Tag Archives: Off Topic Thursday

Off Topic Thursday: Triathlon Season 2020

24 Sep

Well, there wasn’t much of a triathlon season to 2020 but it did happen. I was originally signed up for five triathlons this season along with two road races and two swim meets. Of all that, I did one triathlon.

The race that did happen is a favorite of mine. It’s in Northern Michigan near my parent’s lake house, so it feels like a hometown race while it’s in a destination setting. This is my fifth year participating in the event. It’s always the week after Labor Day which is the beginning of the slow season for Northern Michigan. The weather can be a bit unpredictable.

My husband and I spent the week before the race at the lake house which afforded me the opportunity to swim on the course on Thursday. It was the most ideal weather swim I can ever remember. Lake Huron can be unpredictable, though, and the glass-like water I experienced on Thursday was not the 3 foot waves I saw on Saturday morning. Fortunately, the water temperature stayed above 60. They’ve canceled the swim in past years because of cold water temperatures mixing with cold air temps. This year, they kept the swim but shortened it from 1500m to only 500m. I was crushed. The swim is my strongest discipline and I usually gain 5-8 minutes on my competitors in the water. With a shortened swim, I knew my chances of finishing on top of the podium again were slipping away.

There were a lot of COVID procedures for this race but they were well communicated and people were good about following them. One was that we wouldn’t have volunteers to write our race numbers on our arms and calves so we had to do it ourselves. This ended up with racer #6 trying to left-handed draw a six on his right bicep which was fun to watch and he was a good sport about how bad it looked. We also had more spacing in transition, wore masks, had our temperatures checked, and had no awards ceremony after the event. All perfectly reasonable and safe steps to bring us back to racing.

We were lined up in the order we registered which made me #3 because I signed up the first day. It seems the first 10 of us signed up that day. We were released three seconds apart and I easily overtook the first two swimmers before the first turn. The swim was a bit difficult because the waves made it hard to sight the buoys but I made it in pretty fast time. The KayaTri (kayak, bike, run) athletes got mixed up with us so the worst part was almost being hit by a kayak near the end of the swim.

The 24.8 mile bike went pretty well. I didn’t get as much bike training in this year as I did last year and I still averaged 17 mph which is good for me. I had two other woman in my race pass me on the bike but I kept pushing and I’m happy with how it went overall. It was colder air temperature than I’d hoped for so the day before I went and bought a quarter-zip pullover at WalMart that ended up being a saving grace on the bike course.

The run felt off from the beginning. I was passed early on by a woman who I knew from the previous year was an amazing runner. I ended up walking a little bit every mile because my body was exhausted. I had some men pass me but no more women. About 1.5 miles from the end, I saw an athlete in front of me. I asked a volunteer if it was a man or a woman and he looked at them as they were walking through a water station and said, “That’s a man.” I was relived that I didn’t need to feel pressured to pass! However, the volunteer must have thought I was asking about the people manning the water station because as I got closer, I realized the athlete was a woman and she was fading fast. It was one of the women who passed me on the bike! I was able to move ahead of her with about a mile to go and a kick in the pants not to stop again before crossing the finish line.

The end of the race was odd because we immediately picked up our bikes, gear, and finisher plaque and left. They were going to do drive-by awards where you told a volunteer your age, race, and number so they could hand you an award. I was surprised to see I’d finished in 3rd overall! One woman who beat me was the strong runner. I’d beat her last year only because of the longer swim. The woman who won was new to the race and had a fantastic finish. The woman I passed in the run was an amazing biker who came in 3rd last year.

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First and only race yesterday. So glad to be back! Olympic length but the swim was shortened to just 500m due to 3-4ft waves. I was disappointed because I usually pick up 8 minutes or so on the swim. I still had a quick swim 9:01) considering. The bike was tough, windy and a bit rainy. I was happy with my time considering biking is my least favorite discipline (1:27.50). The run was tough the entire way. Another female athlete passed me in the first mile and I knew that knocked me off the podium. I was just trying to finish in under an hour when I realized I was creeping on the athlete in front of me and realized a mile from the end that it was a female! I passed her with less than a mile to go and finished in 59.26 for the run. Overall time of 2:42.28 and third. No podium pictures due to drive-by awards this year. Not perfect but I’ll take it. #tristrong

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I have no idea when I’ll race again but I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to do so this year. If nothing else, I hope to do this race next year as it’s a favorite course for me. I’ve just got to work on that bike speed.

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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Off Topic Thursday: Side Hustle

27 Aug

With all the stresses of buying a home, I’ve become more interested in a side hustle to earn a little extra money on the side. Without kids, I don’t have a lot going on in the evenings now that my tri training is not a priority and with most social engagements canceled. It would be nice to have a little extra money, I’m just not sure where to turn to find it.

In normal circumstances, I’d probably look at picking up a retail job twice a week but with COIVD raging, I don’t feel safe doing that. I’ve enjoyed working retail when I was younger and I think it could be a fun, low-stress way to make a little extra. I loved my job at an ice cream parlor when I was in high school and I could see myself doing that. Just maybe not now, when I’m spending entire days in my house so I don’t have to interact with people.

I’ve always considered doing resume critiques. I work in recruiting so I see a lot of resumes and I always wished I could say a few things to people to help them improve their resumes. I looked at a few other people who do this service online and the specifics turned me off to it a bit. Their prices are nice and high, but they’re doing unlimited re-writes and 24-hour turnaround. I’m not sure I could comply with that level of service if I’m doing this as a second job. I might try a word-of-mouth service for now because I don’t have the time to make this a full-time gig and be able to compete with those professionals.

I’ve looked into transcription a bit and I think that’s a path I might follow. I’ve got to finish reading the style guide and take an ‘entrance test’ but this seems like a good side gig for me. The clips I’d transcribe are short and I could fit in one or two a night and longer times on the weekend. After a long training session, it might be nice to sit down and still feel productive. I could see fitting this in around other things when COVID starts to lift. The nice thing is that there’s no minimum so I can stop if there’s something big going on in my life and pick up if I don’t have a lot going on.

The most obvious answer seemed to be monetizing this blog. I spent a good chunk of time every week writing content and responding to my readers. I wondered if there was a way I could make a little money from the work I’m already putting in. I became an Amazon affiliate, but that’s paid a whopping $1.50 and I have to reach $10 before I’d even see that money so I doubt I become rich off of it. If any of my readers have found a way to monetize their blog, I’d love to hear your stories. I’m not looking to quit my day job, but I’d like to pay for dinner once a month with the money.

Any other thoughts on good side hustles during COVID? How have you been able to keep a little side money coming in while locked down?

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!

 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Off Topic Thursday: Buying a House

30 Jul

I took a week off earlier this month, something I’ve only done before if I was traveling. But I needed it. I’ve been very stressed in my personal life and my weekends weren’t a time to relax like they normally are. They were spent looking at houses.

My husband and I decided about a year ago that this would be the time we bought a house. Our lease on our apartment ends at the end of October so we started looking in June and started looking at houses two weeks ago. In our area, there are not many houses and there are a lot of buyers so the process moved a lot faster than I would have liked. We looked at over 20 houses in a week and by Sunday night, we had an offer accepted on our new home! The inspection is over and our mortgage is being processed. We’ll close at the end of August and should take possession at the beginning of October.

This process has been extremely stressful for me. I tend to freak out over money and this exacerbated that more than I thought it would. I kept worrying we wouldn’t have the money for closing costs or the inspection or a million other things. It would keep me up at night. I stopped buying anything that wasn’t critical just to save a few dollars. I think I was driving my husband crazy. I had a few sleepless nights wishing I had studied something different in college so our income would be higher and we could afford a bigger home.

I’m still struggling with this, but I’m also getting excited. We’re figuring out where bookshelves go and if we can get our recliner into the basement by ourselves. I’m finding running routes and bike paths. I’m ready for somewhere else to feel like home. We hope this is our forever house and we’re excited to get into it.

This is our porch in front of our house on our street. I know we’ll grow it into the home we want. I just need to get over my anxiety and enjoy where life has taken us.

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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Off Topic Thursday: When Your Big Race is Cancelled

25 Jun

I’ve had a Langston Hughes poem stuck in my head since last Thursday. It’s called Harlem and it’s short and sweet:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I got the email that USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships was canceled for 2020. My race was scheduled for August 8th and the city wouldn’t guarantee the event could go on as planned so USAT canceled. I’m still reeling a bit from what that means. In short, the event I’ve been training for 12 times a week since April 20th is no longer happening. I felt crushed and hopeless for a few days and I’m only now starting to gather my feet back under me and figure out where I go from here.

I still have four triathlons scheduled for this summer: one in mid-July, one in early August, one in mid-August, and one in early September. The first three are sprint distance (about an hour and twenty minutes) and the final one is an Olympic (just under 3 hours). They’re all smaller, local races. Nothing big like Nationals. So I’m honestly not as driven to train for them as hard. I was using this Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide which offers plans levels one (easy) to ten (intense) and had been at a level 8. In light of the smaller events, I’ve decided to drop back to a level 5. I should be able to make a strong showing at this lower level and it will give me more time for things I enjoy during this unusual lockdown period. I picked my plan up where I need to be for the later date and I’ll keep pressing forward. This plan is 9 workouts a week so I’ll be getting a lot of my time back!

I’m also considering a race I had written off before. I’ve done two 5K swims in the past and I adore them. There’s something about open water swimming that is so peaceful to me and I’m looking forward to the training involved for a distance event. With so many pools closed, lakes are almost the only option. Right now, there is supposed to be a 5K race on August 16th. If I start now, I should be able to be trained up for it by then. It might not be my best showing, but I’ll enjoy the journey.

At this point, they’re not offering refunds. I paid about $300 for the event. The only options are to defer to either 2021 or 2022. At this point, I’m thinking 2022. I wanted to back off of triathlon a bit after this year. My husband and I are looking to buy a house and I want to get more involved with swimming which means backing off the running and biking.

So what happens to a dream deferred? Right now, it’s sagging like a heavy load. The registration feels like a burden at this point and I’m almost dreading the training I’ll have to do to get back into this shape again. It hasn’t quite dried up, since it would still be fun to finish the race and compete in such a large competition. Maybe I’ll revisit this question later. I have until September to decide what to do. For now, I’m trying to retrain my focus and keep moving forward.

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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Off Topic Thursday: Cross-Stitching

28 May

One of the things I’ve found a lot more time for with the lockdown has been cross-stitching. It’s something I’ve found relaxing for a long time and I wanted to share it with you all. Mostly it’s because it makes pretty pictures which I think we’ll all enjoy.

I don’t have pictures of my first cross-stitches but they’re coasters with hummingbirds on them. My mom had gotten four as a set and asked if I’d be interested in making one or two. My husband and I still have these on our bedside tables. I remember learning about backstitching (outlining) and messing up by using two strands to outline instead of one. It’s a much thicker line and not as good looking in the end, but you probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t say anything. I made a few small samplers after this that made for good ornaments but I gave those all away.

I’m not sure when I started it, but this is the oldest cross-stitch I could find and I think it’s the first full-sized one I did. I believe I did this in the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of college. I loved all of the purples in this pattern and I remember working with mixed colors, half stitches and the dreaded french knots. I think I almost gave up on it when it came to decorative knots even though I was almost done. This fit simply in a frame from the craft store. I had it displayed in my first apartment but I packed it so well when we moved that I didn’t find it until years later. It’s displayed in our office now.

These two are hanging on the wall in my living room. I believe the top one of the butterflies was the next one I did. It’s a nice, small size and I was able to do it pretty quickly. I stopped for a while in the middle and came back to it much later but I think it turned out okay. I learned that cross-stitch patterns are odd shapes and it can be hard to find a frame that will fit them well! I believed I ordered this one on Amazon from China. The one below it was a pattern my brother picked out. I think it’s supposed to be a Christmas angle but I hang it up year-round. This one was the most involved technically. There are beads and sequins that decorate this one and make it shine. She’s holding up a charm on a chain which meant I had to learn a few new techniques. I had to make the chain that involved my husband holding one end of a string and lots of twisting. I then had to do some couching which means having the long string lay on top of the fabric and then tacking it into place. I’m not happy with how this one is framed. It’s not pulled very tight and you can see the wrinkles in the fabric.  Part of that I could fix. The other part of it is because I left the hoop that I used to keep the fabric taught on it when I wasn’t using it and it left lasting kinks in the fabric. That was a hard lesson.

This was a gift from my Italian Mother in Law (very appropriate) that I have hung in my kitchen (even more appropriate). Nothing too special about this one but it was really fun to do. I like all of the lettering and how it used different fonts, colors, and thicknesses of floss to create such different effects. I was able to finish this one rather quickly.

I don’t have a lot of pictures of the next few I want to talk about. I have two nieces and a nephew, all through my husband’s sister. We weren’t dating when their first daughter was born. But for the second daughter and their son, I made birth announcements. The first one was pretty small and the second was a bit larger. The picture I have is from when it’s unfinished. During quarantine, I wanted to get a head start on a forthcoming niece or nephew so I’m working on another one which I’ll leave blank and add a name, date, and weight when I know one. That’s nice and quick to do! I might start another one soon.

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Making progress!! #100happydays #day83

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What I’m most excited about is a project I’ve been working on for years. I ordered these Harry Potter Hogwarts House Crests patterns off Etsy. I’ve finished the Slytherin one (my husband’s house) and I haven’t started the Hufflepuff one (my house). That’s probably my next project. I plan to hang these above our beds and I’ll make a small one that says Sam & Jay to hang between them. It’s a really fun project but I’m not a fan of the patterns that I bought, I wish I’d looked into them more.

It’s a nice thing to do to pass the time. I tend to watch TV or movies while I work on this. It’s hours of work but I love the feeling of making good progress with it.

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: My Life Under COVID

30 Apr

I didn’t talk about this last month in hopes that when I talked about it this month, I could say that it’s over. It doesn’t look like that’s the case or that this will be ‘over’ and things will be ‘normal’ again anytime soon. So I might as well talk about it now.

I want to start off by saying that I’m very fortunate. I haven’t lost a loved one to the disease. I did not lose my job. I was able to find toilet paper at the store. So as far as major impacts, I’ve been OK. I wanted to detail my situation and hear from all of you how you’re coping.

I haven’t been to my office since I left for Greece on February 26th. When I came back, they asked me to stay home for two weeks since I’d traveled to Europe. By the time that was up, everyone was working from home. I’ve set myself up on my kitchen table. It’s not the most comfortable, but I’ve found a way to use blankets to make it work. My husband works from our office room so we don’t disturb each other during meetings or get too distracted from each other. We had an access issue when I first started but that was quickly resolved and I can do 95% of my job from home. I miss meeting candidates when they come in for interviews and it’s harder to track down certain coworkers who aren’t great at answering their phones, but it’s mostly the same. I do miss my coworkers fiercely, though.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. It helps me relax and escape to a place where we don’t have to be six feet apart from everyone else. When I think, “I’ll just turn on the TV,” I pick up a book instead and tell myself I’m battling my TBR mountain. I’ve taken a sizeable chunk out of it with digital titles and my unread books at home. I’d say this is where I made the most progress during isolation.

I’ve been knitting and cross-stitching a lot, too. Anything to keep my hands busy. If I don’t craft while I watch TV, I tend to eat. That’s not what you want when your movements are restricted. I’ve already made two baby blankets and I’m working on a birth announcement cross stitch for a pending niece/nephew.

Athletics is what has been most notably impacted by this disease. I’ve had five events affected so far and I’m awaiting news on more.

  1. 5K/8K combo race. I picked a St. Patrick’s Day race that had me visit a new county in my state. I have a goal of running a race in every county of Michigan’s Lower Penninsula so this was a bit of a disappointment. I’ve deferred my registration to next year so I should still get to do it.
  2. Meters-pool swim meet. This was a small let down. In the US, there are not a lot of swim meets in meter pools so this is always a chance to get a National Top 10 time. I was having a great year in distance freestyle so I was trying for an 800M free and 400M free record. Oh well. I got a refund.
  3. Swimming Masters State Meet. This was a big disappointment. I’d had a great year and it was my last year in the 25-29 age group. Also, a good friend of mine had a birthday less than a week before me and the meet fell between our birthdays so she would be 30 while I was still 29 so we didn’t compete with each other. We could both win! Unfortunately, we’ll likely never have that chance again so I’ll resign myself to 2nd place. A bunch of friends had rented a house near the pool and I heard there was a joint birthday celebration planned for the three of us with birthdays that week. All canceled. Lucky the house and the meet fees were refunded.
  4. 5 Mile Trail run. I love trail running and I was looking forward to a chance to compete in it. I hadn’t trained too hard for this one so I wasn’t heartbroken to hear it had been rescheduled. I’m planning to run the new date.
  5. Sprint Triathlon. This is the latest announcement. It was scheduled for late May and they decided to move it to early August. It’s now scheduled for the same week as Age Group National Championships which is a huge issue for me. I know myself and I know I’d push to hard in the sprint tri and not be in the best shape for AGNC. I’m going to wait and see if AGNC is affected, but I think I’m going to take a credit for this one and let my husband use it to sign up for a race.

Probably the biggest impact has been on my mental health. I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental health condition, but I think I have some degree of depression or anxiety and this situation has made it trigger. I’ve had days where I cry all day and I’m terrified to go outside, even for a run or to walk to my car. The grocery store scares me. I’m very irritable and I’ve had many days I don’t work out because I don’t see the point. I hate feeling out of control and that’s exactly what this situation is for everyone. Working out helps so I try to make myself get outside and run even when it’s hard to find motivation. It helps to talk to people I love so I’m setting up Zoom meetings with friends to keep up. I’m trying whatever I can to fight melancholy and it works 95% of the time. But my brain will be so happy when this is over and I can make plans again.

I hope everyone reading this is well. I hope you all have been able to see your way through this quagmire and are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel like I’m finally getting a glimpse of. We’ll get through it, I know. I pray for everyone’s safety and that we can find our ‘new normal’ as satisfying as the last one.

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: The Friend You Don’t Talk to for Ages

20 Feb

(Yes, it’s a week early. But I’ll be on vacation next week so you’re getting Off Topic Thursday a week early!)

I hope this isn’t a solitary experience because I love it so much. Does anyone else have a really good friend that you sometimes go weeks or months without talking to? For me, she’s my best friend.

When I was in high school, I met Hellen (name changed). She was a year behind me in school and we clicked immediately. She was sad when I decided to go to school out of state but we both knew it was best for me. She ended up coming to visit me during my Sophomore year for a weekend and it was one of the most memorable visits I had while in school. She got along with my friends immediately and I’d talked about them enough she felt like she knew them. She didn’t think I was crazy for going to a Spanish language mass and even joined me for a baby shower for a woman I was tutoring in English.

When I moved home, she helped me move into my first apartment. She calls my parents Mama and Papa and started a trend of my other friends doing the same. After I called my parents, she was the first person I told about my engagement. Of course, I wanted her to be my maid of honor. She was the best choice I could have made because she had high expectations for my husband and wouldn’t have joined me at the alter if she didn’t truly believe in us.

Despite being so close, we go for long stretches without talking or seeing each other. And it’s never mattered. Whenever we see each other again, we pick up right where we left off. Nothing in awkward and we’re never angry with each other for the long time that’s passed. We’re just so happy to be together, how could we be mad?

I have other friends who feel like strangers if I go more than a few weeks without talking to them. I have friends who have drifted away because we went too long without speaking and now I don’t consider them friends anymore. But Hellen will always be different. I don’t need her to reassure me that she loves me, I know she does. And she knows I’d do anything for her in a heartbeat. It’s a friendship different from any other I have and I treasure it more than anything.

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: My Life As An Introvert

30 Jan

Off-Topic Thursday is a way for me to get a chance to talk about my life outside of books and reading. I appreciate the chance to give you all a little more insight into my life so please chime in with your thoughts!

I’ve had a lot more downtime these past few months since the triathlon season is over and I’m not in school. There are a number of ways I’m finding to fill my time between swimming, reading, and finally working on book submissions. The biggest thing that I’ve realized is that I really am a strong introvert.

In high school, I thought I was an extrovert. I had a lot of friends and I was outgoing and not afraid to talk. I’d mistaken these for signs of being extroverted when they’re just signs of being friendly. You can be a talkative extrovert and I think that’s what I am. In college, I didn’t think much of it. I went to parties with friends and had dinner with them in the cafeteria but I needed to study and do homework in peace. I struggled one year when I had a house with four other girls and I couldn’t find any peace and quiet. I became well acquainted with the library and the corners of it no one would bother me.

Since I’ve gotten married, I see what an extrovert really is. My husband is the epitome of an extrovert and lives it daily. If we’re out on a Friday night, even though we woke up at 4:30 AM to hit the gym, he’ll stay hours later than me. On the only free night of a busy week, he’ll make plans to get out of the house. He thrives from being around people. He doesn’t get tired and it actually gives him energy. I’m stunned. I’m the one yawning after an hour and leaving as soon as it seems socially acceptable.

This really forced me to admit that I’m an introvert. I’ve started planning my week and weekends around it and I think it’s helped my mental health. I don’t worry about getting out of the house more than twice a day on the weekends. I skip on some events I’m not excited about. My husband and I will drive separately to social events so I can leave when I’m ready and he can stay. I plan nights in. I feel more in control of my surroundings when I’m home and I feel better prepared to leave the house when I do go somewhere. It’s been really good for me.

I will force myself to go out when I don’t want to at times. I think it pushes my boundaries a bit. If there’s a social event that I’m free for but nervous about not knowing enough people, I’ll still go about half the time. The other half, I give myself a pass. I am an introvert, after all.

I’m sure there are a lot of introverts in the book blogging community so I hope this resonates with more than a few of you. How do you cope with being an introvert?

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: Going to Greece!

26 Dec

Off Topic Thursday is a way for me to get a chance to talk about my life outside of books and reading. I appreciate the chance to give you all a little more insight into my life so please chime in with your thoughts!

I got an early Christmas/Birthday present this year. A few weeks ago, my mom called me with the startling revelation that I’ll turn 30 next year in March. To celebrate, she bought the two of us tickets to spend a week and a half in Greece at the end of February and beginning of March. I’m. So. Happy!

Here’s a little background on this. When I was 19, I studied abroad in the UK. In our program, we got three- or four-day weekends every weekend and we were encouraged to travel. I picked my destinations and I was looking to tack on a trip to Athens to one of my weekends. Uncharacteristically, my mom got angry and said, “You can’t go to Greece without me!” So I didn’t go. She promised to take me one day. My mom retired last summer and I reminded her of this promise. I think she was hoping I’d forgotten but I didn’t. When she quickly got another job teaching at a community college, I thought the trip was dashed but realizing I had a milestone birthday coming up, she booked the trip around her mid-semester break. She even asked my husband if he minded giving me up and he was glad to see me go.

We’re going in the offseason which means low numbers of tourists but also that the beaches don’t hold much appeal. Our rough plan now is to go to Crete for a few days and spend the rest of the time in Athens. We figured that Crete is large enough to support a year-round population and things to do and is also the furthest south so we can enjoy the warmest weather possible. I’m hoping for some great food and some good wine. In Athens, I’m hoping to do an ebike tour and take a day trip to Delphi. My mom likes doing the hop-on, hop-off buses to see the big landmarks.

I’m sharing this early to see if anyone has any additional ideas we should look at. My mom has a metal knee so she can’t walk a lot which cuts out a lot of overly-athletic things like hiking. We’re both adventurous foodies and history geeks so that kind of thing would be right up our ally. Of course, any insight on where to stay and where I can find a public lap pool to get a workout in would be greatly appreciated! I’ll be in the middle of training for my state swim meet so I’d like to swim once or twice.

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: National Championships!

31 Oct

I realize my Off Topic Thursdays have been very athletics-focused lately but that’s been a bit part of my life lately. After my last triathlon race of the season, I thought I would be able to change topics for a little, but there’s more.

My friend Paul got it stuck in my head when that race was over that I might have qualified for National Championships. I doubted him at first, because of the small size of the field but the more I read into it, the more I kept thinking that I might have really qualified for nationals.

I was in an elevator with my mom when I checked my email and saw that I’d qualified not only for Olympic National Championships but Sprint distance as well! I guess my second-place finish at a race in June was enough to get me through for that distance. We talked it over during dinner and I realized I did want to go. My 2019 season went so much better than I could have ever imagined and I look forward to seeing what I could accomplish at the Olympic distance if I tried again.

The next step was convincing my husband. After how much money I spent on my half, I thought it would be a hard sell, but he seemed fine with it. We’ll have the expense of the hotel but I don’t plan on buying a new bike so there’s not a ton more to it than that. We talked about our house-buying and family plans and it seems to work into what we’d already agreed upon. What I thought was going to be a hard sell turned into an easy conversation. He was more concerned about how it would affect my plans of going to swim nationals in April. That’s a different post altogether.

I think the reason I’m so pumped about this is that I’ve never felt I was a good enough athlete in anything to be considered a national contender until this year. In high school, I never made State Meet for swimming and even now, I’m not qualified for Nationals. I never seem to place well in running events (until this year) and I always felt I was a middle-of-the-pack triathlete. That’s why my win in September was such a shocker. I’m still a little bit in shock and I want to ride this out because I don’t think it will last forever. Though how awesome would it be if it did?

So I plan to be back at it in March or April. I’ll use the same training plan book I used for my half. I expect a bit less time commitment requirement but I’ll expect a higher intensity from the workouts. Or at least I can expect that of myself. One more year of this intensity won’t hurt. I don’t mind the weight loss that comes with it either!

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!