Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Slicing Wrong My Entire Life

You guys!  I just found out my entire life I've been slicing avocado wrong

ZOMG!  #LIFEFAIL

Check this out.  It may be a little dorky, but it DOES kind of look cool.





"Rather than halve the avocado lengthwise, halve it crosswise, around the pit. If the avocado is ripe, at this point you can simply give the avocado a gentle squeeze and the pit will drop right out. No dangerous knife-wielding necessary! But the real magic comes once the pit is outta there.

You scoop out the avocado from the peel (or use your hands to actually peel the two halves if you're a perfectionist), then slice the avocado into rings. At this point you can top your salad or sandwich with the rings or you can halve them, which is my preference so that you get nice thick gorgeous slices like these."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Couldn't Repeat It If I Tried ...

So I've been trying to get back into running shape, which is no small task having not really followed any kind of training plan in the last two years.  (Not to mention having basically done no running at all since fall of last year). 

Despite my lack of time on my feet, I found it interesting how much my body "remembers" on pacing for distance. 

Check out my finish time for a 3 mile run on Tuesday of last week (March 28th), and again on Tuesday of this week (April 4th):






The strangest part is, last week I ran a much less even pace per mile, whereas this week I held a fairly consistent pace.  And yet, they still netted out to the exact same finish time. 

I don't think I could do this again if I tried!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What I Did Winter 2016-2017 (AKA - Gettin' Drunk, Part Six)

Today's post is going to veer very far off the course of healthy lifestyle info.

Be forewarned.

---

To begin: this is a post about tap rooms (mostly) within driving distance of the Twin Cities.  Almost two years ago I did a series of posts on this topic.  If you didn't that series, here are links to my first , second, third, fourth and fifth posts about the tap rooms I visited back then.

Taprooms included in those posts are:

Recap One  (Stops in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Shakopee, Victoria and Waconia - all MN based brewers)
Enki, Waconia Brewing Company, Fulton, 612, Urban Growler, Indeed, Boom Island, Surly, Badger Hill, Sisyphus, and Tin Whiskers

Recap Two  (Stops in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Shakopee, Hopkins, and Hudson - mostly MN based brewers and one WI)
American Sky, Tin Whiskers (revisit), Burning Brothers, Dangerous Man, Badger Hill (revisit), Sociable Cider Werks, and LTD

Recap Three (Stops all in the Duluth area of MN)
Bent Paddle, Castle Danger, Lake Superior, Fitger's, Canal Park, and Thirsty Pagan

Recap Four (Stops in Stillwater, St. Louis Park, Roseville, Minneapolis, Nisswa and Baxter - all MN based brewers)
Maple Island, Lift Bridge, Steel Toe, Bent, North Gate, Gull Dam, and Jack Pine

Recap Five  (Stops in Minneapolis, Minnetonka and Buffalo - all MN based brewers)
Insight, Town Hall, Bauhaus Brew Labs, Lucid, and Hayes' Public House

I also did a couple of international stops to Heineken and Brewery I'J (Brouwerij't Ij) in Amsterdam and the Hofbrau House in Munich if you're curious about those (although they're not written in a true brewery recap format like this blog, since they're included in my Euro trip recaps).

Anyway!  This post is essentially me getting back into the taproom groove.  I mean, we just got through winter in Minnesota, after all.  What the heck else are we going to do to keep busy during a season of sub zero temps and snow banks up to our nipples?

Ok, let's go!


---



Montgomery Brewing
Montgomery, MN
 
 
Visited: Late July 2016 - just a month or so before I found out I was pregnant!  Obviously a little late on this recap.
On Tap: 7 beers
Flights: Yes 
 
 
Food: Nothing while we were there
Ambiance: This one is a little bit of a haul outside of the twin cities, and as such, you definitely get the small town vibe.  Interestingly enough, they seem to have taken over what used to be the old Montgomery brewery ages ago.  Kind of fun to see the place go back to it's roots.
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
Thoughts: I have to admit, my memory on this one is a little blurry since it's been over a year from my visit.  Dang pregnancy running my taproom recaps (just kidding)!  I do recall the staff was extremely friendly, and there was a lot of local pride - they even had a beer themed on their town festival, Kolache Days.  LOL!  While it's a bit of a drive, I do recall thinking I wouldn't mind going back, so I must have liked it ok enough.
 



 
East Lake Brewing
Minneapolis, MN
 
 
Visited: December 2016
On Tap: Multiple beers - many the same brew done in different ways (barrel aged, etc.)
Flights: I think so, but we went during happy hour so small taps were cheaper
*as you can see, even my son has become quite the connoisseur (kidding, kidding - no beer for kids)
 
Food: Connected to the Global Market, AKA food paradise.  I was thrilled to be able to have Moroccan tagine chicken while I sipped on my beers, but literally a world of choices await you there so pick whatever is your liking.
Ambiance: Obviously space is an issue for this taproom - I'm sure being in the Global Market, rent wise, isn't cheap.  Also, as you can see in the pic above, there's some sort of bowling alley theme going on that I didn't quite get ... since most of the beers seemed to be named after baseball stuff???  Not to mention the deer head, the disco ball, the "no lifeguard on duty" sign by the water cooler ... I don't know, and to be honest I didn't try that hard to try and figure it all out.  Overall the taproom was what I'd say was "just fine", though a bit on the hipster side ... which I don't think you can avoid give the location in Minneapolis.  Heh.  Brewing operations appeared to be visible near the tap/bar area.
 
  

 
 
 
 
Thoughts: If you're looking to burn a day snacking on delicious foods and tasting beers, this is the place to do it.  I'd surely be happy to bring some non-local friends here to show off a more unique local offering in terms of the global market feel.  The staff was friendly enough, and HUGE BONUS POINTS for having not only height chairs, but height chairs that are tall enough to be at bar stool height.  (Ah, the things you appreciate when you have a kid, no?!)  The beers, though, were somewhat unremarkable to me.  I don't forsee myself hurrying back for another taste any time soon.



 
 
 
Brau Brothers Brewing
Marshall, MN
 
 
Visited: January 2017
On Tap: Endless beers!  We shared three flights and still didn't get them all!  Boo-hoo-hoo!
Flights: Yes
 
*Yes that's S'mores beer right there.  And dammit - I'm hooked.  Why do they have to be so far away?!
 
Food: Um ... yes, and it was so delicious I didn't remember to take a picture until I was halfway through eating!  (Full service restaurant in house)
 
Ambiance: While the outside leaves something to be desired (being in a small town strip mall doesn't exactly scream "curb appeal"), once you step foot inside this tap room you won't be disappointed.  Nicely decorated and with plenty of room to spare, this place is amazing!  I particularly liked how they ran the tap through an old school fire engine, and the floor to celling windows that provided views into both the bottling line and the brewing areas.  Oh ... and I couldn't help but love how the self proclaimed "Brau Bros Dad" was proudly sipping a brew at the bar, bragging to another local who was checking the place out that his "sons ran this place" - so proud, so cute.
 
 




Thoughts: This small town brewery is a bit of a haul from the cities - I think it took us about 2 hours to get there (one way).  And I have to admit, after driving through multiple corn fields and cattle grazing areas to get there, I thought ... this place won't amount to much.  HOWEVER, once I got there I was blown away; their beers are excellent and definitely make it worth a trip!  If you have a random day to burn and want something fun to do, I recommend this place.  As an added advantage, they have a fully functional restaurant and make some of their own smoked/cured meats in house, so the food is quite good. 



 
 
 
Roets Brewing
Jordan, MN
 
 
Visited: Fe"brew"ary 2017
On Tap: Quite a list for a newly opened location - I think about a dozen when we arrived
Flights: No, so we shared small pours of about 4-5 beers 
 
Food: There appeared to be a couple of sandwich options, but we didn't purchase
Ambiance: This small town brewer has done a great job on their taproom, especially when you consider the location was a "plan B" choice (their first choice location was to be in the old Jordan Brewery, which suffered massive damages during spring flooding about a year prior to their opening).  They even have an outdoor patio, which surprisingly was full in February during an unseasonably warm spell.  My only wish was that they had height chairs ... as you can tell, my little boy was not a fan of the bar stools.  *snicker*
 
   

 

 

Thoughts: Since my son was a little fussy the day we visited this taproom, our experience was rushed and we didn't get much time to enjoy the beers.  From what little we tasted, the beer was surprisingly good - especially considering the remote location of this taproom and it being newly opened.  The staff was incredibly friendly as well.  I look forward to getting back there again soon.


 
 
 
Roundhouse Brewery
Brainerd, MN
 
 
Visited: March 2017
On Tap: A very lucky 13 options to choose from, plus lemonade, root beer and kombucha as well
Flights: Yes, but "this isn't an airport, so we call them tracks" **LOL**
 
Food: Nothing while we were there
Ambiance: What came first - the brewery name or the brewery location?  Since the location of this taproom is in the old train depot in Brainerd, MN, I wonder if they chose their name based on their location or what?!  LOL!  Being in the depot creates a unique atmosphere with an old timey feel, which you can see they take advantage of in regards to how they choose to decorate as well. 
 
 

 

 
Thoughts: I'm loving the growth of taprooms all over MN, and I think this is a great addition to the existing offerings in the Brainerd area.  While their beers aren't as good as Jack Pine, this taproom has a distinct advantage when it comes to atmosphere and space - meaning that they have plenty of room to encourage hanging out and enjoying beer, and they encourage you to stay with various board games, corn hole, and giant jenga.   (Though, side note: I did hear Jack Pine is getting a major taproom location upgrade soon).  The staff is also tremendously friendly.  



 
 
Big Axe
Nisswa, MN
 
 
Visited: March 2017
On Tap: Maybe 9-10?  More on this below ...
Flights: Yes, if you want are willing to wait for them to get around to serving you
 
Food: Nothing while we were there ... despite the website clearly noting they were serving burgers and other food options.  This was a huge problem as we ended our day here anticipating we'd have dinner with our beer, and had three hungry kids in tow.  To the owners: if you are advertising a kitchen as offering food online (yep - just checked - still advertising as open), but you are actually so understaffed with employees that the kitchen is continually closed, plus that entire area of the taproom isn't even being assisted by staff at all ... then update your web page.  It isn't that hard, folks.  FYI - This is how unattentive the staff was: I actually walked into the kitchen prep area and took a plastic pint glass because I couldn't get staff to help me in the main taproom area, and I needed the cup in order to deal with a screaming 10 month old ... who I was originally anticipating I'd be able to accommodate via their supposedly open kitchen.  Makes you question who else has messed around in there, and how sanitary the kitchen is after all those hands have touched things ...
Ambiance: This taproom is crammed into a space that isn't even fit for an ice cream shop.  When we arrived, a party of maybe 8-10 adults were in the main taproom area, which was so overcrowded that I never even got to really see what it looked like.  Since we sat in the restaurant side of the taproom, which had no staff and wasn't even being monitored by anyone, I wasn't impressed.  At all.  (You know the ambiance is bad when a bachelor/ette party comes in, and the girls ditch out before the party could even sit down ... and the guys leave after drinking one pint as fast as they can ... all the while complaining that the taproom didn't at all live up to the expectations they had based on their website).  The below photos of inside the taproom were lifted from Google, and I'm telling you ... they make the taproom look much bigger than it is.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thoughts: While I'm loving the growth of taprooms all over MN ... the sad fact is that some people are starting taprooms for the wrong reasons.  Big Axe is one of those "wrong reasons" kinds of places.  You can tell the owners aren't really interested in celebrating beers, and are just running the place for a quick buck.  Their beers are sub par, they clearly aren't interested in telling you about them (staff isn't educated / no description cards or menus are available), and you can hardly even find a staff person to pour you anything to begin with - it probably doesn't help that they're half focused on their own children, who are running all over the taproom/outside with giant sticks in their hands, screaming and yelling.  To be fair, I'm willing to bear with a taproom that has these kinds of challenges when they are new.  But, this place has been open for over a year (close to two in fact, if I recall correctly), and yet they don't have any kind of quality of service down ... if you can consider simply pouring a beer service at all.  In fact, if anything, they've gotten worse since they've opened, as my sister said they at least had food available when she went there at the grand opening oh so long ago.  In the end, I'm amazed they're still open ... though their ongoing "we're hiring" posts online/Facebook may be indicative of their situation.
 

---


Now that I've been to most of the tap rooms in the Twin Cities, what do I think? 

Well, my top picks still haven't changed much ... though I think I'd swap Roets into the "sampling many varieties" since it's not a terrible drive from the metro area.  And FYI - I still find myself going to Dangerous Man on a regular rotation, so that's likely my favorite overall (*ahem* chocolate peanut butter porter *ahem*) .

(Note: I am leaving out any non-Twin Cities metro breweries in this summary due to convenience of commute.)

Top three spots overall
   Tin Whiskers, Bauhaus Brew Labs, Dangerous Man

Best places for sampling many varieties (via flights) in one day
   Boom Island, Roets, Lift Bridge

Places where I could definitely burn an afternoon playing Connect 4 (or Cards Against Humanity)
   Sisyphus, North Gate, Badger Hill

Best beers to buy for at home (and avoid the crowds)
   Fulton, Indeed, Surly

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Breastfeeding Fun

OK.  Real talk time.  I haven't said much about my post pregnancy body and fitness lately, aside from a casual mention here or there that I've been going to the gym.  So here's the real scoop.

Breastfeeding is slowing me down on my fitness goals and post baby weight loss. 

That might seem like an excuse that I can work around, and on some level it is, but here's the truth:  after pumping 3-4 times a day (at about 30 minutes per sesson, once you factor in washing off pump parts afterwards and the like), I don't have a lot of spare time for me.  And what little time I do get, I kind of just want to enjoy ... via sitting ... on my still somewhat fat ass. 




Just to illustrate, and not to bitch, my typical daily schedule right now is:

5:45-6:15am (depending on baby) - wake up and breastfeed
6:15-30ish - change baby, let him play on his own while I pump off any excess supply
7ish - husband takes baby to daycare, I finally get to shower and prepare for work
8:30 - assuming it's a good day and my son behaves in the above timeline, I make it to work on time
12:00 - also assuming it's a good day, I might get in a short mid day workout
Post work - get home, feed baby dinner, get him in bed, do whatever clean-up required from his day (fun fact, he likes to wet out of his diapers at daycare, sometimes multiple times a day, so often this time is filled with washing backup clothing to bring back to daycare the next day, dirty bottles, dirty diapers, and packing tomorrow's lunch)
6-7ish - dinner time, AKA the first time I get to sit down since I got home from work
Post dinner - since my husband cooks, I clean up after and change over laundry/etc., which is easily another 30 minutes on my feet
7-8ish - finally, me time, so I sit on the couch ... only to begin in just a few moments ...
8-9ish - pumping one last time before bed
10pm - if I'm lucky and it's a good day, I get to lay down for bed ... assuming I am not too wound up, I might actually fall asleep before midnight LOL!

As you can see in the above schedule, there's not a lot of time for me.  Or sleep, really.  Not to mention working out.  Which means I still have about 15 pounds of pure fat that I need to burn off, maybe even more, since I'm sure I have lost some muscle tone in the last few months due to my reduced workout regimen. 

This all translates into a very simple statement: I'm not thrilled with what my body looks like right now, particularly my midsection. 

Plus, I am carrying some guilt for not taking care of my body better, as it feels like I'm letting myself lose all the progress I made towards a healthy lifestyle 5/6 years ago.  Then, add in even more guilt from the diabetic aspect of it, as I KNOW I need to be healthier to reduce my risk of developing type 2 down the road.

But here's where I'm at.




Yep.  That graphic pretty much sums up how I feel.

I'm not trying to put this huge pressure on myself right now to be all fit and lean again.  I have to look at things realistically.  For example, technically right now I weigh exactly what I was pre-baby, so I have lost all the pregnancy weight.  The excess weight I carrying today I mostly put on after my previous pregnancy and miscarriage, which was over 2 years ago now. 

I'm pointing this out because I often tell other people "it took you X years to gain the weight - it's going to take you awhile to lose it, too".  I mean, if I tell other people that kind of advice, I'd be a bit of a hypocrite to not take it to heart myself, right?

Ok, so let's pause here for a second.




What's my point on the above?  Because it seems like this post is basically a woe is me rant, and that's not really my goal.

Where I'm going is actually more of a ... hm.  I'm not sure what to call it.  Not really a celebration, or a light at the end of the tunnel, because that makes it sound like I'm looking forward to this, and that's not really the case so much as ... it's a ...

Milestone.  That's a good word.

I'm about to hit a major milestone.  My son is turning one in April. This is a big turning point, as it's when a child can begin drinking cow's milk. 

I know this is kind of a sensitive topic, and I'm not looking for anyone's commentary on my life decisions.  What I will say is that after careful consideration with my doctor, and factoring in what feels right for me and my family, I have decided I am going to try to wean my son around the one year mark and transition him to store bought milk. 

This transition, when it is finally done, will give me at least two hours of my day back.  Not that those two hours are why I'm making this choice, but it is certainly a nice extra bonus after the fact. 

So obviously, my hope is that this extra time will allow me to start focusing on getting my body back in line again.  I plan on trying to use this time to work on myself through summer 2017 and get my weight back into what I consider an acceptable range for myself. 

And maybe I can start training again.  For what, I don't know, since I'm not really committing to anything yet until I see how this goes.  But I know personally I do best when I'm committed to an event that I'm training for.  So I'm sure I'll tie myself to something ... when I'm ready.

But wait, there's more!

Since I already touched on a controversial topic today with the whole weaning thing ...




Earlier this week, I saw a news story in Minnesota that just kind of made me shake my head.  It was in regards to some woman who was on jury duty for some major county in the twin cities, and was stuck reporting for service to a court house for (*gasp*) two days in a row, waiting to be vetted for a court case.  During that time, she had to pump, as she was still breastfeeding her child. 

Ok, so far, pretty boring stuff. 

The drama that made this story news worthy was that she wasn't allowed to leave to pump every two hours, and that she had to pump one time in a single stall restroom that had a locking door.

Sigh.




Now, don't get me wrong.  Breastfeeding your kid isn't an easy process.  I know the woes of trying to find a place to pump ... or feed my son, if he happens to be with me.  Not to mention the lack of understanding of this requirement to pump/breastfeed from the people around you.

For example, I particularly LOVE when I'm locked in the bathroom at work that's designated for pumping, which is 20-30 feet away from a second bathroom and just down a stairwell from a third ... and one of my younger female peers at the office bangs on the door and yells "shit" because I've been in there for 10 minutes and she needs to go.  (There are no shelves or storage areas in this bathroom where she might need to access something, and HR communicated the room's pumping designation to our staff, might I add).

I also LOVE getting questioned by a male peer about how I'm making up time at work, which he didn't flat out say was due to my pumping schedule but implied it (he, btw, has a 2+/- year old son at home, so he should know better).  The best part about him was he questioned me publically in a team meeting about the hours I'm putting in at work. 

What I wanted to say in response to him was "Sure, if you want to sit in a bathroom that smells like used menstrual products/feces and attach a machine to your chest that feels like it's ripping off your nipples, I will gladly sit at my desk engorged and leaking so that I can potentially answer a purchasing request that you may or may not have for me as a secondary (not even primary) buyer for your team.  Because, you know, taking a few minutes out of my day to pump has had zero impact on my performance for your group, as I have missed or delayed nothing since I came back from maternity leave, and I certainly want to spend my time pumping in a bathroom just so I can play on Facebook and avoid working.  If you simply agree to not fault me for my breast milk stains on my shirt post leaking, we'll call it a deal." 

What I actually said was "My boss is aware of my work schedule, if you have concerns about it you are welcome to speak with him."




But I digress.  Getting back to the story about the lady on jury duty, since this is about her and not me. 

Here's what I don't understand. 

Are you seriously that bent that you had to pump in a bathroom one time? 

I mean, I get it.  Bathrooms can be gross and pumping out food that your child is going to consume at some point isn't exactly appealing in such a setting.  But that's life.  There aren't always other rooms available that offer all the amenities you need in order to pump (IE a private room with a locking door, windows that don't look into room or at least offer shades that can be closed, a power outlet, and ideally a sink for parts washing post pumping). 

And technically, the milk you pump out nor your equipment, never touch anything "gross" anyway (assuming you have a couple of chairs to sit on/set your things on).  So aside from the fact that you might need to smell something unpleasant for a brief period of time, why get so bent?

I say the above knowing that sometimes things can get unpleasant.  I myself chose to fly to Boston to visit family when I was about 2 months postpartum, AKA a milky/leaky mess.  And during that experience, I had the special privilege of having to pump in a toilet stall of a large public bathroom at the airport; my pump bag at my feet and my bottles balanced in my pants - that were pulled down around my ankles as I didn't exactly want to sit on a self flushing toilet with my pants on. 

But you know what the key to the above scenario was?  I chose.  I chose to leave my house and live a normal life, yes.  Should someone else be forced to support me because I made that decision?  Debatable.

Sure, it would be nice to have breastfeeding/pumping stations everywhere I went.  But in the same fashion, I don't really want to pay a higher plane ticket cost / purchase cost on a dress / price per gallon for gas / or whatever for the convenience.  Realistically, adding these extra room(s) for women to pump cost money, and that cost will end up rolled up into whatever I pay for at said facility.

Now I know the exception to this is a work environment, where employers are required by law to provide these amenities (as they should), but again ... don't expect a lavish pumping suite.  Would I like something nicer at my office?  Sure.  But I also know we're a smaller size company with limited areas that can be utilized for pumping.  Not to mention, I had courtesy enough to tell my HR a bathroom is fine, since there's a second bathroom 20-30 feet away from the one where I pump and yet a third just a stairwell away ... whereas there are only two locking / private conference rooms in my office that need to be used by multiple staff members continually through the day, and are always at capacity, which I didn't want to exasperate even further ...

Ok, ok, back on point. 

Aside from the fact that this jury duty lady had to pump one time in a bathroom, her other bitch was that she needed to pump 4 times a day, and on her second day on duty she was limited to 2.  This is where I seriously WTF. 

Courtrooms are open like 6 hours a day.  (OK, that might be a tad sarcastic.) 

Even if this woman had to report for service from 8am to 5pm, which is normal office hours, pumping 4 times a day would mean she was pumping EVERY TWO HOURS.  I want to say nobody needs to pump that much, which could be wrong I admit.  Yet ... I know RNs who work 12 hour shifts and their employers give them grief for taking 2 pumping breaks, and that's with lunch being eaten during said breaks.

Speaking of lunch - jury duty lady needed 4 pumping breaks.  I guarantee you jury duty people are allowed lunch breaks mid day.  Don't you think she could squeeze at least one of those pumping breaks into that schedule?  I know I sure would have been able to manage that if I was in such desperate need to express my milk.

I'm sure they heard my eyes rolling in China after that statement.

And while we're on China, this post is getting so long that by the time you finish it, you will have scrolled the equivalent distance as would be required to dig to China, so I suppose I should wrap up.  I'll conclude this rant session by saying - American Women, yes ... we are disadvantaged.  Women as a whole are.  But stop whining about little things like pumping stations, and instead focus on taking action about getting your reproductive rights taken away, equal pay in the workplace, or any other MUCH MORE IMPORTANT issue than the fact that having to pump in a bathroom once in awhile is gross.

Complaining about stuff being icky ... just makes us sound even more like little girls.




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Year of the Swim - Update #2

I mentioned about a month ago that I'm trying something new for 2017 and attempting the 100 Mile Swim Challenge.  Since I signed up late for that program, as it was basically already 3+ weeks in when I saw it  was offered at my new gym, I have been pushing pretty hard the last month to play catch up.

So, where do I stand?

Well - let's start with where I SHOULD be.  It's now the beginning of week 11 (for the calendar year), so if I was on track with a 2 mile a week execution up through last Saturday, I would have 20 miles complete.  Or by end of this week, while I'm swimming instead of drinking green beer for St. Patty's day, I should be at 22 miles.


 
Man I wish this pic didn't have a water mark on it.  LOL!
 

In reality, so far I have around 15 miles complete.  *sad clown whistle*  Which means I'm still roughly 5 miles behind.  And this is with me swimming at least 3 times a week, 1200-2000 meters at a time. 

It's a little frustrating to know I've pretty much tripled my usual weekly swim workouts and I'm hardly making up for lost time.  But I'm not trying to dwell on that, because the flip side (flip turn?) of that is I'm seeing huge gains in my swim performance.  In my last few swim sets, I've knocked out an "easy" 1500 swim in about 30 minutes, whereas in the past sometimes I wouldn't even hit that distance in a 45 minute, aggressive paced swim class.

Let's hear it for gains!




Aside from my physical improvements in swim, I've had a few fun adds as well.  As I mentioned in my last update, I have a handful of fancy new swimsuits from Funkita.  And as I hinted at in my Tri U Mah recap, I also have a fun new toy.




Well, technically two fun new toys now, as my second one just arrived last week.





In case you can't tell what the above two items are, that's an Apple iWatch 2 and a pair of Finis Duo waterproof headphones with MP3 player.

Now I have to admit - do you NEED any of this junk to swim?  No.  But it sure does make it more enjoyable for me.  Thanks to my fancy new watch, I don't have to fret over if I'm on lap 14 or 15 ... since I always seem to lose count and it pisses me off.  And I get fun pace reports like this:




Fancy!

And thanks to the Finis Duo, I have some fun tunes to listen to in the process.

I'm not to the point yet where I feel like I can do a full product review on either of these.  But so far ...




And in other news, since I'm swim obsessed right now, it's fun to read fitness related articles that justify my efforts.  Like this one that talks about gains you never even realize you're making:

"How you breathe during a swimming workout is another big differentiator, says David Tanner, a research associate at Indiana University and co-editor of an educational handbook on the science of swimming. During a run or bike ride, your breath tends to be shallow and your exhales forceful. “It’s the other way around with swimming,” says Tanner. “You breathe in quickly and deeply, and then let the air trickle out.” Because your head is under water when you swim, these breathing adjustments are vital, and they may improve the strength of your respiratory muscles, Tanner says. “This kind of breathing keeps the lung alveoli”—the millions of little balloon-like structures that inflate and deflate as your breathe—“from collapsing and sticking together.""
So that's about it from a swim update standpoint ... for now.  In the meantime ...