Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quick Review of the 2013 Millstadt Biathlon

So back in 2011, I did the Millstadt Biathlon (in Millstadt, Illinois, about 30 minutes from downtown St Louis) in pouring down rain but ended up meeting Melissa, who has become a much appreciated triathlon buddy and friend.  Boy, could I have used her today as I returned to this course!

Race Details:  This event starts with a 5 mile run and then goes on to an approximate 22 mile "rolling hills" course (lesson learned -- pay attention to any race course that includes "rolling hills"!  These folks are saying something!)  The race starts at 8 AM and has a pretty informal transition area (in the sense that there don't seem to be any "rules" -- your loved ones can stand right next to you and your racked bike).  If you can't tell from the picture below, I was the first person there (I figured I need to get better at being earlier like my triathlon friend Bill -- and it was nice to set up, stretch, hit the restrooms, figure out the course, and finish my coffee -- before heading over to the start line!)

Weather:  This part was perfect (low 70's I think with a clear blue sky!) -- it couldn't have been any better (in the same way that the 2011 event couldn't have had even worse weather!).  I didn't feel the wind until the bike course started -- and then it would just smack you in the face as you were trying to speed through open fields.  Not fun.  But -- no complaints!  Again, at least it wasn't raining!

Run Course:  Today this was my favorite part -- I am not in the best of shape right now but I actually beat my 52:19 time from 2011 by 19 seconds!  I came in at 52:00 minutes exactly and I am pretty sure that the last two miles were fast for me.  I got my mojo and just pushed on the gas pedal (and many thanks need to go to Billy Joel's "Pressure" for getting me up that last major hill!).

Bike Course:  Or as another way of putting it would go, "the hour and half when I thought I was gonna die!"  I knew doing this before that this was a tough course but I think last time I was so focused on making sure I didn't fall (the roads were slick from the rain) that I don't remember the bike course being that long.  Or hilly.  It felt super long today.  To boot, I didn't prep well in terms of nutrition and somehow I managed to bring only one water bottle (which was dry about 1/2 through the course).  I bonked and it was a pretty major bonk.  I really wasn't sure if I would be able to finish (especially since I was having some problems with low pressure in my back wheel).  But about five miles out, I just pushed harder and probably made up for some of the lost time from before.  I must have been going fairly fast because I passed about 10 bikes on the way in and I think each one just made me go a little faster!

Race Organization:  Perfect!  There were volunteers everywhere and police officers on all the major intersections.  Absolutely no complaints for the folks behind this race -- they did a fabulous job!  (but maybe they could have cut out some of those hills on the course?!)  You get a bright neon long sleeved shirt for this race but I was more excited about the recyclable grocery bag!

Will I do this one again?  You betcha!  My 2011 overall time was 2:16:17 (52 minutes on run and 1 hour 23 minutes on the bike).  This year my official time was 2:27:41 (a 52 minute run and an hour and 25 minutes on the bike).  Next year?  a 50 minute run and one hour and fifteen minutes on the bike!)  But I will do more hills.  Lots of them!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Blues

Ugh.  I am in the midst of -- for lack of a better word -- a yucky Monday.  Nothing in particular -- just a bunch of small issues gone a muck and frustration with several people.  Mondays are super long for me -- I have class at 9 AM, 10 AM, 11 AM, and 1 PM and then a long night class from 7-9:50 PM.  I like to use my Monday afternoons to catch up on work but almost everything has taken double the amount of time so I am not nearly finished with my "To Do" list and in just a few moments I have to pull up enough energy to teach a long night class. (and yet another day of almost unrelenting hot flashes)
I think I am still just so disappointed to feel so far from being done with my dissertation that it is "coloring" my mood in general.  It is so hard to teach a full plus load (and to do it as well as I can) while also trying to finish the darn thing and have some sort of normal life as a person (and let's not even talk about all the responsibilities of being a wife and a partner).  I hate this sensation of feeling like I am so far behind in everything that I am doing (and maybe taking on an extra night class wasn't the best idea).

Enough whining.  I need to just pull myself up -- drink another pot of coffee -- and just do what needs to get done.  My weekend is already super busy so looking forward to relaxing is just not going to happen.  Maybe this cartoon below captures what is really going on -- I just can't stop thinking about all the crap that I need to think about!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gwynnie Bee Update AND Umba Box Review -- September 2013

I have had a few people ask me how my Gwynnie Bee clothing subscription is going (click here if you have no idea what I am talking about), and the answer to that question is -- fabulous!  I am almost a month in and have worn approximately 10 different items (wearing each about 2 times) and then returning for the next item in my virtual closet (I am on the 3 clothing pieces out at a time deal).  I love being able to mix and match with items I already have and trying styles that I wouldn't try if left to my own devices (like this floral blouse that only lasted one try -- too many flowers even for me!).

Another cool think about this web site is that you can buy the clothing (supposedly at a reduced rate) if you decide that you want to keep an item.  Well, I did decide to keep one Asos dress so far (the one below), something I really liked when I put it on and I thought it was just too pretty to send back.
This is totally out of my comfort zone but I loved the feeling of embracing my curves.  Anyway, I saw on the Asos web site that the dress was about $50 (I did my research before asking the price just so I would know if the quoted price was "fair").  When I asked Gwynnie Bee how much it was, I was quoted $22 so I went ahead and purchased it.  Sure, it might have been worn a few times but it was in great shape! (still looked new to me!).  My only frustration has been that so far the folks at Gwynnie Bee haven't taken this piece of clothing out of my virtual closet so I can get another item sent to me (I have emailed them about it and it is supposed to be taken care of soon).

Yesterday's mail came with another subscription idea that I heard about recently -- Umba Box.  So how does this work?  You pay $30 a month and you get a surprise box with 2-3 items from independent artists/ businesses.  As someone who supports small companies, I thought this was a great idea!  (and I got my first box at 1/2 off because of a code I found when I read the original article about this concept).  So here is the small box that came yesterday (super cute packaging, by the way!) with the two items that were selected for this month's box.  Sitting on top of the box are the artist cards which explain the folks behind the two items.

Here are the two items.  The item on the left is a set of four coasters from a small company called "Fox and Anchor Paper."  I found their stuff on their Etsy site (click here).  The coasters I received are selling for $8.  According to the artist card, the two women behind this company run their paper through a press one at a time and then color the sheets individually.  I am not sure that I am in need of any coasters but I figure that these might make a cute gift for someone (they have an adorable little bow tie pattern).
Here is a close up of the other item I received -- an amazing ceramic necklace that I love, love, love!  The artist/ company behind this is the "Natasha K Collection" and she too has an Etsy shop: click here.  This exact item retails on her web site for $30 and is made of ceramic.  It is in a half moon shape and it is super cute!

So the retail total was $38 for about the $15 I paid for this first box.  Even if I had paid the usual $30 I think I would still be happy.  This is an amazing way for these artists to get their work out and I now have at least one more Etsy page to check on a regular basis (the ceramic jewelry is so pretty!).