Yearly Archives: 2011

Tiny Adventures: Skeeball and Fancy Drinks

It’s Tiny Adventure time! A lot has been happening with family and life in general the past few weeks, all of which have required our attention. Time for adventures has, rightfully, taken a backseat. However, I have managed to squeeze in a couple here and there.


I had the urge one night to play skeeball. I don’t think I’ve played since days of my youth going to Chuck E. Cheese with my family, eating bad pizza and playing fun games. Skeeball was always my favorite thing to do there. So I got on the internet and learned that there’s a new bar/restaurant in town that has skeeball!

The owners of Pat’s Tap have a few other places in town that are great, so we decided to give it a try. I have to admit that the bar was kind of a disappointment (not all tiny adventures can be fabulous successes!), but we had a good time nonetheless. The machines are vintage and don’t really work that well, and we had to attempt to keep score ourselves. Even though they tell you that you need a quarter to play, we learned that we could actually play for free. Bonus! After several rounds of making up our own games, followed by a bad game of pool, we called it a night. Continue reading

The Return of Tiny Adventures: Slushy Biking

Last year I tried a little experiment with what I called “Tiny Adventures.” The idea was that opportunity for adventure is all around us, every day, and that it doesn’t have to be some giant, grandiose thing.

The experiment was a success! Each little adventure made me feel energized and excited. It was a perfect wintertime goal, because with the lack of sunlight and cold temps it can be easy for the winter blues to set in. Overall, I felt more spontaneous and brave, and ended up doing some pretty fun things.

My tiny adventures were mostly new things I hadn’t done before, or things that took me a bit out of my comfort zone (or both). They were in town, not involving any major travel. Things like: taking a different way home; riding my bike in the snow; trying a new recipe; first time ice climbing; watching my first broomball game on a -10F night; taking a breakdancing lesson. Nothing mind-blowing, but that’s why they’re called “Tiny.” Continue reading

Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

The blog’s been a bit quieter than usual lately. Mostly because I’ve been quieter than usual in general. I’m in the midst of a nine-month stint of overnight shifts, and my usual hermit tendencies have been amplified as a result. Numerous studies have been done on the physical effects of working at night and sleeping during the day. In addition to affecting amount and quality of sleep, it affects hormone production and very basic things about the way the body functions.

In response, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to maintain my health physically and mentally. This is always important, no matter what my situation is, but when there’s an extra item in the negative column working against me, it seems even more so.

So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on:

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Coping with Anxiety

I hear it a lot. Listen to what your body is telling you. It’s good advice. Usually, that advice is given in the context of physical activity. If your body is tired or needs a rest day, you can usually tell if you pay attention. If we are aware of how our bodies are feeling, it lets us know when to go and when to rest, and where our limits are.

Listening to our bodies isn’t limited only to physical activity, though. Our bodies and minds are connected. When something’s off for me mentally, it’s usually my body that tells me. Sometimes it’s subtle. I’ll be extra tired, or a little weaker than usual. Sometimes it’s not subtle at all, and comes in the form of intense anxiety. Feel that weight crushing down on my chest? That means I need to clear some things out or take a step back.

When I overextend myself mentally, it’s my body that shows it. There’s a whole scale of possible reactions,from simple tiredness and tears to full-blown panic attacks, left crouched on the floor gasping for air. Continue reading

New Climbing Gym: Minneapolis

In Minnesota, we don’t have mountains. We have rock to climb, but it’s sparse and requires a bit of planning. We have lots of lakes, great people, cross-country skiing, and now we have two climbing gyms in the Twin Cities.

The new gym in Minneapolis opened up quietly this week, and I was lucky to be one of the first members of the public to climb there on Thursday. Only part of the gym was open, some of the bouldering and top-rope areas were still being finished, but I got a good sense of what it will be like to climb there.

M trying out a route

The building itself is in an old ice-house that dates back to the turn of last century. The walls are tall (some are 60-65 feet), and after climbing the 35 ft walls in St Paul for so long, the extra height was noticeable. There is an art wall with some crack climbing and natural features which is very cool. A few bouldering areas are sprinkled around the gym as well, some right across from other climbing areas, which will be a great way to get a quick warm-up in. Continue reading

Trip Report: RMNP Hiking

At the beginning of September, Seth and I took a quick, four-day trip down to Colorado to do some climbing and hiking. You can read about the climbing portion here.

We flew out on Sunday and headed out to Rocky Mountain National Park on Tuesday. Altitude was a concern, coming from Minneapolis, which sits at 830ft above sea level. We had a day in Boulder at just over 5,000ft, and then headed to RMNP, which sits above 9,000ft.

Our strategy to deal with the altitude change was to start drinking a LOT of water a few days before heading out, and continue that trend the whole time we were at altitude. We also avoided alcohol and meat for a few days. Overall, we both handled the altitude really well, and I have no doubt that the massive amounts of water were a key factor. We reminded each other to keep hydrating, and set little goals for ourselves: drink this liter before bed, drink this jug of water while we’re out running errands, etc. It definitely helped to have someone reminding me to hydrate!

Bear Lake/Loch Lake Loop

On Tuesday we headed into Estes Park, and up to the Bear Lake trailhead (9,475ft). It was misty and cloudy, so we pulled on our rain gear and headed out. The trail was well-groomed and well-traveled, but because it was a rainy day there weren’t a lot of people, which we definitely appreciated.

Beautiful, misty views.

We hiked past some beautiful alpine lakes: Bear Lake and Dream Lake, on our way out to the Loch Vale Trail and Loch Lake (we basically mimicked this guy’s hike, only backwards). Continue reading

Trip Report: Boulder Climbing

Seth and I took a whirlwind four-day trip down to Colorado after Labor Day. We had a few days off of work and thought a quick trip to the mountains before the wedding would be a great use of the time. It was our pre-honeymoon. We flew to Denver, spent two days in Boulder doing some climbing, and two days in Rocky Mountain National Park for some hiking. (I’m writing about the climbing here, and the hiking will be in its very own post).

Josh on “Sword in the Stone”

On Monday morning, we met up with some new friends in a parking lot in the middle of Boulder. Breakfast sandwiches in hand, we hopped in our cars and headed up Boulder Canyon. 15 minutes later, we were parking our cars on the side of the road to head up to the crag. 15 minutes. That’s how long it takes me to drive to the climbing gym here, just across town. Suddenly it made sense to me that folks in Boulder can go out for a morning climb. Or an afternoon climb. Or hit a few routes in the evening after work. On rock. 15 minutes (I’m just jealous, guys and gals).

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Why I Train

Every day we are bombarded with messages that exercise is about looking good. In magazines, commercials, etc. Get flatter abs, sexier legs, rockstar arms, a killer butt. Just by doing [enter specific exercise here]. It’s not about fitness, it’s about having the perfect body. Whatever that means.

A healthy body lets me see places like this (Upper Yosemite Falls Trail)

The perfect body is an illusion. No matter what you do, someone’s going to think you’re too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too muscular, etc. etc. That’s the world we live in. The perfect body doesn’t exist. So why spend energy chasing after it?

I don’t train to look good, or to gain some elusive perfect body. I train for fitness.

  • I train to be prepared for whatever comes my way, at any time.
  • I train to keep my body healthy.
  • I train because it makes me feel good.
  • I train for good mental health.
  • I train because I love feeling strong.
  • I train to be ready for adventure!

I only have one body, and it makes sense to me to keep it in the best working order I can, so that it stays functional for a long time to come. I want to be ready for anything, and not have my fitness level be a limitation.It’s been eight months since I began training with kettlebells. In that short time, I’m in the best cardiovascular shape I’ve ever been in, and my body feels healthy and strong. The way that I feel is the best motivation I can think of for keeping it up.

I’m training for fitness, not looks. A healthy body will look good no matter what shape it is.

Life Lessons in Climbing: Fear

One of the things I love about this sport is that it is a teacher. When I least expect it, climbing is teaching me about life. Sometimes the lessons are subtle, but usually they are in my face, and there is no avoiding them. There are lessons about commitment, perseverance, and accepting limitations, to name a few.

Climbing has taught me about fear. There are many lessons here, and they come when I least expect them.

I was climbing a route at Devils Lake and had worked my way up to a really beautiful little alcove tucked in to the rock. Below me was a big ledge to stand on, above was a roof. I could have taken a nap in there. From there, I wasn’t sure if the route went left or right. I worked my way up left, but it didn’t feel right. At this point I had moved pretty far off from the line of the rope, so was looking at a pretty good swing if I were to fall. I calmed my nerves and slowly worked my way back down the ledge to rethink.

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Eliz Runs. Kind of.

Maybe it’s more accurate to say that I run for short bursts, with longer bursts of walking in between.

I have a confession. I’m not really doing a ton of climbing this summer. At least, not outside. This summer hasn’t been the climbing extravaganza that I dreamed it would be, and I’m ok with that.

In lieu of the planned 2011 Climbing Extravaganza I’m working on increasing my general fitness level. I’m training with kettlebells twice a week, I’m hanging from the hangboard, I’m getting to the climbing gym once or twice a week, and I’m still working on knocking out that first pull-up.

And now, I’m adding running to the list. Continue reading