As much as I’ve enjoyed writing this blog, it was time for a change and to take this to the next level.
If you want to keep reading, visit me at my new site: beautydoestriathlon.com or consider this an easy way out to stop reading!
I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the cold in the air that is so refreshing after the hot hot summer. I love buying gifts for my friends and family that make them truly happy. I love the lights and decorations. I love the feeling of hot chocolate in your hands. I love when snow decides to come to Virginia a little early. I love the time spent with the ones you love and care about. This list could go on forever.
This is the first Christmas where the Beast and I are living together, so I am trying to start some traditions. While I fell behind on being super crafty and making an advent calendar, we have managed to do some things that I intend on keeping.
1. Decorate the tree together. I had originally written this post about a tree I was going to make out of a tomato cage because I was going to be thrifty (cheap). Then I came home on Monday night and the Beast had gotten me our first Christmas tree. I have never been more happy than when I walked in to have our living room lit up, literally like a Christmas tree.
The Beast and I during our vacation out West in October also decided (a bit belatedly in our relationship) that we would start collecting ornaments whenever we took a vacation, so here are a few we picked up.
2. Toys for Tots. My dad started this tradition for my sisters and I years ago. In December, we would head to a toys store and my dad gave each of us a limit of $50 to spend. We could get one girl toy and one boy toy, multiple toys, really whatever, as long as it ended up being roughly $50. Toys R Us is the easiest store for this normally because they have the bin for Toys for Tots inside (or at least most of them do). We spend at least an hour looking at all of the toy options and finding the things that we want the most to play with then we buy them and put them in the bin.
It is heart warming and wonderful and makes me hope that on Christmas morning some little girl or boy opens a present that brings them joy. This year, the Beast and I found Legos and a princess dress up kit. The Beast loves doing this and when I was debating the toy I wanted to get he pushed me towards the dress up kit because he said every little girl deserves to feel like a princess and believe she has a chance of becoming one. Him saying that warmed my heart and now I know no matter how rough times are financially for us, we will always do this tradition.
3. Do kind acts every day. These can be big or small. Most of the ones that we do are small. On Black Friday, a store employee at Target told us they were bringing XboxOnes from the back and it would be about 10 minutes. Not everyone waiting received the same message and a couple of older teenage boys and their dad waited but then decided to go checkout looking downtrodden. We wondered why they had gone away, and not a minute later about 20 gaming systems were wheeled out. I quickly grabbed two and had the Beast go find the family so that we could guarantee they would have one. I have never seen a family more appreciative or thankful.
Most often my kind deeds are complimenting someone because that always makes my day better, especially when it comes from a stranger.
4. Christmas movies. Love Actually, Rudolph, It’s a Wonderful Life, any and all of them. The Beast insists that Die Hard is a Christmas movie because it takes place at Christmastime, but I let him have that one.
Those are just a few of the things we do and as time goes on we will probably find more things to do. What do you do for Christmas? What are the traditions in your family?
When I signed up for an Ironman , I knew that my Bianchi road bike, Beyonce, just wouldn’t cut it. We have had two amazing triathlon seasons together, and I’ve learned a lot. I could probably have done upgrades to her to get her in shape for an Ironman with clip-on aero bars and the like, but I knew if I was serious, I needed to be serious, which meant, upgrading my bike.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to all of the bike stores around DC, which I feel very thankful for this area because there are a plethora and I enjoyed my experience at every single one of them. My decision was based on the bike that felt right and truthfully, I felt emotionally upset about not being able to buy a bike at all of them, but only one had the bike that I clicked with.
The first trip to the bike stores, I perused, inquired about sales, asked about specs, but didn’t get on a single bike. I got a feel for the packages and the service and the store. Then over the course of the next week, I read reviews about bikes and pros and cons and tried to learn as much about bikes that I could within a week and without really knowing anything about bikes. Luckily, the Beast likes to research and came in knowing more about bikes than I did.
The next weekend, we set off on bike adventure round two. I was dressed for the occasion in tights (very windy, cold, but sunny day), a jacket, and my clip in shoes. I ended up test riding all the bikes with flat pedals because I was nervous about trying a tri bike out for the first time and being clipped in. I looked at bikes at the following stores:
Tri360 – This store is amazing. It is geared towards triathletes and the owner of the shop Blake remembers my name every single time I go in there, which is only every four months or so. He’s incredibly nice, knowledgeable, and helpful. They have Felt and Orbea bikes here, and at least one more brand I think, but it was out of my price range. You cannot go wrong here. They also carry SOAS triathlon suits, which are specifically geared towards women and are comfortable and cute. Even though I am a SOAS Brand Ambassador, I really cannot recommend their gear high enough. I may have to wear spandex for triathlons, but thank you SOAS for making cute patterns that make me feel confident and sexy doing it. I believe this is one of the only retail locations for SOAS for quite aways around.
The Bike Lane in Reston – This was my first time at the store, but they are definitely more of a bike store than anything else. They carry Felt and Trek bikes primarily. This is where I test rode my first tri bike, a Trek Speed Concept 7, and I really liked it. However, since it was the first bike I tested I couldn’t walk away with it. I needed to make sure it was the bike and not because it was a tri bike that I felt so good. The brakes were a little soft and the bike was a little wobbly, which could also be operator error.
Bonzai Sports – This is where I ended up getting my bike. They had a good selection of last year’s models and the bike that fit me the best. At this store, they have Quintaroos and Cervelos, which I test rode back to back. The store was nice enough to give the Beast a helmet and let us ride out and then switch halfway. Not only did it let me do a side by side comparison, but I also had someone out there to look at me on the bike and see what worked. The store didn’t feel up tight and were easy going. I ended up going with the 2014 Cervelo P2. It felt fast, it felt the most solid around turns and clung to them like a sports car, and it just gelled the best. The bike was on sale and I got an additional discount plus 15% off additional items (including the seat, a Fizik Tritone).
This adventure took up a lot of time and I really recommend test riding as many bikes as possible and seeing what works for you as well as what each store offers for service plans. I was a little late on sale season, apparently October is a better time, and here I was thinking I would wait until after the holidays. Ooops.
The price tag hurt a lot, but it was something I was prepared for. I intend on keeping a list of things that I buy for Ironman to be able to give a summation at the end of how much it costs. Next step for Ironman is trying out hydration mixes and energy mixes for the bike and run.
Oh, and of course, the name of the bike. His name is Traveller, or more affectionately named Trav, after General Robert E. Lee’s horse. The bike is blue and white, which was my school’s colors, and with my obsession with horses, the name only seemed appropriate.
It’s been awhile since I was honestly and wholeheartedly excited for each workout. Yes, I still lay around in bed a little too long and get my workouts done later in the day rather than earlier, but I look forward to each one. And to be honest, it’s probably been since the summertime that I was excited to lace up my shoes or hop on my bike or put on my goggles.
For a little while there I wasn’t in love with triathlon or running. It seemed like a chore and it sure felt like one too. My paces started to slip and I was missing key workouts and easy workouts and just workouts in general. I fell into a slug routine that I haven’t done in quite awhile. I used to never workout and now going without working out for a week feels weird and even during this time, I got a little tinge of what the hell are you doing?
To add to the discouragement because of my undertraining, I did less than spectacular at my Olympic distance triathlon and the Richmond half marathon. If I had kept up my July/August training, I would have been golden, but I didn’t and then suddenly it was cram all my key workouts in with as little time as possible. Really, not the smartest plan I’ve ever had, especially since I pride myself on being a planner.
Signing up for an Ironman though, I realize that that strategy is not going to work this time. I can’t slack off for days at a time, barring illness. I need to be diligent. I need to be determined. I need to work hard, every single damn day.
Which is why I am glad that the eagerness is back, the drive to get out there and change my body and my speed. I want to change, I want to get better, I want to enter Ironman knowing that this is the best that I can do.
It probably also helps that I am joining a triathlon team soon, more details on that to follow once I actually join. I will also include the post on the newest addition to the Beast and I’s family soon (hint, it does not even remotely resemble a baby)
So it’s back to swimming and the pool despite the cold and long rides on my bike despite the pain and running despite the cold chill in my chest.