Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tales from the gym

It was a dark and stormy Monday morning...

Normally I'll run in the rain as long as it's not thundering and lightning but it looked really miserable out so I decided to cash in one of my "Get out of Running Outside Free" cards and hit the gym for a spin on the treadmill.

I had planned to do a 4x800m speed workout, and I figured that would be easy enough to transfer over to the treadmill.  Just run 4x:3:30 at a pace that makes me feel like I'm almostbutnotquite going to hurl.  I warmed up for a couple miles and cranked up the pace.

Repeat 1: I'm out of shape!.
Repeat 2: Not soooo bad.  I slowed the pace a tiny bit so I wouldn't actually hurl on the treadmill and get banned from the gym for life.
Repeat 3: Okay, I can do this...

ERRRRRRRRRRRRP. (That's the sound of a record stopping).

1:30 into my third interval, the treadmill came to a halt, the gym went pitch black, and the fire alarm started sounding.  Remember that it was pouring outside?  This was either a malicious fire drill or... the building might actually be on fire.

I grabbed my water bottle and watch and hurried outside where the gym patrons huddled by the front of the building, trying not to get too cold and wet and trusting that we would *probably* be able to tell if the building was actually on fire so we could run away.  There was no fire truck outside, which is usually present when they do fire drill,s and one didn't arrive while we were waiting which would happen- presumably- if there was an actual fire.

We stood around for about 15 minutes before an employee came out to say that the power had gone out to a bunch of buildings in the area and that we could go in and get our stuff but do nothing else.  No shower.  No nothing.  So I ran in and grabbed my bag, and headed for the bus stop to go home, shower, and try to make it to work at a reasonable time.

I waited FOREVER for the bus and breathed a sigh of relief (but not too deep because the bus smelled like smoke) when I got on and headed home.  Until we came to one of the large parking lots and the bus stopped for the driver to take a smoke break.  I decided that I wasn't *that* far from home and would at least get a little more exercise by walking the rest of the way.  The wind was still blowing hard but it had downgraded from pouring to raining and I was already soaked at this point so I remained in drowned rat status for another 1.5 miles to get home.  So much for staying out of the weather!

Then a brief but wonderful hot shower.

Back on the bus.  Back out in the rain to my building.  Only 30 minutes late to work.  Fortunately(?) my boss also lost power at his house and couldn't get his car out of the garage so he was later than me.

Whew.  Way too much excitement for a Monday morning!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Randomness

  • I was so industrious I put myself out of work yesterday.  The apartment is clean, errands were run, lunch for the week was cooked, and some football was even watched.  Looking forward to a chill day today.  Maybe even another football game.
  • I roasted nearly every vegetable that came in our CSA box last week just so I could leave the oven on for an hour to warm up our apartment.  It was 50 degrees in there when I got home from grocery shopping in the morning.  Too cold!
  • We'll join the rest of the world with temperatures in the 80s (inside at least) when the heats comes on next week.
  • I ran another decent 12 miler yesterday in 1:51.  I think 12 miles is my favorite long run distance.  Just enough to feel like you accomplished something but not so much that you feel like you are running forever and are exhausted the rest of the day.
  • Because my long runs have gone relatively well, I'm planning to do the Haunted Hustle 1/2 at the end of October.  It seems like a more fun course than the 10k.  Any ideas for a good costume that would be cheap and easy to run in?
  • Go Gators! with an easy win over Kentucky yesterday.  I didn't watch the game because our internet TV was on the fritz.  Next week = Alabama.  Eeek.
  • The latest issue of The Atlantic has an interesting article about college sports, NCAA and whether athletes should be paid
  • I need to go and refrigerate our crockpot yogurt from last night and get ready for church.
  • No workout today.  I thought about riding my bike to church, but since the forecast calls for scattered showers this morning, I'm going to be lazy and drive.
  • Hope you have a good Sunday.
  • I was serious about those Halloween Costume ideas!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Welcome to the World

Two of the women in my church small group were due to have baby girls at the end of October, so just to be on the safe side, we planned to have a surprise baby shower last Monday night.  The two other non-soon-to-be-Moms are Pintrest queens, so we had a ton of cute decorations.

Evidently these were actually really had to make.
Ever try to wrestle a balloon?

I actually helped make the diaper cakes- under their direction, of course.  Each cake had 150ish diapers, which is about a week's worth, we hear.

However, the surprise was truly on us because in addition to the two moms, we had a very special (much more sleepy) guest of honor, the newest member of our group, little Ella.  Ella joined us on the outside on September 9, one day before her mom's big (cancelled) baby shower.

She is completely healthy but was a couple weeks early so she's super tiny and pretty skinny- not like the fat babies of my imagination.  I just couldn't get over how fragile she was.  I was afraid to hold her!

These two are next!

I actually liked having the baby at the baby shower.  I almost wish we'd waited and done a second when the second baby is born!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Olbrich Gardens

As I flipped back through the pictures I just uploaded to our new computer, I realized I never posted anything about our Labor Day trip to Olbrich Gardens.

Olbrich is on the East Side of Madison and has a large free outdoor and inexpensive ($1) tropical indoor area to tour.  We'll have to plan another trip for June when flower are really blooming, but there was still plenty to see at the end of the summer.

First we saw roses with this crazy pomegranate-looking fruit.  Turns out that's what a rose hip is.  I had no idea!

Giant hibiscus.  I didn't know these even grew in Wisconsin.

I have no idea what this thing is.  It looks like a giant spice drop from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

In the tropical garden there were cute little quail running around:

This one is "taking a bath" in some sand.

Koi and goldfish pond.

Pitcher plant.

If you're in town and have never been to Olbrich Gardens, I definitely recommend a trip on a pretty day.  It's kind of like the zoo.  Is it the biggest and best?  No, but it's a nice way to spend a few hours and the price is certainly right.

As a side note only relevant because I wrote this while snacking on an apple pear, what do you think about all the crazy hybrid fruits around?

There's pluots

  and plumcots

and apple pears

I admit, I'm a total sucker for this kind of thing.  I love any weirdo fruit that shows up at The Joe.  Have you tried any of these?  Or do you like your fruit to be just one kind at a time, thanks?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Faceless Killers

Faceless Killers is the first novel in the Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell, who is billed as Sweden's greatest living* mystery writer.  The truth is that, other than the fact that both Mankell and Larsson's books are set during the winter... and when is it not winter in Sweden?... there is not much similar about them.

Image from Amazon.  See?  Winter.

Faceless Killers is what I believe you would call a police procedural.  It follows Detective Kurt Wallander around as he tries to solve the murder of an elderly couple in rural Sweden and navigate his disastrous personal life.  The novel is not particularly scary or gory or really a mystery in the sense that you, the reader, are somehow going to guess what happens in the end.  As an aside, even though it's a cliche, I actually think I like "locked room" mysteries the best out of all the different crime/detective/mystery fiction I read.  It's fun to try to evaluate what each of the characters is saying and doing and try to figure out what the conclusion will be.

This was a very quick read, and I'd like to see how the stories/characters evolve from this one, which was written in 1991.  I'm planning to add a bunch more from this series to my library hold list; however, I have to work through my backlog of magazines before I get into any more novels.

Another aside: This issue of Psychology Today had an interesting article about X-linked inheritance, with a good explanation of how it works and how it might be related to inheritance of intelligence, if you like that kind of thing.

Read any good books lately?

*Since that guy who wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo died... isn't that convenient????.  Hmmmm... maybe we should ask Inspector Poirot to investigate.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall is here

Technically it doesn't start until Friday, but but all signs point to a change in seasons:

  • Runs have been completed with the aid of long sleeved shirts and mittens.  I knocked out 12 miles in 1:51 yesterday, which was a bit slower than last week, but still under my goal time of 9:20min/mile.
  • "Real" college football started
    • The Gators win vs Tennessee.  We watched most of the second half of this game and applaud new Coach Muschamp on his screamership ability. 
    • Oklahoma (sadly) wins vs FSU but only after 3/4 of each team were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.  
    • Clemson beat Auburn, which highlights the fun part of college football- that anything can happen at any time.
    • Miami beat Ohio State, which highlights the fact that Ohio State is not- and never has been- as good as people want to believe*.
  • Chili was cooked in the crock pot.
  • Yarn projects came out of hibernation.
    • Still working on turning this:

    • Into this:

Today is a rest day from working out, but I still have plenty on the agenda including:
  • Church
  • Making no-kneed pizza dough from Cooking for Geeks
  • Prepping finger foods (planned: veggies + hummus + sausage + cheese + crackers) and salted-caramel brownies for a baby shower tomorrow night.
  • Late afternoon yoga class
  • Maybe adding a some blue to those white snowflakes???
  • Getting ready for the week ahead
Hope you're having a relaxing Sunday!  What do you have on the agenda?  Any signs that it's fall where you are?

*I'm looking at you, Badgers, who think that playing Ohio State means you have a tough schedule.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hello, computer

We finally got a new computer (after two weeks, thanks for the hustle, DoIt).  Poor old Lappy can go back into retirement.  We brought him out for this One Last Mission, but he's an old man now and is happier just playing NPR programs at dinner time and the occasional Saturday football game or episode of 30 Rock.

We had originally thought that we'd buy a new Mac laptop, but we ended up going with the polar opposite - a iMac-like Dell desktop.


We never travel with a computer, so we really didn't need a laptop, and since we don't download random attachments or do any other other stupid things that cause people to have problems with Windows, we didn't want to pay the extra $$$$$ just for the Mac brand.

The huge monitor is kind of cool.  I think we are going to take it out to the living room to watch football tomorrow.  It's almost as big as our TV and has better picture quality.

I'm undecided about the weather.  I know everyone else is in Inferno Land, but I'm not so crazy about the "Almost breaking the record for earlierst frost" thing we've got going on here.  It was hard to get out the door to run yesterday, but the weather actually felt great once I got warmed up.  I just had to remind myself that in 6 months "feels like 33" will in fact feel like a tropical paradise.  Right now it's 42, which will make for a chilly bike ride to the gym.

Finally, a little Friday link love for Fooducate, a cool blog about all things you really didn't want to know about what you eat that I found through Hey Joob.

  • First, and possibly most horrifying, the answer to the question: What is in this picture?

Happy Friday, all.  Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#$%#$, it's hard to get up on Monday

Which is why my weekend recap is getting posted on Tuesday morning. 

Friday! Friday! Friday! was my friend Kerri's 27th birthday.  We hit up the Nitty Gritty, which bills itself as Madison's birthday place, for dinner.  

The birthday boy/girl gets free beer all day on his/her birthday (free juice or soda for those underage or who want to start the party at 8am).  Daniel and I got there early and sat at the bar and watched a lot of excited tween girls with birthday balloons and shirley temples go by.  Gritty burgers were ordered all around (spoiler alert: the secret sauce is Thousand Island dressing), and the birthday girl got a mini ice cream sundae.

After dinner we went across town to the Capital Brewery in Middleton to see a coworker's band play.  They had a pretty good jam going for a bunch of grandpas (literally).   

It was a nice night and a nice venue for seeing music.  You can walk in and out freely and people can bring kids.  There wasn't much parking, but that's typical for Madison.

Saturday I drug myself out of bed early for a long run.  12 miles in 1:49:35.  Not too bad overall since my first and last miles were abysmally slow.  I looked back at my workout log, and I was only a couple minutes off what I was doing on my long runs back in March and April when I was "in shape", and back then I was doing 20min hard 10min easy intervals.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out in an actual race in October.

After running, I went to the Red Cross and gave blood.  I'm O+, so the blood people call me to come in 8 weeks and 5 seconds after the last time I donate.  I actually tried to give blood a couple days after my birthday, but my iron was just a tiny bit too low.  This time I decided to stack the deck and took my vitamin an hour before my donation appointment, and my iron was at the top of the scale.  It's funny because for all the modern technology at blood banks, I can't help but think I've stepped back into the 19th century whenever I do my donation.  Sunday was my day off from working out and this week is a cutback week for running so I have plenty of time to recover my little red cells before I have another tough workout.

Saturday afternoon I was supposed to go to a baby shower, but plans changed when the baby was born on Friday!  Doctors thought the baby was 5 weeks early but the parents thought it was more like 2-3.  The baby was fully developed and went home yesterday so yay for that. 

I was actually kind of glad that I had a break Saturday because Sunday was a whirlwind of church and trying to stay out of the way of the Ironman and making a diaper cake for another baby shower and going to our singing group and getting ready for this week.  I really could have used another Labor Day yesterday.

Whew.  That's a lot of rambling.  The only other news is that we are *crosses fingers* getting our new computer tomorrow!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday link love

Innovations in Fair Foods - Taking fried to a whole new level.

An excerpt:
Deep fried pickles (which I would totally eat):

 Deep friend butter (which I don't get... butter doesn't really taste like anything by itself):

And the creativity award goes to...deep fried bubble gum (which the article says is actually a bubble gum flavored marshmallow).  This one wins the best in show for the careful attention to presentation.  Whatever that blue stuff is makes me want to run out and grab 10 of these.

Any foods you think could only be improved by deep frying them and/or putting them on the end of a stick?

 Hat tip:Katie at Cookies and Crafts

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

After every 5 books about murder and mayhem, I have to re-balance my psyche with something light and uplifting.  This time, I picked Switch by The Heath Brothers.

Switch is mostly a self-help book with a little pop psychology thrown in.  The authors compare making a change- whether personal or in an institution or relationship- to riding an elephant in the jungle.  To make a change, you have to address the rider (the thinking part of the brain), the elephant (the emotional part of the brain) and the path (the environment). 

Rather than having a typical self-help (ie, You personally need to change NOW!) feel, the authors instead share interesting stories about how individuals accomplished goals of changing (mostly other people's) behavior.  My favorite anecdote was in the section about changing "the path".  A high school teacher had two students who disrupted the class by coming in late every day.  He knew he couldn't appeal to the thinking part of their brains (they already knew they were coming in late) or the emotional part of their brains (they didn't care they were coming in late).  Instead he bought an old couch and put it front and center in the classroom.  The couch quickly became the cool place to sit and the two students started to come early so they could get a spot on the couch, right in front of the teacher, where he could also keep a better eye on their behavior. 

The authors actually put a lot of emphasis on changing the environment when you want to change behavior (yours or others).  One quote (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't feel like looking it up right now) they use over and over again is, "What often looks like a people problem is really an environment problem."

Most of the book had to do with changing other people's behavior, but there was one exercise in "the rider" section that I thought was interesting and could apply to changing personal behavior as well.  It's called The Miracle exercise.  In it, you imagine you go to sleep at night and a miracle occurs that solves your problem.  When you wake up in the morning, how do you know it's solved?  You can take that list of things and turn them into specific behaviors to change.  Taking an example from the book, if you have a problem fighting with your spouse, you might imagine that if a miracle occurred overnight, when you woke up, you'd be kinder, more helpful, more affectionate, etc.  And those are exactly the things you should do if you want to have a better relationship with your spouse.  The science of the blindingly obvious?  Maybe.  But I actually thought it was an interesting exercise.

I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes this sort of thing.  It's a quick read and has good anecdotes.  It's (obviously) not going to solve all your problems, but it did have a hefty chunk of interesting things to think about. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We Call Illinois "Baja Wisconsin"

And 5 other things I've learned from living in the Midwest*.

1. There are football games played on Sunday and Monday.

I takes all day Saturday to apply my makeup.

 2. To survive the winter, fish have adapted to have a protective breadcrumb coating.

3. Any seasoning, other than salt, is viewed with suspicion.  It impossible to enter an ethnic restaurant without hearing some terrified soul ask the waiter, "It's not spicy... is it???"  Even dishes that are advertised as being spicy are not.  As an illustration, we went to The Continental Fitchburg on Friday night.  CF is a restaurant week staple, so when they had a Groupon, I decided we should check it out.  Maybe the problem is that I don't really like Italian.  Maybe the problems is that I should have asked for and emptied a container of dried red pepper on my dish.  It was boring and bland, but people love that and therefore it is one of the top rated Italian places in Madison.

4. The definition of summer is any time the daytime high is more than 65 degrees - Southerners put on their heavy coats; Midwesterners put on their swimsuits.

How to get a suntan in Wisconsin.
 5. Cheese is a side dish all on its own.

Love this scientific display of cheese curds from Wikipedia.
Not tater tots, not hush puppies, not okra, not chicken nuggets.  Fried. cheese.

* I blatantly stole this idea from Shelby, who is hilarious.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Anti-Labor Day

I got up, ran, and am back in my pajamas at 8:19am.  This is going to be a good day off :).

Soooo... big announcement.  I'm going to start training for a couple races this fall.  After taking some time off hard training because of life (read: conflicts with every race I wanted to do) and then because it was hot and I'm a wimp and de-conditioned to temperatures hotter than 80 degrees, I've decided I want to do a couple 10ks this fall.  Here's the plan, Stan:

  • Literacy Network 10k - I did this 5k two years ago, and if it's the same course as before, it's nice and flat through campus and along the Lakeshore path with no detour over Observatory Hill.  Plus it's a small race.  Based on the results from last year, I could probably place in the top 10 women.  Olympics, here I come. 
  • Haunted Hustle 10k (or 1/2 marathon????) - I have it on good authority that this race is quite fun even though it involves running a bunch of loops around Middleton.  I'd like to do the 1/2 marathon- even though I know I won't be superfast- because it looks more interesting than the 10k route, but it will depend on how the LN 10k and my training goes.
  • The Berbee Derbyb 10k - I love this race.  It will be my 4th one.
I actually started training last week using a plan from the Runner's World Smart Coach, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't embarrassingly out of shape before I committed to anything publicly.  Check out my side bar to see how things are going, and if you're a Madison runner, I hope to see you at a fall race.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday link love

More of the entertaining than educational variety.  I blatantly stole this from I am Boring, but I figured that there was enough gap in our readership (mainly that my mom and Daniel's mom don't read his blog and no one else reads mine) that I could get away with re-posting it here.

25 Foods You'll Never Eat Again (in the US)

Goodbye, Ecto Cooler.  Second grade will never be the same without you.

And these Orbitz drinks... if they tasted bad, I didn't notice.  I was distracted by how awesome they were.

What is your favorite dearly departed food?  Doesn't have to be on that list. 

On a different topic, are you ready for some FOOTBALL!  If not, then you need this:

A stained glass Packers helmet lamp.  (Also sold for other teams, but who needs 'em?).  For the high class football fan in your life...