Israel

Now that I’ve been back in the states for two weeks, it’s time to finally blog about my trip to Israel!  As you know from this post, my parents, brother, and I traveled to Israel to visit my grandparents in June.  It was my fourth visit to The Holy Land as an adult, the last in 2010, so it was high time for another visit.  My grandparents are in their 80s and 90s and still kickin’ it – more on that later!

IMG_20130627_183412
Part of the reason I’ve delayed writing this post is that I’m overwhelmed!  I left the photo-taking task up to my Dad and brother (no suprise there), and they did a great job, providing me hundreds of photos from which to choose – big thanks!  After much debate, I’ve decided it would be easiest to share my experiences by breaking up the trip into categories.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to do the trip justice, but I’ll do my best.  Enjoy!

The Food
No suprise that I’m starting with the food!  As is the case with any trip, the food was a major highlight for me!  I could do a whole post just on the food, but in the interest of blogging time, I’ll do a post in a post right here.

First, I’ll start by giving a major shout-out to my Safta (Hebrew for grandmother) and her cooking!  Perhaps the best example of her cooking skills happened the night of our arrival.  Tired from many hours of traveling and hungry for some real food, this first meal hit. the. spot!  Safta served a classic “light” Mediterranean dinner of quiche, Israeli salad (a staple – mostly tomatoes and cucumbers), homemade baba ganoush / hummus / matbucha (a tomato and roasted pepper spread of sorts), falafel, this amazing cauliflower dish – and more!  For dessert, her homemade strawberry sorbet and my Mom’s favorite, rose cookies!  It was all so fresh and flavorful.  This was the first of many of her meals!
IMG_3243
WP_20150620_20_03_16_Pro
Other meals of note include the breakfast that my Mom and I ate at least five or six times at nearby Cafe Viola!  Safta told us about this amazing cafe a few steps away from our apartment  (we rented an apartment that was ~10 min walk from my grandparents).  It’s actually called Cafe Dam Square (like Amsterdam), but Safta called it Viola (its previous name) and that name stuck with us the whole trip.  My brother and Dad joined a few times too, but my Mom and I are the real creatures of habit in the family 🙂

Since our apartment was not in a touristy area, the menu was completely in Hebrew – good thing my Dad joined us the first day!  We basically had the same breakfast every day, called the Israeli breakfast:  eggs, Israeli salad, cheeses, tuna, olives, wheat bread (which they referred to as “black bread”), plain yogurt with muesli, and cafe americano.  It was so healthy and filling without leaving you with that uncomfortable greasy breakfast feeling courtesy of my beloved eggs / hashbrowns / bacon (which I got promptly upon my arrival at the Philly airport).  We ate outside on the sidewalk (the weather was in the low 80s the whole trip – felt almost cool at times!) and had the same waitress almost every day – she was so kind and friendly and excited to test her English skills!  It was very pleasant.
WP_20150621_10_31_58_Pro
One other meal worth noting is less of a meal and more like street food – Sabich!  Think Mikey’s Late Night Slice, except healthy!  Sabich is similar to the classic falafel pita sandwich, except instead of falafel, the main ingredient is eggplant.  The pita gets stuffed with the best roasted (maybe lightly fried?) eggplant slices ever, and your choice of hummus, tahini, Israeli salad, pickles, onions, hard boiled egg, parsley, hot sauce, and a mango curry sauce.
IMG_3261
At first, my Mom was not interested (a nice way of putting it) in trying Sabich, as she doesn’t care for hard boiled eggs and thought she “had” to get them.  But after learning that she could omit them, she declared that Sabich was one of the best things she’s ever tasted (as Laurie Chait can do best).  As for me, I tried the hard boiled egg the first time, but discovered that I too enjoy it better sans egg, hummus, and parsley – keep it “simple”.  The warm and cool flavors meld together perfectly to create something that is really quite memorable.  Equally as memorable is the man who serves the Sabich – his name escapes me, but as the owner of the roadside stand he is there night and day to serve the never ending line of customers, and always with a smile on his face!
IMG_3444


Ramat Gan / Givatayim / Tel-Aviv
The best part of the Sabich stand?  It was located directly on the ten minute walk between my grandparent’s apartment in Ramat Gan and the apartment my family rented in Givatiyam!   Both are “suburbs” of Tel Aviv.  “Suburbs” in quotes because while that’s what they technically are, both Ramat Gan and Givatayim feel more like bustling cites than quiet suburbs.  My Dad grew up in Ramat Gan in an apartment not far from the one my grandparents now live (and have lived for the past 40 years), and says the city has developed a lot since he was a kid.  It’s now full of high-rise buildings, grocery stores, shops, cafes, etc.  My grandparents take the bus and walk everywhere, which keeps them young 🙂  This is the view from the roof of my grandparent’s apartment building – they live on the fourth floor (I think?) and have one quarter of the roof as their own.  It’s breezy and beautiful – a real perk.
IMG_3249
WP_20150628_19_33_40_Pro
A staple of Israel, and noticeably our neighborhood, were the cats!  There were cats EVERYWHERE.  And although they are mostly strays without a true home (Susan is a lucky girl…), some of them are quite well fed.  Not pictured is the man who was watching this man feed these cats – he was NOT pleased.  Apparently not everyone loves the cats…
WP_20150625_11_14_56_Pro
A few times, the four of us piled into my Saba’s car and drove to the beach – a pastime we all love.  The drive to get to the beach, however, was another story!  Now I understand why my Dad drives like a maniac – it’s in his genes!  In fact, he displays a remarkable amount of self-restraint when driving the tree-lined streets of Bay Village.  It’s an understatement to say that driving in Israel is INSANE.  I regularly felt like my life was on the line.  There really aren’t lanes, motorcycles weave in and out of traffic (as do cars), and people generally just do whatever they want – traffic laws be dammed.

Happily, once at our destination we were greeted with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, of which “we” failed to capture any pictures.  Just take my word for it – it was beautiful.  The beach itself wasn’t as nice as our beloved Anna Maria Island, but who’s complaining?  And if you’re bored, you can borrow a book from this awesome “library” right on the beach!
WP_20150621_16_02_14_Pro


Jerusalem

Going into this trip, I didn’t think we’d travel much, if at all.  We’ve all toured the country multiple times, and we wanted to spend lots of quality time with Saba and Safta.  But D (my brother) convinced us that we needed to do at least a little traveling.  After all, in Israel you can pretty much go anywhere in under 2 hours!  So on Monday of the trip, we got up, went to Viola, had ourselves a hearty breakfast and set out for the day.  We spent most the day in the old city of Jerusalem, wandering the Jewish and Christian Quarters.  On my Taglit (Birthright) trip in 2007, we didn’t visit the Christian Quarter – go figure – and I found it to be incredibly beautiful.  This photo was taken inside the Jewish Quarter, and overlooks the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) and the Muslim Quarter.  Side note:  make sure to bring a cardigan or scarf when you visit the Wall – I was forced to wear a nasty wrap to cover up my scandalous shoulders and chest!  #rebel
IMG_3263
After D wandered around some more and my parents and I relaxed a bit at Aroma – the Starbucks of Israel – we headed back to Tel Aviv.  But not before stopping first at the Mount of Olives, with the most breathtaking view of the Old City of Jerusalem:
WP_20150622_17_11_25_Pro
I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about the Mount of Olives, but suffice it to say it’s amazing how much history is in one small place for so many people.  Case in point, while we were there there was a tour group of Christians from South America, who had made the journey to a place that was equally holy to them as it is to Muslims as it is to Jews.

The Dead Sea
The other place D really wanted to go was the Dead Sea.  After some debate, we decided that not only would we go to the Dead Sea – we’d spent the night in a nice hotel at the Dead Sea!  Mainly because my Mom and I wanted to enjoy a nice, cool, unsalted pool in addition to our dips in the salt.  That, and we wanted my Dad to be able to fully enjoy himself, and not have to think about driving back home at the end of a sun-soaked day.  After reading numerous reviews, we settled on Herod’s, and although it was a bit on the pricey side (most places were), we all decided it was worth it.  It was so nice to take a vacation from our vacation and just chillax for 24 hours!
WP_20150625_16_11_36_Pro
WP_20150625_16_13_39_Pro
Not only is the Dead Sea one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth, with almost 35% salinity, it is also the lowest place on earth.  Those mountains in the distance are Jordan.  We really had quite the view from our hotel!  Between the salty water that is so good for your skin, the cool and beautiful pool, the tasty food, and the general feeling of being at a nice resort, spending the night at the Dead Sea was an excellent call.  Good job, family!
WP_20150625_19_31_03_Pro


My Grandparents

And last, but definitely not least, my grandparents:
IMG_20130627_183412
Although my Saba and Safta visited every summer of my childhood, sometimes for as much as a month or more at a time, I sometimes really wish that I got to have a “normal” relationship with them.  You know, going over to grandma’s for dinner every Sunday, shopping with her and my Mom (my Safta has good taste!), just generally spending more time together.  But, alas, that’s not the way it happened, and I’m grateful we were able to see them as much as we did growing up.  And now, as an adult, I think I appreciate my relationship with them even more.  They are both so SENSIBLE – it’s really incredible!  And not once on this trip – or ever – have they asked me when I was getting married, or why I hadn’t found a man, like many of my friends’ grandparents.  On the contrary, they think I’m great just as I am!
WP_20150623_13_01_56_Pro
WP_20150628_11_56_45_Pro
(Side note:  at 95, my Saba still goes to the gym three days a week – and WALKS to and from!  If that’s not a good example, I don’t know what is.)

My Safta is warm, easy going, kind, and fun!  And my Saba is good-natured, thoughtful, and resourceful.  And they both raised my Dad to be the wonderful man and father that he is today!  I love you both very, very much, and I’m so glad we got to spend some more time together.  Until next time!
WP_20150707_19_34_18_Pro
Laila Tov, everyone!  Good night!

Fourth

Hi O-HI-30 readers!  I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!

(BOOM2010_WF_7/2/2010) Red White and Boom fireworks in downtown Columbus, Ohio on Friday, July 2, 2010.(Dispatch photo by Will Figg)

Confession:  I didn’t take this photo of Red, White & Boom.  In fact, I didn’t even see fireworks this year, except while on the highway!  Instead, I exercised a lot, slept a lot, and generally relaxed over the three-day weekend.  It wasn’t a typical Fourth of July for me – I’m usually out of town, taking advantage of a long weekend.  I had planned to go home and enjoy the Bay pool with my Mom, but when Karen recently fell and broke her arm, requiring surgery and leaving her quite banged up, my Mom decided to show off her skills as a caretaker and spend the weekend in Columbus.  Karen is doing pretty well, all things considered, and it was nice to spend the weekend just hanging out together.

The weekend started off Thursday night with a date with this lovely girl!
011
Jackie and I decided to go on a romantic date at the most romantic restaurant in Columbus: Basi!  Basi has a long history of romance; Ashley and Johnny got engaged after dinner there, and I’ve had my own fair share of romantic dates over their red wine and candlelight.  Perhaps the best part about Basi is that it’s as romantic in the summer as the winter.  As cozy as the inside of the restaurant is, the patio is equally charming.
001
008
The atmosphere is second only to the food – or maybe it’s the other way around!  We opted to share three appetizers, and ended up with more than enough food.  Don’t get me wrong, the entrees are excellent, but there is just something fun about sharing appetizers with a girlfriend!
003
We went for the zucchini pronto, mussels, and toasted pistachio flatbread.  All were outstanding, but there is just something special about the zucchini – it’s SO GOOD.  Light, fresh, flavorful – my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  If you’ve never had it – get your butt to Basi ASAP!
002
007
003_2
004
Thanks for a lovely date, Jackie!

Friday morning was spent struggling through a “long” run.  I’m trying to actually train for my Olympic triathlon this year, but I think I bit off more than I could chew after 2+ weeks of not running.  Big thanks to my fellow Girls on the Run coach Amy for helping me through it and for introducing me to Nuun, a natural alternative to Gatorade (I hate the stuff).  Note to self: learn more about race hydration and nutrition!
014
The next morning, I set my alarm for 6:45 AM and hit the road bright and early to join up with the cyclists of Columbus Outdoor Pursuits (COP)!  I knew I needed to get in a long ride this weekend, and I’m just so sick of dodging the multitudes of runners, children, and dogs on the Olentangy Trail.  Thanks to the nudging of a co-worker (thanks, Kristine!), I found a ride on the COP website for Saturday morning.  I was a little nervous – I didn’t know anyone and had never been on a group ride before – but I figured, it’s O-HI-30 style!

The ride left from a trailhead on the far west side of Columbus at 8 AM.  We rode eight miles to Der Dutchman for some down home breakfast (these are my kind of cyclists), and then headed out for another ~30 miles before heading back to the trailhead.  The group was made up of about 10 50+ year-old men and me, the only female!  I was also the only one riding a hybrid instead of a road bike (no suprise there), and I got made fun of for having a kickstand (they did convince me to remove it before my tri – it will save me five pounds!).  I definitely was slower than the group, but a couple of the men were kind enough to stick behind with me (I wasn’t THAT slow).  All in all, a great experience!  I’m already planning on joining the group again this weekend.  Need to get in those miles – it’s crunch time!
bike1
bike2
By the time we were finished, it was almost noon!  I hurried home to meet up with my Mom and Karen and a couple of Karen’s friends (Hi Terry and Cindy!) for the 32nd Annual Doo Dah Parade!  As mentioned earlier, I’m not usually in town Fourth of July weekend, so I hadn’t actually watched the Doo Dah before.  But I had definitely heard about it – my parents used to go back in the day, and Karen has been a regular spectator over the years!  Sadly, I was a bit disappointed.  Despite a plethora of political material in the news currently, there was barely any political satire – I didn’t see a single Donald Trump!   It was mostly weird people doing weird things.  But the Marching Fidels did make their annual appearance (with an “open for business” sign), as did The Supremes!
doo1
doo2
There was also this Jeep covered in wine corks.  And Liz’s Lemons – RIP Betty’s and Surly Girl!  Very clever.
doo3
doo4

After the Doo Dah, we headed to Karen’s for a Fourth of July cookout that I failed to capture any pictures of, but trust me when I say it was very tasty!  Since Karen was man down, I was in charge of the grill – for the first time ever!  I grilled corn on the cob in the husks, turkey burgers, regular burgers, and dogs.  A success!  When I finally move out of my apartment one day, the first thing I’m doing is getting a grill.

Later that evening, my Mom and I walked to Jeni’s because I had a major craving for a hot fudge sundae!  Some people may think blueberry pie is the most American of all desserts, but I declare the hot fudge sundae with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry to be the true American dessert.  This majorly hit the spot!
012

All in all, a very nice way to spend a three-day weekend.  So tell me: blueberry pie, or hot fudge sundae?!

 

 

Dad

I spent Father’s Day this year with my Father, in his native country of Israel!  Rather than spend my time starting at a computer screen writing this post, I enjoyed our first full day in Israel with him.  But now that I’m back on Midwest soil, I wanted to take a post, in similar fashion to my Mother’s Day post, to properly salute Arnon Chait, aka Dad.  And while I’m at it, wish him a happy belated birthday (he turned 63 on July 2!)
WP_20150530_20_33_27_Pro
One could argue that personality-wise, I’m close to 50% my Dad and 50% my Mom, but in actuality the ratio is probably more like 60/40 or 70/30.  While I inherited a lot of my Mom’s qualities when it comes to building and maintaining relationships, most of my other personality traits resemble my Dad much more than my Mom.  For one, we’re both extroverts while my Mom and brother are clear introverts.  We’re kind of loud, are natural leaders, determined, and impatient.  Some of this is nature, but some is also nurture.  I attribute a lot of who I am to what I’ve learned from my Dad throughout my childhood and into my adulthood!

Lessons from Arnon Chait

1. Don’t Be a Follower
Growing up, my Dad taught my brother and I one major lesson:  always look for the shortest line.  This came up a lot recently during our time in his native Israel, where everything is chaotic and no one follows the rules.  While my Dad didn’t exactly teach my brother and I to break the rules, he did teach us not to “act like an American” and instead “act like an Israeli”.  Meaning don’t join the line with the most number of people – look instead for a line to the far side with fewer people.  Find a faster way of doing something (hence the impatience), or a more clever way.  There is no shame in outsmarting the system to your own benefit.  Basically, if everyone is doing one thing, then that’s a sign that you should be doing something else.  It’s a lesson I embrace in my own life, both the basic and grander interpretation.

2. You Only Get What You Ask For
I’ve been thinking about writing an entire post on this one statement: You Only Get What You Ask For (YOGWYAF).  Although grammatically incorrect (“you only get for what it is that you ask” doesn’t have the same ease of tongue…), it’s what I consider my personal motto.  And I attribute this to my father, who fully embraces it’s spirit.

My history with YOGWYAF dates back to my days as a school girl.  I have distinct memories of asking many a teacher for a grade adjustment on a test when I had shown my work but made a simple mistake.  The teachers usually responded, “if I give you the points for this, then I have to give everyone who made the same mistake the points”, to which I would reply, “but everyone else isn’t asking for the points!”  More often than not, the teachers would cave and give me the grade adjustment.  Fast-forward to my graduate program two years ago, in which I frequently found myself asking for a deadline extension on behalf of the class.  This motto isn’t limited to school; my most recent promotion was rewarded on my asking for the position – not the other way around.  I often apply it in retail situations as well.  For example, I bought a pair of pants and wore them before realizing there were too big, so I went back to the store, explained myself, and asked if I could exchange them for the smaller size.  Not only did the associate let me exchange them, but she let me wear the new pants out of the store (I had planned on coming back to the store when I wasn’t wearing the pants).  I’ve done the same when pants shrink (tumble dry low my ass) – try it!

My Dad beams with pride every time he hears one of my YOGWYAF stories, because he knows it’s a reflection of him!  You’re your own best advocate.

3. Be Present
If my Mom was writing this list, this would be her #1.  She and I often marvel at my Dad’s ability to be present and live in the moment.  As the CEO of at least four biotech companies (early detection of ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and fetal abnormalities, to name a few) in addition to many “side” projects, my Dad is the smartest and busiest man that I (and most everyone who meets him) know.  How does he manage to keep all these companies running and still find time to attend dinner parties with friends, watch TV with my Mom, spectate all my triathlons, and respond to tech-support requests from various inept family members within record time?  By being fully present!

My Dad’s ability to focus on exactly what he’s doing at every moment is incredible.  When replying to an email, he’s replying to an email.  When reviewing an 80-page legal contract (his favorite…not), he’s reviewing an 80-page legal contract.  When hanging a picture my Mom asked him to hang, he’s hanging a picture.  In short – he doesn’t waste any energy ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  He lives in the present.  It keeps his stress levels remarkably low and allows him to juggle more in one day than most people can in a week (or a month).  And most importantly, it keeps him happy.  It’s a quality I admire greatly, and one that I work on every single day.

4. Compassion is Undervalued
I grew up in a very liberal household.  While many people become more conservative as they age, my parents become more and more progressive with every breath!   My Mom was a social worker, and she and my Dad instilled a strong moral foundation in my brother and I that we are “thy brother’s keeper”.  Both my parents have a strong sense of compassion for the struggles of others – a trait that I believe is undervalued.  People rarely reward it or even recognize it, but my Dad will tell you that having compassion is what makes a good leader great.  He’s extremely non-judgmental, gives people the benefit of the doubt, and fights for those who can’t fight for themselves.  I’m proud to say that I “drank the koolaid” and inherited he and my Mom’s progressiveness;  I can only hope I’ve inherited some of their compassion as well.

5. Don’t Apologize for Who You Are
This one is deeply personal for me.  I spent a large part of the past three decades figuring out who I am.  It took some time, but I’ve realized over the years that I’m not like most girls.  I’m not exactly sweet, or reserved, or ladylike.  I’m outspoken, a bit loud, and as one MBA professor described me, “playful and irreverent.”  I love to swear.  Basically – I’m different.  And thanks to my Dad, I’m owning it!

If my Dad were on the TV show “Survivor”, he’d either win the show or be kicked off in the first episode.  As discussed earlier, he’s loud, impatient, and always in charge.  Some might consider him obnoxious at times.  But does he ever waste a minute feeling bad about it, or apologizing for who he is?  No!  He owns it.  And you know what?  Not only do most people like him – they love him.  And they look to him for guidance, for leadership, for inspiration.

I’d be lying if I said I’m always confident, or never at odds with myself.  But those times are becoming fewer and farther between, and it’s largely thanks to my Dad.  He encourages me to be exactly who I am, never apologize for it, and instead, celebrate it!

 
Thank you, Daddy.  I love you!

 

Shalom!

Shalom, O-HI-30 readers!
WP_20150625_16_13_39_Pro
I’m back in O-HI-O after spending 8 days (10 including travel) in The Holy Land – it was m’tzuyan (excellent)!  I had planned on writing a massive recap post this evening, but alas, you’ll have to wait a few more days for all the jewey details.  For one, I’m just too. damn. tired. to stay up late writing – the jet lag, while not too bad, is still caught up with me and I need another good night’s sleep (I went to bed at 9 last night).  And second, I did not take a single photo on the trip – I left the dirty work up to my Dad and brother!  And while my Dad has sent me his photos, my brother has ignored my pleas to do the same…(D, if you’re reading, stop what you’re doing and send!).

WP_20150621_002
I’m also working on a belated Father’s Day post (you didn’t think I would skip honoring Dad, did you?!), and then we’ll be back to regular programming.  So please, sit tight – more from O-HI-30 soon!

P.S. – Shout out to the Supreme Court last week! Maybe I should leave the country more often.

Random

Hey guys!  How was your weekend?  I spent part of mine with my dear friend Cullen!
006
Cullen recently moved to the very small town of Oberlin, OH, home to the college of the same name.  I’ve visited Cullen at her many homes throughout the years – NYC, Pittsburgh, Charleston WV – but no matter her locale, one thing remains true:  Cullen plans a great visit!  Although I was in Oberlin for less than 24 hours, we enjoyed lunch courtesy of her local farmer’s market, browsed cute shops, got pedicures, biked 9 miles to a winery (hence the sweaty bangs in the photo above), enjoyed wine and cheese and bread at said winery, biked 9 miles back home, enjoyed a cozy dinner out, ran 7 miles (her 11!), and ate a stellar brunch.  All while discussing fitness, fellas, and our futures.  A great visit indeed – thanks, Cul!
cullen wine
As you may know, I leave for Israel this Friday to visit my grandparents in Tel-Aviv!  It’s been four years (I think? Actually, probably five…) since my last visit, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them and spending time on the beach with my parents and brother.  Friday can’t come soon enough!  Until then, though, I wanted to share some randomness that I’ve been into these days.  Enjoy!

Undisclosed
Remember last fall when I told you guys about Serial, long before the masses were all listening to the real-life crime investigation podcast?!  Well, you can thank me now for telling you about Undisclosed, the “follow-up” to Serial (and thank you, Megan, for telling me about it!).  I say “follow-up” in quotes because while it’s not actually affiliated with Serial, it is about the same subject:  the trial and subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed.  If Serial viewed the case form a 30,000 foot view, Undisclosed is viewing it from 1,000.
1z8-eXeq
It’s worth noting that although Undisclosed is narrated by three people that are part of Adnan’s legal team, I’ve found it to be surprisingly unbiased and fact-based.  The podcast takes a deep dive into the building blocks of the state’s case, and slowly picks them apart hour by hour, day by day.  It’s not as well-produced as Serial, and the narrators aren’t as polished or engaging as Sarah Koenig, but the content is eye-opening.  I won’t say anything more, but if you listened to Serial (and if you didn’t – get with the program!), I highly encourage you to listen to Undisclosed.   And then let’s talk!

Run Keeper App
For years I’ve run with my bulky Garmin watch, sometimes running a mile before the GPS successfully located satellites and actually started tracking my run.  Well, I’m happy to say I’ve discovered a Garmin replacement thanks to my friend EB!  If you’re a runner, download the Run Keeper app ASAP!  Run Keeper will not only track your run, but it will talk to you at your desired frequency.  I have mine set to notify me (quietly over my music) of my distance and current pace every 0.5 mile.  The app is free, but you can pay more if you want to download statistics of your runs over time, make a training plan, etc. – but for me, the free plan is just fine.

runkeeper

The Skimm
Hopefully some of you are already avid readers of The Skimm (shout-out to Pratt for introducing it to me and my friends!).  If you’re not, listen up!  Written by two young women who previously worked for NBC News, The Skimm is a daily email news blast that summarizes the day’s news in a clever, concise, and unbiased manner.  It arrives in your inbox M-F mornings around 6 AM, and in three minutes you are armed with enough knowledge to impress your co-workers.  I watch the Today show every morning from 7-7:30, and I often find that I learn more from The Skimm than Matt Lauer.  It’s also quite funny – both the subject lines and the content – I often laugh while sitting on my toilet at 6:25 AM (TMI?)!  Subscribe today – I guarantee you you’ll smile AND learn something!
skimm


Dustin Kelch @ Sweat Box
You might recall a post I wrote last summer regarding my experience falling in love with weight lifting and hiring a personal trainer.  1.5 years later, I’m still loving seeing Dustin!  Dustin and I recently closed a business deal that’s been in the works for a while:  I do his social media, he gives me training sessions at a discount.  Deal!  Although he knows it’s important for his “branding” and building and retaining clientele, Dustin really dislikes social media.  I, on the other hand, enjoy the cleverness of writing short posts, and could use more experience in the world of hashtags and photo editing.  So starting last week, I’m posting on Dustin’s behalf on Facebook and Instagram @ DustinKelch_at_Sweatbox!
sweatbox
Although I’m doing the posting, its important to me that the content is authentic, so Dustin is providing all the photos / videos and I’ll simply clean them up, add some creative supporting text, and do the actual positing.  Fun!  Follow Dustin Kelch @ Sweat Box for fitness, food, and fun!

Etsy Necklace
I’ve never been one for nice jewelry.  I have hooks full of “costume” jewelry, but don’t own any jewelry that anyone would consider selling at a pawn shop.  Case in point:  for the past few months, I’ve been wearing a thin “gold” necklace that I bought for $4 at H&M (and before that, Forever 21 – it broke after six months, a pretty long run!). Then a thought occurred to me – I could buy myself a nice(r) necklace!  After some research, I settled on this minimalist gold necklace from the SixEightyEight shop on Etsy:
etsy
I’m really enjoying the simplicity of the necklace – it doesn’t dictate what earrings I can wear (typically, if I wear a necklace, my earrings are small).  And I loved purchasing it on Etsy – it’s handmade by a woman named Jessica, she let me customize the chain length (17″), and she shipped it in the cutest little packaging!  It would make a great gift.  If you’re in the market for a minimalist necklace, I highly recommend her shop!

 

That’s all the randomness for now, folks!  I’ll be checking in with one more post between now and Israel (or maybe while flying at 40,000 feet), and then I’ll be vacationing from my computer in favor of the Mediterranean!  I’ll be back in early July with a full recap of all my Israeli adventures (mmm falafel)!

 

Fast(ish)

First, a quick thank you to everyone for your kind words regarding The O-HI-30 Dating Rulebook!  Whether you’re currently dating and need advice or in a lifelong marriage and give it, it speaks to us all.

This past weekend, I competed in my first triathlon of the season!
007
Recall that a couple weeks ago, I posted about my training plans – or lack of – for my fourth summer season of triathlons.  I discovered the sport in 2012, and all it took was one race for me to fall in love.  Five triathlons later, I’m still in love!

Since the race was Saturday morning, I hurried home from work to prep for the race and make my standard pre-race meal:  pasta!  I went with spaghetti and meatballs.  I made the meatballs from scratch using this recipe / technique – The Kitchn is a great blog for teaching you methods, not specific recipes.  Highly recommend!  I also prepared all of my race stuff using the checklist I made last year from my gear post, which was super helpful – blogging is coming in handy!
003
After some couch time with Season Three of GIRLS (thanks to Jackie, who delivered the library DVD!), I hit the sheets.  I sometimes have a hard time sleeping the night before a race, but I guess I was tired cuz I slept like a log until my alarm went off at 5:10.  I made my breakfast, gathered up all of my stuff, and drove the 25 minutes north to the race, stopping by Karen’s house on the way (bless her heart – she got up early to be my cheering squad of one!).  Once we arrived at the race, it was go-go-go; I got my timing chip, body marked, set up my bike and transitions #1 and #2 (in the same location), and then it was time to swim!

The water temp the previous day was just 62 degrees (I stalked the Alum Creek Daily Fisherman’s Report!), so I was worried I would need a wetsuit.  I’ve never worn one before, and as any athlete knows, you don’t start something new on race day!  So I consulted the Triathlon group I belong to on Facebook, and of the 15 people who gave me advice, not a single one recommended the wetsuit.  I did end up borrowing one from a co-worker just in case, but I wasn’t planning on wearing it unless I really needed to.  They aren’t easy to remove, and although they supposedly make you faster (more buoyant), I was certain that any time I gained in the water would be negated by the time it took to remove the thing.

On race morning, the race announcers told us the water was a balmy 67 degrees.  And you know what?  When I put my hand in the water expecting it to feel icy, it actually felt warm – especially compared to the air temp.  It was windy, cloudy, and only 60 degrees – brrr.  The race started with my wave – 34 & under – women AND men!  About 100 of us walked out into the water and lined up, so I made sure to get in front.  I’m a good swimmer, and I didn’t want to be fighting through kicking feet to make my way forward.  At 7:10, the buzzer went off, and it was go time!

Despite the fact that I always feel off my game during the swim – it’s just so different than being in a pool – I rocked it!  I finished the 0.45 miles in 13 and a half minutes – a speedy time for me.  Which was followed by a not-so-speedy transition from swim to bike!  I clumsily put on a long sleeve shirt over my still-wet skin (and boy am I glad I did – it was cool on the bike), socks, bike shoes, helmet, watch, and finally made my way through transition in almost four minutes.  Gotta work on that before my Olympic race!

And then there was the bike.  Oh, the bike.  If you’ve been reading my blog for some time then you know how I feel about the bike.  Let’s just say that spinning does not translate outdoors!  By mile 2 of the 17.89 miles, I was already cursing under my breath.  It was HARD.  At first I thought it was just me – my weak legs, my heavy bike, etc. – but then, when we finally turned directions halfway through – I realized it wasn’t me.  It was the WIND!  For the first half of the course we were fighting some serious winds, and on the second half, they went in our favor.  The other contributing factor were the long, slow inclines – pushing and pulling for what felt like hours!  But despite all of this, I somehow pulled off a 16 MPH average and completed the bike in 1:07 – not too shabby for me.  I guess all of those 12 MPH were balanced by some 20 MPH!

And then it was on to the third and final section – the run!  In my past sprint triathlons, the run has been a highlight for me, and happily, that was the case on this sprint too (this was NOT the case during my Olympic race last summer…).  Although we ran on FOUR different terrains – large gravel, trail, pavement, and grass – and then back again – I felt great.  These two pictures were taken on the same part of the course – we were running on the flat top of a hill, and these were my views to the right and to the left!
004
005
So many people passed me during the bike, but I’m happy to say that I know I passed at least a few of those same people during the run!  I ran fast, and I felt great.  Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line with a 27:09 run time – a 9 min mile!  Not too shabby for after swimming and biking, if I do say so myself.  Karen was an excellent cheering squad of one, capturing this picture of me at the finish, and my friend Mark from my MBA program was also completed the Duathlon – run, bike, run.  Congrats, Mark!
007

001
008
Total time: 1:53:48.  It’s difficult to compare race to race, as all of the distances and transitions vary.  But it’s safe to say that I improved in all three sports!  Now about those transitions…. Also, I thought it was cool that you could get a printout of your results almost immediately following the race.  009

I titled this post Fast(ish), because while I am happy with my times on a personal level, I was surprised to see how poorly they stacked up to my competitors.  Typically, a sprint triathlon attracts more amateur athletes – people dabbling in the sport for the first or second time.  Well, that did not appear to be the case for this race.  These women were FAST!  I placed 45/71 women, 5/10 in my age group, and the top ten female finishers were all older than me.  In fact, the second place winner was 55!  From what I can tell, if you’re over the age of 35 and competing in triathlons – you’re probably pretty serious about it.  These women were badasses!  Really, quite inspiring.

After a warm shower (sooo good), I met my cousins Katie and Pete and Edward, my First Cousin Once Removed (aka, their son), for brunch!  Sadly, the place we had in mind was closed – apparently brunch only applies on Sundays?!  I was very sad as I had drippy eggs and a bloody mary in my mind most of the race.  Instead, we headed across the street to Acre, a tasty fast-casual restaurant, but one that did not have drippy eggs or bloody marys.  I opted for the Mole burrito, and ate it across from this cutie pie!
acre
edward
Adorable.  The rest of the wknd was spent drinking beer with friends both old and new, writing the O-HI-30 dating rulebook, stretching it out in yoga, meeting a friends’ new baby, and watching the rest of GIRLS Season 3!  It was lovely.

One triathlon down, one more to go this summer!  I have some serious training to do before July 26!

 

Dating

When I first started this blog over a year ago, I brainstormed an initial list of topics to write about.  One such topic is the “rules” of dating – The O-HI-30 Dating Rulebook, if you will.  The topic has been on my mind a lot lately, as I begin to re-enter the world of dating for the first time in eight months (an eternity for me).

What makes me an enough of an authority on dating to write a rulebook, you ask?  Well, for one, I’ve dated – a lot.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that I’ve dated more than most of my friends combined.  When you’re single and actively trying not to be for as long as I have, you rack up quite a large number of first, second, and third dates.  Sometimes even a fourth.  And as frustrating and exhausting as all this dating can be, it has taught me a thing or two about how to date.

Now before you go lecture me about how there are no rules, or how these rules are keeping me from finding my one true love, hear me out.  When I first started dating, mostly after college, I obsessed about everything – whether I should go on a second date with someone I wasn’t into, whether he was into me, whether I should text him, whether I said the “wrong” thing.  It was exhausting.  But almost ten years and many many many dates later, I’ve finally become comfortable enough to (mostly) stop obsessing.  I’ve connected the dots, noticed patterns, and yes – have developed some “rules” to date by.  Of course these rules aren’t scientific, and they aren’t absolute. But they have helped my Type A personality feel more in control.  And when I feel in control, I can actually relax and enjoy the process – and isn’t that what dating, and life, is all about?

The O-HI-30 Dating Rulebook

1.  A Date is Just One Date
I still remember my first match.com date clearly.  It was a late summer Thursday night, pouring rain, and I was supposed to be meeting this guy for the first time at a nearby bar.  Despite the fact that I had certainly been on dates before, I was sick to my stomach with nervousness.  This was my first true “blind” date – with a guy I had yet to meet in person.  I even remember calling my parents, near tears, saying how much I didn’t want to go.  But I’m not a flake, and I was not about to leave the poor guy hanging, so I sucked it up and went on the date (and although the date was just OK, I also went on a second date – see Rule #3).

Since then, I’ve been on a thousand first dates (an exaggeration, yes, but not that far off), and I’ve learned the invaluable lesson that a date is no big deal.  It’s just one date!  The worst date of my life lasted 45 torturous minutes, but I survived, and so can you.  The lesson here:  never turn down the opportunity to meet someone.  At worst, you’ll lose 45 minutes of your life and have a good story from it.  And at best, you’ll meet him.  One date never killed anyone!

2. And Two Dates is Not Marriage
To go on a second date or not to go on a second date – that is the question.  I have wasted hours of emotional energy obsessing over whether or not to go on a second date with someone I was just lukewarm about.  When I was younger, if a guy asked me out on date #2 (and to be honest – they almost always do – I’m good at the first few dates, just haven’t figured out how to make it last!), I said yes 99% of the time.  I listened to the voices in my head (and of those around me) that said, “give it a chance, he might have just been nervous, you can’t really know if you are interested in someone after one date” etc. etc.  Every once and a while, those voices ended up being right – I did warm up to the guy on the second date.  But most of the time, the second date validated that I was Just Not That Into Him.

The key here is that if you are unsure about someone after the first date, then go on a second.  Two dates doesn’t mean you have to marry the person.  But that second date probably will be enough to indicate if you want to move forward with him, or move on to the next one (as Jay Z would say).

3. If You’d Rather Be Home Watching TV, it’s Probably Time to Move On
So let’s say you went on that second date, and now you’re questioning whether to go on a third.  I’ve been in that place plenty of times.  One of those times, I was telling my Mom that on my second date with a particular fellow, I kept sneaking looks at my watch; despite my best efforts to be engaged in the conversation, time was dragging.  Her response?  “Dating is supposed to be fun!  If you’d rather be home alone watching TV or reading a book, then you’re probably not into him.”  What simple and priceless advice!  If I’m looking at my watch or wondering when I can get home to curl up on the couch with my cat and latest episode of Orange is the New Black (season 3 starts Friday!), it’s probably time to move on.

4.  It’s OK to Say No Thanks
One of the joys of having dated a lot is that I finally can tell whether someone is going to be a possibility after one date (note that I say AFTER one date; see #1).  This might sound contradictory to Rule #2 – go out with him again if you are unsure.  The key phrase there is if you are unsure.  When I was 25, I often wasn’t sure how I felt about a guy after one date.  I needed to go on a second (or third, or fourth) to find out.  But now that I’m 31, I don’t have to go on multiple dates to figure that out. Experience has given me the ability to know much faster whether I’m into a guy or not.

Now before you go and say I’m “being too picky” or “too quick to judge”, hear me out.  It’s not about whether he wears bad shoes, or picks a bad place to meet for a drink, or doesn’t hold the door open for me.  But if I don’t laugh easily during the date, or he shows very little interest in me while I’m speaking (something that happens more often than it should), or has a raging hatred of Hillary Clinton, or only dines at chain restaurants, he’s probably not the guy for me.  It’s OK to Say No Thanks.

5.  But Always Say No Thanks
So you’ve navigated Rules #1-4, and you’ve decided you don’t want to go on another date with this person.  What do you do now?  If you’re a guy, the answer is pretty simple – don’t ask the girl out again, and she’ll get the idea.  But if you’re a girl, you unfortunately are more likely on the receiving end of that situation (see Rule #6).  Do you owe him a response?  Most people I know would say that if you’ve been on less than two or three dates with someone, you don’t.  You can simply “disappear” – aka, never reply to their last text.  But I’m not most people.

It might seem outdated, but I subscribe to the childhood lesson of, “treat others like you want to be treated”.   Putting myself in the guy’s shoes, if I asked a girl out, I’d expect a response – even if it was a “no”.  Simply put, disappearing just isn’t very polite.  If a guy does ask you out again, and you aren’t interested, a simple, “thank you, but I just don’t think it’s going to work for me” is straightforward and effective.  There is no confusion, the guy isn’t left wondering why he never heard from you, and you can move on.  The same goes for guys; if you’ve been dating a girl for a little while (read: more than three or four dates), it’s nice to let her know that you’ll be moving on.  After a handful of dates, disappearing is kind of rude, not to mention lame.  It’s OK to Say No Thanks, But Always Say No Thanks.

6.  Men Like to Think They are In Charge
This one is near and dear to my heart.  I would argue that I have more “balls” than most men I know.  Just ask my friends – I’ve asked many a man out!  Naturally, this assertiveness carries past the first date – I’m impatient, I want the guy to ask me out again, and on my terms.  I want to kiss the guy.  If I don’t hear from him after the first or second date, I want to ask him out – why does it always get to be his decision?

But here’s the reality:  men like to think they are in charge.  Don’t listen to what others tell you – gender stereotypes are still holding strong.  In my experience, if a guy hasn’t asked me out on a second or third date, it’s because he doesn’t want to go on a second or a third date.  Or if he hasn’t kissed me, it’s because he doesn’t want to kiss me (at least not yet).  Me making the move rarely helps – trust me, I’ve tried.  Men enjoy a chase.  Playing hard to get – just a little – is highly effective.  Note that I’m not saying men like to “be” in charge – in fact, much of the time the woman actually has the upper hand.  The man just likes to think he’s in charge.  So let the guy think he has the upper hand (even if you do), play it cool, and see what happens.  You’ll reap the benefits.

7.  Less is More
One of the observations that makes me most frustrated about dating is that women have the reputation for being “crazy”.  In my experience, men are often the “crazy” ones.  They ask you a million questions before they’ve even met you (all via text), they text you immediately after your first date saying how much fun they had and that they’d like to see you again, they want to see pictures of you in a dress that you just bought at the mall.  They tell you “good night” and “good morning” every day as if they’re your boyfriend, when in actuality you’ve only been on one date.  Can you say intense?  In short, they come on too strong.

In my opinion, in the beginning of a relationship, less is more.  I don’t need to hear from you much (if at all) between our first and second date.  I don’t need to know how your day was, or tell you how mine was.  A little bit of mystery is intriguing.  We both have busy, exciting lives, and we’re just making a little room for the possibility of a relationship.  Of course, as that relationship builds, breaking down those walls and showing some vulnerability is a good thing.  But until that happens – less is more.

8.  People Move at Different Paces
In Rule #3, I shared some advice my Mom gave me years ago.  But it’s not just my Mom who gives good dating advice.  In fact, my Dad would argue that as a man, he is in a better position to give me dating advice than my mother or any other woman.  And you know what?  His advice is usually spot on.  One piece of advice that has stuck with me is something he told me my sophomore year of college, when I was dating a guy from my Mechanical Engineering class (he wooed me with his knowledge of dynamics).  I was obsessing to my Dad about something, and he told me, “people move at difference paces.”  That just because I was really into the guy at that moment, didn’t mean the guy was really into me at that moment.  But it also didn’t mean that he never would be – it just might be at a different moment.

Relationships are up and down, and people move at different paces, which is why it’s even more important to keep Rule #7 in mind.  Since you don’t know at what pace the other person is moving in the early stages of a relationship, less is more.  Don’t overwhelm someone or push them to move faster just because you are moving faster.  That being said, you have to trust your gut.  I’ve often confused “he’s just not that into you” with “moving at different paces”.  If your gut is telling you a guy just isn’t that into you – and probably isn’t going to be – you’re likely right.

9. It’s Never the Same Twice
This is a tough one, particularly coming off of a great relationship.  It’s so easy to compare every date to the one before it.  “With guy X, I felt something right away”.  “Guy Y picked the perfect first date place”.  But this line of thinking sets us up for disappoint.  Every relationship with every guy is going to be different.  They aren’t going to do things the same way.  And thank goodness for that!  How boring dating would be if they all did.

I almost titled this Rule “He Can’t Read Your Mind”.  Because not only is dating going to be different with each guy, each guy also cannot read your mind.  Just because you think a great second date place is dinner at XYZ place doesn’t mean that’s what he has in mind.  I’ve often found myself thinking, “he picked THAT place for our second date?!”, only to have a fantastic time – and vice versa.  And again, because Rule #6 tells us that guys like to be charge, you can’t squash his date suggestion just because it’s not exactly what you had in mind.  Every guy is different, but none of them can read your mind, and most of them are clueless anyway.  So go easy on ’em.

10.  When It’s Right, There are No Rules
I’ve saved the best for last.  It might sound cliche, but when it’s right, there really are no rules.  In my last relationship, Rules #6, 7, and 8 were all broken (at least to an extent).  I did follow his lead, but I didn’t hold back or play hard-to-get.  He was interested, I was too, and there were zero games. Not once did I obsess about whether or not I should text him, or what I should say in that text.  I knew that none of it mattered – he was into me, and one stupid text wasn’t going to change that.  We were all-in, right away.  It was so refreshing.

I’m confident that I’ll find him again – a guy that makes all the Rules obsolete.  But until then, this Rulebook provides my Type-A personality with a sense of control and a plan for navigating the scary world of dating.  So next time you find yourself or a friend in a dating conundrum – consult the O-HI-30 Dating Rulebook!

Have a rule I forgot to include?  Disagree with one of mine?  Tell me!

 

 

 

Adventures

I had quite the adventuresome weekend!  The highlight?  Seeing The Rolling Stones perform in Ohio Stadium!
WP_20150530_21_38_33_Pro (1)

But let’s backup to Friday first, shall we?  Friday night started with what else – a concert!  Ashley and Johnny’s wedding band, The Conspiracy Band, was playing for free at the Columbus Commons.  It was a perfect night to spread out a blanket, enjoy some wine (that I sneaked in using this fancy water bottle Ash gave me for my birthday), eat some fries from a food truck, and dance!  The Conspiracy Band is not your typical wedding band – they have 12+ performers, some of whom rap!  You guys know how much I love hip-hop – I was on cloud nine!  I kept saying to Johnny (much to his annoyance), “OMG, they are SO GOOD!”.  Guess I better start saving now for my own wedding…
004
conspiracy
005._2jpg
The next morning, I was back in the Columbus Commons – this time for the Girls on the Run 5K!  I wrote a little about GOTR in this post, but it really deserves its own post one of these days.  The race didn’t start until 11 – much too late for late May.  It was hot, humid, and with just one water station after mile 2, it wasn’t the most pleasant 5K.  I ran with Lauryn, and needless to say, by the time we crossed the finish line, we needed this Popsicle!  But everyone made it, and I’m so proud of all the girls – I’m always impressed by their maturity and spirit.
image1
image4
After a busy Saturday afternoon including lunch with Caitlin, a trip to Trader Joe’s, and a quick stop at Loft to take advantage of their 50% off sale (priorities!), it was time for the highlight of the weekend – the Stones! My parents have been long time fans — my Mom first heard The Rolling Stones live in 1972 at the Rubber Bowl in Akron.  She was just 25 at the time.  40+ years later, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood are still going strong!

I had never seen the Stones perform live before, so when we saw they were coming to Ohio Stadium, my Dad and I jumped on the chance to buy tickets.  My Mom and Karen initially didn’t care to go, but then they realized, DUH, why would we skip out on the chance to see the Stones perform in the ‘Shoe?!?  We all sat in A deck, my Dad and I in 18A and Mom and Karen in 16A.  The Stadium was such an amazing venue – I spent a lot of the night just looking around in awe.  It was weird seeing it not full of Scarlet and Grey!  The reports estimated 60K people were in attendance, but it had to be closer to 80K.  Every seat was full except the south stands, and the floor was full as well.
stadium stones
The concert itself was likely the best I’ll ever see.  I’m not much of a concert goer, but I loved every single moment of  the night.  Even at 71, Mick Jagger is a real entertainer – you could tell how much he really wanted to please the audience, and he did!  My favorite song is “Gimme Shelter”, and they didn’t play it when my parents saw them in 2005, so I was thrilled when they did Saturday night.  And of course they played Satisfaction as the closer, preceded by You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Sympathy for the Devil, Brown Sugar, and two hours’ worth of other hits.  It really was a hell of a concert – I wish I could do it all over again!  Worth every penny.
WP_20150530_20_33_27_Pro
WP_20150530_21_38_33_Pro (1)
And finally, the next morning, the four of us reconvened (exhausted) and met my cousins Emily and Jim, their 2-yr-old daughter Julia, and my Aunt and Uncle for brunch at Nada.  I don’t have a photo of our festive group, but I did mange to photograph my brunch – chorizo and egg enchiladas!  They were tasty, and everyone loved the ambiance at Nada.  So cozy and cute – even the bathrooms 🙂
nada
The rest of Sunday was jammed packed too – by the time I finally laid on the couch to watch one episode of House of Cards (Season 3 Ep. 1), I was pooped.  An adventuresome weekend indeed!

What’s your favorite Stones song?

 

Train

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer.  And what does that mean to me?  The start of triathlon season!

IMG_5839
I’ve completed four triathlons in total:  three Sprint distances one Olympic distance.  This year, I’m planning to add one more in each category – starting with a sprint next Saturday, June 6!

Rewind to the summer of 2012, my first year with the sport.  I chose a Sprint that took place in late July, so as to give me enough time to properly train for the .45 mi swim, 19 mile bike, and 3.1 mi swim.  The second year, I stuck with the same schedule as I was still getting comfortable with the sport.  But after crossing the finish line, I knew it was time to take things to the next level:  Olympic!

Fast forward to summer 2014.  You may recall that I started things off a bit earlier with a late June sprint that I participated in as part of my company’s corporate challenge team.  The race was my shortest to date – also a sprint, but the bike distance was a more traditional 12 mi instead of the 19 of my previous sprint triathlons (an atypical sprint distance).  I felt great during the sprint and was more excited than ever to take on my first Olympic distance.

And then, at the end of July, I tackled the Olympic distance.  Or perhaps I should say it tackled me?  After finishing the .9 mi swim, 25 mi bike, and almost 7 mi run (should have been 6.2), I felt like this:
WP_20140727_10_57_33_Pro
Rough.

At the time, I was surprised at how challenging the race was, especially the run.  Every.  Single.  Step.  Hurt.  In my previous Sprint triathlons, the run always came easy to me – I attacked it, even setting a personal record in the 5K one year (which I’ve since beat in a race with Ashley!).   I assumed the same would happen with the Olympic – once I got through the swim and bike (notoriously my most difficult event), I would be fine.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Looking back, I now understand it was because I failed to do one very important thing:  train.

Yep – you read that right.  I didn’t really train for my Olympic triathlon.  I know that sounds like a “humble brag”, but it’s true – I didn’t follow a formal training program.  Most of you know that I am a pretty active person.  I regularly swim, bike, and run for exercise, so I just assumed that if I did a little more of each activity, that would be enough “training” for the race.  That strategy works for me for sprint triathlons – in fact, I don’t really need to change anything in my exercise habits to prep for sprints.  But for Olympics, not so much.  I regularly swim 1.5 times Olympic race distance, so that’s not the problem.  But one or two “long” bike rides (read: race distance, 25 miles) and one “long” run (read: race distance, 6 miles) just isn’t going to cut it.  I need to do more.

Enter the training plan.  Unlike running training plans, that basically all look the same – run, do a long run, run some more, etc., triathlon training plans vary greatly.  All plans have you swimming, biking, and running (duh), but that’s about all they have in common.  Some plans are balanced, swimming, biking, and running each twice a week.  Some plans focus on your weak sport (ie, biking more than swimming and running).  Some have you doing one exercise per day, while others contain “brick” workouts – doing two exercises back to back, like swimming followed by biking.  Needless to say, it’s difficult to figure out where to begin when deciding on a training plan.

Weeks 1-4 of a 12 Week Balanced Training Plan

Weeks 1-4 of a 12 Week Balanced Training Plan

Which brings me to where I am today – still without a training plan!  Old habits die hard?  Despite knowing that a training plan is what I need to be fully prepared for my Olympic triathlon on July 26, I don’t want to follow one.  Whereas most people love training plans, I just don’t.  Perhaps because I don’t want to give that much time to the same three activities.  Yes, I enjoy swimming, biking, and running, but I also enjoy teaching spinning (which does not substitute for outdoor cycling!), lifting weights, and practicing yoga.  And perhaps I don’t want to be told that I have to swim on Monday and bike on Tuesday – I enjoy flexibility.  I know it’s only for a few months, but I just don’t want to fully commit to a tri training plan.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to make the same mistakes as last year.  On the contrary, I’m going to make a concerted effort to actually bike and run longer and more often.  One thing that almost all of the training plans have in common is the concept that you need to swim, bike, and run further than you do in the actual race, so that when you combine all three on race day, you have the endurance you need to push through.  That makes sense to me.  So instead of just biking the distance of the race once or twice as I did last summer, this summer, I’m actually going to go further (maybe 35 miles?) at least twice.  And as far as the run goes – I refuse to feel as awful as I did during the run last year.  So instead of running the race distance just once (as I did last year), I will run it once – and then run 7, and then 8.  And maybe I’ll even do a brick workout or two!

Check out that sun!

So there you have it.  My “training” plan.  It might not be smart or detailed, and it’s not going to make me win the race (ha!).  But it will allow me to continue to experience the flexibility and variety I enjoy in my workouts today.  And hopefully, my “training” plan will set me up to reach my goal on July 26, 2015:  to feel stronger and less miserable when I cross that finish line!  And if not – next year I’ll follow a real training plan 🙂

Oh, and remember how I peed my pants during my Olympic triathlon last year?  Well, not to worry, that won’t happen again, because I bought this super cute (and $$$) two-piece tri suit – shorts for the win!  The back is even cuter.
tri suit

So, tell me – training plans:  yay or nay?  Do you use them?  How closely do you follow them?

 

NYC

As I mentioned in my birthday post, I visited The Big Apple this past weekend!
005

My brother has been living in NYC for seven years, so needless to say, this wasn’t my first trip.  But I always enjoy visiting him, and his girlfriend Aisling now too!  This trip was extra fun, as not only did my parents join me, but my cousin Atlee just moved to the Big City for her first j-o-b post college!  I am so proud of her.  The six of us really had a nice time – it’s fun having “sisters” (no offense, D)!
dinner
My parents arrived Thursday night, and I flew in to meet them the next morning.  After a nauseating cab ride to the bro’s Upper West Side (which New Yorkers refer to as the UWS) apartment – no matter how “easy” the cab driver takes it, I still always end up feeling green by the time I arrive – we were ready to hit the town.  The New Yorkers were working, so my Mom had a good idea – let’s go SHOPPING!  Despite the fact that we’ve visited the city together a handful of times, we have yet to go shopping, as we are always at the will of the men.  So we took advantage Friday afternoon!  My Dad headed south to Canal Street (his favorite for people watching and cheap watches), and my Mom and I went to Mecca, aka, Macy’s.  The Macy’s in Harold Sqaure (34th St.) is the largest store in the world (or so they claim).  And let me tell you – it did not disappoint.  My mom was in sensory overload – so.  much.  NOISE!  There was a DJ set up in the middle of the MAC counter, for goodness sake.   We managed to overcome adversity and spent a couple of hours exploring.  My mom bought a dress for an upcoming wedding, and we both bought these Vince Camuto shoes – I’m going to wear them in both Pam and Nash’s weddings!  You can’t tell, but they are only about 1.5 inches high and are remarkably comfortable for being so stylin’.  Wedding parties, here I come!
315
After meeting up with my Dad and visiting both the New York Public Library (disappointingly, the Reading Room was closed so I didn’t’ really see any books…) and Grand Central (where I had surprisingly never been), we rested for a short while at D’s apartment before meeting up with A & A for dinner.  We dined at Les Halles, where Anthony Bourdain served as executive chef for many years, per the recommendation of my dear college friend Will (who is now a New Yorker).  The table spilt an order of truffle deviled eggs (not your grandmother’s deviled eggs!), and for dinner, Aisling and I spilt the mussels and fries (moules and frites), and we each had an amazing arugula salad with very thinly sliced endive, apples, candied walnuts, and a hunk of awesome blue cheese (the photo doesn’t do it justice).  If you’re in NYC, I highly recommend Les Halles – it was reasonably priced, too.
317

318
Before heading home, we walked to Atlee’s new apartment so we could check out her NYC digs.  And let me tell you – no cramming 3 girls into a one bedroom apartment for her!  The place doesn’t exactly have a ton of character, but it does have three nice sized bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and a balcony – off Atlee’s room, nonetheless – with this amazing view of the East River.  Wow.  The cool breeze and white noise of the streets below would make for some great sleeping.  Definitely not your stereotypical NYC apartment!  My cousin Talya (Atlee’s sister) and I will definitely be visiting for a girls weekend soon!
WP_20150515_23_38_00_Pro
The next morning (almost afternoon…we all slept til after 10!), I went for my usual run in Central Park.  This view from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir always makes it worth the effort.  #notcolumbus
320
After showering and brunching (no photo – wasn’t anything special), we decided to do something different – ride the ferry!  We hopped on the ferry (I think it was the East River Ferry?) on the far east side and rode it south, eventually getting off at DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.  Aka, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge!  We wandered around a cool outdoor art exhibit, watched kids roller skate in an outdoor arena, and drank lemonade – a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
004
005
When our stomachs started to grumble, we consulted Yelp (well, my Dad and I did…#yelpnerds) in search of one thing:  PIZZA.  We settled on Juliana’s, next to the famous Grimaldi’s, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.  We somehow scored a table without having to wait, which was very lucky as not long after, a line started to form outside…and it started to rain.  Hard.  Which it continued to do for the rest of the evening!  After much debate over which pizzas to order, we said “screw it” and ordered three larges (yes, three for six people):  the classic margarita (my fav, much to my suprise), a sausage and broccoli rabe, and a fancy one with pancetta and truffle oil.  It was excellent pizza – the crust was to die for.
006
Afterwards, we headed out in the rain and took the train back to Manhattan on a mission: Magnolia Bakery.  Those of you who know my mother know that once she gets on a food kick, there is no turning back – until one day she decides she’s never eating it again.  We’re still in the former stage with the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery, so Magnolia is where we headed!  I enjoyed a yellow cake cupcake with chocolate frosting – mmm.  And earlier in the day, A & A bought me a bday dessert of fancy macaroons (the “new” thing – cupcakes are sooo last year).  #sweettooth
003
My rents then headed back north to my brother’s apartment, while the four of us “kids” hit up one of my bro and Aisling’s favorite spots:  Fat Cat, in the West Village.  Yes, it’s called Fat Cat!  It wasn’t my first time visiting Fat Cat, but Atlee had never been there and it was fun to show her what could be one of her new go-to spots.  Fat Cat is a dark, lounge-y bar in the basement of a building, and it’s huge.  It features live jazz music, pool tables, ping pong, board games, etc.
007
The next morning, the six of us dined together once again before parting ways.  We had breakfast at Good Enough to Eat, a very popular spot that I’ve never managed to dine at on previous visits because of the very long line.  But this time, we got up and went right as they opened (well, that’s not entirely true – my parents did and saved us a table!).  I got the Migas, which is a Mexican egg dish with tortilla chips in the scrambled eggs.  It was good, but a bit on the cheesy side for my liking.  The table also shared an order of the buttermilk pancakes, which I failed to capture a picture of but were to die for!
321
My parents then took off (they drove, ~8 hours to Cleveland), and I enjoyed the company of my “sisters” a short while longer.  We walked 20 blocks south to the Gap, where Aisling bought the entire store (just kidding…but she did have a killer coupon!).  And then it was time for me to head to the airport.

I had such a great weekend with my family – all five of them.  Huge thanks to my parents for their generosity, and to my brother for hosting us all in his cozy apartment.  I love you all!  ‘Til next time, NYC!