Thirty Thursdays: Red Rocks Concert (and Eric Church)!

When Chap and I went to Colorado for the first time (my first time ever) in 2015, I was completely mesmerized by the landscape.  We hiked Rocky Mountain National Park, White water rafted, ran a half marathon and climbed all over the Red Rocks.  As we were driving back to Tulsa, in between my sobs, I decided I wanted to see a concert at the Red Rocks.  And what a great thing to have on a bucket list.

Eric Church comes into this because he’s long been on my list of concerts to see.  I was supposed to see him in graduate school, had my tickets and everything but it was right as I was gearing up to move and I just couldn’t swing it.

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Light packers?!

When I saw that he was playing at the Red Rocks, it was such an easy decision to jump into.  And lucky for me, Chap is fairly easy to convince to go to Colorado – even for country concerts.  This time around we’d planned to camp (also on my bucket list), hike and end the trip with the concert.  I’ll have to write about the camping and hiking later, maybe next week.  But after a few days of some crazy weather and being one with nature, we crashed at our favorite Air Bnb, the same mountain castle we stayed in last time.  Unfortunately it’s a little out of our price range now so it’s our last time there.

We were so tired.  We’d been driving for a while, after spending the past two days hiking our way to Crater Lake and spending the night in a tent somewhere along that trail.  My sleep was pretty fitful that night because of discomfort, cold and a tiny fear of bears.  So, as soon as we got to our castle, we showered and passed out hard.  I woke up a little bit before Chap, to read about the parking and drinking protocols for the Red Rocks Amphitheater.  And I about leapt off the bed with excitement when I saw that my fave little songwriter Maren Morris was opening for Mr. Church.  I’m not ashamed to say I was legitimately more excited to see her than Eric (sorry, man).

The wait to get into the venue wasn’t too bad.  It rained on us a little but we had drinks and the company of the Church Choir (what Eric calls his fans) and it’s good company y’all.  Funny, good country company.  Seating was pretty open so we picked a seat in the middle and waited for Maren.  The views while we waited were amazing.  Storms performed an intense show as a back ground to the stage and the night air was perfect.

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I loved both shows, the venue and my company!  It ranks high up there with my favorite concerts.  Eric is amazing, and I’ve seen him again in Tulsa since – if you like his music, I highly recommend seeing him live.  Maren is a little powerhouse vocalist and I love that she writes her own music.  I will always try to see her live if she’s close (or hell, I’ll go back to the Red Rocks to see her!)  Her lyrics just speak to my little soul.

This is a little side note for those of you still with us.  Maren and her band were on our flight back to Tulsa the next morning.  I realized it too late and didn’t get to sit in the empty seat next to her, but Chap did!  And he didn’t even get an autographed napkin for me or anything.  I didn’t talk to her while we waited for our bags because I never know what to do with famous people.  This is not the first time I’ve been with some low-key (not high-key like Tom Hanks you know?) celebrity and not known what to do.  What would you have said?

Have you been to the Red Rocks?  Who did you see?

Thirty Thursdays: Hang the Porch Swing

This summer holds many exciting milestones for me.  Less than a month after we tackle the marathon, I’ll tackle my 30th birthday.  Even with just over a month to go, I’m not really freaking out about it.  For the very reason that I know there’s no real reason to.  At the same time, I can understand some of my friends who are having a little bit of a hard time with it.  Yes, I know we’re still young (younger than we think), but I just want to know if anyone ever really gets the hang of this adult thing.

For example, in my thirties, will I be able to finish projects in a reasonable amount of time?  And not have to create massive bucket lists just to get them done?  Case in point, this porch swing.  This porch swing was one of the most important criteria on my housing search check list.  Or at least a porch on which I could hang my own.

I bought my house in August 2014.  My wonderfully thoughtful parents, knowing one, the glory of porch swings and two, how much I wanted one, gifted me one as a housewarming present!  And despite my excitement and anxiousness to have this accessory on my front porch, I waited over two years to cash in on their gift (luckily it didn’t have an expiration date).

And then, once I did cash in and find the perfectly white swing for my house, it sat in a box in my living room for months.  It literally took putting it on a list with a deadline so that I could check it off one night when I didn’t have as much to do to get me to assemble and hang it.  And of course the nudging and guidance of Chap.

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It was his idea to make a whole night of it.  We had take out, drank wine and built the swing.  It was pretty easy to assemble; cake compared to IKEA type furniture.  I think there were four or five pieces of the main swing to piece together, a little hardware to make them stick, and then the chains for it to hang on.  We bought some extra bolsters at Chap’s recommendation a few days later when we were ready to hang it up.

I wanted to be as hands on in the process of hanging the swing as I could, with the careful eye and guidance of someone who could make sure I was attaching it so it wouldn’t fall once anyone sat down.  So, with step by step verbal instruction from Chap, I managed to use a borrowed drill from my neighbor to get the braces hung in the roof.  Hanging the rest was super simple and soon I was swinging to my heart’s content.

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I spent many happy moments reading, drinking coffee/wine/tea and chatting with friends on that swing last fall.  And I am looking forward to many more times on that porch.

The swing is from wayfair.com.

Thirty Thursdays: Break My Half Marathon PR

Hi friends!  The big 3-0 gets closer every day and I’m still working on checking things off my fun 30 before 30 list.   Today’s story came completely unexpectedly.  One of my fitness goals for this year (and really, if any runner is being honest, a goal since the last time I set a PR) was to set a new PR in my half marathon distance.  My previous best time is 1:47:36, set on the St. Jude course in Memphis, TN one December morning over 5 years ago.  I was young, I was coaching running and I had a pace mate Russ who leisurely jogged along beside me taking all the shots of beer offered while keeping me company and dragging me through the last two miles.

This racing season has been so rewarding to me.  I trained specifically for the 5k distance and finally nailed some PRs down in the St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Fling races.  I did not at all feel trained or ready for the half marathon distance.  Rather, I chose this race because it was local, free to me because of Oklahoma Sports and Fitness membership and it was a good time to start building mileage up before the July marathon.  I was absolutely not expecting to PR or even try for one.  Right up to the start line.

IMG_7375On race day I was all on my own.  It’s not often that I race alone but I don’t mind it either.  I run this sport for me and while it’s so wonderful to have company and share the miles, going alone will never stop me from doing a race.  I worked late the night before again, and was up way earlier than I normally would have been to take Chap to the airport.  This completely threw off my rest, my eating schedule and my coffee plans.  But, I wasn’t worried about it because I just wanted to enjoy the race.

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I waited until the last minute to trot on over to the start line.  I was so glad I did because it was freezing in the high 40s in just my shorts and a tank top.  I’m pretty sure my teeth chattered the first two miles.   I got my app all set to track (Strava), Maren’s Deluxe album pulled up on Spotify (country music to keep me from going too fast), and stuck my phone in my beloved side pocket.  Got the GPS started on my watch, waved to some friends and waited for the gun.  We were off and I still had no plan.  Since it was a smaller race, I was near the front.  I felt myself getting swept up into the lead runners and made a mental note to slow down.  It was a beautiful day, I was loving my side-pocketed-shorts and the basking in the anticipation of a new flat course.

Eventually my app talked to me and said, previous mile in 7:45.  WHAT?  Way faster than I felt like I was going, and way too fast to maintain for 12 more miles.  The next mile ticked by in the neighborhoods of Jenks: 7:32.  DAMN!  Still way faster than I thought I should be going.  But, it wasn’t hard.  I was in a good rhythm and hanging stride for stride with a fellow OKSandF teammate so I thought I’ll just keep this pace as long as I can.

I expected to hold it maybe to halfway, or just a little past.  I remember texting M saying “I’m running 7:30s!”.  And texting my dad, “racing a half this morning, just did 5 in 37:45”.  I like these longer races because they allow more time to really hang around a group of runners.  I had several women that hung around me (or me around them) for many of the middle miles.  Miles 3-6 I hung behind a duo that were super chatty.  I didn’t listen to them but stayed one stride behind.  Then I passed and was passed, passed and was passed another gal for a few more miles.  Every time I shifted positions with any of these people, there was also a positive energy transfer.

Finally we made it to the turn around on the riverside trail, just a little over halfway.  I was ready to slow down but was also in my favorite part of the race – the heavy-traffic part of an out and back.  I cheered for everyone that I could as they passed.  Sometimes I ran out of breath but it’s fun scanning the lines of runners for friends and Insta running buddies.  I really started to slow down a mile or so into this turn around and my friends I drafted on for a while passed me again.  One gal said, “come on you can hang with us” and I just waved them on.

The last three miles were a struggle.  Between doing the math in my head of the average minute per mile I needed to run to break 1:40, then to PR, then to stay below 1:43 and trying to actually stay moving, my brain and body were hurting.  I noticed the fatigue in my arms (yes, still), and a blister forming under the ball and big toe of my right foot.  My right knee was getting stiff and tight and my lungs and ribs were tired of breathing.  But the road was flat and the weather perfect so I tried to keep moving.  I thought about my Fit Camp girls, my running girls, Teresa and Steve and my family.  Thought about mimosas later in the day and a nice nap.

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Sprinting and crawling to the finish

I am not ashamed to say that I walked a good part of the last three miles.  I tried to take 100 deep yoga breaths running to every 6 deep yoga breaths walking.  Not sure how the numbers fell that way but they did.  I was walking along when a gal I’d been behind for a while earlier came up behind me.  “We’re so close, let’s go”  This got me running again, but I couldn’t stay with her even though she was so encouraging.  We were able to quickly talk about our sub 1:45 goals and she powered in to a strong finish.  I did not have such a strong finish but I got there!  I ran it in too but man did it feel like I was running fast and not going anywhere!  But I made it.  I killed my PR and beat 1:45.  I was so, so surprised (even though that math back towards mile 10 pretty much secured a PR in my head).  My official time was 1:43:38.  I was so surprised because even though I’d been training fast for the 5k distance, I had only done one long run since the last half in October.  That partially explains why I bonked out at mile 10, but it doesn’t explain to me how I was so strong for 10 miles.  I’m pumped though!

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PR for me!

I would have loved to hang around and search down my new friends from the race but instead had to jet off to teach.  I could not have asked for a better day to run and ease into the routine of weekend long runs.  I’d highly recommend this race to local Tulsans!

Next up on the race calendar: Boston 5k on April 15 (have decided to run for fun, not race), Garmin Half Marathon on April 22 (not trying to PR, but guess I know how that can go now!) and that’s it for April.  Next main focus is the big mileage increase for July, and then will target another September PR.

 

 

Thirty Thursdays: Book List

Here we are again for another 30 before 30 bucket list item.  If this list is proof of anything, it’s proof that I do really well with action items.  I’m certain I won’t get every item checked off this list by August, but I’m also positive that I’ve done more things because of this list than otherwise.  So I made a list within a list.

I wanted to get into the habit of reading for pleasure again.  I completely lost this in graduate school (except when I’d escape to Mexico for Christmas and binge read shelves of books) and never took the time to build the habit back up.

I perused Pinterest and the internet for lists of books people should read before they turn 30, lists of books all women should read, lists of books for young entrepreneurs etc.  And this is the list I came up with:

  1. Anna Karenina
  2. Start with Why
  3. The Beautiful and the Damned
  4. Contents May Have Shifted  X
  5. The Edible Woman
  6. Play it as it Lays
  7. The House of the Spirits
  8. The Awakening
  9. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
  10. Bluets
  11. A Room of One’s Own
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird
  13. Villette
  14. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  15. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
  16. Sharp Objects
  17. The Bluest Eye
  18. Why Not Me
  19. Save Me the Waltz
  20. Bastard Out of Carolina
  21. Love Medicine
  22. The Color Master
  23. I Feel Bad About My Neck
  24. The Age of Grief
  25. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
  26. Tiny Beautiful Things
  27. Friendship
  28. Bad Feminist
  29. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  30. We Should All Be Feminists
  31. Men Explain Things to Me
  32. The Dream of A Common Language X
  33. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
  34. The Sun Also Rises
  35. Infinite Jest
  36. Unbearable Lightness of Being
  37. Leaves of Grass
  38. How Should a Person Be
  39. Portrait of a Lady
  40. A People’s History of the United States
  41. The Power of Habit
  42. Total Money Makeover
  43. The $100 Startup
  44. The Traveler’s Gift
  45. Essentialism
  46. Blue Like Jazz
  47. How to Win Friends
  48. Energy Bus
  49. Think and Grow Rich
  50. Bible
  51. All the Single Ladies
  52. Seabiscuit
  53. small great things
  54. The Nest
  55. Hidden Figures
  56. Eleanor and Park

Originally this list was meant to be 30 books long.  But the lists I kept finding for recommendations forced me to continue adding to this one.  I tried to compile a decent mixture of fiction and non-fiction, modern and classical writings, books I’ve read already and completely new ones, and a broad spectrum of topics.  I’ve crossed out the books I’ve completed on this list since making it, and put an X next to ones I’ve tried but couldn’t stay into.

Have you read any of these?  What else would you add to the list for someone to read before they turn 30?

Thirty Thursdays: Snow Ski

Here we go for your first tale of the 30 Before 30 Checklist:

Until this past March, I’d never been snow skiing.  Never with my family.  Never with the high school youth groups.  I blame some of it on our geographical location smack in the midwest (although airplanes these days will take you just about anywhere).  More of it on how my dad’s very last trip snow skiing ended (on a medic sled with a torn ACL).  And most of it on our (rightful) preference for beach vacations or family reunions in the Georgia mountains.

I don’t blame my parents nor do I hold any grudges for the lack of this experience in my youth (certainly not like the swingset and Barbie Jeep grudges) because I’m not a huge fan of the snow myself.  I tolerated it growing up because I had to, and I sure loved a decent sledding hill but as soon as I could fly the coop in college, I headed south. And now have settled just a bit farther south.

Now that I’m in Oklahoma, I’ve never met so many people who travel to Colorado to ski in the winter or to escape the heat in the summer.  It’s a serious hobby here.  Even that wasn’t enough to get me interested.  But then, I started dating this guy around Christmas time.  He is one of those snow skiing hobbyists.  He went at least three times that first season we were together.  His love for the mountains isn’t just limited to the winter either.  Our very first big trip together was a drive from Tulsa to Colorado for one of those summer escapes everyone here seems to do.

That’s when the snow ski pressure started.  While we were hiking there was lots of imagining this place covered in snow, and tales of horrible traffic going out of Denver into the mountains on the weekends.  After a long weekend of hiking, rafting and running a race, I was smitten with the Rockies.

That initial infatuation with Colorado coupled with Chap’s incessant snow ski talk, led to a 2015 snow gear-themed Christmas.  I got ski pants and a ski coat which was just what I wanted that year to get ready for a spring trip.  New Year’s eve we spontaneously booked flights to Denver in March, and that was that.

First rule of ski travel, as I was told by Chap, was to take the earliest flight out.  We had to check bags (I hate it) to fit all of the bulky snow gear in.  And of course barely made it to our gate.  Then there was the trek with all our stuff to the rental car place and then the drive into the mountains.  It had been snowing (still was really) so the drive took us a couple of hours.  5 of us crammed into a Jeep Cherokee.

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We finally made it to Breckenridge.  The boys were so anxious to get on the slopes for the afternoon but Maaike and I hadn’t ever skied before.  First we stopped at the house to drop things off and for the skiers to get layered up.  Next, we had to go get our rental skis and boots (this hobby is not for the faint of heart, or the shallow pockets.  I saved for most of 2015 to afford these four days).  Finally, we dropped the guys off at the lift and then opted for pizza and some grocery shopping for the weekend while we let the guys play.  Our plan was to check into ski school the next day.

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Sending the fellas off!

Y’all just getting dressed for this activity is a workout in itself.  Base layer of skin tight warm clothes comes first.  Then a comfortable cotton shirt on top.  Then the puffy layer of ski coat and pants.  Gloves then mittens.  Face warmer and neck guard.  Helmet with goggles attached.  Skis and  boots.  These boots are an exercise machine in themselves.  Heavy and awkward to walk in.  Even requiring help snapping them shut.

Ski school was such a good decision and investment for me.  I think I certainly could have gotten the hang of it on my own, but I’m glad I opted for the full day of drills and practice.  First lesson was just maneuvering over to our instructor on a flat spot in our skis.  That’s still the hardest part to me (followed right up by walking around in the boots).  Then we got to practice keeping our skis apart on a downhill by railroad tracking down a snake hose.  After that skill was mastered, we moved on to the bunny slope.  This is not even a hill y’all.  But it was exhilarating for the first time and great practice just staying up on the skis.  We practiced that hill over and over, working more towards french fries (fast stance), and away from pizza (brake stance).

After a lunch break and catching up with the boys who’d already been on several longer runs, we went back to our instructor.  This time we graduated to a real ski lift and got to practice going down some real hills.  I feel like we both mastered enough of the technique pretty fast.  Maaike and I spent an hour or two together on those slopes and then decided it was time for a green run.  The guys helped us down by leading the way, turning at appropriate times and shouting encouragement.  Before long I was ready to head off with Chap for some longer runs.

I was confident but in no way a master.  I’d start down a hill and then feel completely out of control which led to one of three scenarios:

  1. Me staying on my feet but screaming the whole way down for people to get out of my way “I’m out of control!  Can’t stop!” (hey, at least I give fair warning.  and really, I’m surprised there aren’t more collisions out there)
  2. Me falling into the snow on purpose in what I dubbed a “controlled wipeout” in order to stop the next option from happening.  Sort of picture a gentle fall to either side, or just completely sitting down.
  3. A complete wipeout.  These are terrifying and should be avoided.  I had two big ones where skis came off (that is a workout too, getting those suckers back on and trying not to slide across the slopes) and it ended my run for the day.

The end of the day was always fun because the five of us would come together over drinks in the base camp bar and watch NCAA March Madness.  Showers, naps and snacks by the fire at our condo came next and then we’d head out somewhere into the darling town of Breckenridge for dinner.

The tale of the Single Blac

On the last day, Chap talked me into looking down a black slope.  It was on the way to one of the blue runs I liked so he said, “let’s just go look at it, and we can skip if you want to”.  We got there and peering over the edge was like looking off a cliff.  One of our other guys was there too, and he was just a little more experienced than me.  We decided to go for it, but even after that decision I just stood there staring at the run for at least five minutes.  Finally, I devised a strategy to take it as wide across the pass as I could, and then employ step number 2, before whipping my skis around to face the other direction.  Repeat.  I did this about five times before I felt far enough down the hill to not have too much momentum gather behind me if I lost control.  And then we were on a blue again, and soon enough I was done with my first ski trip!

It was so fun!  I completely buy into the hype, save year round for my ski lift fund and plan to go at least once a year for as long as I can!

Thirty Thursdays

In my weekly schedule, Thursdays are track days.  I have some time between my early classes and my lunch classes to get a good string of outdoor miles in.  I’m pretty amazed that today I actually managed to get any miles in.  I wanted to get a studio blog post written before I ran out the door.  So I sat in bed working on it typing up a story of how I got bribed into running over ten years ago.  Searching and placing photos at just the right increments with perfectly thought out captions.  Just as I was hitting save on this pretty creative and wonderful blog, I lost it.  A quick prayer that the little draft I saw in the queue of posts was answered with a “no”.  I let out an exasperated sigh, did some deep yoga breathing and then decided to quickly re-write it with the pertinent info I was trying to get across rather than try to rewrite the actual story I had told with it (I’ll have to tell it again another day).

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The one-glove, borrowed-watch, too-early-in-the-year-for-excuses look.

The determination within to run was still strong.  I drove to the studio so I could just finish up there before teaching my lunchtime class, bag packed with changes of clothes and all my cold weather gear (in the mid-20s!).  Except one glove.  And my watch.  So I borrowed Michelle’s and tucked one hand into my coat sleeve.  At this point I had run out of time to get my assigned miles in but I figured some miles are better than no miles.  My assignment was 1 mile easy, 2 miles hard, 1 mile easy, 2 miles hard and 1 cool down mile.  I figured I had time for 1 easy, 2 hard, 1 cooldown.

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Guess where the hill is.

The watch didn’t find the satellite until probably a half mile in so I probably really warmed up for a mile and a half.  I made a goal for myself to hit the two fast miles in under 8 minutes each.  I was on pace until I hit the pedestrian bridge across the river and lost the satellites.  By now I was wondering at what point I would hit hospital hill.  Would I have to be running fast up it, or would I be on my cooldown?  Luckily, especially since I was headed into a pretty strong wind, I was on my rest.  So, I don’t know what my actual distance or time was but I do have some mile splits.  Even though one was a little skewed by the pedestrian bridge.  I still got out there, and even in the 20s, it wasn’t horrible!

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Really loving having a journal just for training for the first time ever.

Thursdays are also going to be Thirty Thursdays here on the blog.  2017 is the year of 30 for me and a while back I mentioned the 30 before 30 list I put together.  As I was making it, I wanted to include some adventures, acquire some new skills, of course travel and stay dedicated to my fitness goals.  I think the list covers a nice spectrum of mind, body, spirit, career, home and adventure.  Of course, with 30 items there’s a lot of room to cover those things.  I’ve checked a few things off since posting that list and each week I’ll pick one topic to share here.  This week all you get is the announcement of that new schedule because of the day it’s been.  And hey, I’m just glad I got that run in and got a post up two days in a row!