Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'm still a tourist up here - exploring Putnam & the edge of Dutchess County

I haven't done this in a while but this morning I woke up and decided I needed to get the heck out of town.
I wanted to find a good hike to help get my climbing legs back as bike season begins.  Saturday morning I went with the Women's group I had gone with a could times before in Greenwich.  It was just a short 17.7 miles and I felt good the whole way but I could tell with the few short climbs that I was going to have to get some more leg work in.  I don't know if I just have some sort of mild version of SAD, but over the last few months I have found many excuses to hold myself back in terms of being active.  The more I start to collect and read all of these running and healthy eating blogs and hear about my own friends who conquer such awesome, inspirational athletic feats every day the more I am starting to push myself more. I've started to really understand that your body is usually always more capable than you THINK it is.  And while that isn't to say you shouldn't listen to and take care of your body, you have more ability and strength than you think you have and it's okay to push yourself because more often than not you'll come out feeling on top of the world.  (or on top of Breakneck Ridge :) ).

So on with that story..I didn't leave town until noon and a I took my time on the hour and a half drive.  I stopped at this country store in the rolling "countryside" of NY drawn to the sign for fresh bread but ended up with a fresh new bar of soap instead!

The season was still early so they didn't have much in stock, I'll have to come back and pay the lady a visit during the summer
Can't wait to try it tonight!
This actually wasn't a very long hike.   My Garmin didn't pick up the satellites right away but I estimate it was just over 3 miles.  The climb was killer though.  I wanted to do the Breakneck Ridge trail which is 5.5 miles and climbs 1250 feet in 3/4 mile but the description said that the terrain gets slick and dangerous when wet and there was a chance of rain and I didn't have much time starting in the afternoon so I chose two alternative routes that made for a shorter hike that still went up the 1250 feet but over a slightly longer distance (a little over a mile).  I started with the Wilkenson Memorial Trail and took the Breakneck Bypass that cut out a lot of the steepest climbing on the Breakneck Ridge Trail.  Now I finally get the name ha!  It was slow going, it was like climbing a staircase and within about 1/4 of a mile I had already lost 3 of my layers (way overdressed).  I am still constantly amazed by some of the breathtaking views in NY and this one definitely didn't disappoint.
Not quite to the top yet, a view of the Hudson River - My car is somewhere at the bottom of that hill that I am now above

The surprise ending - a breathtaking view on the other side of the ridge
When I finally go to the top I was well rewarded with a spectacular view of believe it or not I think it's actually called Lake Surprise haha.
I enjoyed a nice little snack at the top - half a banana and a couple sardines - before you judge they are actually really good!  I found it very strange after a while sitting there on the quiet expansive ridge.  As my breath had calmed and I was no longer gasping for breath it was almost an eerie quiet.

I think hiking alone as its upsides - you can take everything in at your own pace and enjoy your own thoughts.  When I go though I try to stick to shorter hikes because it can get a little boring by yourself as you don't have conversation to pass the time on the trail.  Plus, I don't like to get too far in away from my car in case something happens.  I usually always go to a state park where I know there will be plenty of other tourists like me. :)  Here is a map of the park and you can see which trail I did - obviously there is a lot of ground I didn't cover. Trail Map
After my hike I went down to the historic downtown area near the train (every city on CT and NY seem to have a typical "Main Street".  Every little cafe I went into had something I wanted to buy and it's always awkward going into small cafes without buying anything (which is why I ended up with an oatmeal cookie and a coffee at the first one I stopped at).  So much for avoiding sugar ha!  I'm goign to bank on since it was a Natural Health food cafe that it wasn't too unhealthy because it was one of the best cookies I've ever had!  I sat on a bench on the street watching people and dipping it in my hot coffee.
Now it's back home and back to reality!  And time to shower..I feel all icky and crawly..

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bose Headphones Just Aren't Enough

The flight attendant gets on the speaker and announces that the fasten seat belt sign is still lit, so please remain seated with your seat belts securely fastened.  Then she proceeds to run through the drill, when the beverage service will be available and what items are available for purchase.  She then says "sit back and enjoy your flight"  Gllladddly I sigh as I slip into my bose noise canceling headphones.

I am not a very friendly traveler.  If you saw me sitting in my seat I might perhaps appear the scariest person alive.  I seem to make the mistake of sitting in the rear of the plane every time I fly.  Why is the rear bad?  Well that's where all of the people with small children sit in order to not desturb the plan with their young, screaming children.  A nice thought of them, but ill luck for myself.  Especially in that God-awful time between closing the cabin doors and taking off.  Don't you hate it when, for no explainable reason, that whole process takes an hour longer than it normally takes?  The kids really hate that too...they hate it with a passion..loudly.

A few months ago I was gifted a blessed thing.  Bose noise canceling headphones.  Not the ultra noise canceling but still a pretty high quality technological miracle from mankinds noble conquest in invention.  I love crawling into my silent musical bubble.  My productivity increases tri-fold.  I've started using them at work even though they may make me look a little dorky and anti social. One draw back...I like them too much.  It makes that horrendous time in between shutting down electronic devices and blissful freedom to use all approved electronic devices all the more unbearable.  I'm anxiously awaiting that ding so I can rip them out and put them on again.  It has changed what it's like to travel

But, thank fully I am freed from the noise and I'm speaking to you within my bubble.  Currently my radiohead filled soothing bubble of happiness.

I'm flying to Phoenix for work.  If I had thought ahead I would have booked through the weekend..what was I thinking!? I used to be so adventurous!  If I really get ambitious maybe I'll pay the difference and stay...I've always wanted to explore Phoenix.. Oh well..I didn't bring my hiking boots anyway.

Now to try to fill this flight with my bose fueled productivity so that I can try to get in a good workout when I get to Phoenix-horray time change in my favor!

P.S. Longest flight ever.  How did I get sucked into watching HGTV?

Some things I notice about hotels that are funny:
-I wonder how much paper/plastic is wasted individually wrapping everything?
-Why are the soaps in individual packages but the apples just sit out on the counter downstairs after communal breakfast?
-Hotel stairwells are creepy


Sunday, March 18, 2012

March Madness - Dirty Deeds and Unclean Habits

March 18th...national hangover day.  I'm normally not a fan of hangover "days"..hangovers are meant to be conquered and killed at first sight by "awesome days".  Unfortunately I can't quite inspire myself today so instead I'm going to do the boring thing and be productive.  It actually is shaping up to be a gorgeous day which I'm enjoying at the coffee house across the street but sadly I have a lot to get done for work and the next week is going to be a real tester.  I'm traveling to Phoenix to help give a presentation to a very large beer distributor - my first time to ever be in front of a customer.  Soo the less I have to worry about the better.

Yesterday I experienced St. Patrick's Day festivities in NYC for the first time.  And despite it diminishing my faith in today's youth it was a fun experience.  I missed the parade unfortunately - which runs up 5th avenue for most of the day.  I didn't make it to the city as early because I met some folks from work down the street for an early Irish breakfast buffet at the only local Irish themed Bar/Restaurant.  They had a great set up - outdoor tents in their parking lot and a giant stage for bands to play on throughout the day.  It was an amazingly beautiful day and probably would have been a great spot to spend the day.  But I was determined to get a run in and make it to NYC.

The scene in NY is a sloppy site.  People start early - the parade starts at 10 or 11 and you can probably guarantee that most of the people got started at breakfast with celebrations.  Upon exiting Grand Central at 3pm I was a little shocked.  The streets are filled with groups of "kids" dressed in various green costumes, yellling, laughing, fighting, screaming, scarfing down pizza and very narrowly escaping death at every second.  I actually saw a group of them come within seconds of being run over by a cab as they obliviously crossed the street in front of an oncoming NYC taxi cab (very unwise).  Luckily the cab driver slammed on his breaks just in time.  And the group of drunkin kids screamed and then proceeded to laugh hysterically at their narrow escape of death.  It immediately made me wonder what I had gotten myself into.

The good news(kind of) is that most of these groups of sloppy drunks are either too young to come into the bars or tend to stick to the more popular Irish pubs.  So, there is a safe haven from it all if you find the right location.  Crowded though it was, my friends found a post at the bar and we were able to celebrate comfortably.
First stop Gingerman!  The crowd was just beginning to grow.

Some of the people I was with.

We had a very internationally diverse group.  My two friends met a guy from Germany that morning and he spent the day with them(far right).  In close proximity it's hard not to strike up a conversation with those around you and we quickly met a very nice couple who were in town for the festivities as well.  The woman was from Staten Island and her boyfriend was visiting from London.  Both were fully supplied with accents from their respective regions of the world.  The guys brother came to meet up with them after a little while and it was really interesting talking to them about St. Patty's day in London and their experience in America - the different beers, pub traditions and friendliness of the people.

After a couple of rounds they led us to another bar on the west side.  It's amazing how much people get into this holiday up here.  This place was normally a sports bar but today it was filled with bagpipers and people covered in green.  And despite so much crowdedness and so much drinking I have to say that at both places we went to the bartenders were very friendly and jovial.
Filling the bar with loud, musical spirit

Supporting the Brand - not sure where I go the hat
But obviously after a days worth of celebrating things inevitably start to get a little messy...  Parent, earmuffs.. I had my fair share of Guinness and you know it's never a good thing when shots start happening.  Luckily my friend and I called it early and flew back to Grand Central in a cab to catch the 9:07 home.  But that wasn't until just after I had two closely timed unwise shots.  They kicked in on our way out and it's a little fuzzy now but I think I ate a sandwich from hell on the train and fought consciousness for most of the ride home.  I called it a night as soon as we got back and missed out on having more drinks locally with another friend who couldn't make it out to NYC.  I woke up on the couch at 4am to Obama's State of the Union address blaring on my computer on Hulu.

So after kicking myself this morning I have decided that it's time to focus on developing some healthy habits.  I've read and heard many times the importance of forming habits in life.  With moving I have really gotten out of the habit(ha) of being habitual in my life.  I have kind of spent the last year experimenting, being open to many things and changing my habits frequently depending on what I feel like doing.  It's kind of been a quest to nowhere in the sense that I have spiraled around having many great and not so great experiences but never really landing anywhere in particular.  This article breaks it down pretty well based on ways to combat stress in life. Not that I am completely stressed out all the time but I am definitely disorganized and lost and troubled more frequently than I should be.  5-8 are where I need to focus and I am going to start by listing out the habits I want to have. I think once life becomes more habitual it becomes easier to plan and stay organized in all areas of your life rather than spending most of your time trying to figure out your next step every second of the day.  So, while I was going to include these in this post in order to hold myself accountable, I wasted too much time on St. Patrick's day and I'm already off schedule. (oops). not be tempted by the sun and get some real work done...or..maybe I'll just go for a nice walk and then think about real work :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daylight! & Rebirth!

My favorite time of year has arrived!  The time of year where it stays daylight for long enough for me to see the sun!  AND to do many exciting things like bask in it and frolic and run and bike and lounge among the shiny rays of sunshine.

Yesterday was also probably on the short list of one of the warmest days of the year.  Perfect timing right?  I promised myself on Friday that I would finally dust the cobwebs off of Rosalita and take the inaugural ride of 2012.  So, after a late night Saturday I  wasn't exactly bouncing out of bed.  In fact I was actually quite comfortable on the couch in my blanket cocoon where I had spent my late night and morning.  But the sunshine called me so I drug myself slowly out of my hibernation cave and into the daylight.
Even though I saw my phone change times at 2am when I woke up somehow it had reverted back to the old time and for about 2 hours I thought I had still managed to get an early start to the day.  Then I realized it was almost noon....there went breakfast.
I think this is my new obsession.  And it's also a plan to stop the bagel obsession.  At least these I know are healthy and still can top them with nut butter and chew on them when I read my magazines, drink my coffee or enjoy a morning show.
muh protein pancakes
This time I actually made note of my ingredients instead of pouring a bunch of random shtuff in the food processor.  And I cut the amount of flour in half..which actually means they were half as filling and I ate twice as many..but it's all good :)

Here's the ingredients I used:
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup egg white
1 scoop Teras Whey Dark Chocolate Protein Powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Tahini
Maybe 1/2 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast.

They cooked VERY quickly and came out a lot thinner than the other pancakes.  Made 5 pancakes all together and the entire recipe only came to 264 calories.  I topped one with apple sauce and sandwiched some tahini & honey in between the other two.

nom nom nom
They were even better than my morning bagel and oh so cheap to make!  And now I have multiple plans for toppings. I'm all stocked up on fruit and yogurt!

Then of course I had to finish off the last two with some apple sauce.  I'm definitely going to make these more often and try to have them throughout the week as breakfast or snacks :)

But after as much put-zing around as I could to delay my first cycling conquest I finally had to just suck it up and go.  I am always nervous for my first ride of the year because I don't typically keep a regimented training program in place through the winter to keep all the strength I build climbing all these northeastern hills during summer.   So my plan Sunday was to just take an easy "stroll", really pay attention to my form and any tuning that needed to be done on my bike.  I tried on about 10 different outfits, afraid it might be too cold or afraid I might not be prepared.  My tights still fit (good sign :) ) and I finally had it figured out.  I chose some arm warmers with a red full zip jersey and a thin wind breaker shell.  As I stepped awkwardly through the back door to my apt (picture that music that plays before an epic reveal..bahhhh..bahhhhh...bahhh.....bunnahhhhh!!!!)  I stepped forth, with my bike, hopped aboard and realized that it was just like riding a bike and it felt like I had never had the winter hiatis at all.  HA, just was not an easy ride.  But I followed my plan and focused on form and not trying to flail around putting as much effort as I could into climbing and flying fast - this is what leads to my injuries and I will have NONE of that this year.  I actually want to spend a summer where I can bike AND run at the same time (stupid IT bands).  

Anyway.  It was a lovely ride along the coast 20 miles in favorite quick and easy ride with good sights and places to stop and chill.  People were out EVERYWHERE!  And I love the beaches before beach season because they get so "stuffy" once the parking rules are enforced.  I stopped a couple of times to enjoy the scenery and lay in the sun.  I returned home home with some shaky legs and enough of a "happy" boost to fuel me for an entire week of bliss.  
Long Island Sound on a beautiful breezy day

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Warming Back Up

The next two days call for +50/60s.  I'm SO thrilled!  Tomorrow I traveling to the city for work so it will be nice to at least walk through warm/sunny streets.

So, also happy to report that I got 9 hours of sleep AND a massage today - good as new?! Almost..  The guy massaging me very nearly kneaded me into dough and broke my neck.  I've never had such a rough massage..let's hope it is effective...

This evening, as I sat at home with my gooey muscles I was actually just not too thrilled about the idea of making dinner.  But, some slight encouragement from my mother and I had an epiphany that involved quickly realizing that some of the random ingredients I had at home would be amazing together.  You've got to use your muscles or lose your muscles..same goes for your cooking muscles.

Oh it was grand to flex my muscles in the kitchen.  Oh GARLIC! Oh Onion! So great to hear their sizzle and smell their fragrant toasting once again.  I've been living on such petty meals as of late!

Crimini mushrooms, onions, kale and garlic simmering in vegetable stock and olive oil yum!
I had in my mind to make this mushroom reduction to put on rice but this was much easier and just as tasty.  Easy is good when you live alone..

1 clove Garlic
various spices - whatever I threw on there
Vegetable Stock
Squeeze of lemon at the end

I'm starting to really dig fruit for dessert.  Sprinkled with Cinnimon and Cocoa Powder with a side of hot tea. :)
Just a quick post today..

Monday, March 5, 2012

Whatever is "kale-n" yah, will make you stronger

Okay, so if you understood that nonsense title then you know that I'm going to writing something attempting to tie together ailments and kale. Just trying to keep it goofy for you :)
This is my first attempt to write an entry on my phone, so bare with me I'm not sure how it will turn out. I must write on my phone because I'm desperately in need of sleep and therefore I am in bed at 8:30 waiting to a dose of melatonin to kick in. A little nervous because last few times I took it it really knocked me out! So I'm playing it safe.. I think someone has been secretly slipping me crack because I've had the sleeping habits of a (something that only sleeps 4 hours a night, sometimes at odd times like 10:30-2:30am). Yes today I went bonkers with energy at 5am so I gave up on sleeping and went to the gym. Yes I'm crazy.. My body must be ready for spring.
Saturday I got a little taste of spring. It's still so far off here it seems but Saturday there was a burst of warmth that I'm glad I peeled myself off the couch for. I went for a run and really really wanted to finish at the beach with a 6 mile distance PR. The beach is 2 miles from my house, perfect laps. Unfortunatly IT bands flared up again at mile 3.5. So I decided to end my run at the sea docks instead. Equally as charming! Until some strange man came creeping around my dock. Couldn't he tell I wanted personal space!!
Well I haven't written here in a while..mostly because I A. Haven't had many explorations (although I did have a weekend in NY involving a 93 year old yogi and Russian/Turkish baths-perhaps that story some other time) and B. my cooking has been an embarrassment. (soon to change). I like to keep things positive on here, it's been a long winter and the motivation for more computer time is not there.
But I will leave you with my weekends worth of food ventures. I seem to be on a mission to sample the northeastern bagel scene(hardly a scene in CT).
Also, some tips for your folks who love to "munch" on ways to make a healthy dinner that satisfies the "munches":

Bakes sweet potato fries
Baked Panko zucchini
Carrots and tahini
Kale chips
Mango slices
Roasted chickpeas
Sliced banana with cocoa powder and cinnamon
Lots of bite size wonders! Just make sure your portions are still normal-I have a problem STOPPING the munchies

Last but not least, I spent Sunday enjoying a great new book, some good beer and rediscovering my favorite way to eat kale! More on that later-melatonin says its bed time.
PS not sure my pictures work on this phone..
Finger food lunch!
This stuff REALLY works if you need sleep
Sliced Banana with Wheat Germ, Cinnamon and Cocoa Powder
Best raw salad ever - massage avocado, sea salt and olive oil into Kale and add brussel sprouts, parm cheese and tuna!..Or whatever veggies you have at home
A great Sunday evening activity
Veggie Sandwich for brunch at Upper Crust Bakery
Dinner can come in sticks and still be healthy
I was really hoping this wheat bagel with hummes would rival Astoria..nope
Roasted Chickpeas are gooood finger food
Really looking forward to spring..