Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ready or not.

I've spent the past 24 hours packing, unpacking, and repacking my suitcase. I'm sure I've probably forgotten something.

I found out that things cost a heck of a lot more in New Zealand than they do in Pennsylvania. For instance, a mid-grade 29er mountain bike runs for about $4000. Shipping my bike through UPS would be upwards of $800, which is probably more than my bike is even worth. But flying with it would only be about $200. If my decision is between $200 and not having a bike to ride, I'd rather pay the money and have some form of transportation.

So yesterday Montana helped me stuff my bike into a box from an extra-small Cannondale Quick. It barely fit, but at least I can haul it by myself. Now I'm pretty much all ready.

I just got in a quick morning run, so I'm off to the airport. This should be interesting.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The theme of these past few days has been spontaneous decision-making. For me, that mostly involves things like forgetting to plan for a meeting or picking a food at out of the fridge with my eyes closed. But since I'll be leaving my USA-comfort zone in two days, I figured I might as well get used to different situations.

On Friday, Montana told me that Single Speed USA was about to sell out. It's a single speed bike-fest-race in Stowe, VT this July. I don't expect to win anything. Heck, I haven't even been on my bike in almost four months. But I really want to go to Vermont (I hear everyone's very green there), and I really like riding my bike when I have time for it. So I registered for the race.

In July I'll head off to Vermont with Montana and hope for the best. Regardless of how well I ride my bike, it'll be super fun.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

a late love letter

I went to the foot doctor for Valentine's Day. It was incredibly romantic.

The podiatrist was a bustling little man with frizzy gray hair. I nearly expected him to shake my foot when he introduced himself.

He asked what was wrong with me. I told him that I can't walk without pain. Yes, I've been running a lot. No, I haven't been stretching much. He narrowed his eyes, then hustled me down the hall for an x-ray. After glancing at my foot bones exposed on the translucent black photo, the little doctor concluded that I have very flat feet.

I showed him my uber-minimal New Balance trail running shoes. He picked one up, flexed the thin rubber sole, and threw it on the ground.

"Those are like nothing. No. Nope. You can't run in them. We'll get your foot taped up and then get you some orthotics with arch support." Then he disappeared for a while.

He hurried back in, eyes narrowed. "And make sure you stretch. Don't be stupid. Stretch your calves." Then he gathered his clipboard and left to the attendant, who tried very hard not to destroy her manicure while she wrapped my foot in athletic tape.

I am an idiot. Stretching? What a stupid thing to forget.

Thinking back, I've had problems with tight calves before. In fact, I've had similar calf issues four times before. I should know by now that I need to stretch them.

I can follow a training schedule like nobody's business. But when a problem comes up, I like to bulldoze straight through it instead of acknowledging it at all. My body-awareness needs some improving.

Dear Calves and Extensor Tendons, 
I'm sorry I've been neglecting you for so long. You, me, and the foam roller will start spending more time together now. 
Love, Colleen. 
PS, I'm really glad you aren't a stress fracture. That would've ruined my week.

Monday, February 13, 2012

pizza in your beard

The weekend was cold and snowy. We got buried under another solid 8 inches of snow on Saturday. I'm itching to run, but a good morning hike and a day spent driving around West Virginia yesterday is almost as good.

The best way to end that kind of day? Homemade gluten free pizza with lots of veggies and non-off-brand cheese.
Made with Bob's Red Mill GF pizza crust mix. I'm not sure if I did something wrong, but Bob's website claims the mix makes "light, crispy, delicious crust." Delicious, yes. But my crust turned out kind of heavy and hearty. In retrospect, I probably should've formed a ridge around the edge for the sauce and toppings to sit in. Montana called it (affectionately, I hope) "solid Rocky Mountain crust."
 Questionable crust thickness aside, it was some fabulous pizza.

While we were eating, we heard the fire station next door clank and whistle awake. Sirens bleated and the trucks coughed to life to trundle off somewhere. I just shrugged and kept shoving pizza into my face.

A couple hours later, a text and a picture of a building with flames spitting out the windows.
photo: Pittsburgh Trib
Apparently a freak fire destroyed the entire ski lodge at the only 5-star resort in town. Nobody was hurt, but the building's just a pile of rubble.

Bummer. There's finally enough snow to ski, and now there's no ski lodge to speak of.

At least we've got pizza.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

silliness and phones

So have you heard of McSweeney's, the publishing house Dave Eggers started in San Francisco? If not, check it out right now.

I think McSweeney's is terrific. They publish some good books with cool cover art. But I also adore their daily humor website McSweeney's Internet Tendency. I can click around there for hours, especially when I'm avoiding important things. The humor's just on the edge of high-brow -- hilarious, yet far surpassing my own writing skill (and comedic skill).

Yesterday I stumbled across Eric Torres' Open Letter to the Fastest Jogger at the Park. What a gem:
"Are you [Fastest Jogger] even bothered by the peril and dishonor of being forced to blaze your glorious trail amongst contemptuous indifference to your need for space? You may be filled with righteous indignation, fastest jogger at the park, but you did not show it today. From the moment you exploded into my life at the forest’s entrance until you disappeared from my sight in the midst of those skittish Japanese tourists, you wore a countenance of singular determination.... if the Gods find me a worthy vessel for the tale of one so fast, I will dedicate my life to singing your deeds."
I know everyone's seen that guy. The one with the GPS watch and the short shorts? Heck, you might have even been that guy barreling down the walking path and sneering at the wretched pedestrians.

Here's another good one about running: Comments from the crowd gathering around the body of Phidippides after he died.
“Gosh, he must have run five, six miles. He looks beat.”
Har, har. The Lit major in me really likes that one. I'm giggling over my espresso and my horn-rimmed glasses.

AND another wonderful thing. My dear friend Anna was in New Zealand last semester. She very kindly mailed me her Kiwiphone! It's even fully charged! What a doll.

The only sad thing: I don't know how to dial New Zealand phone numbers. There's an addition sign in front of all of them. Is that the zero button? I'm baffled.

[9 DAYS]

Friday, February 10, 2012

a kindred kourtney

In the winter when the nights are too dark and cold for doing anything fun, I like to curl up in front of the TV. Sometimes I like watching the Kardashians act silly. Besides my shameless fascination with TV-celebrity lives, I also like to make myself feel like a good person by comparing myself to a bunch of nasally paparazzi targets with strange nose jobs. These women wear makeup in the bathtub for Chrissakes.

Usually after 10 minutes of dramatic background music and rich-girl whining, I get a bit queasy and switch to something wholesome like Flying Wild Alaska. That is only a half-joke.

Yesterday when I was working out on the elliptical, I propped an old copy of Shape magazine in front of the time display. A bronze, bikinied Kourtney Kardashian was plastered on the cover. I flipped through, half-reading articles about sweat-proof lipgloss and men-ogling techniques.

Then I came to the Kardashian article. It was about Kourtney getting in shape after nine months of being preggo. After (I'm assuming) getting help from a bunch of five-star chefs, a personal trainer and nutritionist-to-the-stars, Kourtney runs. And dayum, this girl could be a Nike ad.

(from the official Kourtney-K website. gag.)
In the article, she talks about how she thinks gyms are boring and frustrating. She'd rather go for a run, she says, since thirty minutes of cardio is right outside the door. I found out from a other trashy celebrity-news sources that Kourtney also eats super-fresh foods, refuses to give up peanut M&M's, and strength trains to play up her Kardashian-ness (read: booty).

Huh. Those words could have literally come out of my mouth. Minus the booty.

Okay, so Kourtney's probably not the best athlete in the world - I doubt she's running to win any races. But she does look great. And she's absolutely right about one thing: working out at a gym kind of sucks. Getting there takes a bunch of time, and you have to pay for it. Then you're stuck inside on communal machine soaked in someone else's sweat. Why would you want to trap yourself inside when you could just walk outside and roam free in the fresh air?

I don't know if I'm brain-damaged from breathing too much indoor-air recently, but that article was really kind of inspiring. Moral of the story: I'm taking care of my feet. That means suffering through a few more elliptical workouts until I feel completely better. I want to run barefoot on the beach with Kourtney Kardashian and then put on a bunch of makeup and wave to the paparazzi.

Also, I don't want to be hobbling around New Zealand in TEN DAYS.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

where I'll be soon..

Wellington, New Zealand. If this fantastic tumblr hasn't led me astray, it's a lovely city full of hills, boats, and seaside contemplation.

I hear Kiwis have many different kinds of canned tuna and like walking up mountains. 

In other news, I joined a gym to use their elliptical machine for my remaining TWELVE days here, and I've scheduled an appointment with a foot doctor to make sure I haven't obliterated any bones in my feet. But that whole situation isn't taking up much brain-space. Mostly I'm concentrating on not misplacing my passport in the next week and a half. I might chain it to my desk. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ew, that fish is so fat.

I promised a Paleolithic-type food post, and here it is. Minus the pretension!

Only in the world of nut and fish-eating does fat seem to be a good thing. Otherwise everyone's all - oh my god, do these compression shorts make me look fat? Do these corset-pants hide my fat? Do you think Keira Knightley is getting fat?

Well salmon and pecans are in luck, because they can be as fat as they want. They're full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your bad cholesterol levels and make you more attractive to the opposite sex. My second claim is under-researched, but probably true for people who really like fish.

So today I concocted a salmon-pecan-cranberry lettuce wrap with some leftover salad, a couple leaves of lettuce, and a hunk of baked salmon fillet. All foods Caveman Colleen would like.

If you've never had a lettuce wrap, I urge you to go to the nearest Red Robin and order one immediately. Eating a sandwich with lettuce in place of bread is three million times more satisfying than ordering a burger without a bun. The difference is probably mental, since Iceberg lettuce is pretty much nutritionally empty. But it's nice to have a couple slices of something to hold onto while you're eating, instead of just getting lonely patty and a sliver of onion on a plate.

Insert salmon.


Monday, February 6, 2012

"caveman says..."

Montana and I went on an awesome hike on Saturday. It snowed for the first time in two weeks, so we could see all the tracks on the trail. My Paleolithic instincts told me that something was stalking a couple humans ahead of us. A predator can always sense another animal on the hunt.
I stalked their tracks through the forest and found this fellow.
His name was Thor. He seemed like a fearsome brute, but not a bear. My senses need more honing.

For the past couple days, I've been spewing misremembered Paleo-Diet wisdom to anyone who will listen and referring to myself as the gender-neutral "Paleolithic Man".

"Paleolithic man wouldn't eat that doughnut."
"Paleolithic man needs to replenish the glycogen stores."
"Paleolithic man didn't wear makeup."
"Paleolithic man wants Tom Brady to lose."

But I'm starting to realize that Cordain's "modern" Paleo diet for athletes is pretty much how I eat normally, minus the occasional bowl of Rice Chex or ice cream. I have been limiting my tortilla chip habit to post-workout carb replacement and eating eggs for breakfast more often, but that's about it. It isn't harder to do without sweet things like cookies since I can't eat wheat products in the first place. I even ordered a "forager salad" from a menu. Then I took Cordain's advice on cheating and ate half Montana's fries.

Plus I did my first solid run in a week without major foot pain. It felt pretty darn great. I didn't even have to hobble around the house later. I must be growing a new Paleolithic bone structure.

For my workout today, I might stalk some deer through the woods.

Pretentious Paleolithic recipes coming up soon!


Friday, February 3, 2012

apologies to Amazon and early hominids

Ok, it's time for a confession. I'm not a mean person. But I am prone to making harsh, swift judgements. When presented with something new, I either love it or hate it passionately. Ninety-five percent of the time, I hate it. A lot.

For instance, my first reaction to Chaco sandals was instant hatred and contempt. Minimalist running shoes? Stupid and too thin. iPads? Awful, pointless, and terrible compared to laptops. Greek yogurt? Disgusting.

But ninety-eight percent of my judgements are wrong. Now I'm a yogurt-eating, Chaco-wearing, minimalist running enthusiast who loves playing with her mom's iPad.

Recently, I realized that I was wrong about a couple more things. For instance, both things in this photo:

1) the Amazon kindle. Since my grandmother got one last year, I've classified kindles in my brain as "Grandma iPads". As stupid as iPads, but slower-moving and easier on the eye. When I saw one of my friends using one last year, I scoffed loudly and rolled my eyes.

I feel bad about that now, since I haven't put mine down for the past 48 hours. The web-browser is slow and sometimes freezes, and typing on the screen is a bit challenging. But it's almost a nostalgic activity - back to the days when we had rotary phones and had to block off twenty minutes of the day to check our email.  Plus it's about half the size of a book and weighs the same no matter how many books you stuff into it. I think it'll really come in handy for traveling. Five thumbs up.

2) the Paleo diet - lots of meat, vegetables, fruits, and no refined anything. I heard about the Paleo Diet from a friend. Stop eating grains? Even rice? I was already gluten-free and couldn't see any sense in nixing more food from my diet. I'd rolled my eyes obnoxiously and called my friend a stupid hipster.

In hindsight, it's amazing I still have friends.

Then I came across this article on Outside magazine's website. It's an experiential review of Loren Cordain and Joe Friel's The Paleo Diet for Athletes, an adjusted Paleo diet that suggests eating "modern" carbs (bagels, rice, corn, granola bars) before and after you exercise. That sounded a lot more reasonable.

When I got my kindle, I saw that Cordain's book was only ten dollars to download. Why not? I read it yesterday at "work."

This book was great. Although it's occasionally riddled with athletic elitisms (for instance, the constant degradation of "the couch potato" and phrases like "[the athlete's] day might look ordinary to the rest of the world, but it really isn't"), Cordain gives solid, simple nutritional advice for endurance athletes.

The bottom line? Humans are animals who were built to hunt and gather, not sit around shoving grains into their faces - that's what deer are for. So keep it simple and fresh - the fewer processed foods the better. Get your nutrients from food, not vitamin capsules. Replace carbs after you exercise (or during, depending on the amount of time you're active). Don't restrict calories, and cheating on your diet is encouraged to keep you sane.

I think I might give this Paleo thing a try. I can even browse for new recipes on my kindle.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

woah, now.

Today I looked at a real-life calendar for the first time in a week. Wait. That can't be right. Shit.

Is it already February 1?

Apparently so. 

That means that in 20 short days (that's only two weeks and six days), I'll be waving goodbye to this entire hemisphere from the window of a big fat commercial plane to New Zealand.

With both hands, I'm waving goodbye to my wintertime quasi-job of working behind a counter. I basically spend my hours reading. Then there's a whole lot of standing, looking at my feet, and using my psychic powers to make them stop hurting. Here's the cat's-eye view.

I'm also working on building a paperclip empire... or farm.

[These sculptures are - as my studio art major roommate would say in a strained voice, imaginary cigarette dangling from her emaciated fingers - ahhhhhrrrrrt. The purest form of my soul. In paperclip form.]

I'll be waving goodbye to a certain comfortable tedium that I've fallen into all winter. Like this foggy mountain that I could drive over with my eyes closed.  

On the other hand, I'll be leaving behind a bunch of things that I really enjoy. Goodbye to pancakes in my mother's kitchen, the loop by my house that I run nearly every morning, the winter songbirds on the garden feeder in the morning, and unlimited in-person communication with my boyfriend and family. I'm also going to assume New Zealandites don't drive rusty blue pickup trucks with rebel flags plastered over the back window.

So now there's a whole lot of nerves jangling up my insides. Half of me is foot-tapping and wishing for to get out of here faster. The other half is clinging to her Twinkie wrapper and gazing tearfully at an American flag blowing in the wind.

Is it possible I'm experiencing early-onset culture shock? Whuf.