Saturday, June 28, 2008

Weekly Ticker Update, among other things

Well, there it is. I'm down 2 lbs from the last time I checked in here two weeks ago, but it's also the same as I was last week. I know from the experience gained by weighing daily that it's entirely because of temporary water retention from Thursday's gigantic ride, but it's still a tiny bit of a downer. It will be gone by Monday, so I'm not too twisted up about it, though.

And there's the mileage update. I'll be right on track with my goal deadline if I keep up a 150 miles per week pace from here on out. With one round trip to/from Faribault per week, I'll need to do 13 miles on 5 of the 6 remaining days to make that. Totally doable.

So...What else has happened recently...
I had my first practice with the local women's hockey program today, and so far all is well. They're a nice group of people, on par with my old team skill-wise, but they need more actual game play experience. Very well organized practice session, so I definitely got some good exercise. They also made sure I knew about the coffee house they go to afterwards, which made me feel nice and welcome. I'm doing what I can to make my own friends apart from the people I meet because of my husband.

Last bit of news for the day:
When you save money on some normal everyday purchase, do you use that as an excuse to go and spend the "saved" money on something else? If so, what have you really saved? Uber-Hubby and I have decided to track this kind of thing and see just how much it adds up to. I've started a spreadsheet to track our savings on purchases we would normally make anyway... groceries, things we went to a particular store to get and found that they were on sale/clearance, etc. It has to be something we would have bought at the full price, not just some impulse purchase. For example, I went to Office Max a few days ago to look for a Rolodex and found one on the clearance rack for $7.50, as opposed to the original price of $19.99, so there's a $12.49 entry in my spreadsheet. Sam's Club had gas cheaper than the prevailing price in town by 4 cents/gallon, so there's another 49 cents. At the end of each month, we're going to total it all up, put that amount of money in a Money Market Savings Account (better interest than a regular account) and see how far we get in a year's time. In the first 5 days alone it's over $26.00, so in a year that could be more than $1300, not including any interest! We're more than likely going to use the money to help pay for our next big cycling trip, but who knows?

Speaking of cycling, why not get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Biggest, Longest Ride Ever

So...What was that I was saying about it being tough to get bike miles in Mankato because everything is so close? Be careful what you ask for, I suppose...

Yesterday was pickup day for my SSHE meals over in Faribault. Turns out, the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail goes all the way there from Mankato, so naturally I thought it would be a fabulous idea to hook up the Burley trailer and tool on over. The trail itself is nice enough, though I do wish they would repave certain sections. I was loaded up with plenty of water and sunblock, but next time I'll include bug spray and the extra lenses for my sport glasses so I can change to the clear ones when it gets darker outside.

Total mileage for the round trip (drum roll, please).... 86.1! My longest ride EVER. I don't think I'd gone more than about 62 before this. It took a lot longer than I would have liked to complete the whole thing, so I'll definitely plan a little better and leave the house a little earlier next time. Uber-Hubby, sweet man that he is, went home after work to feed & walk the dog (he hates doing it but knew it would be too late by the time I got home), then headed down the trail in my direction to meet up with me and help me finish the ride.

I doubt that I'll be up to doing this twice a week, but it sure does save a lot of gas money and is in keeping with the title of this blog.

Speaking of which...Get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Getting Settled In

Getting bike mileage is going to be a bit tougher here in Mankato, because everything is so darned CLOSE. I mean, it's cool because I can easily ride to the gym, library, grocery store, etc but it's only a few miles to each thing, so in order to really build miles I'm going to have to plan more actual road rides.

So far, the daily routine has been to make sure I get 8-9 hours of sleep, which I've always needed but never felt I had the time for. The only issue there is that Uber-Hubby needs to go to bed at a decent hour since he has to be up for work, and I'm not always ready to go at that point. I think this will soon work it's way into me going to bed when he does and just sleeping a bit later. Anyway, after I take the pooch out for a morning stroll, I either unpack more stuff or head off to the gym, depending on what time my class of choice starts.

Side note: The folks down at the Mankato YMCA have been great. The staff have been friendly and helpful as I learn my way around the place, and the class instructors are good, too.

After riding back home from the Y (which includes a short but TOUGH ride back up the hill from the river), I take a little break, have my SSHE lunch, and then unpack more crap from the move. I swear, if I never see another cardboard box or sheet of packing paper, it will be too soon. Still, it was nice to be able to cook an actual dinner for U-H last night (instead of yet another sandwich), even if it was only Hamburger Helper.

So...After I get the house unpacked, I think I'll look into some kind of part time volunteer project. I'm enjoying the flexibility I have with my time these days and I LOVE IT that U-H is so supportive of my weight loss and healthy lifestyle efforts, but you can only exercise and straighten up the house for so many hours of the day. Besides, the extroverted half of me (seriously, I'm exactly half, tests proved it) will soon start to crave human interaction with people other than my husband and the occasional beer in the neighbor's garage. I also have a deep-seated need to feel purposeful in my life, so I think spending a couple of days per week doing something good for others will go a long way toward making Mankato a very happy place for us to live. I will NOT squander this free time opportunity like I did when I wasn't working the first few months we lived in Minnesota.

Until next time, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Friday, June 20, 2008

Like Locusts on a Crop

Well, the movers have come and gone. Uber-Hubby and I spent all week packing everything ourselves using boxes & materials supplied by our moving company, and then this morning they literally descended on our belongings like locusts and were in and out of here in about 4 hours. Our stuff will magically appear in Mankato tomorrow morning, at which point I will begin the unpacking fun just in time for U-H to start his new job on Monday. Mad props to the 3 dudes from Lovelette Transfer Company...There's a reason they are so highly rated on Twin Cities Angie's List. If you ever need to pack up your house and move anywhere around here, make sure you call these guys. Free use of their boxes (you give them back) and you get good quality, professional workers.

Turns out that getting fired this past Monday was the best possible thing. Looking back on how much we worked on packing everything this week, I can't imagine how crappy it would have been to leave U-H to handle it alone while I went off to work every day. We both would have ended up being super crabby to each other, so I'm glad it all worked out this way.

I got one good ride in this week. I had a hair appointment on Wednesday, and ever since Stephanie moved to her new location so close to my (former) job, I've been intending to ride there after work for my appointments. Unfortunately, for the two appointments prior to this one, I had been farmed out to clinic locations and got stuck driving to see her. Here I was, talking up a storm about how great it was to ride to work, and I never got to ride to my hair appointments like I kept telling her I was going to do. So anyway, I had a cycling jersey I had to return to a bike shop near there, so I just made an afternoon of it. It was about an hour & 45 minutes to get to the bike shop, then I backtracked slightly and got to the salon with just enough time to treat myself to a Northern Lites Pumpkin Cooler at Caribou Coffee before heading inside. To top it off, the weather couldn't have been better and U-H met up with me to ride home, having ridden partway down with me and then splitting off to run some errands of his own.

Could the day have been more perfect? I think not. 46.6 miles round trip. Yay me. This kind of errand running by bike is soon to be de rigueur once I'm settled in down in Mankato. I can't wait. All that exercise, exploring my new home town, AND no longer having to put up with the pathetic excuse for management at my old job. Skinny Bitch, here I come. Rest assured, results photos WILL be posted.

It is truly a blessed and charmed life that I lead. I will endeavor to find a suitable charitable organization with whom I can volunteer so that I can give something back. "To whom much is given, much is expected." I truly believe that and I've heard it a lot in my years here on Earth, but it just shows how I am so NOT a Bible scholar, because I Googled it to find out where the quote comes from, and it's Luke 12:48. Who knew?

Anyway...until next time, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Monday, June 16, 2008

In Today's Employment News

Well...I suppose I knew this might happen at some point, but after surviving the first week post resignation, I kind of thought they might not fire me after all.

How wrong I was.

I also thought that after doing substitute front desk stuff for a couple of days, I might be left alone to try and finish up my real work, so as not to leave my Billing Department coworkers so totally in the lurch.

Again, how wrong I was.

They pushed me a little too far today, I pushed back and asked how they could keep opening more and more clinics when clearly they couldn't properly staff and maintain the ones they have, and after that they decided I brought too much negativity to the scene and my resignation was made effective this afternoon.

Get this...They actually expressed confusion about why I had not shared my concerns with them earlier, instead of letting my frustrations get to the boiling point. Gee...Maybe it was because I couldn't afford to be FIRED at the time? Open door policy, my ass.

Oh well. Maybe I'll at least get to ride my bike if the weather is nice this week.
Speaking of which...Get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weekly Ticker Update

Ok...Back to the weekly updates. GOOD NEWS, people! Going on vacation does NOT have to make you fatter!

I'm down 2 lbs from what I was the day before we left on the trip. I could have lost more if I hadn't indulged in ice cream cones all through the Czech Republic, but oh well. Now I'm back on Seattle Sutton's and life is getting back to normal...Well, as normal as it gets the week before you move to a new city. :-)

Here's where I stand on mileage:

I revised the mileage goal for the season based on what they've done with me at work in the last couple of weeks before the trip (farming me out to various clinics doesn't help me ride to work). Once I get down to Mankato and settled into life there, it may be revised upward again.

Until then, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Friday, June 13, 2008

Photo Updates Being Added to Bike Trip Posts

Ok...Uber-Hubby is nearly done labeling and uploading pix of the Vienna portion of our European cycling trip to his Flickr page. I've decided to snag a few of them to update the daily posts I was doing during the trip.

CLICK HERE to revisit my post from Vienna, now updated with a few choice photos, including one of YOURS TRULY conquering a cool rope course we found while tooling around the city on our rented bikes.

Enjoy...and, as long as you're at it, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spilled the Beans at Work

Ok...Secret's out now. Gave my two week notice at work today, so I can finally openly discuss the impending move to Mankato. It appears that I am not fired (they need the help), so I'll be able to finish out my time in peace, hopefully with a minimum of drama. It's really good to have that monkey off my back at last.

Interesting note: There was a minor collision between two Northwest Airlines planes here at MSP last night. Apparently one of them was backing out as another one was pulling into a gate or something, and their wing tips clipped each other. Sounds to me like the ground crew screwed things up, but I'm sure the investigation is underway. The interesting bit is that one of the planes that was involved was the incoming flight from Amsterdam, which is exactly the same plane U-H and I were on the day before as we came home. Glad we didn't get caught up in that mess.

Still working on the trip photos. I promise, once they're all done, I'll go back and annotate my daily postings to make them more interesting. Oh...I weigh exactly the same as I did before I left on the trip, which is awesome news considering how much I ate and drank over there. :-)

Until next time, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Made it to Prague!

Ok...Got up this morning, loaded up the shuttle van after breakfast, and set off for Prague. We were supposed to be dropped off at the central train station and make our own way to our respective hotels, but other folks in the group asked if they could pay extra and be dropped off at their hotels directly. Turned out to be a horrible idea, because the driver did NOT know his way around the city at all. I swear, he was just driving around aimlessly, looking for ANY signs that had the word "hotel" on them. When he pulled over to ask directions for the third time, we all decided to just get out right there and either walk or get taxis. Tom (Uber-Hubby) had been keep track of where we were in the city using our Prague guidebook map and we knew the name of the street our hotel is on, so when we bailed on the driver we had an idea of where to go. In fact, I tried to get the driver to turn on our street when we would have only walked 4 blocks, but he wouldn't stop. So the beginning of our time in Prague entailed U-H and I schlepping our bags across what seemed like half the city. NEVER, and I mean never, travel without suitcases on wheels. Ours are getting a bit battered, but I can't imagine having done this without rollies.

This is the first hotel we've had the entire trip that had functioning air conditioning. We are thrilled, to say the least. There is also free wifi service, so feel free to click on over to U-H's Flickr page to see how far he's gotten with photo uploads. It will take some time to get it all done nicely, because as usual he's taken THOUSANDS of pictures and they're all pretty cool. I also like his captioning.

So far in Prague, we've been to see the Astronomical Clock and the Dancing Building, but other than that we just walked around a lot. First impression is that there are definitely a lot of neat things to see (Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle complex in the world), but the "tourist trap" feel of everything is kind of depressing after all the great little Czech towns we've been to in the last 2 weeks. Also, unlikely the smaller towns, many people here speak English, so you try going into a restaurant or shop and use what little Czech you know, only to have them respond in English. It certainly helps in a pinch, but we are really trying to absorb the local flavor and set a good example to try and dispel that whole "ugly American" image our countrymen so often have.

Tomorrow morning, we're going to Charles Bridge at sunrise...It's supposed to be truly spectacular, but you have to get there early to avoid all the tourists. That's the thing about this city...U-H and I have discovered that large crowds of other tourists really kind of annoy us. I think these bike trips with Experience Plus are going to be our chosen form of active travel for quite some time to come. We're already looking at where to go next year.

More later...Until then, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Update 'til I get more time & better Internet

Fast forward to the last riding day of our trip. We're now in Cesky Krumlov, which has the 2nd largest castle complex in the Czech Republic, second only to Prague. Short riding day today, we're having a medieval style dinner tonight & then we take a shuttle to Prague tomorrow (Thursday morning). We have a day and a half or so before flying home on Saturday.

More later...I'll fill in the days I skipped & be a bit more thorough about descriptions. Having trouble accessing email just now, so this is pretty much the only way I could get word out that we're still alive. :-)

Until next time, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 7: Telc to Jindrichuv Hradec

(6-1-08) The eye swelling thing is weird. I'm pretty much alright during the day, but at night while I'm sleeping it swells up again. Whatever bee crap I got injected with is taking it's sweet time processing it's way through my body, I guess. At least I was able to get my contacts in today. We rode a total of 35.6 miles today, from Telc ("telch") to Jindrichuv Hradec ("jin-drich-uhv huh-rod-ets"), which literally means Henry's Castle. Seems that every big town has a castle around here, but some look more like a hillside chateau.

Side note: They've done an amazing job of preservation in this country. The buildings themselves seem to have lasted a good long time, and the people seem to be VERY eco-conscious. Very little in the way of public litter, and they are actually in the process of converting the old Iron Curtain "no man's land" areas into one huge greenway for bikes and hikers. At some point a few days ago, we saw the last remaining piece of Iron Curtain fenceline in the Czech Republic that has been preserved for tourism, but I forget right now exactly which day.

Almost forgot...On the way to Jindrichuv Hradec, we took the optional loop for extra mileage, and on the way back in we saw some old MiG war planes in someone's yard. Never mind that there's no possible area for them to ever take off, but I guess it would be a fun restoration project.

As long as you're awake, why not get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Day 6: Optional loop ride from Telc

(5-31-08) Tom ended up riding this optional day alone, because over night my right eye swelled up so bad I couldn't really open it in the morning. That meant no contact lenses, which meant no sunglasses, which meant no riding. Bummer, but at least it was a scheduled rest day anyway, so I didn't miss anything special. Tom got back in time for us to have a nice lunch at the local pizzeria (I love seeing how different countries do their pizza), and I bought prezzies for Mom.

If you haven't yet already today, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Day 5: Vranov to Telc via Slavonice

Longer mileage today (47.7). We pedaled from Vranov to Slavonice ("slav-o-neet-say"), walked around town to look at old buildings decorated with "sgraffitto", which is basically carved concrete where they lay down one color, cover it with white paint of some kind, then scratch through it to reveal the design. These buildings have existed this way for hundreds of years, and every one seems to be different. The higher up on the wall you have covered with your design, the more wealthy your family. We finished the day by riding into Telc ("telch"), but on the way there I got stung by a bee just forward of my right temple and was lucky not to lose an eye.

Day 4: Znojmo to Vranov

Today we had time to tour the city of Znojmo, where Tom & I bought fun socks at local bike shops. Stupidly, I didn't follow his example in choosing the ones with the shop name on them, but oh well. The clerk thought it was just hilarious that SOMEbody actually bought the shop socks, LOL. Znojmo is also where our current fave Czech beer (Hostan) is brewed, and Tom scored a groovy Hostan shirt. We then rode on to Vranov, with a wonderfully steep downhill through a beautiful forest, and had time at the day's end to tour Vranov Castle.

Daily mileage: 22 miles

Until next time, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Day 3: Lednice to Znojmo via Mikulov

Our first stop on today's ride was Mikulov, where we had time to tour the town and I bought my first ceramic bowl of this trip. I collect them and use them for soups, chili, Tom's ice cream, etc. On the way to Znojmo ("znoy-mo"), we had the option of either stopping for a picnic (using supplies bought in Mikulov) or finding a restaurant along the way. Tom & I chose the restaurant option and had great fun trying to decipher the menu with our phrase books. So far, it remains my favorite lunch meal of the trip.

Side note...Phrase books are the ONLY way to go. I can't imagine traveling to a foreign country without them, though amazingly a lot of people do. When the locals see you making an effort, no matter how badly you butcher the pronunciation, they are MUCH more likely to help you.

That night, we had a wine tasting and dinner at our hotel. We had just traveled through some of the Czech Republic's best wine making regions, so it was really wonderful having a no-kidding sommelier there to tell us about each one we tried.

46 miles today (5-28-08).

Why don't YOU get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off