Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2011

We’re back! And it was awesome. It was also, as promised: cold, wet, expensive, and full of drunk Germans, but still: awesome.

I have no pictures of race week, as the camera that contains those pictures is currently undergoing extensive and obsessive editing of the exact right frames to upload so as to show you the most wonderful and descriptive pictures of cars going very very fast (in other words: my husband has that camera), but I do have pictures of our last day in Belgium, which we spent in Brussels.

(A note: the race itself was in Spa, which is about an 90 minutes outside of Brussels. The only thing – and I literally mean the only thing – this town has going on ever is this race, which means there aren’t a lot of accommodations close by; options for lodging include one hotel and tons of farmland that is used for camping. And while the 20,000 person (for serious) shanty town DID look like fun — I mean, come on, of course it did — it was 50 degrees and raining the whole time (WHOLE TIME), and sleeping outside while wet and cold did not appeal to me (shockingly). Also, what good is it traveling for a living if you can’t use hotel points for a free hotel in Europe?)

ANYWAY. The point is: we spent a lot of time driving back and forth, in various states of jet-lag and hangover, and on our last day in country, the last thing we wanted to do was drive anywhere ever again, so we spent the day bumming around Brussels. Since the point of the trip was the Formula One race and Mike’s birthday, I didn’t really schedule any “me” things – I didn’t want any expectations or schedules that might have conflicted with him spending as much time as humanly possible looking at a race track.  HOWEVER when Monday came around and the race was over and we had a whole day check out the city, I was totally stoked, because the one thing I really wanted to do in Brussels was check out the Rene Magritte Museum.

Hey, you know what’s closed on Mondays? Museums.

Le sigh.

We were now faced with a cold day and no plans (Seriously, Belgium, what gives with the weather? It’s August! Why so March-like?), so I reverted back to one of the best lessons my big brother ever taught me: “When you find yourself wandering around a foreign city, your best course of action is to find an Irish bar and stay there.”

Indeed:

 

 

 

So! Perhaps not the most culturally mature way to spend the day, but we did get to drink some good beer (alternating between high end Belgium brews and um, low end British brews), watch some soccer, play some pool, and make friends with random British tourists, who were fun for many reasons, not the least of which being that half of them spoke like Brad Pitt from Snatch. And, MOM, don’t worry, we didn’t spend the WHOLE day like college freshmen on a bender; we did actually spend a fair amount of time poking around some of the prettier parts of Brussels while Mike gave me some impromptu photography lessons (White balance! Who knew?) Of course, that wandering was in SEARCH of the Irish Bar but whatEVER I now have artistically pretty pictures of European streets so it COUNTS as CULTURE, GOD.

And just in case you were worried that I squandered a perfectly good European vacation drinking in a bar, I have a least one piece of evidence that I did, in fact, go to the race:

(This was taken during the one hour that it was actually sunny enough to warrant sunglasses.)

Anyway! All in all a wonderful few days. Mike was hugely geeked out to be at his favorite sport for the first time, and it was fun for me to see him so happy and giggly at what is surely a once in a lifetime experience. Having never really been a Formula One fan myself, I was pleasantly surprised at much I thoroughly enjoyed the entire race week, from the location (cold and wet aside, Spa is GORGEOUS) to the actual race itself, which found me up on my feet cheering and screaming and basically acting like a damn fool. I suppose I wish we’d “made more” of the opportunity to do some culture Europe-y things, but really, getting to spend an entire day with no agenda except to hang out with your best friend ended up being the perfect end to a great vacation.

 

Read Full Post »

Spa Day

It may have been wet, cold, expensive and full of drunk Germans but if you do nothing else before you shuffle off this mortal coil then you must visit Spa – and just don’t forget to try the frites and mayonnaise..

And we’re off!! Belgium was nice enough to host the Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps on my husband’s 40th birthday weekend, and while the planning of this trip led me down a dark, dark rabbit hole of Formula 1 message boards and forums (and I’ve got to tell you I never thought I’d be the type of person to go back and forth on the exact right place to stand on a track to fully appreciate the acceleration out of a turn [and yes I totally used the phrase “corner like it’s on rails” at one point in these discussions but I don’t think the drunk Germans got the reference], but: here I am. I am that person) I am so stupidly excited to see my husband experience his favorite sport live for the first time.

So! I’ve got my earplugs, a euro-trashy shirt collection, and a healthy respect for drunk Germans — it’s going to be awesome.

See you all on the flip side.

(To all potential thieves — don’t rob my house while we’re gone — it’s got a cranky German Shepherd guard dog and  badass house sitter, so let’s just let it be the house that got away, ok?)

Read Full Post »

Wow, so that whole post I just wrote about our local soccer team?

Their name is the RAPIDS. Not the Rockies.

And even better, my husband was sitting across from me as I typed it, WEARING THE TEAM SHIRT.

Accurate details are not why you come to the Internet, people.

Anyway, this whole professional soccer thing is starting to remind me of the first half of Major League:

Jake Taylor: I play for the Indians.
Chaire Holloway: Here in Cleveland? I didn’t know they still had a team!
Jake Taylor: Yup, we’ve got uniforms and everything, it’s really great!

Read Full Post »

We Need a New Hobby

Hey, remember when I told you guys I took my friend Ellie’s Ashtanga yoga class and it killed me dead? (I’m not going to link you there – that sentence is all you need: I took a yoga class, and then I couldn’t walk, the end.)

Well, Ellie, being a good sport that she is, listened politely to me running my mouth off about Crossfit, and then went and took a class herself. Behold:

Oh my God, Liz, I can’t walk. This CrossFit thing is going to kill me.

HA. This is EXACTLY how I felt after her yoga class – it took DAYS for my legs to function again. Clearly, we need to take up like, knitting, or competitive reading, or something that we can do that doesn’t involve bodily harm

****

We took my stepdaughter to see a Colorado Rapids* game last night. The what?, you say? Good question: Colorado Rapids are Denver’s professional soccer team, and judging by the fillrate of the stadium I would guess that most people don’t know we HAVE a professional soccer team, but we do, and it is awesome, and you go find your area’s professional soccer league and GO IMMEDIATELY. Here’s why:

1. Soccer is an AWESOME game. It’s fast paced [Liz glares pointedly at baseball], extremely athletic (read: the players look awesome, plus there’s lots of running into each other and aggressive play that doesn’t devolve into mayhem, um, the players look awesome [Liz glares pointedly at hockey]), and captivating to watch. I’m, at best, a lackluster sports fan, but even I was at the edge of my seat and jumping up and cringing and cheering and getting excited as the game moved across the field.

2. Soccer is CHEAP. You guys, Americans still don’t know that this sport is awesome. You can get same day tickets that are GREAT for on the cheap. If you avoid the way overpriced stadium food, you’re looking at a decently cheap night out. And as of checking this morning, it looks like seasons tickets for four people start at $200. For the SEASON. That’s 18 home games for $200. Just for fun, try to get season tickets to your NFL franchise. It ain’t working out to just over $10 a game for four people, I’m guessing.

3. The fans are INTENSE. We sat just off midfield and in between some seasons tickets holders, groups that clearly come to every game. They knew each other (“Dude, you missed a GREAT game last week! The refs were ridiculous!”), they knew the players (“Aw man, come on Drew! Look alive!”), knew enough about the other team to heckle appropriately (“Bet you wish you’d done more speed work NOW, huh Jeff? Go back to sea level where you belong!”) It was great. Soccer is their game and those players are their people. There are no real superstars in local soccer – not really – but it was so much fun to be surrounded by die hard fans – some people with their two year old (“next year we’re going to get him his own ticket, but for now he doesn’t weigh enough to keep the seat down, so we just hold him”), one guy with this three teenage daughters (“guys, no texting! They’re offsides! Watch!”) — it’s been awhile since I watch a live game surrounded by real fans. It was great.

In conclusion: go watch soccer. If you start now, by the time the next World Cup rolls around, you can be appropriately annoyed at the people who only remember that soccer is a sport every four years and legitimately roll your eyes and say “Ugh. Americans.

 

**EDIT YES I KNOW THIS FIRST DRAFT OF THIS SPOKE OF THE ROCKIES, NOT THE RAPIDS. UGH, MY BAD.

Read Full Post »

My company recently implemented a new wellness initiative (God, that sounds so corporate: “wellness initiative”): They are asking every employee to undergo biometric health screening, which would provide you with you health stats consisting of: cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, glucose, and body fat, as well as health counseling to go along with those results.  And when I say “they are asking” what I mean is “It’s voluntary, but if you do not participate, your health premiums will increase by $1,000/year.”

Ok. So. Ignoring the fact that using BMI as a way to assess health is a quick way to get my ass to clench, I generally think this program is a good idea. Sure, the  “counseling” you get regarding your results is simplistic at best — a short explanation of why blood pressure numbers need to be in certain ranges, a summary of ways to lower cholesterol, no real discussion of how or why to improve these things — but the intent is a good one.  It’s well documented that preventative medicine is cheaper (and better) than waiting until dire circumstance (meds for lowering blood pressure are WAY cheaper that medical care that is needed after a stroke), and if a large group of people (say, an entire company) can continually monitor warning signs of major health issues and deal with them up front, that group of people (company) would tend to find the overall cost of health care going down. That’s good; it means either cheaper health care for employees, or more money to invest back in them or the company. Very fair trade off, in my mind.

I also like this because our CEO has been very vocal about her own health struggles, her efforts to lose weight, deal with chronic illnesses, and what making health a priority has meant for her. I think it’s a genuine message from the company that health is a priority and something that is valued, both from a monetary perspective and from a quality of life perspective. So, sure: I can spend an hour of time (an hour of WORK time, which was sanctioned) to get a finger prick and a blood pressure cuff and whatever. No big. Right?

WRONG. Oh my STARS people are PISSED. They are sure that either a) their health results will be stored and used punitively for those who are in poor health; b) any money saved will be used to increase the salaries of “the executives” and not provide cheaper health care plans, and c) it’s not important, ANYWAY, GOD.

I am amazed by this reaction. First, it’s ILLEGAL for the company to store individual health information and/or use that information when assessing individual performance, and the medical professionals doing the screening, as well as HR, have been very clear on this fact. (Frankly, the idea that they would seems ridiculous to me, and it never even occurred to me that their could possibly be such a sinister motive until a conference room of people started discussing it, but I guess I am more of a pollyanna than I realized.) Second: if the company is continually telling you that they’re looking for ways to offer lower health care plans, and this is one way they could do it … why would they take the savings for themselves? There’s easier ways to swindle some cash, right? I mean, in my experience, when there is a chance to show notable savings in any corporate program, executives are really eager to do that, more so than they are to squirrel more cash away in their Swiss Bank accounts.

But mostly, I think, people don’t want to be lectured about health at work. Now, I’m pretty healthy, so I don’t really care – my baseline reaction was “Oh, I should probably check my cholesterol anyway, so I’m glad they’re making it easy for me to do so”, but if I wasn’t — if my health wasn’t strong and I felt like it was something I KNEW was off but I hadn’t DEALT with it yet, I don’t think I’d want a workplace reminder. In fact, I’d just want to go to work, do my job well, and go home, and not effing hear about it. Certainly everyone has the right to say “I’m not going to think about my blood glucose levels, because I don’t wanna” …right? Or is it our responsibility to acknowledge the fact that our health care system is TOTALLY EFFED and if we have the capability to improve our health now to avoid catastrophic illness later, we absolutely owe it to the greater good to do so? I mean, I guess, but … eeeeep.

If I look at this in terms of finances — if the company was basically requiring everyone to go through counseling for their personal finances — I find my reaction to be much more extreme. I don’t think that is an area of my life that I want discussed in a corporate setting. But why not? Certainly the country is in just as big a financial crisis as it is a health crisis, yes? Isn’t it better for the overall collective to have everyone take a preventative look at their finances and have them assessed? Of course. And yet: I’d be just as uncomfortable doing that at work as the majority of my coworkers are having their biomedical screening.

I’m not sure the point of all this, except to ask: Where is the limit of corporate responsibility? My company’s CEO prioritizes health and wants her employees to do the same, and in doing so she can save everyone money. That seems like a no brainer.  But is it? And where is the limit of OUR responsibility? Do we, as employees, have a responsibility to take measures to ensure we keep ourselves as healthy as possible in order to not over burden the system?

Read Full Post »

New Socks

You know how new running socks are like the best things in the world?

(Wait, non-runners, come back! I know you’re all “Eff you, LIZ, with your persistent talk about exercise I am more than just a k-cal burner, GOD” and yes! you are! I mean those running socks that you buy at Target in 10-packs and wear with sneaks, any kind of sneaks, running not required sneaks)

Anyway, those socks are so awesome, when they are new, yes? But they are NEVER new, right? Because: who buys socks, you know? You HAVE socks. You do not need new socks, ever. Even if you have old and grungy socks, you do not need new ones, because: old and grungy socks: still socks. It’s not like you’re out of toothpaste and can be all “whatevs, I bet there is still some left on the brush” – that would be ridiculous; you buy new toothpaste, but that will never happen with socks – you have socks. You are not buying new ones.

Back in The Day, when I was in high school, I did in fact buy new socks. And I was so stoked. I picked up Target six pack of white ankle athletic socks, and man: Big Time. New Socks. And then I lost them. Well, you can’t really LOSE socks in your own home, but my mom is one of those “Everything in it’s place!” kind of people and I was more of one of those “Don’t organize my mess, I know where everything is and if you touch it the system is RUINED!” kind of people (ed note: I am still one of those people) (my mom note: sigh) (my obsessively organized husband note: word, Mary: sigh)

ANYWAY. I lost the socks. But then like a week later I saw my older brother, home from college for the summer, come home from a run and pull off: MY SOCKS. He’d worn my BRAND NEW SOCKS running and RUINED them with his stinky distusting BOY feet. When I saw this as was  all “<blood vessels popping> MY NEW SOCKS!!!!”, he looked at me and was like “Yeah, aren’t new socks the best? These were a little small, but I pushed through, I mean: new socks. You know.”

(If you guys ever want to know what being a little sister is like: that, right there, is what being a little sister is like. Being validated in your opinion while still robbed of the joy of it = Little Sisterhood)

(Also, I hear my mom has put a cross up in our house so that next time I want to bitch about being the youngest I can just go ahead and nail myself to it instead and save us all some time. I appreciate both the gesture and The Ref reference.)

ANYWAY. AGAIN. SOCKS. My whole point in this dealio is that I finally bought new socks, a purchase that has been sorely needed for, oh, a good long while, and I’ve put it off and put it off and FINALLY was like “Damnit, that $6.99 is committed, I am buying these damn socks because I am worth it, for the love.”

So! Finally. New socks. A house that does not include my brother. What could possibly go wrong?

"Whut?"

Oh, goddamnit.

Read Full Post »

Annnnnnd, I’m Out

Quote from triathlon message board:

“Triathlon’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. If you want a hobby, take up knitting”

*****

Email from a friend thinking of registering for next year’s Ironman:

“Getting up for a pre-work visit to the YMCA when it’s dark out sucks; it’s weird to have gels for breakfast, it’s excruciating to be completely exhausted at 2pm and still have 3 hours left of work and a 90 minute workout to go before i can even think of heading home. But I don’t remember that stuff. all I remember is, KAREN WILLARD, FROM ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

*****

Conversation with good friend a month before IMCdA last year:

“Hey, how is Ironman training going?”

“Well, yesterday I almost quit my job and left my husband, so I’d say it’s right on track”

****

I came thisclose to registering for another Ironman next year. On the one hand: my good friends and husband are doing it, I miss the community and lifestyle of Ironman training, it’d be cool to redeem myself after last year’s melt down, my work schedule is such that I’d actually have time to devote to training.

On the other hand: I don’t wanna.

I loved training for my first Ironman. Loved it. I’d been in the tri-geek world for several years, the majority of my friends constituted my training partners, and it was an excellent way to fill the time void left when Mike was deployed. I was living alone and only had to balance work and training and feeding myself, and was able to really immerse myself in the goal of: Ironman. I remember getting sad after my last long training weekend, knowing I’d miss having an excuse to go for a 6 hour bike ride with good friends.

Not so much for my second Ironman. Work was more demanding, husband was training too, meaning there were two grumpy and hungry people in our house, (not including the dog.) I didn’t have the luxury of making the whole year about Ironman and nothing but Ironman, and I found the training to be stressful and lonely, and found myself just wanting to get the race over with (which is not a commentary on the actual race week, which was one of the better vacations with friends I’ve ever taken.)

I don’t really want to relive that. And maybe I wouldn’t, but I’m finding it’s getting harder to get myself out for a run, on my bike, to the pool. I don’t want to spend the next year constantly making myself do things I don’t wanna do. So, I’m out. For now. I’ll spend the rest of the summer and fall going on bike rides because I want to, seeing if I can recapture some of the love for riding I used to have, and trail running because I love the woods and swimming because… well, I know there are good reasons for swimming, and maybe I’ll remember what they are. And if I get back to that place of really liking the sport, maybe I’ll think about Ironman again.

Maybe.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes I feel like this blog turns into a massive dialogue that could be filed under the tag “Well Hello Jeanie, Who’s Bothering You Now?” But today I have nothing to bitch about; instead, I need a favor.

You know how I talk about my book club in DC over and over and over again? Well, one of our members had a majorly bad wreck this weekend while cycling. She is currently looking at a long rehab for Traumatic Brain Injury and a host of physical issues. Her husband posted video of her today and she is awake and talking, which was amazing and wonderful to see, but I know she is in for a long, long few months. So here’s what I need for you to do:

1. Wear your fricken helmet when you ride your bikes. It almost certainly saved her life.

2. Good vibes, prayers, whatever positive energy you have to send to the universe, please send it to my friend. She has a newborn daughter and a long road of recovery and must be so scared. I know I am.

If you guys know Laura, Kyle is posting updates here

Read Full Post »