Tri, Tri Again

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'm training for a sprint triathlon in June.

I want you to imagine what you think "training for a triathlon" looks like and divide that by 100. That's what I'm doing.

It involves a lot of HGTV. And gelato.

My favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations, but my favorite thing to bring to dinner parties is gelato. When the planning begins for any potluck style event, I instantly call dibs on wine and dessert. And 90% of the time my dessert is of the store bought variety. Talenti sea salt gelato has been a crowd-pleaser even for the most epicurean attendees:

*this post is unfortunately not sponsored by talenti. Though at this rate, they should sponsor my life.

Oh, you grew basil in your herb garden and then used it to make a homemade pesto that we're eating over made-from-scratch linguini? Pass the wine, please. Also, when's dessert!?

Where was I before I began discussing my passion for store bought frozen delicacies? Oh, right. Exercise.

Last week I was in New York staying in a well-placed hotel near Times Square. I decided that I'd wake up early in the city that never sleeps to run through Central Park. You see, the triathalon involves running a 5k as the last event. I'm pretty sure I'll drown before I get to that part, but on the off-chance I survive swimming, and don't wreck my bike, I'd prefer not to pass out half way through a 3.1 mile run.

Our hotel was on 38th & the Avenue of Americas - so it was a straight shot up to Central Park (which starts at 59th) and then back. I tried this on Wednesday morning - and it was awesome! Even early, the city was so alive. I found myself running faster than usual, which I attributed to the fact that I had so many spectators.**

On Thursday, I ventured out for another morning run.  I didn't let the fog hinder me, and as I entered Central Park, a light rain began to fall. Undeterred, I picked up my pace and held my own with probably hundreds of other runners in the park. The energy in the city is palpable.

When it was time to turn around, I exited the park the same way I entered, and began the mile run back to the hotel down on 38th...or so I thought.

It was only when I looked up through the rain drops and saw a sign for 78th street that I began to panic. Apparently my overconfidence from my successful prior run had resulted in my not paying close any attention to where I was. One super disappointing fun fact about me is I have no sense of direction.  If I were born before the invention of the GPS, I'd probably still be aimlessly wandering Manhattan with nothing but over-priced lululemon workout gear and a surely expired hotel room key.

Fortunately, I had my iPhone in hand which was able to confirm just how far away I was from my destination:

**I'm pretty sure the actual reason I felt like I was running faster in New York is my new running app is totally inaccurate. It always says I'm faster than I actually am. I don't hate it.
I was done working out, it was time to get ready for work, and I was 40 blocks away from my hotel.

At that point, I decided to turn off my app. Running was no longer simply a means of exercise, a mere way to burn calories to justify future dessert consumption. It was a necessary means of physicial transportation.

With no other vehicle but my own two tired feet, I felt a newfound connection with the caveman who lived before the advent of cars, with Arya Stark who walked for days across Westeros, with the fleet-footed ancient Greecian war messenger who ran the first-ever marathon just to say "Nike!"

And, you know, like all other people who ever walked/ran to get around. In the grand scheme of things, there are lots of them.

Still, it felt primitive. Not running for exercise, but running because my body needed to be in my hotel room 20 minutes ago. I finally made it back, and thanked my athlete roots that I can physically prepare for any event in less than 15 minutes. (business traveler friends: the first step is giving up on ironing.)

Needless to say, I obviously ran way farther than originally planned. But don't worry, I've been making up for my unintentionally long run with intentional extra gelato.

Count the headlights on the highway

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

If there were two words that could capture the exact opposite of my outward-most being, they would be "tiny dancer."

That doesn't damper my love for the Elton John number, though. Does that song make anyone else want to quit their day jobs and be a seamstress for a band?

In the spirit of appreciating dancers who are half my size, I attended the New York City Ballet last night - and loved it.

The past three years I've been to The Nutcracker around the holidays, but that's been my only recent exposure to ballet. Don't get me wrong. I was a successful ballerina in my youth. OBVIOUSLY.

I conquered ballet, tap, and jazz (all before kindergarten!) and distinctly remember actually colliding with twin sister whilst attempting a ballerina's leap at age 6.

Who knew ballet could be a contact sport?

Of course, when kindergarten came I was forced to retire. It was hard hanging up my Minnie Mouse costume (equipped with endlessly entertaining 4-finger gloves) for life, but I knew I had to move onto better things. Particularly, better things that required less balance and overall coordination. Like math.

Last night, I got to witness those who never did move on from good old ballet. And it was beyond impressive.

While watching, I kept thinking about the time I did Yoga Barre and the evil instructor made me hold onto the barre, stand on one foot, and hold my back leg out for like, five straight minutes. Violent shaking ensued. (More yoga thoughts in this post). And all the ballerinas were holding their knees next to their ears like it was totes NBD. Oh, you want me to twirl around 12 times in a row? Another day, another dollar, yo.

The nice part about the ballet we saw was it had four distinct parts. Since  it was a compilation of different pieces, there was a wide variety of music and dancing. My favorite part? A section called The Steadfast Toy Soldier that was awesome.

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU WOULD RATHER EXPERIENCE THIS FIRST HAND (by reading the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale or seeing the ballet personally) PLEASE STOP READING. I'LL RUIN IT FOR YOU. AND I HATE SPOILERS.

I am still holding a grudge against the ruthless person who told me the key character that dies in the fifth Harry Potter book before I could get to that chapter. I'll never forget the moment. I was on the band bus. And I was livid. I'm willing to take that one to my grave.

Anyway, I hope we lost all the adamant fairy tale readers/ballet goers by now. I'm guessing I probably lost just about everyone with that last little blurb but I wanted to do that just to be sure. I'd rather have no readers than have readers who hold grudges against me, you know what I mean? Me neither.

So The Steadfast Toy Soldier starts with a person marching/jumping around dressed as a toy soldier (shocker!) and a doll standing still (that's actually a person dressed as a doll). The plot then progresses as follows:

The soldier dances.

The doll dances.

The soldier dances.

The doll dances.

The soldier and the doll dance together.

The soldier and the doll dance together some more.

The soldier gives the doll a little red heart which she slips in her leotard. (Not as scandalous as it sounds).

The soldier and the doll dance.

The doll gets hot so she opens the window.

Wind blows into the room.

The soldier and the doll continue to dance.

The doll gets blown into the fire place and is burned alive.

The soldier picks up all that remains of the doll (the little red heart).


It totally took an unexpected turn for the worst, right?! Who knew Hans Christian Anderson could pull a George R.R. Martin like that? I actually found it very hard not to spontaneously burst out laughing throughout the rest of the show because I kept wondering if any of the other ballerinas in any of the other dances were, you know, going to die. But nope - only the doll! I'm happy to report no one else was murdered or injured during the rest of the performance, and I highly recommend seeing it if you find yourself in the Big Apple!