It beats!

(My heart, that is!)

I love the chest strap! It’s super comfortable and secure, and I think it’s really neat to see how my running speed corresponds to my running pace. I also like being able to see how long I was in my target range (below). The circles represent miles—except the last one which just represents my end-distance!

It’s something to get excited over, even though Simon and Garfunkel have officially canceled their concert now. *Sigh* I just knew it. We specifically didn’t do anything or go anywhere for Mother’s Day this year…one of the days I dread most all year long…because we had plans to go to the concert. It was rescheduled to July due to Art’s vocal problems.

Which, come on. Simon and Garfunkel was great because it was made up of two masters: a songwriter and a singer. Without the voice, it just wouldn’t have been the same (even with the great words). After jumping through all the hoops to get my refund and re-buy the tickets to see the concert at a different venue, I think I started preparing myself for the idea that this wouldn’t happen after all.

So there you have it. Thumbs up for the new Nike + chest strap, thumbs down for disappointment.

New Toy

I have come to appreciate that I am a metrics person. I like data. A lot.

Probably not the sexiest thing to admit, but it is what it is. I think this is why I get a high from treadmill running while others look at spending an hour on the treadmill as cruel and unusual punishment. I play all kinds of numbers games with myself on the treadmill, and it keeps my mind from wandering and dillydallying as I tend to do on long runs outside. Let’s face it: some people run because they just plain like to run. I just run to be fit.

I started off my fitness journey in 2001 with power walking, and I became an excellent walker. Even so, the first time I clipped a pedometer to my belt, I felt an unexpected thrill. I actually had digital proof that I was walking so much! Suddenly, I couldn’t let myself go to bed until I had 20,000 steps in on the day. Metrics help that geeky, awkward part of me that I am probably not going to grow out of after all.

I first logged onto Nike + in 2007, but I was not a regular user because I wasn’t all that fond of listening to music while I run. Occasionally, sure, but not all the time or even the majority. Since the Nike + Sportband came out last July, I’ve been a machine though. I just crossed the 800 mile mark in Nike +, a tally of all my runs from 2007 to present. 698 of those miles were logged with the Sportband from last September on.

But even before Nike +, I fell in love with the heart rate monitor. I have a decent grasp on how many calories I burn during various activities based on my perceived level of exertion, but there’s something about seeing your heart rate start to fall when you take a breather that makes you want to get going again a little faster. With wearing my Sportband so often though, I haven’t been wearing my Polar heart rate monitor as much.

That all changes when my package from Nike arrives. I was uploading my Monday run and saw the news! Polar teamed up with Nike to provide a chest strap that will monitor heart rate through iPods and Sportbands, as well as compatible Polar HRMs. That means the new chest strap will work with my Sportband, iPod, and it’s compatible with my existing Polar model so I can wear with with my non running activities! I love it when a plan comes together!

I am totally stoked. I love the community at Nike +, and I admit that I have become a bit of a Nike groupie, but this just seals it (particularly since I had a similar style replacement chest strap in my amazon.com saved list, but hadn’t made the commitment to buy since I didn’t have the opportunity to wear it that often with all the running this year). You just know I’m going to look at some of my runs with this thing and think, “Yeah, I could have pushed it more.” NO EXCUSES! Totally stoked. Seriously.

Need to let off steam…

I need to vent, and then I’ll go back to school work.

As an adult, I have come to believe that if a person sets out to do something, they should do it to the best of their ability or it isn’t even worth trying. I have approached my education this way, and for me that means maintaining an A average. I know I am capable of A work, so why should I be content to settle for something lower?

This is not to say that I have been able to float through the last few years without a care in the world. I wish! Anything worthwhile requires a lot of time and effort, and my GPA is no exception. I knew the sacrifices I would have to make going into this degree, and Nick knew the sacrifices. It was going to be around three years of really hard work. Nick was going to have to pick up a lot of the household chores and I wasn’t going to be able to have a lot of free time to go boating, biking, or hiking which are hallmark activities of our life together. Nick is a good partner, and I respect him for doing his part to allow me to complete my education with excellence.

All this being said, all of these sacrifices being made, I am so mad I could spit (because that’s what mad people do, apparently). Throughout my program, I have had issues with team assignments and people not pulling their weight. I can think of only three classes where team assignments were completed without issue every single time.

I took the leadership role in my team this week, and laid out the assignment with specific due dates on each section, which was necessary because it is a progressive paper where the person who signed up for part C needs to have part B done first. I think I was even an ass and stated “Please pay attention and adhere to the due dates when you sign up” because I had a problem with the last minute scrambling to turn in the paper last week.

It is now Sunday afternoon and one of the parts due Friday night is still not turned in. Other people are waiting on that part. The team member in question leaves a message late last night saying, “Guys I am working on my part. I know that we all have things to do, but I’m really having hard time both working and doing my assignments.” I just can’t stop rolling my eyes.

Maybe I am tired to the point where I no longer have sympathy for people, but this whole working full time and going to school full time? Yeah, it sucks. But I knew that going in, as everyone should have. What bugs me the most is that because people cannot figure out how to manage their time, they throw everyone else off. I am sick and tired of people being irresponsible.

And maybe I am at my tipping point because I now work in a position wherein deadlines are extremely important, and if you can’t make your deadline you need to appeal to the big dogs for an extension. Maybe I am just oversimplifying the situation, but everyone has a busy life and you usually do not get time to rest in between activities. Grow up and be accountable!

Okay, now I am off to pick up the slack in my team. It sure is lucky that I don’t have anything else going on in my life and can easily step in to save the day.

Birthdays and Beer

My little brother turned 27 years old last Thursday, and my cousins—good, big-hearted people—threw him a surprise drinking bash last night. I had a card and birthday present for him, so I agreed to go for one drink and then head home.

See, they couldn’t get the party started until 8:00 PM. Guys, I’m usually in bed by 9:00! Not only that, Nick was already scheduled to kayak the Kick1 today, while I had plans to go into work for half of a day and then spend the other half BSing my way through a 1500 word essay on marketing research tools.

Nonetheless, we walked in, and Uncle Rick—Uncle Rick of parallel bathtub Euchre fame who knows how much I value flattery and told me last night I look younger every time he sees me—set a pitcher of free beer before me and Nick. By the time they whipped out the glow sticks and mardi gras beads, I was primed.

In conclusion, it was so nice to see my brother tickled that people would come out to celebrate him, and we were in bed by midnight: you can never hold your resolve once you have a little buzz and the small voice of what you really want to do, responsibility be damned, speaks over all others!

1 I am pretty sure that “Kayaking the Kick” is just a Laura/Nick phrase indicating a day that typically starts at about 5:00 AM to travel to the Kickapoo river, and then spend six hours kayaking downstream before heading back home. It’s one of my favorite things in the world to do, but I’m just too bogged down between work and school right now.

Parfrey’s Glen

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This is my fifth Memorial Day weekend with Nick, and I have come to love all of the activities that we squeeze into this three-day span. This year, the sun was out and the weather was warm…perfect for the first paddle of the season and exploring state parks all over again. It’s like seeing an old friend after the winter thaws away. Not to mention, Brat Fest is always in town!

We started out the weekend Friday afternoon with a hike through Parfrey’s Glen. Parfrey’s Glen was the first designated natural area in Wisconsin, and it is absolutely beautiful. Nick and I last visited the glen back in 2006 (see below…sorry, I’m being lazy and linking to Flickr instead of using Javascript), but devastating floods washed away the boardwalk in 2008.

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It’s like nature reclaimed the land, washing away the human stain. I think my idea of heaven looks something like this. A babbling brook bouncing capriciously over moss-hued rocks, deep foliage filtering sunlight in sparkling lace patterns, and quiet but the sound of birds chirping. It was humbling being in such a place of sublime beauty. It’s a bit more technical getting back there without the boardwalk, but the effort was well worthwhile, though Nick questioned my technique.

Laura Navigating Parfrey's Glen

Actually, I think he just has moments where he is taken aback by how girly I truly am. There I was with my pink shirt, wrists flipped up while tip toeing from rock to rock through the stream (the wrists flipped up really does help, I am sure), and I keep hearing him laugh behind me. But hey! I made it! I fully support girly-girls!

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Sadly, we kept forgetting to take the camera along (or, as was the case with kayaking on Sunday at Mirror Lake, the camera and the picture card) for the rest of the weekend’s events, but I think we remembered it for the most precious of views (brats not withstanding). See the entire set on Flickr.