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Off Topic Thursday: Cycling

26 Apr

I’d almost forgotten it was Off Topic Thursday! My husband had to remind me when I was talking through my weekly posts with him. I’m so excited to share another thing I love outside of books, cycling!

I learned to ride a bike as a kid and my mom always enjoyed scenic rides around the area. When I started a sedentary job, I knew I would fight an uphill battle to stay fit before my wedding. I saw a sign in the office for the corporate Bike MS team and decided to join. That was 2013. I rode 50 miles in one day and raised $250. To get in shape, I found a local easy-going bike club and recruited my husband on a few rides. It’s only grown from there.

Last year was my fifth year of Bike MS and I’ve done three of the four courses offered in Michigan. My husband joined me for my second year and this summer he’ll hit his fifth year. Here’s a picture of us from 2016.

We’ve had a great time riding for Team Ford and I don’t see a reason we’ll stop doing this. If you’re interested in donating toward our 2018 ride (scheduled for July 14-15), you can donate at the link below.

Donated to Bike MS 2018!

Of course, Bike MS isn’t the only reason I cycle. Cycling is a key part of one of my biggest hobbies, triathlons. Most of the time I rode my bike last year, it was alone. I’m anticipating the same this year though my favorite route is closed for construction all summer. I’ll have to find something new.

I love cycling and enjoying nature on a bike. It’s fun to go fast, too! I’m not super fast myself but I do enjoy the ride. My goal for this year is to get faster and be more comfortable on the bike. I got a professional fitting in February so I’m excited to try it out on the road.

Any other cyclist out there? Competitive or recreational? Here’s a picture of my bike (Fuji Gran Fondo). Let me see yours!

Now with pedals and aerobar! #bikenerd

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Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Off Topic Thursday: Swimming

29 Mar

Welcome to yet another Off Topic Thursday! I’ve enjoyed using the last Thursday of the month to delve into things (besides reading, writing, and books) that I enjoy. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

This month, I wanted to concentrate on something that’s been a part of my life since I was 9: swimming! I swam competitively from age 9 to age 18. I decided not to swim in college but I picked it up again when I started doing triathlons in 2014. Though, wetsuit open water swimming is a bit different from what I was used to.

My secret identity: triathlon girl!

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I love swimming in a triathlon. It’s the one part of the race where I’m confident. I don’t do dry land well. When I did my first triathlon, all the beginner advice I found was to go on the outside for the swim or hang back. Clearly, this advice was not written for someone who used to be a competitive swimmer! I jumped out in front and I continue to post swim splits among the top in my races. However, I fall apart on the rest of it. We’ll get to that in the next few months.

I’ve tried different kinds of swimming, too. Last summer, I tried a 5K swim, something equivalent to a swimming half marathon. It was exhausting and terrible and I hated it and I signed up for another one this year. It was the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to show myself how much I’ve grown and do it again. Besides, I got to meet Rowdy Gains last time! If this means nothing to you, he’s a gold medalist from the 1984 Olympics. He is currently a commentator for the sport. If you’ve watched NBC swimming coverage, you’ve heard his voice.

Just this year, I’ve gotten back to my swimming roots and started Masters swimming. Masters swimming is more like the format many are used to in the Olympics. All four strokes and individual medley races are available at various distances. At some meets, there are team relays. Masters swimming is for anyone over 18 and I swam against a woman in her 60s in my last race. I’ve loved Masters swimming so far. I’ve only had one meet but it went well and I was happy with my times. There were very few other women in my age group so I ended up with some ribbons! I’m signed up for State Meet next month and we’ll see if that goes as well!

I don’t think I’ll ever stop swimming. I plan to do triathlons for a while and when/if that ends, I’ll fall back on just swimming. It’s been a love of mine for a long time and I’m glad to be racing again. It doesn’t hurt that any given Saturday if I do one length butterfly at the gym, someone asks me if I’ve been to the Olympics. Talk about a confidence booster!

Any other swimmers out there? Anyone else in Masters? Until next time, swim on!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday (on a Tuesday): Knitting

20 Feb

I realized I’m not going to be posting on the last Thursday of this month due to a planned vacation so I’m here to do my monthly Off Topic Thursday a bit early. I want to talk about one of my favorite non-reading pastimes: knitting!

These three are a fair representation of the knitting I do. The first one, and a project many of you may know about from my monthly updates, is my obsessive baby blanket knitting! I have trouble sitting still and watching TV. If my hands aren’t busy, I’ll get fidgety which usually results in me eating something. So, to stop eating so much, I do crafts. While I latchhook and cross stitch, knitting is my biggest guilty pleasure. I decided to take those long hours spent watching Game of Thrones (the first and second times through) and put them to good use! I knit a baby blanket for every couple that invites me to their wedding for each child. I keep a stock pile of two ‘girl’ colors, two ‘boy’ colors, and two neutral colors. I send them off as soon as the couple announces the gender or I find out they’re not going to find out. My friends have given me really positive feedback and I have pictures of these babies coming home from the hospital in the blankets or wrapped in them at very young ages. It’s been really rewarding and I love doing it.

The second picture is a project I started last year and fell in love with. It’s called a weather blanket. Ideally, (unless you skip a row like me) the blanket has 365 or 366 rows, one representing each day of the year. The color of each row corresponds to the high temperatures of the day. In the one pictured, purple is cold and red is hot. I’m doing one for 2018 as well. The whole thing is shades of purple from dark to light. I don’t have any pictures of it yet (I’m a few weeks behind!) but I’m sure I’ll post to Instagram through the year so keep an eye peeled there.

The last one is my ugly project. It’s a remnant blanket, using remnants from yarn not completely used in other projects. I get remnants from friends so not all of the yarn is even mine. It’s taken on a life of its own and the blanket is no longer square and has inconsistent textures and weighted yarn. I love it. It’s been so fun to work on and I smile every time I see it. I think it’s one of those ‘only a mother could love’ situations.

I’ve knitted other things, too, but I stick mostly to blankets. I had too many scarves so I had to branch out. I’ve done winter headbands and mug coozies and I’d love to try socks or a sweater some day. I try to push myself to try a new stitch or technique each time I pick a blanket pattern so I’m always learning.

Are any of you knitters? What kind of things are you knitting? Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: Brewery Desk

25 Jan

Hello, everyone!

I decided to start a new feature in 2018. On the last Thursday of each month, I’m going to go off topic. I won’t talk about books or reading or writing or libraries. Instead, I’m going to talk about something else I’m doing. Not going far for inspiration, I want to start with the desk I sit at when I write 90% of these lovely blog posts, my Brewery Desk.

I’ve made exploring breweries something my husband and I can enjoy together. He’s a big beer fan and I enjoy it enough to always find something I’ll like. I started with the front of this desk (second picture) after we went on a beer-focused vacation to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many of the stickers in that picture are from that vacation. I’d been using this desk for a few years and knew it was old. My mom had given it to me when I moved out and I called her to ask how emotionally attached she was to it and tell her my plan. She informed me she’d gotten it from her best friend in high school who found it in an apartment he was renting. I think her exact words were, “Chuck would be proud to know you were putting it to good use.” Thus, the brewery desk was born.

After I filled up the front, I started piling stickers on top. I started to the right, where my computer doesn’t sit. I’m slowly creeping left and I’ll have to find a way to keep my computer from heating up the stickers too much. My dad has promised to help me put some kind of protective seal on the wood but that hasn’t come to fruition yet.

The third picture is the underside of my desk. These are stickers that are either beer-specific (instead of for a brewery), are duplicates from a brewery represented on top, are for places I didn’t visit personally but got stickers for from friends, or are not breweries. In other words, it’s my catch-all.

I’m excited to keep traveling and exploring new breweries. Each one seems to have a different feel and I love seeing all the fun things brewers are doing with their beers. If I’m coming your way, please let me know of some good breweries along with the great bookstore recommendations.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!