Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

To all my friends and family up north; stay safe and use today as a brilliant excuse to eat all the candy that was meant for the Trick or Treaters tonight. You can always buy more for when they reschedule. And don't worry about the calories. If your hurricane experience was anything like ours back in '04, you'll get plenty of exercise cleaning up.

It'll all be ok eventually, have faith.

Fantasy Fest 2012

was, in a word, fantasti-freakin-amazeballs! Seriously.

We hadn't even planned on going till a few weeks ago.Our good buddy and Conch, Monique was in town and invited us to crash at her place for the weekend of FF. I don't care who you are, someone offers you a free bed for FF, you go.

This is us and Monique just prior to the parade. She's a very shy and reserved kinda person. 

We headed down after work on Friday and made good time getting down there. Which was a pleasant surprise. What with normal Friday night traffic, it being FF, plus the remnants of the Hurricane blowing through off-shore, I figured we'd be in for a looong ride. But we made it in just before 11:00 and hit Duval for Round 1. 

We caught the last couple songs of the Niki Barr Band show. She is an absolutely amazing female rocker who should be crazy famous right now. I find that when a lot of chicks sing dude songs, especially hard rock songs, they usually come out kinda "meh." Niki Barr abso-freakin-lutely KILLS whatever songs she plays. From Nine Inch Nails to Black Sabbath. I have a huge girl crush on her, so I was thrilled when after the parade the following night we were able to catch quite  bit of the show. I'd post pics, but there were always too many boobs on the floor. Well, not on the floor, that would be weird. And there's nothing weird about FF.

Afterwards we people watched and wandered and then had the most amazing Coconut Curry wings I have ever had in my life at Wing Masters. Which we thought was open 24 hours, but as it turns out, closes at 4:00am. Which we found out at 4:10am the next day. Nooooooooooo!!! 

Anywings, got up mid-morning Saturday and decided if I was going to have the confidence to pull off Saturday night's post-parade costume I needed to go for a run. Our friend lives about 3 miles away from the Southermost Point so I jogged down there and walked back. It happens so rarely to me anymore, (not complaining, just saying) but there is something so priceless about going for a solo walk in a foreign-ish town/city. Don't know why, but I just love it.

You wouldn't believe the line to get a pic right next to the dang marker. So I just skipped it and did the self-portrait thing. Managed not to duck-face.

The rest of the afternoon Dave worked on Monique's motorcycle and I did a whole lot of nothing. Which was awesome. Just before 5:00 we costumed up. 

Yup, I went there. 

The theme was Aconchalypse, so we were going for a Mad Max-ish look. Both of our costumes were made from either everyday clothes, or steampunk pieces we already had. Dave's pants and boots are part of his motorcycle gear. My top and bottom are a swimsuit. 

Then we hopped on the bicycles and headed to the parade. We were invited to walk in it with some friends of Monique's. They were the Four Horsemen of the Aconchalypse, and we were their minions/exterminators. Instead of horses, they were riding things the locals would like to exterminate; white flies, iguanas, roosters. 
Super sweet, fun people. We really appreciated them letting us play along.

Our job was to walk along the float and throw out beads. Dave got a little drunk with power.

I didn't expect the bead-throwing to be so much fun, but it really was. A real bucket-list kind of experience. Everyone had a different M.O. regarding who they threw beads too. I gave them to children, (mostly because I felt bad that they had parents with such poor judgement as to bring kids to FANTASY FEST!?!? SERIOUSLY??!!) to women who were costumed or painted and cute guys regardless of costume. For the especially hot ones I would put the beads on them and then smack them on the butt with my flyswatter.

Don't judge. You don't get given that kind of power and not utilize it.

After the parade, we stripped out of those suits almost as fast as we found our first beer of the night.

They actually had some on the float, but with a bladder like a 4 year old I figured I'd better wait.

The rest of the night was great music (at the Niki Barr show), awesome dancing at Aqua and just the best people watching anywhere, ever. Honestly, one of the most fun, perfect nights of my life. And Dave says the same.

Seriously. Could the dude look any happier? Sexy as hell, too. Just sayin'.

I know it's horribly touristy and cliche' to have "the best time EVAR!" at FF, but I don't give a rat's patootie. I totes love to just hang out with my friends in our Shop, or hang out in a quiet dive bar, etc. But every once in awhile there's nothing wrong with going to a loud, packed Club, and dance like a maniac and get a little (or a lot) crazy. At FF they specialize in crazy. And we love every minute of it.

Which brings me to the best part of this year's trip to FF. I have a lot of goals and dreams in life. Lots of them are meaningful and important. Some are not. I'm not afraid to admit that in years past while at events like Fantasy Fest or Daytona's Bike Week, I'd see gals in get-ups similar to the one I wore and think about how badly I wished I could rock what they were rockin'. So to finally have the confidence to wear that costume was HUGE. I'll be honest, at the beginning of the night I still only barely had enough gumption to leave Monique's house in it. 

Yeah, I knew there were going to be every, and I mean every, body type out there rocking the paint or nothing at all. And there was. But I didn't want to wear something "cool" and know I wouldn't get judged for it. I wanted to rock it!

And you know what?
I did.

I was like a Slutty Cinderella. Granted, I have my theories about an outfit like mine actually getting more attention because the girls weren't showing, etc. But the bottom line is that I got more uh, compliments(?)  and uh, offers(?) in one night than I have in my entire life. And fine I'm going to say it, they were coming from  types I wouldn't kick out of bed for eating crackers iff'en you know what I'm saying. Annnd I think ya do.

Is that incredibly shallow and immature of me to get such an ego boost from a bunch of unsolicited male attention? If it is, fine, guilty as charged. But dealing with the body image issues I have been dealing with lately...not knowing where I fit-in in the grand scheme of "bodies," knowing I shouldn't care...but still caring. Well dammit, it was pretty freaking awesome to have a bunch of strangers really drive home the point that I actually do clean up pretty good. 

The costume itself helped me channel my inner bad-ass as well. Which, if you've been following along at home, you know that molding my body to match the image of the badass inside my head has been the point of this journey all along.

So yeah. For the first time, I really and truly owned it. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lighterknot Adventure Race

The Lighterknot, held in Palm Coast October 20, 2012, marked a full year of our doing Pangea Adventure Races. Something about this place is lucky for us, I guess. I do credit the fact that despite the lowest of low expectations (for ourselves) we managed to clear the course last year. Which really inspired us to keep at it. Dave admits that he went into the first one just wanting to appease me. However when he realized how fun it was and that we actually had a shot at being competitive, oh and that the people are awesome, he was hooked. And by competitive I mean not coming in the bottom 1/3 ALL the time. Not, ya know, actually winning. The fact that ARs are as much about the brains as the brawn is what makes it so attractive to us. We're never gonna top ten at a 5K or triathlon or even the obstacle races. We're just not, nor I think ever going to be, that fit/fast. But Dave is better than your average schmo at navigation due to his aviation background, so with his skills and our ever increasing level of fitness, we can actually have finishes we can be proud of.

  I broke out the pre-adventure racing jeans for the Team Photo. Size 20 to size 10. Yeah-ya!

The Lighterknot was another well run event, as we've come to expect from the Pangea Crew. Greg and everyone else associated with their events just could not possibly be more encouraging, supportive and sweet. And did I mention I have a mega-crush on their photographer? He's totes adorbs (yes, I know how that sounds and I don't care) and it doesn't hurt that he still manages to take decent pics of me despite the fact that they are taken at the potentially most unflattering moments. 

Helmet hair, sweat, dirt, etc, this pic could still be SO much worse.

Dave and I take turns drawing the marble to see which discipline we start on. It was my turn this time and I drew the Trek marble.Happy dances ensued because we have found that we both really prefer to start on foot. It's definitely my strongest of the three disciplines and I'd rather start with what I am strongest with and make the most of the energy I have. So off we went. After the first checkpoint we went off trail to cut a corner hoping to get ahead of the team of 18 year olds. With their navigation skills (they had some) and their youth, we knew they'd be tough to beat. So a trail blazing we went. Dave did a great job cutting the corner and we emerged from the woods back on to the trail, at the same time we see the kids (Team Slack Pack. No, that's really their name. I'm not being catty) come around the bend. Oh well, if we hadn't taken the woods they'd be even further in front of us.

And so it went, we leap-frogged with them and a couple of other teams all day. We ran, ok jogged, the entire Trek portion for the second race in a row. That's a big deal to us. 

Still feels wrong that in the ARs and at Crossfit the running portions are my favorite parts. What happened to me?

No navigation issues at all. Maybe others found faster or more direct ways, but Dave led us to every one all day without a hiccup. Well, there was the one CP on the paddle for which  I disembarked pre-maturely. No, I didn't fall in. This time.. The clue was that it was "on a mound." So just as we are thinking we are getting close, there was a very obvious mound alongside the river. We stopped, I hopped out, but didn't see anything. So a couple of minutes were lost there, I suppose. Just as I was giving up and getting back into the boat another team came by and assumed it was the spot. I yelled, "No, no! Keep going! It's not here. It's too soon." At least one team member seriously questioned my honesty for a moment. 

I assured him that I was not lying and we had a very fun banter with them for the rest of the paddle. Which reminds me, listen up ladies! Another bonus to the ARs, besides ya know, inspiring and being great workouts, getting you outdoors and providing a sense of accomplishment, they often provide a fair amount of eye candy in the way of cute twenty/thirty-somethings. Just sayin'.

Anycuties, we felt hella strong on the paddle. All those push-ups and pull-ups at Crossfit are definitely paying off in my paddle strength. And it continues to amaze me how well Dave and I do paddling together. I guess after 18 years together you're either going to be really good or really bad at that kind of thing. Though I know the key to our success with the races (and again the measure of our success is very personal and does not necessarily have anything to do with how we appear on the leaderboard) is that we leave it all on the trail. Do we occasionally snip at each other? HELL. YEAH. But we let it go immedi-freaking-ly. And of course, we give each other as much positive encouragement as possible as well.

On  to the bike. The bike, like the last race, was the bike. I still don't feel like I am as strong on the bike as I could be. Now that the weather is getting more friendly I definitely need to make more time to ride off road and build up a little more endurance. I'm going faster and longer every race, no doubt....but I know I have it in me to do better. 

The end of the race was actually quite exciting. On our way in we knew we had cleared the course, but we had no idea where we were in the standings. Just as we reach the homestretch we saw a team of runners giving it all they had to get back. And then another team on bikes comes flying out onto the road from the trail that took you to the Boat TA. I gave it all I had but we couldn't catch the team on bikes, though we did catch the runners. (I'm not that slow) What fun! 

We ended up in 5th place. I'm not going to lie, we'd really like that Top Three someday, but we really couldn't be happier with the progress we have made this year. In January of 2011 as I was preparing for gallbladder surgery I set the goal of doing the Missing River Race. I was over 250 lbs and I knew it was time to make some changes. Dave and I had always watched things like the Amazing Race etc and thought "we could totally do that!" When I stumbled onto the Pangea events on-line, I thought that this could be just the thing to inspire us both to eat better and start getting in shape. I started working out some, but quite frankly had not hit bottom enough to make the changes needed to have some serious weight-loss. And then in May I found that rock-bottom. If you care, you can read about it here. But my point is, we are so happy with how far we have the ARs (among other things) have resulted in a complete lifestyle change for our entire family this year. Have I mentioned Dave has lost at least 30 lbs this year and is working out regularly for the first time in all the time we've been together?

Yeah, the ARs have done that. They've inspired us to work harder, try harder, be better. It's prepared me mentally for the challenges of Crossfit which symbiotically, makes me better at Adventure Racing. Are we ready to move to the Elite class? Not quite yet. Call me Goldilocks, but for me, the 3 hour races (for now) are just right. Though I did just sign us up for next month's 4 hour Turkey Burn. Crap.

Till next time, stay dirty!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crossfit: It's not boring!

And it'll kick your ass a lot of the time...well, all the time if you're doing it right. In a good way. But you don't need me to go on about how it pushes you to new levels in terms of finding out what you are capable of, the things you learn about yourself, blah-di-blah. That is all true. But you can read that all over the web, go ahead and google "Crossfit," I'll wait.

See? It's been said in tons of places with way more eloquence than I ever could.

What? You didn't leave? Fine, lazybones, I'll explain how it actually works: Crossfitters meet in a "Box" not a gym. It is very basic and has only the type of equipment you use in the WODs (workout of the day). These would include pull-up bars, (with bands for those of us who are still no where near a real pull-up...YET) ropes, dumbbells, barbells, weighted balls, rings, back extension thingamabobs, mats for sit-ups, etc. They often have rowing machines, but no tread mills, stairmasters, aerobics room, weight machines, etc. This is because everyone works out as a group with a Trainer/Leader at designated times. You don't just come in when you want and workout alone. When you arrive you write your name on one of the big white boards that lists the WOD. Then, on your own,  you go through a 10-15 minute warm-up that at my Box includes three rounds of stretches, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats, back extensions, and  ring dips. Then the Trainer goes over the WOD in detail teaching form and answering questions before you begin. Once it starts, everybody is super encouraging of each other and the Trainer(s) walk around helping people with their form. Which is important as Crossfit incorporates a lot of Olympic-style lifting, which when done correctly is very safe and a great workout. But needs to be done right, in order to prevent injury. The WODs can last anywhere from 7 to 25 minutes, depending upon the day. And they are different every day, which to me, is the greatest part about it. Boredom is never an issue.

That said, I can say that it is not for everyone. My impression is if your number one goal for working out is looking good, not probably are not going to last that long. I could be wrong, but to push yourself enough to really do Crossfit right, I feel like your motives need to be a little more than vanity. Don't get me wrong, you'd be hard-pressed to find many in the Box who don't care about looking good. However, I think for most it is an awesome by-product of trying to get as functionally fit and strong as possible, not the goal in and of itself.

You see, in Crossfit there are no easy days. And there are no excuses. But even on the hardest days when I have had  to scale everything waaaaaaay down just to participate, by the end of the workout I know I did the best that I could do that day and that is all that matters. And during a period where I am really struggling with body image, this is a great lesson. I look around the room and there are all, and I mean ALL, shapes and sizes. From the perfect hard bodies to those who are...not. And everything in between. And some days the hardbodies are are on fire and other days the bigger folks are lifting more weight and some days those of us in the middle are kicking it. But the point is it doesn't matter at all how much we lift or how fast we run compared to each other. It's all about how can YOU perform against yourself?

On the other hand, seeing others further along in their goals is a huge incentive, and a big departure from regular gyms. I don't know about you, but when I used to go to regular gyms and would see the hard-bodies prancing about it...well, quite frankly, it depressed me. My gut reaction was, "Well, crap I'm never gonna look like that so why bother?" But now, in the Box, I am working out right alongside others and I hear and see how hard they are working and it inspires me. I see them doing something amazing and I think, "If I keep trying I will be able to do that!" I also know this because they tell me. More experienced Crossfitters are really open and encouraging and remind newbies, "Hey, when I started I couldn't do that either." And that is so very encouraging and makes all of my goals seem more realistic and attainable.

So those are my impressions so far. The folks at Treasure Coast Crossfit have been awesome and I really look forward to every workout. If you've been thinking of giving Crossfit a try I really recommend it. I've yet to meet a person who wouldn't benefit from it; from Teens to Grandmas. (I'm not kidding we have both in our Box.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Zombie Gerbil

by chaotic-color at deviant art

Sunday afternoon Dave noticed Mario (or was it Luigi?) one of Holden's two gerbils looked...unwell. Ever the optimist I thought maybe it was groggy because it had just woken up. Yeah, not so much. The next morning, I peeked in the cage and sure enough, the poor thing had shuffled loose the mortal coil. As if that was not disturbing enough on a Monday morning, it seemed to also be missing most of its face. I suspected maybe a wild mouse or maybe even our cat had gotten into the cage, but sadly, no. The bloody evidence was upon the the face and tiny paws of his companion. His all white, gerbil companion. Who looked himself, not all that well. Just picture that if you will.

So I have a Zombie Gerbil on my hands.

Which is good training I suppose for the Run for Your Life/Zombie/Obstacle Race 5K coming up in a few weeks. Several friends have been planning for this race since the spring. I really hope it meets their expectations. I've heard mixed reviews. It'll be fun from an Obstacle Race perspective I'm sure. I'm expecting it to be on par with the Warrior Dash in terms of difficulty.(ie: very do-able) But I think the talent of the Zombies in performance and make-up really depends upon location. What with Orlando's service/entertainment industry, I am hopeful the Zombies will put on a good show. My friends are making plans and strategies that I predict will all go out the window once we get out there. I'm planning on hanging back with all of them (none of them are runners) and helping some of them through the obstacles if needed. However, if the Zombies are really good and I get freaked out (which is entirely possible) it is every man for himself and I'm hoofing it. I wish I was kidding but I am such a kitty-cat when it comes to scary stuff. If this was held at night, there is no way I could/would do it. The only Zombie movies I can watch are ones like Zombieland and  Shaun of the Dead (one of my fave movies ever) because they are funny. And I still can only watch them in the middle of the day. 

And that exact expression of pants-pooping fear and glee and is exactly what you should expect to see on me at the race.

All that said, why not use my weenie-ness to fuel my runs? I just downloaded "Zombies, Run!" It's a running app that integrates with your music and puts you into a Zombie Apocalypse story. Supposedly it tells you when the Zombies are after you and then you sprint. A friend of mine who is notoriously thrifty shelled out the $8 for it, so it must be good. As soon as the weather, gets a bit cooler mid-day I'd like to do some more mid-day runs to supplement the evening Crossfit. I think Zombies should be fairly decent motivation.

**So this is a conversation that just happened:
Patron - Do you have 'The Day My Butt Went Psycho'?
Me - No, I'm sorry we don't. But I do have 'Zombie Butts from Uranus.'

I love my job.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Trust me! It'll look awesome, I saw it on Pinterest.

So this is what my bathroom looks like right now:

The husband is very concerned.

We've pretty much been letting our crappy little house get crappier and crappier under the delusion that we're going to build a new one in the future. Therefore why sink money into something that in a matter of years is quite literally going to be torn down? But Dave and I started talking about it and we both had to come to terms with the fact that if we want to continue living the sort of lifestyle we have been, we just can't afford to build a new house. Not for a VERY long time anyways. And that is O.K....I'd much rather have my toys and vacations and continue to invest for our retirement etc vs having a big (ok, normal sized) new house, but then be too strapped to do anything outside of it. Call me odd, but a "nice" house is just not a priority to me.

That said, there are somethings we could do that won't break the bank that would make the house more presentable. So from this point on, we are going to start working on those little projects between all the other stuff we have going on. It's going to take quite awhile, but that's ok. Rome wasn't built in a day nor are 1950s cracker homes Pinterest-ified in...a day...or something.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What I Think I Look Like

What I Really Look Like

That didn't take long did it? That little bit of heaven pictured above is a 2012 Kawasaki Concours. I weighed my options, test drove a few different brands and models, both old and new. For my budget, the Connie is the best combo of Sport and Touring for me.

It is so choice. If you have the means I highly recommend picking one up. (bonus 80s pop culture points for that movie reference)

Seriously, it's awesome. See the pics above. Pretty much sums it up. I feel like I've recaptured the love and thrill of riding that I kind of lost over the past year or so.

So of course now I need to look at new jackets and helmets....a girl's gotta match.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stuff and things

Is it just me but does a sign like that make you want to go in there?

Last post was a little heavy, but I'm glad I got that out. For today let's just focus on the crazy-banana-pants-fun-stuff going on lately, shall we?

The Women in the Wind gals (female motorcycle club) had a co-ed overnight ride to St Augustine the weekend before. It was the first time I'd really ridden my bike in a couple of months. Why? Partly because I lost the key when my purse was stolen and it took me months to replace it. No, not because BMW gave me a hard time, but because it's been hot as hell lately and I've not been inspired to ride. I'm a weirdo that actually prefers riding in the colder temps. And more importantly, because I'm bored with my bike. I know, I know....could there be a bigger first world problem?  

Total piece of crap, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, it's an awesome bike. The best bike, in my opinion, if you like to wick it up in the twisties but still want a Cruiser-style bike. And it's so freaking cool looking. But it's not me anymore. I've fallen in love with the Sport Tourers. I want the agility and speed of a sport bike, but with an upright sitting position, electric windshield, fairings and cruise control. In other words, the ability to really tear it up, safely, in the mountains AND be comfortable and more protected from the elements on the long ride there from Florida. 

Anyway, back to St Augustine... this happened.
That shirt reminds me so much of the stuff sold on the Jersey Shore in the 80s. Pose is meant to be ironic, just for the record.

After an evening of fun, there may have been alcohol involved for the record, I suggested we climb down into the (dry) moat around the Fort and make big shadows on the wall in the shape of WITW. For some reason, one or two in the group though climbing down the 8 foot wall might not be the wisest idea in our condition. Buzz-kills. Dave suggested instead that we stand on the edge and the back-light would make a cool pic.

He was right.

The whole weekend was good fun, but it did finally solidify my desire to sell my bike and try to find a used RT or FJR in my price range. That said, cross your fingers denizens of the interwebs, we should be delivering Blue to her new owner tomorrow morning. I've already got a whole list of potential bikes saved on Cycle Trader. Mua-hahahahahha

This one is probably going to be it, if my old man will front me the difference between Blue and it.

In other news, Dave's skydiving again.

Seriously, could he be any more awesome?

He did a couple of hundred jumps in his high-school and college days; but flying, wrenching, life and logistics...oh yeah, and money (or lack there ofgot in the way. He's sacrificed for years to always keep me in horses and as a result has put his own passions on the back burner. Thankfully, though we are at point in our lives where he is ready to be a little more aggressive regarding his needs/wants (a GOOD thing, trust me) and I think I've grown-up enough to sacrifice some of my own, if it makes him happy. 

And it does. I know it sounds trite, but there really is no better realization of how much you love someone as when you realize that them being fulfilled and truly happy makes you feel the same. 

In closing ladies and germs, lest I complete a post without some sort of reference to food and fitness. I made this:
Gross, but yummy. This is getting to be a trend with me.

It's a Meatza. A meat-topped pizza with a ground-beef crust, instead of pizza dough. It looks so wrong, but it tastes so right. Definitely for those wacky Paleos and Primals amongst us.

And on the fitness end of things, I'm in the middle of a free week trial at an actual Crossfit Box. Full Gorilla Fitness, the beginner-Crossfit-in-the-park-program, we were doing over the summer are on hiatus until who knows when due to the trainers being too busy with their full-time jobs. Something about needing to concentrate on educating our youth and taking care of their own families. Whatever. That said, I am really digging Treasure Coast Crossfit and will most likely be joining. More on my experiences there coming up soon.

Till then, keep the shiny side up!