To count my lucky stars

Today I learned to count my lucky stars. 

I had the day off of work today and drove 35 minutes out of my way to take advantage of my free oil change. As I was leaving, I got rear-ended. It was raining and we were in the middle of a busy intersection, so we opted to move our cars to the side of the road. I did, he instead hopped on the highway. 

My first accident was a hit and run. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt. Luckily, I was able to get his license plate number. Luckily, my car is drivable. But really, why would you leave the scene of an accident?! 

Things I took away from my experience:

  • The police took 1-hour to come write the report. I would hope they’d be faster had there been an injury, but that’s a ridiculous amount of time for a girl to be sitting in her car alone in a parking lot!
  • Chili is more important than solving a crime. Four officers pulled up next to me to go eat lunch; they were not dispatched to help me, which is really annoying after waiting an hour for the right person to show up!
  • I dislike the fact that Indiana only has license plates on the back of cars. Had this guy not tried to pass me and got stuck in traffic, I’d never have gotten his plates and would have been out of luck in getting any justice. 
  • It feels like the person that committed the crime and abandoned the crime scene is winning. I have to pay out of my pocket to fix damages to my brand new car. It’s not fair (pout). 

Walking away, I realize I’m lucky and someone was looking out for me because it could have been a LOT worse. Even so, it’s not something I hope to have to deal with again. What a day.

Sprint triathlons are not scary

tri photosYesterday I learned that sprint triathlons are not scary.

Sunday, I finished my first triathlon. I completed my first half-marathon in 2011 and my second in 2013. The result? Knees and hips like an 80-year-old; I was done. For recovery, I started cross-training by cycling and swimming. Naturally, the next step was a triathlon. I think i might be hooked.

Previously, I wrote that I had more questions than answers related to sprint triathlons, which involves a 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Today, I have the answers.

Am I wet the entire race?

I’m guilty of having a freak out moment when I stepped out of the pool, dripping wet, and into the low 50 degree temperatures to run to my bike, but as soon as I got into the transition area, I got tough. I dried off my legs and feet and opted to wear shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt with a tank top underneath. While it was a little chilly at first, I was dry by the time I finished the ride. It definitely wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it’d be.

Will I be able to find my gear?

Absolutely. Ok, to be fair, the Carmel Sprint Triathlon wasn’t very large, but in my experience, I had no issues finding my stuff. There were rows of racks for the bicycles organized by your bib number. I got there early and put my bike on the end of a rack so I  could access it easy and find it quick.

What do I eat?

I was nervous about the race so I just acted like it was just a regular workout. With that in mind, I ate what I always do, cereal! I also had a banana about an hour before the race because I read that that helps settle your stomach. They gave us gel, but I skipped it. My race had one water station half-way through the run and I had a water bottle during transitions.

Will someone steal my bike if I have to stop and pee?

Ha. I’m weird and that was a weird concern. The answer is no, no one will steal your bike; especially if you have a 15-year-old bike like I did. Additionally, I never had to stop to pee. This sounds silly, but it’s always a concern for me when I race. In a half-marathon it takes two hours for me to finish. Nerves get to you! But in all of my races, I’ve never had to stop.

What swimsuit should I get?

I have no idea. That was a stressful decision for me. I ended up with a black Nike one-piece that was under $50. I tried on some suits in the store, but thought I could get a better deal online. The swimsuit I ordered online was WAY too small. Even though it was the same size as the one I tried on in the store, it was a different brand and the two suits were very different sizes. I highly recommend trying on multiple brands in the store and ordering the exact same one online.

Why are swimsuits so expensive?

It’s so annoying because triathlons are so expensive. You need a swimsuit, goggles, bicycle, tennis shoes; basically a lot of gear. Consider it an investment, especially the tennis shoes.

Do I get to listen to my iPod?

No. The race I did was USAT official. They told us no less than 10 times that headphones equal a disqualification. I didn’t think I would be able to handle biking for 45 minutes with no music, but it went by faster than I thought. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about breaking my phone during the race or having it stolen.

Can I wear the same shoes for running and biking?

I did! I don’t own a bike with clips so it was the only choice I had. As people with fancier bikes and fancier cycling shoes passed me I couldn’t help thinking that it was their equipment that made them faster, not their strength; who knows. I beat some people and some people beat me. I bet my transitions were faster because of it!

How do you do a turnaround the right way in the pool?

I watched a lot of videos and still cannot do a flip turn in the pool without drowning. Luckily, I didn’t have to. The swimming portion was eight 50-meter lanes. We started 5 seconds apart, but the lanes were wide enough that if you needed to pass someone, you could. I figured out half-way through my swim that pushing off at an angle into the next lane was faster than dipping under and then pushing off.

Other things I discovered during the race and training that I wish I had known:

  • Coconut oil is a miracle oil to combat chlorine on skin and hair.
  • Good goggles are very, very important. Don’t be cheap. (guilty)
  • If you train inside, make sure you incorporate hills even though they are the worst.
  • Wear a swim cap. It helps keep the chlorine out and your hair dry-ish.
  • Swimming is actually the easiest leg of the race while running is the hardest. Mile one of run=So. Much. Pain

The more I reflected on the couch Sunday afternoon, the more I realized I actually had fun in this race. Unlike the half-marathon that crippled me for 48 hours, I was actually able to walk to the grocery store and function like a normal human in the same day! Training didn’t take up a lot of my time and my body didn’t ache after I finished.

See, sprint triathlons aren’t scary! Do you have any questions about sprint triathlons? I’m a veteran now!

I have to vent (LinkedIn)

Today I learned that I have to vent about LinkedIn.

In the fall of 2012, LinkedIn introduced endorsements. If you are not familiar, this allows your first degree connections to endorse you for a particular skill. For example, someone might endorse me for blogging or social media.

While endorsements are (thankfully) only allowed by a first degree connection, I still find people endorsing me who have never really experienced my skills. The reason for this is because LinkedIn makes it too easy to endorse someone. LinkedIn prompts you to endorse your connections, Not only does it prompt you, it specifically asks, “Does Sarah know about blogging?” and with a click of a button, the endorsement for blogging comes into existence.

Luckily, everything I am being endorsed for are skills that I actually do have and are represented in my profile, but it drives me crazy that people endorsement without speaking to me or working alongside me. This Huffington Post article “Why Getting LinkedIn Endorsements Doesn’t Mean You’re Special”  explains the endorsements are not genuine, nor credible.

In talking with a friend in recruitment, as well as reading this article from Forbes, it seems that most recruiters understand that endorsements should be taken with a grain of salt; that’s comforting. To me, and I’m no recruiter, LinkedIn recommendations are more credible than endorsements. They come straight from a co-worker and the relationship (connection) is obvious.

If you are reading this, and have endorsed me, please know that I really do appreciate your kindness. Whether you love them or hate them, endorsements are here to stay.

Do you like endorsements on LinkedIn?

I can handle a challenge.

Today I learned that I can handle a challenge.quote

I love, love, love this quote: “Together forever, never apart. Maybe in distance, but never in heart.” I first used this  in my column for our school paper senior year of high school because my best friends and I split up to attend different colleges. I was again reminded of this quote when I moved to Indianapolis and left friends and family behind in St. Louis for a job.

Today, I’m reminded of this quote again as I send my boyfriend off on a temporary, grand adventure to the middle-of no-where Pennsylvania for work. Nothing is easy in life, but when we work hard, we are often rewarded. If I grow to be 100 years old, six months is hardly existent in the scheme of things.

I value each of my relationships greatly. It’s amazing to see this quote apply to so many different stages in my life. Each time it comes to mind, the situation seems sad and lonely, but looking back, each situation has resulted in new friends, opportunities and experiences. I wouldn’t give that up for anything. Today, I am reminded that we may be separated by distance, but never by heart.

Giving up coffee is hard

Image

Today I learned that giving up coffee is hard.

I was a tea drinker before the Keurig entered the market. I’ve gotten in to a routine every morning that I love. I get to the office, turn on the lights, turn on my computer, then I turn on my computer. That fresh cup of rich coffee in any flavor I choose is such an enjoyable to start my morning. Then I gave it up for Lent. 

Giving something up for Lent is not a requirement, at least in my religious practice, but in doing it, I’ve realized what giving something up really means. Every morning, when I drink something else instead of that cup of coffee, I am reminded of what Lent season is about. It’s not about me trying to get healthier or break a bad habbit, it’s about remembering the reason of Easter every time I think about coffee.

In addition, I’ve also learned that I really like coffee. 

How to eat alone

Today I learned how to eat alone.

Ok, I’m sure this was ot hte first time I’ve ever eaten alone, but when I usually have to, I tend to pick fast food or pick something up to go. This time, I was tough. During the week I traveled for work I came up with this strategy for eating alone:

photo (1)

1. Bring a phone. The first night I texted my brother (who made fun of me most of the conversation) to entertain me during dinner. Another night, I wrote this blog post on my phone. Twitter is also my BFF.

3. Sit smart. Tonight, I picked the bar to sit at, like all business travelers. I specifically picked a restaurant with a bar because that’s where the TVs are.

2. Let food be a distraction. The first spot I went to had a salad bar so I didn’t have to sit around for long. Tonight, I ordered a beer to drink while waiting. I find food entertaining, don’t you?

4. Dress fancy. Ok, I didn’t follow this tip tonight (wearing sweatpants!), but when I see people wearing suits at the bar, it’s clear to me that they are important and they make sitting alone at the bar look cool.

5. Realize that you are the only one who cares. Seriously, no one else cares that you are eating alone except you. How often do you actually notice someone eating alone? When I see someone alone, I think, “Wow, she is so brave,” and I want to be like her. Own it.

As a woman, I fear eating alone because I don’t want to open the door for strange men to talk to me. Sometimes a girl just wants to eat alone. But, when it comes down to it, eating alone is an irrational fear that I need to get over.

I took Midwest-friendliness for granted

Today I learned that I took Midwest-friendliness for granted.

Despite another 5.5 inches of snow last night and another potential inch tonight, I’ve realized that people here are pretty cool. Two of my friends, visiting from their new home in the Northeast, described how people are less friendly there than in the Midwest. Examples they gave were of people not saying hi casually in the halls at work or striking up a conversation with someone in the convenience store. 

I hadn’t considered this cultural difference before, but when I stop to think about it, I am subject of Midwestern friendliness all day, everyday. Last night, for instance, we stopped by the liquor store, in preparation for the snow. The cashier was very helpful in telling me what his favorite choice was, as was the other girl checking out. Soon, another girl came in and complained about people driving. Though she wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, I joined in her rant. 

While we were having dinner last night, I saw the workers of a restaurant next door go out to help push a customer’s car out of the snow. I wonder if there was much of that going on in Washington, D.C. this week. I was brought up like every other kid: “Don’t talk to strangers!” but the truth is, it’s entertaining to be able to strike up a conversation with a stranger or comment that you like their shoes.

As a former, St. Louisan and forever Cardinals fan, i must boast on the articles written during the 2013 World series. Boston fans and reporters were stunned at how welcoming Cardinal Nation was towards the rival Boston fans. I’ll let the Boston Globe explain how nice we are.

People always talk about Southern hospitality, but I was taking the stereotypical Midwest-friendliness for granted. it’s all around me every day. I am a big believer in the good of people, so I may work harder to see it than others, but it’s there. I believe people are good if we give them the chance. I am happy to live in a state and region that allow me to witness and be a part of it every day. 

That being said, I can’t lie and tell you that I wouldn’t jump on a plane and head to the beach right about now!