Saturday, February 06, 2016

I'm an ENELL Race Ambassador

I was thrilled when I was originally selected as an ENELL Ambassador, and I am even more pleased to announce that I will be representing the brand again as a Race Ambassador.

I have worn my ENELL Sport in every triathlon and running race I have done in the last two years.  Here are a few of the highlights:

I did this race for a second time, 12 years after my debut. It was a hot, very difficult race for me but I was proud to make it to the finish.

This race was a giant mud mess, and a little disorganized, but I had fun racing with my friends. 


A tough, story, cold day for my big race of the year, but I got through it with a smile on my face.  My Scuba Blue ENELL looked great under my purple tri kit. It never let me down, unlike the rear tire on my bike.

I'm looking forward to another great season. I have a couple of big challenges planned, like The Battle of Waterloo and the Olympic distance tri at Grand Rapids, which happens to be the Athena championships.

Be sure to support the other ENELL Ambassadors, including several new ones. And also check out the 20% off sale on the ENELL Lite, which is perfect for everyday wear or light-impact activities like yoga. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Finally, some hope

I have been pretty worried the last few months. As you may remember, last summer I left a full-time job for a contract position. I have done some great work at this new place, and everyone was happy with the way I managed my project. There just isn't a clear path to a full-time job. The project is winding down, and though I'm still working on that and some other things, I don't see my contract being extended beyond March.

I can only stay if I find a full-time job that is a fit. I had already applied for one job at my current company, which still has not been filled. I applied for two others and was told other candidates were chosen for those positions.

I started applying to outside jobs in January. I got a couple of quick auto-rejects and a lot of silence. I have been feeling very discouraged, because I feel like I have so much to offer and I'm not being given a chance to prove it.

I had an interview last week, finally, and it went really well. Even if I don't get the job, I got some affirmation, and that has helped me to feel a lot better about myself and my chances to find something worthwhile.  I don't want just any job, I want a place where I can learn and grow. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A trip to the Florida Keys

Happy Belated New Year! It's hard to believe it's mid-January already.  I have been meaning to write this post for a while. Last year was such a hard winter that my husband and I swore a pact that we would go somewhere warm this winter. Ironically, this winter hasn't been that bad -- we have had only a few cold and snowy days, thanks to El NiƱo.

We still went, though. We flew into Miami and rented a car to drive down the Keys. The traffic was pretty bad -- after all, we decided to go during the very busiest time of year -- but the drive was fairly scenic and we could open the windows and smell the salt air. Once we got outside of the hectic Miami area, we were on a mostly two-lane road for miles and miles, crawling along at less than 20 miles per hour.

We stayed in a very nice bed and breakfast, the Barnacle Inn on Big Pine Key. We had actually stayed there quite a few years ago and really liked the quiet location. We could see so many stars at night, and there are small dog-sized key deer all over the island in the evening and morning hours.

Some photos from the B&B:

Deer nibbles on landscaping at the B&B

The sign
Courtyard from the rooftop
Sunrise over the private beach

Rooftop Lookout

View from the roof

Little tiki hut for B&B guests 

We also got to spend some time on a beautiful beach a few minutes from where we were staying, Bahia Honda State Park.

Key West was only an hour away when we wanted more excitement:

Old Town House decorated for Christmas

One of the beautiful roosters wandering everywhere 
Souvenir shopping

Cool old theater converted into a Walgreens

Performer at the drag show at Bourbon St. Pub

Yes, he is wearing a suit, it's just very small. And also a matching hat and elbow-length gloves.
We also had a few active adventures. One morning, we borrowed two of the kayaks from our B&B and paddled around. It was much harder than we thought it would be -- neither of us has done much kayaking or canoeing.

My husband took this photo of me kayaking.
My favorite part of the trip was snorkeling on Looe Key. We went with Strike Zone and they were great. My swim skills came in very handy. I felt totally comfortable in the water and got to see beautiful fish, coral, and even a shark. I moved very quickly away from the shark, which turned out to be totally harmless.

Pre-snorkeling selfie

It was hard to come back to reality. I literally felt like it was summer again while I was there, and all of the things that have been worrying me vanished from my mind while I was surrounded by sun, sand, and surf. Of course, it all came right back when we landed in Detroit.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

2012 Chevy Volt Review

I have been driving my 2012 Volt for a couple of weeks now. According to the trip meter, I have driven more than 400 miles in those two weeks, and I have used less than 4 gallons of gas.

It would have been less, but my Volt did not have a full charge when it was delivered, though it did have a full tank of gas. That means that I still have not put any gas into the Volt myself. When I do, the manual calls for premium gas because it's likely to be in the tank for a while. I think I can afford the few cents more per gallon when the tank holds less than 10 gallons total.

For now, I'm charging my Volt with the cord that came with it using a standard 120V outlet, though I am in the process of getting an estimate for a 240V outlet to be added to our garage, which would also require the installation of an upgraded charging station, which would be another $400. That would mean that my car would charge twice as fast. We had a problem on the first weekend I had the car with a tripped circuit -- it seems that the garage outlet was added to the same circuit as half our kitchen, so when we tried to make toast and coffee at the same time while the car was plugged in, it was too much, even though the car was already fully charged. We haven't had problems since then, but I would at least like the car to be on its own circuit.

I am lucky enough to be working at a place that has the fast electric vehicle charging stations -- four of them in the front row of a very large parking lot. I have to admit that this was one reason I started thinking about the Volt in the first place. There are at least 5 electric vehicles that at least occasionally park there, so I'm not guaranteed a spot, but it's nice when I get one. There was a little setup with the ChargePoint system to use the charging stations, but it's now incredibly simple to charge.

Other than the charging issue, the Volt drives like a regular car. I wouldn't have been able to have a pure electric vehicle -- there aren't enough charging stations where I live -- but the fact that the Volt can use gas as a backup power source makes it practical for me. The engine is incredibly quiet, almost silent, when it is running on battery power only. When the gas generator kicks in, it gets a little louder.

One thing I didn't think about when I bought an EV is that a gas engine naturally produces a lot of heat, but electric engines don't. To heat the car uses battery power -- the same power that drives the car. The default setting for the climate system is ECO, which here in Ohio, does not heat the cabin to anything approaching a comfortable temperature. I start it out on Comfort, which draws more power, then switch to ECO after things have warmed up. I'm also very happy to have the Premium package, which includes heated seats. This also means I have all the features I was used to in my last car, like a backup camera and a navigation system.

It's really easy to get caught up in a game of trying to use as little gas as possible. The detailed screens at the end of each drive feed this impulse, by showing a pie graph of how much electric and how much gas was consumed since the last charge, and what the current mileage per gallon is.  Gas prices are cheap now, but they won't stay that way forever, so I expect the savings I'm getting from using less gas will only increase. It's also nice to feel like I am doing something for the environment -- though electricity is not always from clean sources, as coal plants retire each year and more renewables come online, it will get cleaner.

Have you ever considered an electric vehicle or hybrid?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Healthy habits

I'm giving Brooke's Skinny Snowman Challenge another try this year. I started last year but never followed through.

It's only $5 and supports basic healthy habits like logging food and drinking water, but also some self-care strategies like focusing on the positive and taking time for myself every day.

It's no secret that I have been struggling with these kinds of habits, so I'm hoping this will help me finish out the year on a positive note.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I bought a Chevy Volt!

A used one. The new ones are a bit out of my price range. My last car was a new car, which I recently wrecked by sliding through a red light in the rain. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

I had been toying with the idea of an electric vehicle, because my workplace has 4 charging stations right up front in the big parking lot, but the price was prohibitive. Today after swim practice, I happened to notice my coach had a Volt in the parking lot, and asked him about it. He bought his used.

On a whim I started searching for a used one locally and I bought one. They are doing some minor appearance work on it so I won't get it until late next week. I can't wait!

I thought about buying another new vehicle, but I'm over the big payments. Besides, I still don't know what will happen long-term with my job.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Planning the next triathlon season

Most triathletes I know eagerly start signing up for races after they finish their final race of the season. After Cedar Point, I was not really interested in thinking about next year, or even very interested in training at all. I took about six weeks to get out of the doldrums -- I did a few workouts a week, a big switch from the summer when I had 1-2 workouts almost every day. To be honest, I needed that time and the rest.

The first glimmer of interest I had in next season was when a friend posted about Epic Races' Battle of Waterloo, a crazy 10-leg multisport race. I'm already signed up. I think that will be my big race next season.

I'm also planning to do the 5K Swim to the Moon again. I'll probably do the Sylvania Triathlon as a relay with my husband. He can do the run and I'll do the rest -- I never really want to do that run course again, it's horrible. I will find another Olympic distance to try instead.

All of my training buddies are into Ironman and Half-Iron races and I'm not so sure that's for me. They're so expensive and time-consuming and my job situation is still in a sort of limbo. I don't want to overcommit, especially since I don't have a permanent, full-time position yet.

I think training with a coach last year was one of the best decisions I made, but this year, I want to run things for myself and find a way to push myself without feeling like all I do is race, train, work, eat, and sleep.

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07