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Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done in a while… I cooked. And it felt really good. The kitchen in my mini home isn’t ideal, but it’s still functional I guess. I really believe in spaces having certain kinds of energy, and before yesterday being downstairs in general wasn’t my favorite thing to do. Since it has been getting chilly outside, I thought making some stew would be the best thing to experiment with. That way I could also eat off of it for the next few days to save a little extra money. I am a pretty instinctual chef (and I use the word chef loosely), as I never measure anything or follow a specific recipe. I decided to go with a meatless stew, so it would keep even longer in my refrigerator. Here is the laundry list of ingredients that I threw in a pot together: water, canned crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, red onions, chicken bouillon cubes, pinto beans, potatoes, frozen mix of veggies (squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots), Brussels sprouts, baby portabellas, and finally some quinoa for texture. It turned out delicious, and warmed my soul. As it was cooking on the stove, the smells started to fill my house and it made me happy. I turned on every light that I had downstairs which made it feel more alive. Since there aren’t as many windows down there, it is much darker in general. I think if I start spending more time cooking and keeping it well-lit then I might start to enjoy it more.
I am starting to feel the Halloween pressure to find a good costume. I absolutely have to get a plan together this week before it’s too late! There are soooooo many fun parties this year that I might die of excitement. My costume debut always happens at The Rocky Horror Picture Show screening at the Alabama Theatre, which usually falls on the Friday of Halloween weekend. We get there early and watch the two costume contests (last year several of us were actually in it) and dance to DJ Stevo, then stay for about half of the movie before heading on to the next party. One of my favorite ones from last year was at the Avondale Castle which included a full on costume themed drag show. Soooo much fun. Saturday night is the annual Peaches and Scream in the arts district on 2nd Avenue North, plus my friend Phillip’s big party just a block away on 1st. I still haven’t made it out to the haunted houses, so next weekend that is a must. While Sloss Fright Furnace may not be that scary… it is super fun and a tradition that I don’t want to stop.
Last night while watching football with a group of people, I started to miss participating in sports. I especially miss the adrenaline rush you get before and after a race, the sense of accomplishment of achieving something really hard to do. With that being said though, I have lost a little bit of interest in the training needed to complete those things successfully. I think hurting my knee earlier in the year really did a number on my confidence. I was so heart-broken when I didn’t finish the marathon, and then on top of that having my Half Ironman compromised in a big way. I realized that I am not unbreakable, that our bodies are indeed fragile. That scares me for some reason. That pain of disappointment was the utter worst. But you know, maybe it just means that when I am able to do those things with success, especially the marathon, it’s going to be that much more special. I have been keeping my running up lately with relative ease. Maybe today I will go for my first long run and see what happens. This is the exact time I would need to start training for the Mercedes Marathon anyway, and I think I’m going to give it a go… but this time around I am going to keep my expectations in check and not push myself as hard.
I love to know what people plan for themselves after their own deaths. It is a morbid subject, I know, but I think it’s a very revealing one. What could be more intimate than deciding what to do with your own body after you die? It’s actually pretty amazing to me the number of people who don’t have anything planned at all. It’s an inevitable thing – we are all going to die. Personally, I think it saves loved ones a great deal of pain and trouble if you at least tell someone your wishes… no matter how small. Of course I am one of the few people on the planet who enjoy a good death plan conversation, so the other day I asked a good friend what she would do when it happens to her. Little did I know that I was going to get one of my most interesting answers to date – she has already pre-registered her body to go to the body farm in Tennessee, a forensic anthropology research facility. She is an atheist (I seem to attract them) and avid recycler, so she wants to recycle her body back to the earth once she passes away. Even for me, that is a pretty big statement showing her detachment to her body after she dies. A lot of people donate their bodies to science, but the families usually get them back after a certain amount of time for cremation or burial. Her body will stay at the body farm indefinitely. I feel like that is a pretty selfless and brave act, one that displays her confidence in her own belief system. I think a lot of people like to pretend to be confident, but most people are pretty scared of what happens when we do finally leave this existence. I’ve written about my own death plan here, but I like to think that I could change it at any point if I change my mind. Right now though, I’m still pretty happy with it. If you have something that you’d like to happen when it’s your turn to go, I hope you communicate it with someone you trust. It’s always good to have an exit strategy.
One last thought before I go for today – have you ever thought about how your magazine subscriptions paint a picture of your life? Yesterday I got an email saying that my Triathlete subscription was about to expire… and I almost thought to myself, do I really need this anymore? That would have been crazy talk this time last year. I have gotten that magazine in the mail for almost 6 years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever even considered not renewing. I guess we just constantly change with time and evolve on. It’s not that I’m not interested in triathlons anymore, because that couldn’t be farther from the truth, but I do feel like I am not as obsessed. See, I am discovering some balance!
I just finished cleaning the set with Rebecca and returning all of the chairs from our Crush shoot yesterday! It has been a long, but amazingly awesome, weekend. Of course I had my typical anxiety & worry about the shoot itself, but once it started it just felt like everything was going to work out great… and that’s exactly what happened. Rebecca and I got there around 6 a.m. and picked up where we had left off the night before to prepare for everyone’s arrival. The skeleton crew showed up around 7 a.m., then wardrobe & talent came at 9:30. Since we didn’t have a massive crew, we set-up until about 1 or so then immediately started filming. The pace at first was very relaxed until we realized around dinnertime that if we continued moving that slowly we would never finish. So everyone brought their A-game and we made it move pretty quickly after that. Sometimes you just need a little while to get your groove. I haven’t directed a film since 2006, so I was definitely rusty… but it came back like riding a bike after an hour or two. This was Rebecca’s first time as a director, and she did a fantastic job. It is really hard to co-direct a film, but we got through it with flying colors. I feel like it brought me back into the filmmaking world, while it gave her a running start. The footage we captured is better than we could have ever imagined due to the talents folks we had around us. I can’t wait to see what it looks like all put together!
Another really cool thing happened this weekend… my sister Christy completed her first Half Ironman in Augusta, Georgia! I am so proud that I could pop! She really battled with whether or not to do it, as she just got back from a long vacation that was hard for her to train on. But she finished, and I know she has to be floating in the clouds right now with happiness. Looks like we both accomplished big dreams this weekend!
Best news ever: I just found out this morning that my sister Christy got in the Augusta Half Ironman on September 24! This is her first year to do triathlon, and so far she’s knocked out a sprint and olympic distance over the summer. Augusta actually sold out a few days ago, and when she decided that she wanted to give it a try it appeared to be too late. I haven’t heard all of the details yet, but I know between her writing the race managers and her super friend/coach Joanne, somehow she got in as of this morning. I am so happy I could do a dance all by myself!
Christy and her husband Mike are also interested in having another baby, so I wonder if I will ever get to do a race with her. My next triathlon will be the New Orleans Half Ironman in April, which I’m already getting really excited about. I am also going to go for the Mercedes Marathon again in February, hoping that this time around my knee holds out. I have a strange confidence that it will, and that I will be able to cross the finish line with flying colors this year. I know what I did wrong last time so I will not be repeating past mistakes.
I’ve said it before a thousand times, but there is something amazing that happens when you push yourself to the limits… in any area of life. Reaching your full potential is a high like no other. It’s not about being faster or better than anyone else, it’s about competing with yourself. It’s getting better and better every time you do something. And if you don’t, you fix the problem and jump back on the horse. I’ve consistently become a better athlete over the past 5 years of my life despite a few set backs. I can only imagine what I can accomplish in the next 5 years if I really try.
A really fun fantasy popped in my head while writing this post today – wouldn’t it be amazing to cross the finish line with someone you love in a full Ironman distance (a distance I have yet to attempt). Maybe my sister will be that person. That makes me smile. :)
It was so warm & muggy on my run this morning with Vero that I mistakenly thought raindrops were falling from the sky onto my forearms, but instead it was sweat from my face. Until today I haven’t been on a run with Vero since before her & Brandi’s two-week trip to Europe, and tomorrow all three of us will finally be back together again (along with Nathan, our token male).
I’ve given my road bike to my sister for 2 weeks so she can get used to clipping in and out of the pedals before she buys her own. If you’ve never “clipped in” before, it just means that you wear specialized bike shoes that attach to the pedals so you use your muscles more efficiently. It takes some getting used to, b/c that also means that you have to “clip out” relatively fast… especially if you are falling over. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll never go back.
While my sister has my bike, I am going to focus more on my running, swimming and cardiovascular endurance. I’ll probably go to a few spin classes each week too to keep my legs fresh. After my sister’s triathlon on July 29, I’ll get my bike back and start riding on the road again in preparation for the Augusta Half Ironman in late September.
I got the key to my new place this morning! This weekend my goal is to paint the walls & fix up the upstairs bathroom. Early next week I’ll get the carpets cleaned & lay down the linoleum in the kitchen, then next weekend I’ll start moving some things over. It’s all happening so fast!
No update on our missing kitty, Sammy Jo. Mike and I had four cats together – Sammy Jo, Baby Kitty, Kitten, and Captain Kitty. Captain Kitty came with our house and is in very poor health, so she probably won’t make it to the move. Mike was going to take Sammy Jo (because she adores him), and I was going to take Baby Kitty & Kitten since they are the dynamic duo. I have a very strong feeling that Sammy Jo is going to come back in the next few days, but if she doesn’t, then we may need to think about our cat custody again. Splitting up the “babies” has been one of the hardest things to figure out for us since we both love each one so much.
I’ve unexpectedly ended up with a free day today! My original plans were to go tubing with friends for a birthday celebration, but after waking up this morning I decided that having some “me” time seemed much more appealing than baking in the sun. I am going to meet up with that same group later on for a drink or two, so I will still get some quality time with the b’day girl then.
I’ve gotten two hilly six-mile running sessions in over the past few days, and my knee seems to be doing good. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating… the Arc Machine really keeps my body conditioned for the times that I can’t run due to my injury from earlier this year. It was like I didn’t miss a beat.
I am feeling the need to do something active again today, but I don’t think it would be wise to run for a 3rd day in a row. I would like to be outside, so my options are to go for a bike ride or a hike. Or maybe I will just chill out today and watch the Tour de France and Harry Potter movies. I also see a trip to Home Depot/Lowe”s in my near future for some carriage house dreaming. Sunday, funday!
Speaking of the Tour de France, there have been so many crashes this year. I literally just watched as two riders were hit by a team car with tremendous speed, with one of them (Johnny Hoogerland) going airborne into a barbed wire fence. Click here to watch the crash. They are both surprisingly OK, and back on their bikes to finish Stage 9. These guys truly are machines.
Tomorrow I start training for the Augusta Half Ironman in late September. More on that in the morning! It’s time once again to get back in the pool… my least favorite of the three sports, which just means I need to spend the most time on it. Blah!!!
A new life chapter is about to begin. I think by the time fall comes around (my favorite time of year) everything is going to be on the upswing… and it is already starting. I believe with all my heart that the most challenging days of 2011 are now in the past. Having a new place to live as of August 1st is going to kick-start everything off!
The next big things on my radar are fixing up my new mini-house, training for the Half Ironman in late September, then preparing for the Sidewalk Film Festival the last weekend of August. Besides those, the next month or two look pretty quiet as far as the weekends go. I am really proud of myself for not doing too much lately, and not having a ton planned for the immediate future. The ultimate goal is to live day by day and enjoy every moment (or at least 75%).
Speaking of Half Ironman training, I can’t believe it’s already time to prepare for Augusta! I’ve also got a sprint triathlon picked out that I will be participating in the last weekend of July in Columbus, GA with my sister. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little concerned about my knee with it being so sensitive in the past few weeks, so I will have to take it easier than usual with my training right off the bat to see how it does. If I had to, I could always just train more on the bike & swim since those don’t irritate it. I can use the Arc Machine as a supplement, and run only when I feel OK to do so. I think that is a fair & reasonable plan, one that will definitely get me to the finish line with a smile on my face.
My sister Christy completed her very first sprint triathlon this morning!! Words can’t describe how proud I am of her for taking it on and finishing with success. She did it with almost no training (minus the fact that she is a runner) and just dove straight in. Like my first tri, she even used a mountain bike on a very hilly course… which is so much more challenging than a regular road bike! It’s hard to describe unless you’ve tried it, but she was a trooper for going out there and keeping a smile on her face. Her least favorite part was the swim, which is also my hardest sport of the three. I can’t wait to talk more about it with her as you instantly share a deep bond with fellow triathletes. She said that it was the hardest race she’s ever done, but it also gave her the most gratification when finished. I couldn’t agree more!!! It is such a rewarding experience… and most importantly, fun.
I’m looking forward to a lazy Sunday – and for me that means brunch, nap, gym and a few movies at home later on. :) It’s been a good weekend, friends.
I just got back from my triathlon practice race with the Vulcan Triathletes, and it was a blast! My running buddy Brandi went with me, and it was her first time to ever “tri”. There were two distance options and we choose longer one (of course we did), which ended up being a 600 meter swim, 24 mile bike (suuuuuuper hilly) and a 3 mile run. Once again I bombed on the swimming for the most part, but I did really well on the bike & run. I’m just not sure what it’s going to take to become a better swimmer…. oh wait, I know – practice. Brandi was right there with me, so we’ve decided that we can improve together by doing more open water swims on the weekends. Honestly, the pool just doesn’t cut it when trying to prepare for swimming in a lake or river. The water is dark, you don’t have lane lines, you have to battle glare from the sun, and last but not least… you can’t take a break whenever you want to. So this should be a no-brainer.
I was supposed to go lay out by the pool this afternoon with my friends, but the weather is not cooperating. So instead, I am going to take a nap & meet up with them later for dinner and drinks… then maybe a little dancing!!! LOVE.
I love a little spookiness in my life… so welcome, Friday the 13th! I hope you bring mystery & fun for the upcoming weekend.
There are lots of things to enjoy over the next few days – a night out with the girls, pool time, a mini triathlon practice race, a possible bike ride with an old friend, and some serious chill time. Looks like our weather for the weekend is going to clear up by tomorrow morning just in time for outdoor activities. It won’t be as warm as I’d like it to be (especially for that early morning lake swim), but it will be pretty close to perfect during the peak hours of the day. Looking forward to it!!!
If it seems like I am overly active/social right now, it’s probably because I am. Having things to do & people to be around has really helped a lot during this transitional time. I still have my quiet moments alone, but my spirit feels energized & restless… mostly in a positive way. There are definitely days where I “do too much”, but honestly doing too much is better than sitting in front of a TV wasting time away. Right? So the quest for balance will continue, but at least I can say I am living life in the meantime.
And, I swear on my cat(s), I am taking pictures this weekend!!!! Too many words in The Jen West Quest as of late, and not enough visuals.