Friday, July 22, 2011

Camping makes me smile and want s'more!

Last summer we tested the waters with camping by setting up our tent in our backyard. Yes, we are CRAZY. (obviously that is a joke.) We pride ourselves on being fairly realistic parents and that is why we started out with a way out…our own house. And you know what, at 2 am when my then 2 year old couldn't fall asleep, I gave up, walked inside and fell asleep in my warm cozy bed.
But, we have a dream…and that dream is to show our kids the most gorgeous and adventurous parts of our country through our state and national parks. I gotta be honest with you…I want them to love camping as much as I did. Every year, the day school got out I would, literally, run home from the bus stop to hop in the car and drive to Yosemite with my dad, brother and two of our friends. It was my favorite vacation of my childhood. We stayed in pre-built tents on cots….not hard-core camping by any stretch but after a week of hiking, biking, kumbiah and no showers, I was hooked.
So, this past weekend we decided to give it a try. There was actually not as much planning to our night of camping as I had imagined we would need. We didn't make a reservation but called ahead to see if there were spots available. We went to Strawberry Bay at Strawberry Reservoir. We packed up an ice chest with sausages and hotdogs, some pasta salad and as much fruit and veggies as I could fit…oh yeah, and some cold beverages. I used my mental check-list and it worked this time but I have a dream of actually writing it down so I don't get stuck down the road.
Let me sum up our one night in our little campsite with our pop-up camper. It was AWESOME! The kids loved every second of it. I believe they would describe it as magical. The whole idea of it amazes them. And, I have to confess, we barely camped. We pulled up to spot #14 at 5:30pm, we ate dinner, roasted s'mores and went to bed. But in-between those 3 things, we were all smiles and soaking up every second of our adventure….and the two youngest in our group slept until 8:30am. (normal "up time" is 7am) We cleaned up, flew our kites and headed back to Park City to celebrate a friends birthday….still smelling of camp fire. That could be my favorite smell. I am going to boldly claim that we are hooked….so, maybe next time we will go crazy and head out for a whole two days! Bring on Yellowstone and Yosemite!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A magical day in sports.

Today is one of those days in sport I will remember for awhile to come. It started out with the finish to The Open Championship where Darren Clarke's story tugged at even the toughest man's heart strings. Tears were flowing as he was smiling and joking about leaving his final putt short…just by a touch.
At 42, never winning a Major….and to finally take one, that is performing under pressure.

And then, onto the Women's World Cup final. AMAZING! Soccer was the sport I always wanted to play but it never fit in with my swimming schedule. Therefore, during the game, I was constantly annoying people with my questions…Does a corner kick often result in a goal? Why was that offsides?…and on and on.
We had a pack of people over to cheer on the good ole RED, WHITE and BLUE. Such a great excuse to have a party…and what a show Japan and the USA served up! I attempted to dress up like Abby Wambach. The only wig I had was jet black and extremely pouffy! But, I felt the part and would oooo and ahhh over every miss and scream my head off when the USA scored. Someone said to me after, "That pressure was just too much at the end. So unfair for those girls." I responded with, "That is the kind of pressure that every athlete LIVES for! The only bummer is they wish it turned out differently." What a thrill. What a joy to witness and celebrate with our friends. I remember where I was when the US Women won the World Cup in 1999. I was in the airport waiting for my flight which was magically delayed. I remember where I was when Mary Lou won nailed her vault to win the all-around in the '84 games.

Today, I watched an amazing group of golfers and an amazing group of women soccer players spark the dream of a generation of young athletes. I watched little boys and little girls (2 being my own) become inspired by the gracious, passionate and full of heart play on the field/course today. What a privilege to cheer them on! Congrats to all and good luck to the next set of champions!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Easy and Delicious Salmon everyone can make!

Last night we made the yummiest and easiest salmon EVER! I must admit, I don’t eat fish enough…especially Salmon. But when I do, I try to buy “wild, caught” fish. I went to the store with no idea of what to prepare for dinner and when I stopped by the fish counter (cause my daughter wanted SHRIMP) I was hooked by the WILD CAUGHT SOCKEYE SALMON! It was gorgeous…if fish can be gorgeous. So, salmon was on the menu along with shrimp, asparagus and some Nan bread. I am not lying when I say this dinner took me 25 minutes. It had to, cause my kids were famished and ready to eat our couch if I didn’t have it ready lickety split. I put the salmon on a thick piece of tin foil, put a generous amount of olive oil on top, some kosher salt and pepper. That is it. For the asparagus, I wrapped it in tin foil along with water, olive oil and kosher salt. Both the fish(uncovered) and asparagus(wrapped) made their way to low heat on the bbq for about 11 minutes(every bbq is diff so check it often). The shrimp cooked up in pan in no time flat, about 7 minutes. I added some teriyaki sauce for fun flavor. (Don’t over cook the shrimp or the fish!)

The Nan bread is simple. Put a few sprinkles of water on it and place on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400 for 3 minutes. About 25 minutes from start to finish and our plates were flavorful, colorful, healthy and yummy! And the best part...the kids LOVED it. My feeling about salmon is, less is more... I don't put too much sauce or crazy spice on it. I keep it simple and enjoy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Running my own race.

Run your own race.

I have heard this advice and strategy my entire life. And, frankly, in every aspect of life. But, I didn't take this advice during my half-marathon last weekend and I am aiming to do better next time.

I am no running expert by any means but I do know this much about any distance race, if you go out to fast, it will bite you in the end. I have a tendency to do this. What can I say, I get caught up in the moment. It is hard not to. The only time I didn't go out in front during my swimming career, I won the gold medal. Hmmm…that is actually the first time I have put that together.

My most recent race is a far cry from the Olympic Games but it fills my competitive needs. I woke up at 3am to arrive at American Fork High School in time to catch the buses up the canyon to the start. It was dark, cold and 1700 ft higher than where we were finishing.

My girlfriend who is training for the Chicago Marathon with me also ran a partial downhill half the same morning. She, being the track athlete, gave me some sound downhill running advice the night before. She said, "Don't fight it. Keep your body loose running down and go with it." I thought about this with every step. It was about 3 miles in when I realized I might have "gone with it" a bit too much. I checked my watch and saw that I was running a 5:30 pace! Hmmm…I was a bit concerned but didn't slow down. Until I got to the flats.

At mile 7-ish, the steady downhill turned into a tiny uphill and mostly flat course. My quads were screaming and all I was thinking about was the fact that I had 6 more miles! I kept trying to concentrate on my form rather than the pain. But, I my aching legs kept grabbing my attention. The good news is, only a few people passed me. One, who did, looked so smooth and effortless, I actually said to him, "Now that is the way I should have run it." Classic.

I wasn't alone. A lot of us were in pain and just surviving. I managed to continue with a 7:15 pace but I walked through every water station and a few moments at the end. I needed to catch my breath. All the way in Colorado, my friend had made the same mistake. Why do we do this to ourselves….we know better. I was super happy with my time but I know I can do it better. I want to run the last half mile with gust and zeal. I want to excel through the finish line….can that happen? I know how to do it. Go easy the first few miles and then gradually build. When you go too fast, especially the first part of your race, it will bite in the end BIG TIME. Can I do it, YES I CAN….will I do it, I'll keep you posted.