25 April 2012

Couch to 5K Update

C25K update: it is now week 8 and I am still running with the program. This week's run was supposed to be 28 minutes (I did 2 runs of 25 and one of 30 minutes last week), but today, Chuck (our trainer) suggested that we try out the 5K course to see how it feels. I wasn't expecting this, but the 5K is coming right up on Sunday, so (gulp) great. And I did it!!!! I ran all the way. The hill on Pearl Street is our own little Heartbreak Hill (although much shorter), but I even slogged up that. I didn't time myself (no watch), but now I know that I can actually run 3.2 miles. To think that eight weeks ago, running for one minute seemed like a big deal. I can't praise this program enough. If it can get me running a 5K in eight weeks, it can do the same for you. Google 'couch to 5k' for details. If you decide to try it, download the "Get Running" app for your smartphone--it will really help. So wish me luck on Sunday, or even better, join me for the Falcon 5K, Fun Run, and Walk. For details, go to: http://www.falcon5k.org/.

31 March 2012

I have entered a new phase of my life, the running phase. After 60+ years of not running, I signed up for a Couch to 5K program at Fitchburg State. The program is designed for non-runners, like me, who want to learn how to run. We meet once a week in the rec center with a trainer (Chuck) and run on the track. The first week was tough, but exhilarating, and it has been that way ever since. Every week (and I am now in Week 4!!!), the run times get longer. But it is always interval training: run 1 minute, walk 30 seconds, etc. This week it is walk 5 min, run 3 min, walk 90 secs, run 5 min, walk 2.5 min, run 3 min/walk 90 sec, run 5 min, cool down walk 5 min. I did it, twice in fact. Each week, I have discovered something new about running and about myself. I was really nervous about week 3, when we ran for 3 minutes, but I did it. And this week, 5 minutes without stopping. As with everything I do, gear helps. Chuck advised us all about proper running shoes on Day 1: Asics. So I went online and found the right style for my feet (Gel Nimbus 13, with lots of gel and arch support). They came from Zappos overnight! I put them on and ran in them without any problems. Comfortable, great, and, of course, gorgeous!!! So now I am into this program and am determined to continue all the way to 5K (April 29). I've found a variety of apps for my iPhone to help me with this (timekeeping is tricky), and am searching through my music library for inspiring and upbeat music (Santana) to help me keep my pace up. This is actually fun and I give it five stars. I never would have dreamed that I would do this, much less keep it up for a month, three times a week. But I have, and I will. Hooray for me! I'll keep y'all posted on my progress.

28 July 2010

Our new staircase

Life at our house has been dominated this summer by the creation of a new staircase. For years we have been living with a staircase that had shaky railings, misaligned treads and risers, and no balusters to prevent dogs or children from disaster. Now, after several months of deep focus, Harvey has almost finished. Here are some pictures of the final product. We have balusters, railings, beauty, and fine craftmanship at last. The post caps are the most recent addition. He made them from a birdseye maple board that he salvaged from the old staircase (the top piece), and embellished them with trim from an old piece of black walnut that he found years ago in my sister's garage attic (the house had been owned by a woodworker and there was a lode of great wood).

This staircase makes me happy every time I walk up or down it--it is so solid underfoot. Next, paint. Stay tuned.

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06 July 2010

Amanda Makes Pasta

If you want to see the results of this adventure, check out Amanda's video on YouTube:

22 June 2010

Trip to San Fermo

After being in Verona (twice) for extended periods of time, I finally made it to San Fermo yesterday. San Fermo is one of the landmark churches in Verona and is very beautiful. It is at the end of the Ponte Navi and is visible from the riverbank from many places. I had been wanting to get inside, but now that we are about to depart, I found the time. I crossed the bridge and took a left along the river, strolling through the Filippini neighborhood. The streets are very quiet, full of lovely old houses with flowered balconies and interesting restaurants. I met a woman on a bicycle who seemed interested in making sure that I got the best photographs of her neighborhood. She kept stopping to point out yet another photo op and told me to google San Filippini for more pictures. I stopped at a lovely Palladian-style chiesa on the Via Filippini, but there was a mass going on so I didn't stay. My wanderings ended up at the little piazza in front of San Fermo, where I had a cappucino and comtemplated the church. A beautiful spot--I texted Heidi and Laura, who were in class around the corner to see if they wanted to join me. Heidi showed up a few minutes later and we went into the church. San Fermo is a treasure. I especially loved the frescoes, which were throughout the church. There is also an older church below the present one, as well as a lovely (but unloved) cloister with grass a foot tall. Well worth a visit.
From San Fermo, I went to the Corte Mercado Vecchio to see the stairs, and finally, to La Casa di Guilietta, to see the letters. Can't leave Verona with seeing Juliet! She and Romeo are everywhere in this city.

The (Second to) Last Supper

Last night, we all went out to dinner at a small hostaria called La Vecchia Fontanina (in the Piazzetta Chiavica, near Piazza Erbe). Heidi and I had gone to check it out earlier and make arrangements--when we arrived, the owner had set us up in a back room by ourselves, which was very cosy and nice. David and Bea and Vicky (from NHIA) joined us, as did Federica. The menu was very traditional and the food was delicious. Everyone tried different things and we all shared bites, so we got to taste a lot. I started with a Pear torte that was wonderful, followed by cavello (finally) and polenta. The cavello had been marinated and then braised, so it was like a beef stew, on a bed of polenta. Delicious! We had carafes of house rosso and bianco (the bottles on display were from Corte Figaretto), and acqua with and without gaz. Others had some delicious things, but Staci's potato soup with truffles, which made the rounds of the table because she only ate a small amount, was the hit. It was fabulous!!! I also had a taste of bigoli with some sort of local small fish (salty and anchovy-like), which was delicious too. Laura had some of the most beautiful lamb chops I have seen and Bea & David had Angus beef--gorgeous. For dessert, I had only a caffe correto, but others had delicious-looking things, including semi-freddo with chocolate sauce and apple cake with vanilla cream. Everyone had a grand time. We all wish our stay in Verona could go on and on.

20 June 2010

Trip to Bolzano

Saturday, we all expected rain--but when I got up and checked the BBC weather for the region, the prediction seemed much better--partly cloudy and a 30% chance of rain--so when the girls across the hall asked me if I wanted to go to Bolzano--a beautiful alpine village--I decided it was the only chance weatherwise. We had a 30 minute window, but the fates smiled on us. We caught a bus to the stazione and got the 9:09 train for Bolzano. The scenery en route was beautiful, increasingly mountainous as we sped north along the Adige. We arrived in Bolzand to find . . . fairyland! Italy, but very different from Verona. Rococo buildings plastered in pink, green, and bright yellow, with elaborate ornamentation. The Renaissance happened, but somewhere along the way, Tinkerbell came along and flicked her magic wand and spread fairy dust all over the city. Even the Duomo was transformed into a high gothic masterpiece with a multicolored tile roof.
We wandered around, admiring everything, especially the pastries, and feeling the influence of Austria on northern Italy. After a quick trip to the Info Office, we learned that the Iceman has been laid to rest in Bolzano's Museo Archaeologico dell'Alto Adige. Ötzi, as he is known, was discovered in 1991 by two German hikers and is one of the oldest mummified corpses ever found. Also, Ötzi was a "wet mummy," which meant that his body could provide a great deal of scientific data about his life and context. He lived around 5000 years ago and today reposes in a refrigerated exhibit case in Bolzano for all the world to see. We loved the museum, but had more to see. We wandered through town and made our way to the cable car that carries commuters up into the mountains to a little village called Renon. The view from the cable car was spectacular, as was Renon. We took a little walk, after filling our water bottles at the "Trinkwasser" spring (German is the primary language here). By the time we were ready to stop for lunch, it was 2:30 and all restaurants were closed--so we went to the local pizzaria, where the proprietor proposed that we sit in her garden and enjoy a plate of local meats and cheeses and some wine. Perfecto, followed by cake--chocolate or apricot, both slathered with whipped cream. Serendipity, once again. Totally enjoyable.
After lunch, we made our way back down the mountain via cable car and caught a train home to Verona. We had a date for the Opera that we did not want to miss.

Here's a slideshow of our day: