Sunday, January 27, 2013


I've spend a lot of time in the last few months thinking about what is different, since we got married. I haven't been able to put my finger on what, but something is, for sure. And then I realized! there isn't just one thing, there are a lot of them.

One of the biggest/hardest is to figure out who we are in public. I know marriage is supposed to be this big proclamation where we declare ourselves "one" in front of God, our families and our friends. But navigating that disposition in the real world is not quite as easy as you might imagine.

Photo: Summer Jean Photography

For one, being introduced as someone's wife adds about 10 years to you. When your brand-spanking-new husband introduces you to a bunch of 23 year-olds who have never known life outside of school, you can feel kind of like you belong in a museum with other relics of the 1950's. And then, you have to figure out when it's appropriate to attend school and work events with each other.

For instance, the Grige is in grad school, for which there are a myriad of events. We hosted his studio section + professors for a dinner last semester. Naturally, I attended that. It was in my home. I cleaned for it. But it was awkward. I felt extremely out of place. I got the same impression when I brought him to a happy hour with co-workers at my new job. It's not that people were rude or mean, it's just that it felt wrong....

 So how do we navigate this? How do we figure out how to be a married couple, at this age, in a new city? We got into this new life together, and we've been leaning on each other to make friends. This problem is 100% unanticipated.

Photo: Summer Jean Photography

I'm sure that, as we get older, more and more of our peers will get married and this will get easier. I mean, my parents do things apart from one another all the time: my Dad is in the banjo club, my Mom has a ladies bridge group. But everyone kind of expects them to be together the rest of the time. Just like the Grige and I like to be. I'm fine doing things apart from the Grige. However, we need some sort of social protocol for the meantime. So really? How do you figure out how to be "one" when you are actually two? Where do we fit in each other's lives?

It's not an easy riddle to solve, but it is definitely a key component of all the differences that we're facing post-nuptials.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

They have my money now....

So there's no backing out. I registered for the Go! St. Louis half marathon last night. If it goes well, I may aim to keep on for a full marathon this summer (I'm thinking Charlevoix, MI on June 22... but that's very hypothetical). I think my big mistakes my last time (besides being too overwhelmed with moving/wedding to stick to training), were that I:

1. Bit off more than I could chew. I came off an excellent 10K and went straight on to slay a dragon. I think I wanted something to take my mind off wedding planning and moving, and I grasped at a barely attainable goal.

2. Did not schedule any training races. I made it up to my 12 mile long run, and I should have thrown in a half marathon after that so that I had something to look forward too.

So this time, I'm going for the half marathon first, and will sign up for the marathon as training progresses and I get a better sense of my summer calendar. But FIRST:

New shoes.

This color is a testament to the fact that I will endure anything for 20% off. They are an extremely comfortable pair of Brooks Pure runners, and I absolutely HATE this color. I asked if they came in a less offensive shade, and the very kind sales guy explained that he could sell me these for 20% off since the new colors were all next years models. Obviously, I bought them.

And now, I will politely try to plug our new local running store, the Missouri Running Company. I've always been committed to buying from a local running store. However, I really wavered this time. Amazon Prime is so convenient, and being in a new city is so hard (at least for me). I've had a good (but not great) relationship with the Adams Morgan Fleet Feet in DC. They always try to put me in some super-stabilizer geriatric shoes that are so heavy they clunk against my ankles when I run. Not so at MRC - the sales man reviewed my stride, complimented me, and recommended a few shoes to try. As I tried them out, he continued to review my stride and gave me tips for making small tweaks to improve. It was a truly fantastic and positive experience and I'm so very glad that I pushed out of my comfort zone and gave this place a try. They definitely have a customer in me for as long as we're in STL. 

So I'm off and running - they were great on my 3.5 mile tempo run this afternoon, even though the post-wind chill temp was in the low teens. I'm raising my glass of orange juice to a great, fresh start.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Year: New Goals

Like every other person on the planet, I approach the new year as a fresh start. I review my life list, think about the things in my life that I'm not loving and try to find ways to change them. Since starting a new job and saying goodbye to my childhood home as I helped my parents move was enough to be going on with for the first part of this month, I'm just getting started now.

Our Beautiful Home, I miss it already.
Photo: Summer Jean Photography
For those who care, the new job is going great, I definitely made the right decision. I'm being challenged enough to stay motivated, I like the company and the nature of my work and am genuinely excited about my career for the first time in a long while. I will continue to leave my professional life outside the scope of this blog, but I think that our work sets the tone for a lot of other things in our lives. So it's worth addressing that mine is keeping me very busy, but also very happy right now.

2012 was a pretty darn big year for me, so I'm looking forward to 2013 as a chance to focus on all the little stuff that slowly got away from me last year. More specifically: my health. Which isn't to say that I did a bad job last year, I started training for a marathon, I discovered (and promptly fell in love with) yoga, and tried the Clean diet. Unfortunately, somewhere in the mess of moving, marrying, living apart for 2 months, unemployment, and the strain of the Grige's extremely intense first semester, all of that fell apart... without me really noticing.

So healthy goals are taking the lead for 2013. Especially with work being busy, it's important to be realistic. I've divided my approach into three categories: Diet, Exercise and Mental Wellness.

With realism in mind, I'm not going to try any crazy juice diets this time. I'll be practicing BPP or Balance, Preparation and Portion control. I'll achieve Balance by using a phone application that calculates calories to balance my diet with my exercise. I'll also be aiming for meals that hit all my major food groups. Preparation will likely be the most important part of my plan. I've set my weekly shopping day for very early on Sunday mornings. I'll then dedicate the rest of the morning to preparing meals for the week, so all I have to do is grab them out of the fridge. I'm also spending the extra $ to keep a stash of clif bars and smoothies on hand for quick energy. Keeping our fridge stocked with easy meals will help me stay on track. Portion Control is the tough part, especially after exercising. I've bought smaller tupperware containers for lunches, but I've also bought some small bowls and plates to keep me in the right mind frame when I eat at home too.

My exercise goals for this year are all about figuring out what works in real life. Rather than bogging myself down in one big goal (like a marathon) I'm sprinkling things around a little bit. I'm still looking for a yoga home, but I'm hoping to add to my home practice by finding a studio I'd like to attend 2-3 times a week. In addition, I'm planning to fit in cardio 4-5 times a week. I'd like to combine running and swimming to keep things interesting. Finally, I purchased Jillian Michaels 30 day shred for a high impact start to my routine. I know it will keep me motivated to see great results early on, and from what I've heard, this will give me the boost I need to feel strong in my training. Accountability and planning will be the most important parts of my plan. To hit both of these elements, I'm signing up for the Go! St. Louis half marathon in April. I was running 1/2 marathon mileage when I dropped my marathon training last year, so I know it's within my reach.

Mental Health
The whole point of all of my health goals is to feel good about myself. So I'm not going to ignore the mental part. Having a job that I like and health goals to fill my time is a good start, but I think I need to reach a little farther than that. I'd like to make some friends here in STL, which is not something I usually do well. To narrow the scope, I'm hoping to find a running buddy as a start. I also hope to visit my friends a lot this year, I don't want to lose touch just because we've moved.

So those are my big goals for 2013. Certainly, I have metrics to back them all up, but those aren't really important out of context. I'm hoping to review my video series with results in both weight and inches lost, a'la, but we'll see if I have time or not.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dear Nordica Cinnamon Girl:

I Love you.

For my birthday, the Grige delivered a 100% awesome two days of skiing at Boyne Highlands in Northern Michigan. I got to demo skis, which, if you were paying attention, is exactly what I wanted to celebrate my sojourn into my "late" twenties. I've always been super happy with my race skis, which I bought off a coach at a camp out west back in 2004. They're really outdated and far to aggressive for me, so the new technology available really impressed me.

One thing I noticed as I tried to do some research in preparation for my day of trying new skis is that there aren't too many ski reviews for ladies out there. Obviously, choosing a ski is really personal, but I figured I would round up my experience with the skis that I tried to add to the literature out there.

First, me as a skier:
I'm a former racer who gets to ski primarily in Michigan or the east coast, so front side shredding is what I am best at. I am looking for a ski that can perform on any terrain or conditions, but really shines cutting through crud, gripping on ice, and providing responsive, fast turns with nearly unlimited speed potential with minimal effort.

I am a very good skier, but i would not have considered myself an "expert". I had heard that a women skiing at a fairly advanced level on aggressive men's skis would likely find themselves on the high end of expert territory in women-specific models, and I found this to be about one thousand percent true. My advice would be to grade yourself only on the terrain you ski most often on when choosing a ski, rather than downgrading yourself for inexperience in certain conditions.

What I Demo-ed:

Nordica Cinnamon Girl (164 cm)
These were the clear winner and probably ruined me for all the other skis for the rest of the day. It's a testament to the talent of the guy in the demo shop that he put me in these first. I loved them from the first turn. While the skis were amazingly responsive, I pushed them as fast as I can go (which is really fast) and didn't experience any chattering or feel reigned in. They turned quickly and easily to avoid other skiers, and I felt in perfect control even at high speeds. I was able to fly through crud without catching edges and float over what little powder there was easily. It was the easiest, most fun skiing I've ever done. I went back to these for a few hours at the end of the day and was shopping for a pair on the ride home. The only con is that the stupid graphics on these could only be appreciated by a 12-year-old or the type of woman who has a dolphin sunset tramp stamp. I don't have a solution for that problem, but I'll be going so fast that no one will be able to see them anyway.

Nordica Cinnamon Girl

Volkl Kenja (164 cm)
The Kenja's were a strong second choice for me. They're responsive, light and float-y. I think they would be phenomenal in powder, but since I rarely get to ski powder, it's not a high priority for me. The big cons for me on these were speed and the amount of time it took to transfer from rail to rail. It's a very different skiing rhythm from what I'm used to, though it wasn't necessarily unpleasant. Sadly, these started chattering long before I hit full-throttle and didn't handle crud with the ease that the Nordica's did. Had I not ridden the Nordia's first, or if I lived where powder was readily available, I would be singing their praises. Also, the graphics are notably less stupid than many other women's skis. 
Volkl Kenja

Volkl Chiara (164 cm)
These ski themselves, and not in a good way. Marketing them to an "intermediate to advanced" woman is insane, unless she's over 80 years-old. They were sluggish, limited in turn style and radius, and pretty much the opposite of fun in every way. I couldn't wait to get them off. Sorry, Volkl. You really missed the mark on these. 

Volkl Chiara

Volkl Men's RTM 84 (180 cm)
It's hard to compare these to the lady versions, but they just don't make/stock women't skis with this level of aggression. My current skis are 173 cm, and I like that. women's skis usually top out at about 164 or 168 cm. Since my skis are so old, these were meant to give me a good idea of what the ski I'm riding now would be like with new technology. They were a ridiculous amount of fun - super fast, a little too long to be considered "responsive", but they were delightfully turn-y and truly just ripped. I loved them, but they're not likely to be much fun on anything but empty groomers. They're just too fast to deal with crowds and not wide enough to be any fun on powder. If I was still racing, I would be all about these.  Also, no stupid graphics and not a shade of pink in sight. 
Volkl RTM 84