Back to blogging, if not running…

Hello reader(s)!  It’s been an exciting few weeks since our last update.

Where we got engaged!

Though we try to keep this blog very professional, I can’t help but throw in this personal update: your bloggers A & B are engaged! We considered announcing it on the blog to give you a sneak preview, but then figured that since so many people read the blog constantly, it would be unfair for our vast readership to know before our Facebook friends.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Last weekend, we had the pleasure of celebrating the 30th birthday of A’s best friend and eternal roomie (and occasional reader of this blog, we hope!), V!  We had a fantastically remote house which was more than a mile from the closest structure, set amidst rolling hills, and off the power grid.  We had solar power, which A & B were both very taken with, likely for environmental and scientific reasons, respectively. There was of course much catching up, driving around, grilling, brunching, dancing, and drinking.  But your hearty & committed athletes braved high altitude to do some solid hiking around Wild River in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We saw three waterfalls and views of the mountains, and luckily guest-blogger M kept us in line!

We hiked to this waterfall!

Landscape around our house

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Wondering where we were? A Multi-Month Retrospective

Up high! (3+ yrs ago, but still…)

After T’s post, which set a very high standard for both the athleticism and the quality of writing for this blog, you reader(s) must be wondering how we went from briefly emerging from hibernation in February long enough to wish you Happy New Year a month late to hiking 7 miles rising 2200 feet in 90 degree weather.  We’ll provide a whirlwind tour of our active lives here.

In February, we winterized our athleticism to enjoy ice skating at the sculpture garden with T.  It was a blustery day and we hadn’t skated in years, but once our blades hit the ice, it felt like magic (except for when I fell on the ice, and it felt like something else).  Later that month, we went rock climbing with E & T.  We learned how to tie many complicated knots and wear a harness.  I was so good at flying under the radar that no one in the class would have guessed I owned my own harness and once scaled a 100ft rockface in WV!

Along with these social feats, B and I have been training on our own as well.  No running lately, but we did find ourselves on the *cover* of a Facebook album for a race we ran [a year ago].  We’ll try not to let the fame change us, reader(s)!  But needless to say, we are so pleased that our working out paid off AND that thanks to the rain, we didn’t have much competition that day for running or photography.  We also embarked on several city hikes including an adventure-y part of RCP with considerable police presence (not because of us!) and a trek via the 39th St “Trail” to the National Cathedral.

Most commendably, B & I went out to Shenandoah National Park in March.  While we did more wine-tasting than hearty hiking (but only because of the inclement weather, really!), we did two hikes: Little Devil’s Stairs and Stony Man Mountain. The former had great views of the valleys and a waterfall and the latter had views of… fog.  But it was beautiful out there and a wonderful trip, though our middle-of-nowhere cabin really put our outdoor chops to the test.  We even heard gunshots while picnicking in the front yard, but we braved it all (and even managed to sleep a few winks).

View of glowing fields from atop Little Devil’s Stairs

This fog covered up our view from Stony Man Mtn, but was beautiful from afar🙂

Fast forward to the summer and we’ve re-started our quest to be “people who kayak” if not kayakers per se. After a literally shaky start in a canoe, B & I spent several hours kayaking down the Potomac in mid-June, braving big boats and high-90s temperature in the pursuit of glory and cool birds.

As the temperature has hit the triple digits, we’re again weatherizing our lifestyle by focusing more on culinary pursuits.  Most recently, we made a delicious chile-avocado soup which, keeping in the theme of blended pie, was like drinking guacamole🙂

Thanks for sticking with us, reader(s) and we hope to be more diligent about our posting [and running] soon!

xo!
A

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Hot, Hearty Hiking with Guest Blogger T!

Today we welcome guest blogger, longtime friend, and fellow athlete T!  Thank you for this gripping account of our weekend adventure:

Last weekend A & B put their years of training to the test. After driving at least an hour into the perilous wilds of northern Virginia, they found themselves in the foothills of the great Appalachians with three intrepid friends — E, D & T — ready to confront America’s most iconic hiking trail.

View from atop the Piedmont Trail after 2200 ft of [trudging] elevation gain

In the beginning they were beset with hardship.  The air was hot and thick and the sun shone mercilessly on their carefully-covered heads (B was particularly dashing in a cotton candy-pink sunhat borrowed from A).  The trail climbed steeply through a shadeless meadow, and the scarce relief to be had beneath the meadow’s few trees was booby-trapped with cow pies in various states of decomposition. At least one member of the party fell prey to the poop and had to douse her bag with hand sanitizer.

Their years of training, however, had prepared them to persevere, and A & B led the hiking party to the crest of the hill.  The view of the valley below was striking, but words of commendation were reserved.  After 0.6 miles, A & B knew that anything could happen.

B modeling my fetching headgear

The hiking party pressed through the woods and onto another meadow ridge.  Aside from the occasional ringing of cell phones, whirring of airplanes, and rumbling of tractors, the music of birds and insects filled the air.  Fortunately the hiking party was amply protected from insects by layers of bug repellant re-applied at 1 hour intervals, and man-eating birds are uncommon in Appalachia.  Other fearsome animals were encountered, though.  A black snake was observed sunning itself on the edge of the trail.  Its intentions were ambiguous, but A led the party in tip toe-ing past it as unobtrusively as possible.

As A & B have discussed previously on this blog, a well-balanced diet is essential to maintaining fitness.  Therefore, in spite of the lack of picnic tables, A advised the group to break for lunch on the grass. The tall grass being known to harbor snakes, the group settled down on the trail itself.  After an uneventful meal the group noticed dog ticks crawling unabashedly over their shorts and decided that lunch was over.

Festive & friendly turtle friend

Having survived snakes, dogs, dog ticks, and an impressively graceful slip on a wet rock, A & B began exchanging words of commendation.  The decision to proceed with the walk on such a hot day when the trail was surrounded by inviting wineries was amply commended. B’s hat may also have been commended.  The group’s patience in waiting to commend each other was most certainly commended.  This commendation refreshed the group and in no time at all the visitor’s center was just a mile away.  As if to reward the group for their perseverance, a turtle appeared in the middle of the trail.  The turtle bore an offering of grass in its mouth, and posed for a series of pictures.  The offering of grass was taken as a sign that the group should stop for ice cream on the way home.

Finally the group returned to the parking lot.  Having completed a 7 mile hike in 90 degree heat including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, A & B [Ed note: and all of the hearty hikers!] knew that they could tackle anything.

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Happy New Year!

A and I went on a fun and active trip this December. After much deliberation, we decided to go snowshoeing and possibly cross-country skiing in West Virginia. A collaborative Google document planning process was instituted, with many delightful edits and revisions. One initial point of contention was who would have principal responsibility for driving the rental car. Our friend, V, was consulted. Despite V’s earlier expressed misgivings about my driving — I would note parenthetically V’s apparent and highly puzzling lack of interest in this blog    — she ultimately concluded that I was likely the better driver. (A was sad and disappointed.) At any rate, we arrived in West Virginia to find that it was in the high 40s and low 50s, which meant very little snow on the ground. Nonetheless, we were able to go snowshoeing on the first day.

Trudge (walking)!

It was a very commendable joint trudging effort. All tuckered out from the trudge, we read some classic children’s literature — e.g., The Phantom Tollbooth, The Little Prince, and Tuck Everlasting. The following day, we went hiking in Blackwater Falls park, which was also a commendably active endeavor.

Blackwater Falls!

Very elaborately constructed sandwiches (on home-baked bread) were eaten at this time.

Upon arriving back in D.C., we went to a holiday party, hosted by blogger Tink Positive, at which there was a cat.

Very relaxed cat!

I held the cat to calm and soothe it. My efforts seemed successful; the cat, as evidenced above, was content and secure and unconcerned with the world.

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Welcome, M!

M undertaking an extraordinary feat of strength!

In our ongoing quest to bring our reader(s) cutting-edge exercise advice based only off our personal “fitness” regimens, we are proud to reveal the results of our long search for a columnist.  Drum roll please! I am writing to introduce longtime friend and new guest-blogger M :)  As you can see, he has already made his presence known to the world in his inaugural post below.  Excitingly, M was present at the photographic inception of this blog and is proud to have (finally) signed on as a contributor.

This blog has wonderfully diversified over the last few months to pursuits both

M taking a break from the aforementioned impressive labors!

athletic (e.g., kayaking, hiking) and antithetical thereto (pandas, blended pie).  However, for the hard-core workout junkies among our readers, we strive to maintain our high standards of athleticism and are excited that our unintended hibernation is being supplemented by a new exercising, chart-making guest columnist!

Welcome, M!  We are excited to have you on board and look forward to a delightful, witty, and perhaps even fit collaboration🙂

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Exercise!

This is M’s maiden post on this august blog, so I thought I’d get properly pretentious.

People have many different methods of exercise but often reflect rather little on why they choose to do what they do. Perhaps standing from a seated position on your couch is convenient, and therefore your method of choice, or perhaps you learned a few things from a PE teacher back in high school that you continue to believe constitute “knowledge.”

At a certain point, however, you grow up and want to acquire and employ real knowledge in designing your exercise regimen. So how should you think about your choice of exercise methods?

I’ll explore this over a couple of posts, but for now, let me propose that exercise methods can usefully be classified based on their peak effort level: the amount of cardiovascular exertion the exercise requires at its highest points (or local maxima). We’ll see that this criteria explains why people do choose certain types of exercise and also clarifies the choice of what exercise to engage in.

Below is a ranking of various kinds of exercise in order of “peak effort”

In my next post, I’ll delineate the different goals that you might have for your exercise regimen and show how the concept of peak effort can help you understand how to choose an exercise regimen that makes the tradeoffs that are consistent with your goals and how to avoid deadweight waste of exercise time.

-M

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Zoo Lights and a murder mystery!

A visit from one of A’s out-of-town college friends provided the perfect excuse to preview Zoo Lights. As always, the zoo looked resplendent at night. We wandered through the small mammal and primate houses, where many of the animals, despite the promise of nocturnal activity, appeared to be napping.

The entrance!

Following the Zoo Lights preview, we all went back to A’s new apartment for a round of spiked hot cocoa. I managed to convey the erroneous impression that I was assigned to play the murderer at a murder mystery birthday party. My strenuous denials — e.g., “I’m not the murderer” — were almost entirely unsuccessful.

The next day’s exciting project was getting ready for the murder mystery. Besides baking a cheesecake (cocoa-coffee graham cracker crust with a strawberry-line glaze!), I had to cobble together a costume for my character, an exotic animal smuggler. Not having any safari gear, I decided to cage a stuffed animal in a cardboard box. A was kind enough to lend me a stuffed panda (which was only of Tier 3 sentimentality) while she got ready as a save the whales environmental activist.

Stuffed panda in a cardboard box!

As it turned out, I was the murderer! Many birthday shots were consumed at the murder mystery birthday party, and a tipsy time was had by all.

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