Every year I enjoy the offseason more and more (not that I've ever been the sort of person who doesn't embrace the off-season in all its lazy chocolate-consuming glory), and every year I worry that maybe I'm enjoying myself so much that I will find it impossible to start up again when the break is over. That hasn't happened yet and I always feel refreshed and happy to be on a schedule again once I'm back in the swing of things. So - fingers crossed that will be the case now (I will say there has been progress - the thought of a Training Peaks email no longer makes me want to fling my iPhone out of a 10th story window).
I've had no problem keeping busy with stuff over the past few weeks, even if "stuff" is actually just going to the store to buy 1lb bags of M&Ms. Or buying large chocolate bars and making them disappear.
Mountain Biking. Sadly there wasn't any cyclocross this year, but there HAS been some mountain biking. Going down to Charlottesville to try those trails this summer was stupid, they were far too technical for me and I had ZERO desire to ride my new mountain bike in the months that followed - suddenly mountain biking no longer seemed like a good idea (maybe getting too old and rational?) Turns out mountain biking can be quite fun on trails that are on par with one's skill level. I'm also lucky enough to have Karen for a friend and she's taken me out and shown me the ropes. It also gives us a chance to catch up. Yesterday we went mountain biking at Lake Fairfax park - SO FUN. The trails weren't terribly technical, with just one section that had some tricky rocks and roots and rollers. I watched Karen go down a particularly skeevy looking section and paid attention to the line she took and successfully mimicked my way down the hill. It was a big boost to the confidence. I also caught myself telling my brain to shut up when it would register that we were coming up on a tricky looking set of roots or rocks so instead of slowing down, tipping over, not trying at all, freaking out, or all of the above - I'd literally say out loud that momentum is your friend, just keep pedaling, this is not that hard. And 99% of the time I'd make it through the tricky section just fine (I did manage to tip over once, but that's also a good lesson in learning how to fall and land properly. Always a lesson in everything). There were a few sections that felt like you were slalom skiing your way through the woods, it was exhilarating. Each time we did the loop, I felt more confident in my bike handling skills and would take the hills a little faster, the corners a little sharper, and roll over bigger rocks and roots without instinctively tapping on my brakes. It also helped that my bike feels as big as a tank that could roll over anything, given enough momentum. Compared to this summer, I feel about a million times better about mountain biking and my ability to make it down a hill without crashing on every root, rock, and tree.
Baking. I know my mom was the one who passed down a love for baking to me. But it pretty much lay dormant in my DNA until about 2-3 years ago when I started trying to make things from scratch and discovered it was pretty satisfying when something tasty resulted from my efforts. And last year my in-laws gave me a KitchenAid stand mixer for Christmas and it has rocked my baking world. As a kid, much to my mom's chagrin, I wanted zero to do with the kitchen. And I think I only used our oven to reheat pizza in college. Post-college it was oreo balls (and that is not technically baking, no oven required just a food processor). But even though it takes more effort to make brownies or cupcakes from scratch rather than a box, I think it's more fun. And when the cold weather comes around, that's when I really want to hole up in the kitchen. Sadly I'm not adventurous enough to experiment and make up my own recipes yet - maybe someday - so for now I follow what's already been written down. I've baked a fair share of apple pies and cupcakes and cookies this fall and now I'm trying to branch out into some different desserts. I've given French macarons a go twice so far. The first time I thought I had already screwed up the recipe partway through so I didn't bother to follow the rest of the directions (turns out it really is important to let the batter set for an hour before sticking it in the oven), the cookies were edible and the ones that actually ended up sitting before baking turned out correctly. I tried them again this weekend, let them sit, and they almost looked like proper macarons. La Duree, watch out! Kidding, of course. I still have alot of work to do - next I want to try to make flavored shells that are pretty colors and branch out from chocolate for my choice of filling.
|First attempt back at the end of October. Messy feet.|
|Second attempt yesterday. Much better feet. Though they do look like little hamburgers, don't they?|
Last weekend I told Mr. Sweetie that I would make him whatever dessert he wanted. He chose homemade s'mores. So I made marshmallows (orange-flavored from the Gran Marnier), homemade graham crackers (so.much.butter), and chocolate ganache (I feel like I should just keep a big vat of that stuff in the fridge because I use it for everything). It was all surprisingly easy to make, even though I used a too-small saucepan for the mallow sauce and practically ruined our stovetop when it overflowed. Awesome. This weekend I made salted caramel marshmallows for our hot chocolate.
Stay Out Late, Drink Champagne, and Wear a Little Black Dress. Last night I went out to a party that my friends Courtney and Ron, from DC Tri/Snapple, had at their house. It was a swanky hat and little black dress party and it was SO MUCH FUN to see everyone dressed up, wearing heels, swanky hats, vests, suspenders, and fancy party dresses. I even used my hair dryer on my hair last night, it was THAT special of an occasion. I did a few double-takes when I saw some friends, almost not recognizing them all fancy-shmancy instead of in swim goggles. On the invite, it said the party went until 1am and I remember thinking to myself I will be lucky to make it to 11. Haha, I didn't leave until after 1am, and even then it felt like I was leaving a bit early! It was so great catching up with so many friends!
|NO bike jerseys allowed!|
|Jason, Julie, me and Kendra|
|We found a puppy!|
Doing Anything But SwimBikeRun. I've been biking to work and that's about it. I've taken a long break from running (aside from those two trail races) since my last race. My groin muscle and knee were a bit sore immediately following Beach2Battleship and I really wanted to give things a chance to heal up and get back to normal so I've taken a substantial amount of time away from running regularly. I did go out for two miles yesterday and not only did it feel hard, my shorts were tight. I think I need to reassess the M&M diet. Next week. Last weekend I didn't touch my bike once - instead, Mr. Sweetie and I took Miles on a hike through Great Falls and picked out bathroom paint color from Home Depot. Fingers crossed we pick out a halfway decent color this time around. We've haphazardly thrown the sample paint on one wall and for the past week we'll stare at it and scratch our chins. Who knew it was so hard to make a decision #firstworldproblems.
|If he could have his way, he'd be cliff jumping into the Potomac right about now.|
|YOU GUYS IT'S A HUGE POOL OF WATER. THIS MEANS SWIMMING. We're big meanies for not letting him .|
Other than bike commuting and the occasional 2 mile jaunt down the road, I've not been doing much at all. And I've already twice pushed the start-back-up date further into the future. We're looking at the beginning of the second week of December. Maybe by that point I will want to hear from Training Peaks. Hopefully I will remember my login. And hopefully I will be able to find my pool punchcard, running shorts that fit, and the pain cave once more. That's the sign of a good off-season, when you can't find any of the crap you used to use on a daily basis. Well, I'm off to break my hours-old no M&M streak, goodnight.