Living and loving life in vermont

Welcome to Friday Free-For-All, where I talk about everything and anything on my mind.  Sometimes it even makes sense!

Thank you for all the support and advice after last Friday’s post.  While it’s not ideal to be moving in with one’s in-laws at the age of 28, we’re lucky we have family to take us in when we’re going through a transition, and I know without a doubt that it’s the best decision for us right now.  I’ll just have to keep that in mind as I’m commuting 25 miles through the snow this winter…

I have amazing Accountabilibuddies.  After much crap-giving about how I’ve a) never seen Frozen, and b) never done a runDisney race, they took matters into their own hands and sent me an Amazon gift card so I could buy Frozen on DVD.  Obviously I’m still on my own with race registration.  #poorgirlproblems  And now I need to think of a fun, awesome way to pay it forward :-D  Also, I wish I’d paid extra for next-day shipping.  I wanna watch it now!!!

I got new #FlatsFriday/amazingly comfy work shoes!  Yes, they are Dr. Scholl’s pseudo-old lady shoes, but I totally don’t care.  They’re wide enough for my fat feet, they don’t cut into the tops of my feet (stupid high arches!), and they feel like walking on pillows.  I never want to take them off.

shoes

My bike is out of commission :(  The chain fell off 3 times during my bike ride home last week, and even when it stayed on, it kept slipping.  Not safe, and not effective transportation.  The timing of my bike’s demise is actually not too bad, considering that starting in September, we’ll be commuting from much further away, which will render the bike obsolete.  In the meantime, however, I’m back to walking to and from work every day, which kind of sucks.  I may see about getting another used bike, but I won’t be paying to fix this one.  Considering it was an inherited bike that wasn’t really a good fit to begin with, and I already shelled out $80 to get it on the road a couple of months ago, it’s dead to me.

This weekend starts back to back wedding weekends.  This weekend in CT, next weekend in Maine.  Oy!  Wish us luck!

What are your plans for the weekend?

 

 

I would like to preface this post by stating that I am by no means an expert on either bike path etiquette or cycling safety–I am in fact, only a very few steps up from a noob.  The following post is merely a collection of observations and pet peeves I have developed on my daily bicycle commute.  If you have anything to add, or refute, by all means, chime in!

I am very lucky that the city of Burlington has such a lovely and well-maintained bike path.  It stretches several miles along the Lake Champlain waterfront, from the south end of Burlington all the way up to Colchester.  This bike path is used by an enormous cross-section of locals–from walkers, runners, and cyclists, to moms with strollers and folks walking their dogs.  I think it’s fantastic that people are getting outside and getting exercise.  It’s a beautiful spot, and a great way to get around.  Unfortunately, however, I’ve noticed that even though the rules are clearly posted in several areas (and sometimes even spray painted on the path itself), there’s a startling lack of rule-following, or even common sense by many bike path users.

In order to address my own pet peeves educate the public, I have put together a list of some of the most basic courtesy and safety rules that should be followed when using a bike path (specifically, the Burlington Bikeway).

  • Keep right.  This is a simple one, and yet I see people running/biking/whatever in the middle or even on the left hand side of the path EVERY DAMN DAY.  You should always keep right so that traffic coming toward you has room to get by, and so that a fellow cyclist or  runner going at a faster pace has room to pass you.
Not my bike path, but the same printing appears on mine in many spots

Not my bike path, but the same printing appears on mine in many spots

  • Pass on the left.  Just like when driving a car, you should really only pass on the left.  Unless the person is totally breaking rule number 1 above and is running/walking/biking on the left side of the path. Then you just do what you’ve gotta do.
  • When passing, call out, or ring your bell.  It’s just common courtesy to call out “On your left (or right)” when passing, so that you a) give the person a chance to move over and give you more room, and b) don’t scare the bajeezus out of them.  I’ve had bikers go whizzing past without warning while I was running, and it’s fricken scary!

Bell

  • Don’t pass on a curve or hill.  I witnessed a really scary almost-accident last week.  I was plugging along on my bike ride home, approaching a big blind curve.  I could hear someone coming up fast behind me, so I pulled even further right to allow room for him to pass.  As I came up to the curve, I saw two ladies riding side by side approaching from the opposite direction.  Before I had time to call out a warning, the person behind me pulled out to pass and almost had a head on collision with the oncoming bikes!  One of the ladies screamed and they both slammed on the brakes, then the guy managed to zip around and just kept going, no apology, no acknowledgement, no nothing.  So, moral of the story, if you can’t see what’s coming, don’t pass!  And be nice, for crying out loud!
  • Don’t ride/walk/run more than 2 abreast.  The bike path is only about 10 feet across at its widest, and is usually more like 6 or 8.  If you make a huge line across the path, it’s really difficult for others to get by, or for your group to acknowledge that call of “On your left!” and move over fast enough.
  • Keep your dogs and your kids close.  Don’t let your leash’s flexi-lead out 20 feet, and don’t let your child wander far away from you on the wrong side of the path.  I’ve had a couple of close calls where I had to come to a complete stop on the bike path, even after calling out that I needed to get by.  Keep your kids and pets close enough that when another biker/runner/walker wants to pass, you can keep control of them so they don’t get run over.
  • Make sure your music is turned down enough that you can hear someone call out or ring their bell.  I get it, music is awesome.  It can make a tough workout better, and make your long run more bearable.  But if you’re rocking out so hard that when I call out “On your left” you don’t hear me and move, it’s totally not my fault if I run you over.
  • Don’t stop in the middle of the bike path.  If you need to stop, move over to the right as far as you can.  I know that in some areas, there’s not really anywhere to go, but if you can, get off the bike path.  Yes, sometimes shoes come untied.  Yes, the views are pretty and it’s nice to take pictures or regroup with your friends, but if you come to a dead stop in the middle of the path and I can’t get around you, it’s not going to end well.

All snarkiness aside, I really do love riding my bike to work.  It’s only sometimes that I want to punch people.  And to be fair, the rules should be posted in more places along the bike path–are you listening, City of Burlington?

Do you ever commute on your bike?

Do you have any suggestions for bike path etiquette/safety?

Quick FlipBelt Review

I got a FlipBelt a few weeks ago because I lost the cheapo supremo arm band that I used to use on my shorter runs.  That arm band never worked particularly well, so I was kind of happy to be on the lookout for a replacement.  I originally intended to buy a new arm band, but I’d seen a couple of FlipBelt reviews on other running blogs, so I wanted to give it a try.

The FlipBelt is basically a flat tube of stretchy fabric with 4 different slits around the perimeter for you to access your stuff.  There’s also a nice little clip for your key, so you have some extra security with that.  The whole gimmick of the FlipBelt is that you can flip the belt inside out, so that that slits are on the inside, against your body, effectively locking your items in place so they don’t bounce out while you’re running.  You can watch the company’s promotional video here.

NeonPunch-300x200

Pros:

  • Much more stylish than other fanny pack-esque running belts.  You can hide it under your shirt and no one would ever know you’re carrying your phone, keys, debit card, Gu etc.
  • Comes in lots of great colors
  • Key clip secures your key while running, and the tether is stretchy, so you don’t actually have to unclip your key when you’re exhausted and fumbling to get inside after your run
  • Lots of space for various items
  • So far, I haven’t had anything bounce out, even without employing the “lock” method

Cons:

  • I’ve found that the slits are just small enough that getting my iPhone 4s in an Otterbox-type case in and out of the pocket is kind of difficult.  I can’t really do it while running, which is a bummer.  This means larger phones like Galaxy S4 may not fit well either
  • Rides up a bit when worn over slippery fabrics, but 90% of the time this isn’t an issue
  • Items shift around in the belt–when you reach for your Gu, it may not be accessible through the slit you originally put it in

I think the most important thing to note about the FlipBelt is that it is NOT adjustable, so getting the correct size is really important.  The FlipBelt website has very specific sizing information, but I would recommend sizing down if you’re unsure.  I wear my FlipBelt around my hips, and according to my hip measurement of 38″, I should have purchased a large.  But the medium I ordered fits really snugly (but not uncomfortably) around my hips, so I don’t have to worry as much about it riding up or bouncing around.  I also imagine they stretch with use, but since I’ve only had mine a month or so, I can’t really speak to that. All in all, I’m satisfied with my purchase.  I don’t think it’s the “world’s best running belt” as the company claims, but it does what I need it to do, and doesn’t make me look like a doofus, so I’m happy.

Have you ever tried a FlipBelt?

How do you carry supplies while running?

#Chewsday Reboot Week 3

A few weeks ago, I recommitted myself to the #Chewsday Challenge.  As discussed, my original plan was perhaps a little too ambitious, so this time around I’ve decided to add in one challenge at a time, with the goal of slowly and realistically building toward overall healthier eating.  The challenge for Week 1 was no booze on work nights.  Last week, I added in fruits and/or veggies with every meal.

How’s it going?

Pretty dang well!  Not having alcohol on week nights only gets easier as time goes on.  I had one cheat this past week, when Ben and I went out for our date night.  But I only had one margarita, and it was totally worth it.  I definitely have been falling asleep better and staying asleep better on nights that I don’t drink, so I think this is a win, and something I will try to always keep up with going forward.

On the fruits and veggies front, there have really only been one or two meals that were misses–I’ve been having veggie omelettes for breakfast every day, and having a side salad at lunch, and then a serving of veggies with dinner.  I also usually have apples or bananas as a snack during the day, so I’m doing very well.  I plan to keep this up as much as possible, because I stay full noticeably longer, and am much more satisfied all around with my meals.

This week’s challenge:  only one serving of “treat” per day.  I’ve been feeling pretty smug about my success in the current challenges I’ve got going, which has led to a state of permissiveness as far as treats go.  I’ve been having a lot of sweets lately, sometimes multiple times per day, and usually more than one serving at a time.  I need to cut back on the sugary treats big time.  This can be challenging, because we do Friday breakfasts at work, which often star muffins, cakes etc.  We also have an office treat fairy who bakes several times a week and brings her extras in and leaves them in the kitchen–so tempting!  I’d like to be more mindful about the treats I’m having, and try to really enjoy them, rather than mindlessly fulfilling a sugar craving.

Click for Source

Click for Source

As I’ve mentioned before, I have some fantastic accountabilibuddies, and we encourage each other to make better choices (when we’re not enabling each others’ sugar habits) with daily check-ins on Twitter using the #Chewsday hashtag.  My accountabilibuddies are actually all attempting to go 100% no treats at all this week, which is totally crazy.  I’m going more moderate with my “only one treat per day” goal.  Can we keep it up?  Follow along on Twitter to find out!

@RaeisaDarlin (me)

@PrincessRunners (Lisa)

@KellieEbe (Kellie)

@paradeinpink (Nicole)

@Vixen1267 (Kimberly)

What’s your favorite way to satisfy a sugar craving?

Welcome to another edition of Manic Monday, where I recap the previous week and lay out a plan for the upcoming week.

Monday (Scheduled Cross-Training Day):

Walked to work (2.21 miles).  My bike has been acting funny, and I knew we needed to grocery shopping after work, so Ben picked me up.

Tuesday (Scheduled Speed Work):

Ben and I were up late watching Season 3 of Hell on Wheels on Netflix (so good!  Any watchers?), so I was unable to drag my carcass out of bed for an early run, and after work we drove down to Quechee (about 1.5 hours) for my mom’s 60th birthday dinner, so this was an unplanned rest day, other than walking to work (2.21 miles).

Wednesday (Scheduled Cross-Training Day):

Since I missed my speed work on Tuesday, I got my butt over to the gym for a treadmill day.  I did a 1 mile w/u, working my way up to a 10 min/mile pace, then did 4 x 400 at 8:34 pace, with 400 recovery at 10 min/mile pace in between, and a short cool down, for a total distance of 3.24 miles.  I was a sweaty, sweaty beast when I finished, but I felt really strong.  I’m excited to keep up these workouts!  I also walked to and from work, for a total of about 4.4 miles.

Photo Jul 23, 6 45 00 PM

Thursday (Scheduled 4 mile Run):

Walked to and from work (~4.4 miles), and hauled a bunch of file boxes around while at work.  Ben and I also had a long overdue date night, which was wonderful.  Tacos and margaritas at El Gato, and Fro Yo at Orange Leaf.  Mmmm.

Friday (Scheduled Rest Day):

Walked to and from work (~4.4 miles), and hauled a bunch more file boxes around while at work.  After work, I met up with my friend Emily for dinner, drinks, and shopping :-D  I really needed some new work clothes, so this was timely.

Saturday (Scheduled Virtual 10k Race):

I ran the Jost “Beat the Heat” virtual 10k.  It went really well, but I’m waiting until I receive my medal to do a full recap :) The rest of the day was errands related to moving, and then we had some friends over in the evening for video games, beer, and wine.

Photo Jul 26, 8 59 48 AM

Sunday (Scheduled Rest Day):

Ben and I had a lazy morning with omelettes, coffee, and video games, and then I drove down to Quechee for my dad’s birthday celebration.  His actual birthday is Tuesday, but we decided to celebrate on Sunday so I didn’t have to drive 3 hours round trip on a Tuesday again (my parents’ birthdays are exactly one year and one week apart).  While it was a lot of driving, I’m glad I went.  I could tell my dad was really happy to have the whole family there.

Plan for this week:

I sort of fell off the wagon with my plank challenge, so I’m planning to revive that this week.  I left off at 1 minute, 30 seconds, so I’m going to start there and keep going.  I also want to get back to my 10 push-ups per day, and add in some daily hip strengthening exercises, since my hips were very sore for a few days after the half.  I think I may actually need to set a “workout” alarm on my phone or something, otherwise I’m never going to remember to do this…

Otherwise, it’s business as usual:

  • Mon:  Cross train
  • Tues:  Hill repeats (4 total this week)
  • Wed:  Cross train
  • Thurs:  Short, fast run
  • Fri:  Rest
  • Sat:  Long run (7 miles)
  • Sun:  Rest

 

What was your favorite part about this weekend?  Mine was my maple creemee.  Mmmmm ice cream!

Living Situation Update

I’m departing from my usual Friday Free-For-All post because this has been weighing on my mind, and I need to get it all out there.  A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Ben and I might be moving back in with his parents.  Well, it’s official.  We will be moving in with his parents effective September 1.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to this decision, and since many of them involve my sister/roommate and it’s kind of personal, I won’t go into detail except to say that we were at a financial impasse.  There will be good things and bad things about this situation, so I’m just gonna dump some pros and cons here to help me organize my thoughts.

Pros:

  • We’ll be saving a crap-ton of money, which is especially important since Ben will not be working for the next 8 months (cue panic attack)
  • Ben’s parents generally eat really well–lots of produce from their garden, fresh eggs from their chickens etc
  • There’s a horse, chickens, 2 doggies and 2 kitties, so we’ll be in animal heaven, and Creemee will have playmates
  • Their house is way warmer and more insulated than our apartment, which will be wonderful come winter
  • My new gym is directly between work and the in-laws, so I’ll have more occasion to actually go, work out, and take classes
  • My future in-laws are COOL.  We like to hang out, drink, talk, and eat together.  They make good roomies
  • They also go away a lot, which means that Ben and I will kind of have our own place sometimes
  • We’ll be living out in the country, which means it will be quieter and darker, which means I will most likely sleep better

Cons:

  • Running will be a challenge.  They live on an extremely hilly (all uphill) dirt road, which is off of a super hilly, windy road with no shoulder and a high speed limit.  If I want to run outside, I’ll have to risk my life or drive somewhere
  • 45 minute commute each way to and from work.  No more walking or biking, and I’ll have to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to get to work on time
  • We’ll be living in the boonies, which will make our social life much more of a challenge.  We currently live right downtown.
  • Once again, most of our stuff will be in storage.  At least this time we’ll get to have our own bed, dressers, clothes etc, but even so, I won’t have my kitchen-aid mixer, my pots and pans, my knives, my books etc.
  • Lack of personal space.  Not in the traditional sense–Ben’s folks are great about letting us do our own thing around the house.  It’s just that we’ll be surrounded by THEIR things, and not our things, and at the end of the day it’s THEIR house, and not ours, which may make me feel uncomfortable.
  • This is silly to be upset about, but his parents don’t have a dryer–everything is hang dry, either on the clothes line in the summer, or on clothes racks indoors in the winter, which means that the laundry turnaround time is a lot longer.  This can be problematic for someone like me who has a small wardrobe.

Aside from all this, there’s just so much to DO.

  • We need to secure a storage unit for all the stuff (mostly furniture) that we won’t be bringing to the house with us.
  • We need to decide what’s going into storage, what’s coming with us, and what we’re ditching
  • Make at least one Goodwill trip to ditch the stuff we’re ditching
  • Pack all our junk
  • Fill the storage unit.
  • Move all the junk we ARE taking to Underhill (45 minute drive)
  • Patch the holes and clean the apartment so we can get our security deposit back from the landlord, who is notorious for finding any excuse to deduct $ from the security deposit
  • Get new tires on the truck so it will pass inspection so we actually have two vehicles and can both get to work/school

And then aside from all THAT junk, there’s that whole thing where we’re supposed to be planning a wedding.  We talked yesterday, and decided that any wedding planning needs to be postponed until things calm the f*&^ down.  Once we’re settled in Underhill, and Ben gets a feel for what the workload for the T.A.P program will be like, we can start to figure out wedding crap.  Oy.

And now, to end on a happy note:  this morning, I found a lucky penny on my way to work.

Photo Jul 25, 7 33 51 AM

Not only was it lying on the sidewalk face up, it was made in my birth year.  It was a nice little sign from the Universe that everything is gonna be ok.  The best part is, there were pennies every 6 – 8 feet along the sidewalk for a 1/2 mile stretch along my way to work.  I’m not sure if it was intentional, or if someone was just hemorrhaging change as the walked, but now there are a bunch of lucky pennies out there for other people today too.   And it just so happens that the first one I saw and picked up was MY lucky penny.  So awesome.

Have you ever found a lucky penny?

Do you believe in “signs” from the Universe?

 

I learned about Graze through Sarah at Healthy Simple Smart.  As soon as I saw her post, I knew I needed to try this service out.

For $6 per box, Graze will deliver individually sized snacks to your home or office.  I chose to have my boxes sent to my office, since that’s where I do most of my snacking.  You have two options:  The Nibble box, which is an assortment of over 90 different snacks, or the Calorie Counter box, which only features snacks less than 150 calories.  Obviously, I chose the Nibble box; a 50 calorie snack is totally useless to me.  You can also choose to have deliveries once per week, or every other week.

My favorite part about this service is that you can rate the snacks you’re given–after every delivery, you can visit the website and tell them what you thought.  If you “like” something, they’ll send it to you occasionally.  If you “love” something, they’ll send it to you more often.  You can also “trash” something, and they’ll never send it to you again.  All of the snacks default to “try”, meaning they’ll send it to you once so you can taste it, and then decide later if you like it, love it, or want to trash it.

Using the website, you can totally customize your boxes–if you have dietary restrictions, allergies, or aversions, you can make sure you are never sent something you won’t/can’t eat.  There are multiple categories for the snacks, so you can explore easily.  Each delivery contains 4 snacks with specific nutritional information for each snack.

Photo Jul 14, 9 50 40 AMPhoto Jul 14, 9 51 38 AM

My first box had:

  • Salted Fudge and Peanut Cookie:  baked salted peanuts, fudge pieces, mini chocolate cookies and redskin peanuts (220 calories, 7 g protein)
  • Scrumptious Blueberry Swirl:  blueberry yogurt raisins, raspberry infused cranberries and blackcurrants (150 calories, less than 1 g protein)
  • Smoky BBQ Corn:  jumbo salted corn and smoked cashews (140 calories, 4 g protein)
  • Fruity Mango Chutney:  fruity mango chutney with black pepper dippers (80 calories, less than 1 g protein)

All of these snacks were delicious.  I would definitely eat any of them again, however, I “trashed” the mango chutney simply because the calorie count and protein are so low–I’d rather receive other snacks that are more filling.

So far, I’m really excited about Graze, and I’m actually planning to switch from every other week to weekly deliveries.  $6 is a great price, especially considering that when I buy snacks at the grocery store, I spend way more than that.  These snacks are portion controlled, so I’m less likely to over eat, and they are super tasty.

If you’re interested in trying Graze, please consider using my invitation code:  W5TZXP36B.  If you use this code, your first and 5th box are free (first box is free anyway), and if 2 of you use my referral code, I get a free box too!  Sarah, if you’re reading this, I was going to use your referral code but I missed the box to enter it–I’m sorry!

I was not asked to review Graze, and I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I purchased the service myself, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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