Crass Consumerism

So, did you have a lovely holiday? Have some fabulous family time? Perhaps sleep in late and read some good books?

Maybe even get some delightful presents?

Allow me to share some of the new toys and fun things that have come into the Monkey household this month (and, of course, all of these are things we bought, as I am not nearly a fancy enough blogger for companies to want to give me things for free. Though, if this was a sponsored post, the sponsor would have to be Costco, which I love, so call me Costco!)

First, Mr. Monkey and I got ourselves a SodaStream

We love it. It is super easy to use and I would guess we’ve each doubled the amount of water we’ve been drinking since we got it. We actually really don’t use it to make soda all that much (although the diet cranberry flavor was delicious) because it turns out we both just really love some fizzy water.

During the same Costco trip that landed us the SodaStream (a trip where we literally went in to pick up some photos and to have a slice of pizza and came out having spent over $700. Whoopsie) we found these completely ridiculously soft and snuggly sheets. We finally got a new mattress so we needed new sheets and I think I am almost more excited about these sheets than I am about the mattress. So cozy.

So, how do you end up spending $700 at Costco? Well, in addition to the SodaStream and the sheets, you go ahead and get yourself one of these:

I’ve only used the bike once so far as I got the cold turned sinus infection that wouldn’t die the day after we got this assembled but I really liked it. I think it will be a great way to keep cycling for the rest of this pregnancy (I don’t feel comfortable riding the actual bike anymore) and will give me another way to get back into shape once baby girl monkey joins us in April.

Mr. Monkey got me these for Christmas:

I am going to assume that they are awesome because we are having a weirdly warm December (I think the temperature is supposed to be 56 for the high tomorrow) so there is no actual snow to shoe through right now. I’m hoping we get some snow soonish so I can try them out before I feel to pregnant to attempt it.

 

I would show you all a picture of the kiddo’s favorite Christmas present but I don’t think showing you the tiny car that came with the random Pez dispenser I stuck in his stocking as an after thought would really wow you. But let me assure you, that stupid little car is getting played with every single day so far. That and the $5 fire truck I picked up at a garage sale this fall. I love three year olds. Total joy and delight for $6.75 total.

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Summer To Do List

A friend recently had a summer fun to do list on her Facebook page and so I am totally stealing the idea. I’m sort of stunned that is is already near the end of June and I want to make sure that we take advantage of some of the summer specific things to do here in Iowa.

So, while the days are long I want to:

– go to the Farmer’s Market at least once

– go to a minor league baseball game with the kiddo and the husband

– go on a hike with the kid (while he still fits in the backpack carrier)

– take the kiddo to see Cars 2 at the movie theatre

– have friends over for game night

– have a picnic at the park or the beach

– go on a really long bike ride

– take a day off of work and spend it by myself, doing whatever I want.

– do a late summer/early fall sprint tri (if I can get my currently wonky hip to cooperate so I can run)

 

What about you? Any summer ambitions?

The $18 bike ride

The kiddo and I went for a bike ride tonight after work. Well, I rode the bike and he looked charming in the seat behind me, waving at people as we went by.

This is our third ride with the new bike seat (which I adore), which brings the total cost of the bike seat to an entirely reasonable $18 and falling.

Oh, yeah, by the way: I amortize all major fitness purchases. It is super dorky and yet totally soothing.

Mr.Monkey and I are fairly frugal (he more than me, if I am being totally honest) but we are usually pretty quick to encourage the other to buy things related to fitness stuff. We generally operate under the “if it will help you get in regular exercise, you should get it” rule. Sometimes I feel guilty still about buying the $70 swimsuit or the $120 running shoes but then I start to amortize it with the goal of getting whatever item I bought down to under $1 per use.

Somethings are pretty safe bets. Any running shoes purchased by Mr. Monkey, for example, or my swimming gear. Other things, like my wetsuit that is currently sitting at $75 per use, are iffy from the get go. The amortizing keeps me honest though. Sometimes I’d like to upgrade my bike but I have to be honest and admit that I’m not regular enough with my cycling to be able to justify it (yet. YET. Some day)

On a related note: riding a mountain bike with 34 pounds of toddler strapped to the back uphill is hard. Harder still: when he starts laughing at you and saying “Faster, mama, go faster” as you can taste your spleen.

100

I hit two big milestones this week. I’ve ridden 100 miles on my bike and I’ve done 100 miles of walking/jogging. I’ve for sure never done this much cycling in one year before.  I totally get that for the majority of people who cycle or train for tris that 100 miles is what they do in a weekend, not 9 months, but I’m still pleased with myself.

I’ve done 100 miles in a year before (in 2003) but it has been a long time.

I feel like I’m on a good path right now.

*****************

I’ve signed up for my next race: this one. I’ll be doing the 6 hour (!) one and I am 100% sure that I will come in last. But I don’t care. I just want to see how far I can go.

# 2

Bike 31 miles

This one was easy in some respects because I didn’t actually have to get on the bike too many times to get it done (maybe 4 or 5 times?) and bad in some respects because I didn’t actually have to get on the bike too many times to get it done. I was hoping, I think, to get into a better habit in terms of riding my bike several times a week to prepare for the triathlon next month.

I think that I’m still, on some levels, scared of riding my bike. I still dislike riding in traffic, I worry I’m going to fall, I don’t feel confident that I actually know when to shift and stuff like that. I think hills are God awful hard and cycling still makes my butt hurt.

I realize that the cure to all of these problems is more time on the bike and 31 miles is just a drop in the bucket of what I need to do.

Bottom line: 31 miles is better than nothing but not a game changer in terms of tri prep.

Peloton

So, here’s the thing about the route I usually take when I take the bike out: it is tricky.

Not tricky complicated or even particularly hard.

 Tricky in a mess with your mind sort of way. I usually ride on a nice wide path that goes from the small town where I work to another small town 11 miles away. It is lovely: shaded by trees, crossing over streams, no cars to contend with. It is also on a bit of an angle. Starting on my end it is just ever so slightly downhill. Not downhill enough that it really looks downhill, just down hill enough that it tricks you into thinking that you are faster and in better shape than you are.

So, I ride for 6 or 7 miles, going just slightly downhill, zipping right along, feeling studly about my ability to get in a good bike ride on my lunch hour. Then I turn around.

When I turn around I suddenly notice that I’m not so zippy anymore. I start breathing a little heavier. I fiddle with my gears (I’m still not totally confident I understand when I’m supposed to shift), I watch the mph on the bike computer drop and drop and drop.

The first few miles of uphill are okay, a little more work, but okay. And then, without fail, I get to within 3-4 miles of the end and I just kind of want to be DONE.

It is at this point where I find that it becomes helpful to pretend that I’m the lead rider in the Tour de France and that the peloton is gaining on me. I find that the voices in my head, who suddenly become British cycling commentators, really help.

Phil Liggett: You know, this is truly an amazing story. The lead rider is a 31-year-old American woman who has never competed in the sport of cycling before and here she is, leading the Tour de France.

 

Paul Sherwan: Nobody would have predicted this. The rest of the pack can only marvel at the fact that they are being beaten by a woman and one as inexperienced as this one. I really thought her race would be over by now but she has overcome so much to be here.

 

PL: True. People talk about what Lance Armstrong went through, but did he ever give birth to an almost 9 pound baby? Can he sneeze while sitting down and not pee his pants, just a little? Did he survive the hell of being a girl in junior high? Was he ever dumped because his boyfriend’s friends thought she was ugly*? Has he ever tried to wax his own armpits?** I don’t think so.

 

PS: Quite right. Let’s check in again with our leader. Looks like she is just 2 miles from the end now. Just needs to put a little more distance between her and the Spanish racer nipping at her heels.

 

PL: Oh, looks like someone just reminded her that she can have an icy cold Diet Coke when she finishes. Look at her put the hammer down now. I think that yellow jersey is going to stay safe in her hands tonight.

 

And the amazing thing is, I win every stage. Every stage! Nobody does that.

Suck it Lance Armstrong.

_______________

* True story. I was going out with a boy my freshman year of high school. After 6 wonderful days together his friend came over to me and said “We’re all kind of wondering why Marco is going out with you because you are kind of ugly”. Marco dumped me that afternoon. Bastard.

** Also true story. FYI: OUCH.

Update

1. Walk/run 31 miles (Starting from June 8th) 

17.1 miles. Odds of completing this goal: 100% unless I break an ankle.

2. Bike 31 miles

8 miles. Still. Didn’t do any rides last week. Odds of completing this goal: 90%. 31 miles is not a big deal on a bike, I just need the weather to cooperate. For logistical reasons, I have to ride during the work day, so I need to seize the non-rainy moments when I can.

3. Swim 31 miles (this is a biggie) or about 50,000 meters.

7.25 miles. Odds of finishing this: 60%. 31 miles is A LOT of swimming. This is still doable if I swim 5 days a week.  

4. Have 31 days without Diet Coke. Doesn’t have to be in a row.

4 days. Still. Odds of completing this challenge: 14%. I’m not optimistic.

5. Watch 31 less minutes of TV a night. The easy way to do this: no TV after 9:30pm

With the exception of the Mad Men marathon that sucked me in last night and kept me up until midnight, I’ve been doing well on this one. Odds of completing: 99%

6. Read 31 minutes a day

Yep. Odds of completing: 100%. I’m way ahead on this one (and have started to get caught up on my 6 months of unread Vanity Fairs, which is a real accomplishment)

7. Spend 31 minutes a day less on-line

Yes, still on track with this one. Odds of completing: 99%

8. Add $31 extra to savings each week

Nope. Not going to happen. Odds of completing: 0%. Plane tickets+windshield replacement+car registration coming due= we’re lucky if savings doesn’t go down this month. Boo. On the upside, Mr. Monkey and I have been having good talks about our financial future and I think we have some renewed motivation and a semi new savings plan so I think our savings will be heading in the right direction soon.

9. Spend 31 hours on writing not related to work or blog

1.5 hours. Yikes. Odds of completing: 20%

10. 31 days with no fast food (fast food is anything with a drive-through)

15 going on 16 days. Odds of completing: 75%. Mr. Monkey is going out-of-town for work stuff twice this month and I think it will be tempting to hit the fast food breakfasts when he is gone and I am riding solo on the child care thing.

What if

Sometimes I get discouraged.

Sometimes I look at myself and think that I’ll never have a “good” body (whatever that is, which is a whole other post). I’ve had a baby. I have stretch marks. My boobs got a one-way ticket away from Perkyville years ago.

Sometimes, when I’m swimming or running, I think that I’ll never be as fast as I once was.

Sometimes it feels pointless because I feel so stuck inside the current skin I’m in and it is hard to see s future where I’m not like this.

But then I read this blog or this one or this one  and I see how these women, all mothers, all athletes, are all training and are seriously pursuing PRs and athletic goals and I start get a radical notion. What if I won’t ever be as fast or as fit as I once was? What if I was faster and fitter? What if I was in better shape at 35 than 25?

I would say I was at my fittest in high school when I was swimming twice a day and doing weights in PE. Realistically, I’ll probably never again have 5-6 hours to devote to training on daily basis so I can’t compete in terms of volume. But, when I was in high school I had terrible eating habits (loads of junk food, lots of processed stuff, tons of soda, hardly any fruits or veggies) and I did almost no cross training. I could swim for hours but couldn’t run 2 miles. I don’t know if I could ever beat my swim times from then, but what if I could be more fit overall?

If I really believe that this is possible, what would I give up to get there? The peanut butter m&m’s in my desk drawer? The late night ice cream snack? The hours sitting on the couch that could be spent on my bike or in the pool?

If I really believe that it is possible, would I try?

Hell yes.

$54.26

I’m officially signed-up for another race! After being shut out of the open water swim I really wanted to do, I’ve decided to take no chances and sign-up for this race in September. It is another sprint tri and the race description has the beautiful, beautiful word “flat” mentioned in both the bike and run sections. I love flat.

My goal will be to beat my time from the tri last September, which should be totally doable if this course really is flat.

Computer of Lies

Earlier this month, in a burst of cycling related enthusiasm, I both learned how to change a tube and purchased some essential pieces of equipment: a decent pump, some tube changing tools, an extra tube or two and a bike computer. Now, I should say that I did not buy a top of the line computer. I bought a basic wireless one, just something to track distance, average mph and time (it does a few other things, but I don’t care about those things, so I ignore them). My dear husband installed it for me as I get easily frustrated with directions, especially directions that are more pictures than words (I am the same with maps. Don’t show me a map, please, just write out the directions and I am much more likely to get there).

Dear husband installed the computer and I did my best to follow the directions about how to program it. I programmed it and then turned it off and then haven’t touched it in several weeks as it has been far to rainy to ride.

Seriously, with the rain. After an long winter with epic amounts of snowfall we are now having the fifth wettest June in history. We’ve had four days so far this month without rain. Four! It is a miracle this whole city isn’t covered in mold.

So, today was one of those four days so I finally took my bike out. I rolled it out of my office and headed to the trail. The trail is marked with miles so I figured I could check to make sure the computer was programmed correctly.

I headed out the parking lot, quickly covering the .5 miles to the trail. The trail is blissfully flat and, when not covered in debris from rain, nice and smooth. I pedaled and pedaled and pretty quickly arrived at the one mile marker. I looked down. According to the computer I was going 44 miles per hour.

Let me just say that I had no idea a whole winter of ignoring the bike would make me so fast!

I noted the computer also said I had covered 3.5 miles so far, which is not so accurate. I kept riding, soon coming to mile 2. I checked the computer. I had now covered, according to the computer of lies, 5.9 miles.

I rode for about 40 minutes. According to the computer I covered 28 miles and had an average speed of well over 21 mph. Zippy!

So, yeah. Probably not programmed correctly. I still have the directions but am seriously lacking confidence in my ability to program the damn thing. It is times like this that I especially wish my older brother lived near me. He used to work in a bike shop and rode competitively. I want him to take me out and teach me how to change tires and chains and how and when to shift and how to program this damn computer. But, as he stubbornly insists on living far away from me, I am going to have to learn to do this stuff on my own.

Though, he did drop me on my head once when I was a baby. Maybe the guilt of that will convince him that a trip to Iowa is required at some point?