Is it 2011 already? Seriously?!

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Wow, where did the year go? It seems like only yesterday I was writing a blog entry about the Madison-to-Chicago 200 race... and that was in June or July. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun. Now if only I was having fun... :-)

Actually, I can't complain much (although it doesn't stop me). 2010 was a pretty decent year, all things considered. I'm lucky enough to have a job, a roof over my head, decent health, and a great network of friends - yeah, I guess everything is pretty much A-OK. It doesn't hurt that Sirius hit $1.69 today, either.

It's been a few days since my last entry; not much has happened, but I'll do my best to bore you with the mundane details of my uneventful holiday season. My offices were closed on Friday, December 24, so I had arranged to hang with Dan & Tara and to spend the night with them at their home. Due to some major miscommunication, plans fell through and I found myself stuck in Madison without any food in the apartment (I planned to grocery shop upon my return), and absolutely nothing open.

I understand it was Christmas Eve and all that jazz, but I honestly drove 40+ miles around Madison looking for something that was open and found nothing. Not a single gas station, not the WalMart, not the Woodmans, nor the Cub, nor Copps - nothing. Well, there were some Chinese restaurants that were open, but they were either slammed or completely dead (never a good sign)... and I'm not much of a fan of Chinese food, so I passed on them all.

So, I returned back to the apartment and enjoyed (not exaggerating) my last 1/3 cup of Fiber One cereal with 1/3 cup of water (I didn't have any milk or Almond Breeze) and a small bag of frozen peas for dinner. Making matters worse, I didn't eat much earlier in the day, as I was planning to eat dinner in Lake Mills. And to serve the final dagger - both of my obnoxious and inconsiderate neighbors were having raucous parties, so I got to listen to competing Christmas tunes and drunk people screaming loudly until about 3:30am. Fun. And people wonder why I dislike Christmas... (and my neighbors)

Things were quickly salvaged by Christmas morning, and I found myself over at Dan and Tara's where I enjoyed some of Dan's signature egg nog French toast (it was delicious) along with some good company. Dan's sister (and her husband and son) were in town, so we all hung out at Dan's parent's house and caught-up with each other. It was really enjoyable, and thanks for the gifts - you guys didn't have to get me anything!

I left Lake Mills so that I could catch-up with my Aunt, Uncle, cousin (and her husband), my cousin-in-law (and his son), and Parmilla (and her husband) for a late dinner. Parmilla is a person that I met back in the late 1990s when she was a foreign exchange student/guest of my Aunt and Uncle's. I hadn't spoken with her or heard from her in 12+ years, so it was a shock when I received a voicemail/invitation to meet-up with everyone for dinner.

Truth be told, I was a bit nervous to meet-up with everyone as I've not been getting along with the family for a while now, but it was extremely great to see Warren, Linda, Leanne, Jeff, David, Lee, Parmilla, and Daniel. I really - honestly - enjoyed hanging out with them, and I need to keep in better touch with them. They are all such wonderful people; they "get" me, they "accept" me, and I really appreciate their honesty and "realness." Here we all are at dinner - one of the waitstaff from the restaurant was kind enough to snap our picture (lighting was dim, so photo is blurry):


We talked non-stop until around midnight and then called it an evening. I really did enjoy seeing everyone and it was great to catch-up with Parmilla (who is now living in the US with her husband, Daniel). Lots of good stories were shared, plenty of beverages were consumed, and I personally believe that I nearly cleaned the kitchen of all available food - a good night, for certain.

I spent the rest of the weekend recovering from eating way too much; did a little snow shoeing, a lot of running, and a lot of riding on the trainer. I had to work during the week between the holidays, but it was OK as nearly everyone else was on vacation so I was able to get a lot of things wrapped-up thanks to the quiet nature of things around the office.

On Tuesday night, I was invited to celebrate Dan and Tara's wedding anniversary, so I joined them and the family at the 1855 Saloon in Cottage Grove. We had a good dinner, great conversation, and a really enjoyable time. Here's Dan's brother-in-law, Mark, sharing a (lengthy) story about having to retrieve a vehicle from a shop in Watertown:


We called it an evening at around 9:00pm; we all had to work the following day, and I was trying really hard to not overeat... I had an excellent grilled chicken salad - the food from the 1855 appeared to be good; the desserts looked incredible, but alas, I was good and took a raincheck on the sweets.

On Thursday, Amy stopped by to attend a hockey game along with our friends Jed and Jamie. Jamie won some really killer seats to the game (along with a parking pass - score!), so we agreed to meet-up at Jordan's Big 10 Pub for some appetizers before the game. Here we are in our booth, enjoying some cheese curds, some guacamole bites, and some mozzarella sticks:


Jordan's has some awesome fried goodies, I must admit. I tried to be good and had a soup and salad, although a few curds did manage to fall into my mouth along the way... :-)

We headed over to the Kohl Center for the game, which Wisconsin handily won. They literally trounced Massachusetts in a 5 to 1 romp; there was tons of scoring which kept things really interesting. Here's the view from our seats - thanks again to Jed and Jamie for the tickets!!!!


And here we are, in our row:


We called it a night - we actually left the game a few minutes early - but not before heading over to the Come Back In for a beverage and some of that infamous popcorn. The stuff is so good, but oh so evil - it's pure crack, I swear. I could eat their popcorn every single day and be completely happy. It doesn't help that they cook it in oil and load it with butter and salt...

For New Year's Eve, I hung out with Amy at her parent's house and got to play some Scattergories, just like old times. It was really fun, I truly enjoyed it, and I really appreciated hanging out with everyone at the house. Thanks again for the hospitality!

New Year's Day started with a really chilly 8K (5-mile) race called The New Years Day Dash. It was hosted at the local Quaker Steak and Lube (wings/beer/burgers/sports bar) and kicked-off at 11:00am.

Oh - I forgot to mention that the temperature dropped dramatically on New Years Day... it was 48F when I left Amy's parent's house at 11:00pm the night before, and it was a whopping 6F when I left the apartment to start the race... that's 42F lower in just 12 hours' time! And, to make matters worse, there was a super strong wind - averaged 20+ mph, with gusts to 35mph. Nice! Here are the weather conditions as recorded just before the race started:


I ran to the race, as I live about 2 miles from the Quaker Steak, and by the time I arrived to the race, my face was thoroughly frozen. Everything else was plenty warm, but the portions of my cheeks and nose that weren't covered by my "one piece" hat/face/neck warmer thingy were literally frozen.

I ran the race - started near the back of the pack (to avoid direct windshot) but quickly found myself working my way to the front. The wind was so strong that many people were literally walking, leaned fully forward, and cursing the wind. I was able to chug through, and thanks to my Sporthill 3SP windproof gear (jacket and pants), I never once felt the wind against my torso or legs. That stuff is worth its weight in gold, I swear! One single layer of the Sporthill 3SP gear is rated to 0F, is windproof to 35mph, and waterproof. Yet it breathes. It's amazing - buy some.

Finished the race in 65th place with a time of 39:23, for an average pace of 7:53/mile. Not bad, especially given the conditions. Here's a shot of my number and some of the cold weather gear - the Sporthill jacket is on the far left; my head warmer-thing to the right, and my super toasty gloves to the right as well.


After the race, I ran back to the apartment, rode the trainer for a few hours, and then took a nice warm shower. I watched the Rose Bowl over at Dan and Tara's house, ate way too much food, and then called it a night.

Well, that's it for now... enjoy your 2011, best wishes to everyone, and I'll be back with another story sometime soon.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on January 4, 2011 11:08 PM.

More snowshoeing was the previous entry in this blog.

Another pot-luck entry: The break-up, Temperatures, and The elusive white whale is the next entry in this blog.

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