. It's about hard work.

Now, I'm not a sportscaster like JT or a sportswriter so I don't really know how to sum all of this up, esp for people who don't really follow baseball.

Maybe JT can write this post instead of me? :)

So let's start with what the Cy Young Award is. According to Wikipedia, "The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB), one each for the American and National leagues. The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955."

Now, who is Tim Lincecum?


Tim Lincecum was, 29 months ago, pitching for the University of Washington. But for the past two years, he's been pitching with the Giants (he was called up May of 2007). And this past year, he was THE pitcher for the Giants.

He's 24 now but he still looks like he's 18. The crazy thing is to think that as a freshman in high school, he was still 4'11" and 85 lbs!!! And now he's nearly 6' tall and 170 lbs. He learned his mechanics from his dad in his backyard and now he's one of the best pitchers in baseball.

The story gets better. According to "The Freak" (one of his many nicknames), in an article in the SF Chronicle,
"People have been doubting me my whole life. Nothing new," Lincecum said. "I'm not going to hold it against them. If they doubt me, let them watch and see what the end result is. I don't let them bring me down like they used to."
Okay, so what's the big deal?

There's a few things here:

1) The Giants majorly SUCKED this season. But you know what? When you knew Lincecum was going to pitch, you knew it would be a great game to watch. He consistently threw close to 100 mph fastballs, 80 mph curveballs and so many strikeouts that he ended up winning the National League Strikeout Title (265 strikeouts by the end of the season!),

2) Tim brought a team mentality to the game. The other players respected him and he respected the other players. They played like a true TEAM. Not that they didn't when he wasn't pitching, but in 2007, with Barry Bonds' all-star presence, they never played like a team. It was all about Barry and his home runs. Even though Lincecum began to gain a lot of press and praise as the season went on, he never made it about HIM.

In fact, catcher Bengie Molina had this to say (from another SF Chronicle article):
"That's great, man. Wow," catcher Bengie Molina said when told of Lincecum's win. "He pitched so great. I'm so happy for him. I'm hoping he enjoys it. I know it's an individual award, but looking back and seeing the year we had as team, for him to come out with Cy Young is amazing. It's unbelievable."

3) Lincecum is a truly remarkable pitcher. His style is different. He's got an usual twisting windup which features a longer stride (The normal stride length for a pitcher is 77% to 87% of his height. Lincecum's stride is 129%, some 7 1/2 feet) and heavy torque. Here's some other stats that set him apart (again from the SF Chronicle):
Aside from his 18-5 record and 2.52 ERA, two statistics set Lincecum apart from other candidates: He became the first Giants pitcher, dating to the New York days, to lead the majors in strikeouts (265) and the fourth pitcher in history to finish at least 13 games above .500 for a team that finished at least 13 below (72-90).

I guess what's so inspiring is that Lincecum goes into every game believing, ready to win, ready to WORK FOR IT. JT had a post the other day about athletes who just 'give up'. These guys are paid millions of dollars a year and they just 'give up?' What a disgrace.

Here's an interesting stat:
Tim Lincecum's 2008 salary was $405,000. The other 5 pitchers' (whom he was up against for the award) average salary for 2008 was $9,433,510. Yes, you read that right.

I'm inspired because Lincecum brings a level of humility to the game and at the same time was always going out there to win, no matter what happened. His first response to finding out he won was "REALLY?"

I think he's a great role model as an athlete for all of us as athletes. He fully demonstrates how to never stop trying even in the face of so much success. How to always be expecting the best out of yourself but to never let it get to your head. How to keep working at it even when you get knocked down (kind of like what you were saying, E!)

CONGRATULATIONS, TIMMY!!!

Here's another great article from Sports Illustrated on "Tiny Tim": How Tiny Tim Became A Pitching Giant

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Goodbye Facebook (for now)


I came, I went, I saw, I status-updated with the best of them, and now I'm calling it quits.

For now, anyway.

On the one hand, I love Facebook.

On the other, I really don't.

It's nice to see old friends, for sure. It's nice to comment on friends' and family photos, absolutely. I've spoken more with my cousins on Facebook than I ever would have before.

But WTF is up with people from high school that I barely even remember 'friending' me and then not even sending any kind of 'hello' message? Somebody that I sort of remember who was more a friend of friends in JUNIOR HIGH friend requested me the other day.

HELLO!!! We haven't spoken in 15 years and NOW you want to be my 'friend?'

Except she didn't even say 'hi' or put a message with her request.

And when I press 'ignore' for friend requests from people that I barely remember, a month later they're requesting me AGAIN because i probably showed up on the "People You May Know" tool and they thought "oh, huh...there's Sarah, I should totally friend request her!" because they've already forgotten that they friend requested me a month ago.

It's like people are out there collecting pogs, or something. (remember pogs?)

It was a really hard decision because I also really enjoy seeing photos people post of this and that, and there are a few people from high school that I've really enjoyed re-interacting with, not to mention simply the enjoyment of seeing what folks are up to.

But then again, how much are we REALLY interacting? I comment on photos. They comment on mine. We smile and think that's so nice. But have we really reconnected our friendship? Have we actually gone out and taken photos together that we'll later share on Facebook?

Erm, no, we haven't.

Don't get me wrong, I think Facebook is tons of fun. But I just don't think I have the time right now to really spend much time getting everything out of it I would want to.

I feel like I have more work to do on the friendships I have outside of the online world, and between email and blogging, I do enough on the internet. I need to focus more on the relationships in my life and put more effort into maintaining them - both new and old.

I may go back to Facebook, but until then, I'll be holding down the blog front and of course, I'm always available on email. And in the real world I'll be attempting to get people together for rides, hikes, runs, drinks, laughs, and good stuff.

(oh and p.s. I am totally going to miss Wordscraper (the Scrabble game)!!!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

One fantastic ride

I wasn't around this weekend to ride in the mornings. So when I returned around noon on Sunday, I was itching to get out on the bike. I had considered running, but just really felt like riding. I checked the weather - no impending rain. Winds about 10-15 mph. Hm.

Still didn't matter. For weeks I've been dying to get out to the Wildflour Bakery in Freestone. For weeks I've been saying "I want to ride out and go to this sacred bakery." I just had it in my mind that I was going to DO THIS.

I headed out Guerneville Road and pedaled into the wind. It was cool, but there was enough sunshine warming my arms and back that I didn't need the arm warmers yet. Not too much traffic out, surprisingly. Left on Frei Road and up the first little grunt. Before I knew it I was zipping through Graton along Graton Road, mentally preparing for my first big climb. It was so quiet. The air was crisp and fresh and the only sounds that could be heard where my feet spinning away at the pedals.

After tackling Graton Road, I made it into Occidental. The other big treat of the day was getting to ride my most favorite road in the world - Bohemian
Hwy. I took my sunglasses off as I zoomed through the towering redwood trees which shaded and cooled the air, providing a fresh scent of damp redwood. Again, the road was silent and I really felt, in that moment, that I was in church: the majestic trees around me were my stained glass, and my bike was the pew in which I was praying. It was truly heavenly. All was silent and I simply smiled and thought "I am SO lucky."

Another 10 minutes and I pulled into the Wildfl
our Bakery. I could smell it before I even saw it! I sat down with some coffee and a walnut-apple-cinnamon scone and took my first bite.


Now, I've been telling everybody since I moved up here that one of the things I miss most about Berkeley is the Cheese Board. Their scones are a delectable treat and I've never had a scone even come CLOSE to comparing to the ones the Cheeseboard produced. But as of yesterday, the Cheeseboard has finally met its match. The scone I had at Wildflour bakery was so incredible, so fresh, so full of everything that is good and right with food, that I couldn't help but smile and know that I had done the right thing today.

After I left I turned right on Bodega Hwy and left on Petaluma-Valley Ford Road. The roads were still somewhat empty and peaceful. I didn't see one other cyclist out there. Made my way back via Bloomfield->Todd->Llano and back along the path.

The wind really died down once I was in Occidental, so I was glad I had made the decision to go. It really was a fantastic solitary ride and I just couldn't get over how peaceful it was. The hills are starting to turn green, the cows were out, and the air was so clear and so crisp, every breath invigorated my lungs.

49 miles, 1500 feet of climbing, and three glorious hours of just enjoying the ride.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday fun...or freaky...

I've been working on a more 'serious' post (not THAT serious, but some goal-setting type stuff) BUT since I have a ton to do right now that will have to wait and I'll post something more...er..fun, instead.

Why it's good to be scared of spiders:

Wow. Yes, this is seriously a spider preying on a a bird. Apparently it's a Golden Orb Weaver spider and this was taken in Cairns, Australia. (BE CAREFUL, VANESSA!!!!) I guess these spiders normally prey on large insects but this poor bird flew into the web and got caught. Ew.
Read it all here.

Next up: Why it's good to be scared of snakes

This is a python eating a cockatoo. Great. Apparently "the python took about two hours to complete his meal." Mmm. Read it here.

Finally, if you think THAT'S crazy, check THIS OUT:




Apparently, this article describes how the snake realized it was 'biting off more than it can chew' (no really...) and had to regurgitate the upper half of the body. Ew.

Anyway, in case you were thinking that spiders and snakes are actually fun pets, they probably aren't. And I know that all the small spiders I go out of my way to save (I just don't have it in my heart to kill them...I scoop them up and dump them outside where they belong) would probably try to eat me if they were big enough. But they're not, so I decided I don't need to 'defend' myself.

Actually I like looking at bugs. I think they are so cool and interesting and FASCINATING. And the bug world is VICIOUS! I guess it's kind of like a car accident...you don't want to look (b/c bugs are kind of creepy) but then you can't help it. So just in case anybody cares, there's a really neat website called What's That Bug? where you can look at all the different bugs around the world in action.

Just saying...