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Ironman at 30

10 Mar

tri

I am going to put it out there for the world:  I will do an Ironman at 30.

This basically means that sometime in the Summer of 2016, I’ll be signing up for a very long day of swimming, biking, and running.  I’ve been dreaming about doing triathlons for years, and ever since I did my first sprint triathlon last summer, I feel totally hooked.  It is an amazing community that satisfies my competitive nature and need for long-term fitness goals.  I haven’t felt this way about something since college basketball, which feels amazing!

This summer I’ll be doing two events as baby steps toward becoming a better triathlete:  a Olympic distance triathlon in Steamboat Springs, CO as well as a Long Course Aquabike in Aurora, CO.  I decided that when I turn 30 years old next year, I should give myself a birthday gift – the gift of being really badass.

When people tell me that they have completed an Ironman, I immediately have a high regard for their fearlessness, fortitude, and discipline.  I feel jealous.  I’ve found that jealousy is a really good way for me to understand what I really want. Finishing an Ironman is obviously not something you accomplish overnight. Luckily, I love the process of getting to race day.  The days spent swimming and biking outside are amazing…even some days I enjoy running!

Does anyone have any suggestions of Ironman locations that we could also turn into a post-Ironman vacation?

“No one’s gonna wait for you, no one’s gonna wait for you. So do it now. Do it right now.” – Ingrid Michaelson, “Do It Now”

Mwanza (in photos)

20 Jun
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Mosque

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Convenience Store on my way to work

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Bead Market & Building under construction

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Watch out for holes in the sidewalk!

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Dala Dala (aka. shared minibus)

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These birds wake me up every morning…

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Kiddos playing at primary school

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Got to hang out with these lovely ladies one Sunday! The girls were so cute – we talked Barbies.

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Walk to work!

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Dr. Seuss trees?!

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Pool at the Malika Hotel…not the best experience from a service standpoint but definitely a cool pool.

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View of Mwanza and Lake Victoria

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The women here have amazing balance…I snuck this picture while trying not to be creepy.

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Bike shop

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Michael and man with bucket. Everyone carries things with their head here.

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Steep climb up the hill to get to Bugando hospital – see man pushing his bike carrying lots of coals for cooking.

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CUHAS headquarters – this is where I sit and work all day.

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Bugando Hospital entrance!

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Another view of how steep the hill is.

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The other view from my window. No idea what’s going on here.

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Sunset over Lake Victoria

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Birds eye view of the city.

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Playing some football!

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Another view of Lake Victoria

Sunday Funday

8 Jun

I got a day off of work! Yay!

Wanting to relax, I went to the Hotel Tilapia and spent the day by the pool and looking out over the lake with my laptop.  It was nice to have a little solitude while still being around other people in the hotel.  Here are some pictures I took of the pool and pool-side bar!

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My First Week in Tanzania

7 Jun

Well, I made it!  The flight to Dar es Salaam was long but pretty comfortable.  Unfortunately, the next day, I had an all day delay in the airport to get to Mwanza where I am working.  It was long but at least the Dar airport had Wifi! Otherwise, it would have been a very long day.

Here are some highlights (or things I found hilarious) from the first week:

1.  Watching people drive here is initially terrifying.  First, they drive on the opposite side of the road than in the US.  That in itself gives me minor heart attacks.  Secondly, the entire transportation system is like a very well executed, yet intense, game of Frogger.  In Mwanza, I have seen one stop light, which means that people have to dart across the road where there are openings like on Colfax in Denver.  This combined with the slightly insane driving of vans, cars, motorcycles, and bicycles makes it a very intense experience.  Especially if you are also dealing with remembering which side of the road the cars are coming from.  All that being said, it’s very well executed.  I have yet to see an accident or anyone hurt.  Very impressive. 

2.  Lake Victoria is so beautiful!  I have an amazing view from my hostel so every evening when I get off work, I come home to the sun setting over the lake. Pretty epic.

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Lake Victoria from the Hotel Tilapia where I got a drink and some fruit!

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3.  I have Internet! This will make me sound like an old person, but I still can’t believe that I can plug in a little USB thingy with a SIM card in it and get Internet.  It’s amazing.

4.  I’m staying at a Catholic hostel in Mwanza, and in my first week there were three weddings and receptions.  Man, do they know how to party!  It has sort of hurt my sleeping but it’s oddly comforting to hear people having fun and partying from my room.  In the last wedding, it sounded like they were wrapping it up/cleaning up and all of a sudden I hear “How am I supposed to live without you” by Michael Bolton.  MICHAEL BOLTON! They listened to the entire album before closing it down.  Hilarious.

5.  The fruit here is amazing, but I’ve only been able to eat out twice (and get fruit) because of work and needing to get back before the sun goes down.  Other than the fruit, the food is not really for me.  Lots of fish, other meat, and white rice.  Luckily, the other night I bought some peanut butter, honey, and bread.  I feel much better now.  Below is a picture of my first dinner at the hostel.  The fish was staring at me…so I made it look like I ate some and decided to do dinners on my own from there on out.  I cannot wait to eat at my hipster vegetarian restaurants when I get back.

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6.  I think the roosters here are on USA time because I’ve heard them crowing at all hours of the night.  C’mon man, let a woman get some rest.

7.  Kids here are cute and always want to talk to you.  Mainly because I am a “Mzungu” or “foreigner”.  Okay, so maybe everyone wants to talk to me because I’m white (mainly dudes and kids).  I’m a weird celebrity here.  Being a celebrity is tough, especially when there are weird stalking experiences by a “gang” of teenage girls.  As I was walking up the steep hill to the hospital for work, a group of girls on the opposite side of the road called out “Good morning!” and “How are you?” multiple times.  It’s funny because kids here say “Good morning!” to you regardless of the time of day.  Again, very cute. I replied respectfully, but apparently I had not given them adequate attention.  They proceeded to cross the street, which is not always an easy feat, and follow me the entire way to the hospital serenading me with “Old McDonald Had a Farm” and constantly saying “Good Morning!” and “How are you?”  I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be afraid. I mean, teenage girls are scary.  I used to be one.

8.  Living in close quarters with insects has been a transition.  Thank goodness for the bednet.  It’s like a cocoon of safety, although I have already gotten a couple of bites just from going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, etc. in my hostel.  Those sneaky little bastards.  Hopefully, I don’t get Dengue or Malaria, but I’m not sure what else to do about it except try to avoid them and wear bug spray as much as possible.  Image

I miss Colorado in the summer, but it’s comforting to know I’ll be heading back pretty soon!  I’m working hard and trying to suck the marrow out of the whole experience.  I’ll keep updating as much as possible!

In Health & Happiness,

Kacy

Tanzania or Bust!

16 May

ImageAdventure is knocking on my door!  Spring semester is officially over, which means that the time has come for me to take my month long trip to Africa.  I’ll be working on a mHealth pilot project with my professor, Dr. Deborah Thomas, to help connect Prevention of Mother to Child Transmisstion of HIV (PMTCT) services through cell phones and geographic information systems (GIS).  Needless to say, I am really excited about this opportunity as it will be my first time in Africa.

I will predominately be located in Mwanza, which is the second largest city in Tanzania.  I am excited to be able to go and experience everything that I have learned first-hand.  Additionally, after my month long practicum, Eric and I will be taking some time to travel to other areas of the country. Throughout my stay, instead of emailing everyone, I’ll be posting to my blog so that my friends and family as well as other global health advocates can learn and benefit from my experiences.

As I prepare to leave for Tanzania and walk in my commencement ceremony this following week, it’s hard not to think about the future and how my life will change in the following year.  So much hard work and effort has been put into receiving my Master of Public Health.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to take action and use my education to better the health of under-served populations.

I’m sure my trip will be a life changing experience, and I appreciate Dr. Thomas, Eric, my parents, and all those along the way that made this possible for me.  Thanks for your interest in my travels, and I will post updates as often as possible!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

In Health and Happiness,

Kacy

Sometimes You Have to Get Back on the Bike

17 May

One of our goals has been to not only minimize our impact on the environment but also to live a healthy lifestyle that centers around our values.  We have been pushing each other to look deeper into our need for stuff, and learning to live more simply and happily.  We love to ride bikes.  We love to be outside and active.  The freedom of biking has invigorated us and pushed us to raise awareness for cyclists by the simple act of riding, as well as minimizing our consumption of gasoline.  So Eric and I are currently biking down the path towards using two wheels instead of four as our primary mode of transportation.

Recently both of our cars decided to die on us.  First, it was the little black Kia Rio and then my bright red Grand Am.  My father, being the saint he is, gave us his old Mercury Sable, which we christened “The Dadmobile”, and we were officially a one car household.  This being the case, I now had the opportunity to live the lifestyle I had been wanting.  Living in Texas, this is no easy task, but luckily our location made it a possibility.

So there we were one amazing spring evening heading out to the bike trail that runs along the Trinity River here in Fort Worth.  We glided down the hill where we exit our apartment complex in our colorful jerseys about to go get a great cycling workout.  I said, “Hey baby, I may not go as fast because I’m still a little nervous from what happened the other day on Elphie.”  Elphie is my big honkin’ cruiser that was the first bike I’ve had since childhood.  I named her Elphie because anytime Eric would ride her, he would always sing the Wicked Witch’s theme from Wizard of Oz.  And I am obsessed with Wicked, the musical.  Thus, the name Elphie was born.

I had taken her to the grocery store the other day, only to get cut off while riding in the bike lane by an old man in a huge Cadillac.  To make matters worse, not long after that I had been taking a ride to Target in the rain on my road bike I named after Janis Joplin (Yes, I name my bikes! Get over it!), and bit the dust going up that same hill at our apartment complex.  This was the first time I had fallen while in motion on my bike, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit apprehensive since those experiences.  Normally feeling powerful and free on Janis, I now felt slightly uneasy.

Almost seconds after I made this declaration to Eric, my wheel dived into a deep rut that ran exactly parallel to my skinny road bike wheel.  Before I knew it, my wheel stuck in the rut, and my bike crashed onto the ground, carrying me with it.  My right hip and elbow scraped against the pavement, and my legs immediately turned to Jell-O.  Hello, road rash!

Eric helped me up and asked if I was alright.  “Yes”, I said, even though my pride and my confidence had been extremely shaken.  Once the shock had worn off and Eric was certain that I was okay, he looked at me smiling and said, “Well, it looked awesome!”  He started complimenting the gash on my elbow and told me how tough I looked.  He was trying to make me feel better, but I was not in the mood.  I felt like I needed to bathe in Neosporin.  I started pacing along the curb, questioning everything I’d been wanting since I got into cycling.  I was nervous, but I told myself that I couldn’t let this little incident stop me from living the life I wanted.  So I got back on the bike.

I cautiously made my way out to the trail, feeling like every small bump or rock was going to make me fly into the Trinity River, but I didn’t fall.  I still felt wobbly and I’m pretty sure Janis was a little bruised also, but I kept going.

At the risk of sounding cliché, sometimes you have to get back on the bike.  Nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy. And there is nothing wrong with gaining some battle scars along the way.  What I actually achieved though was not giving into my fear.  Instead Janis and I rode together, got through it, and I am continuing to live the lifestyle that I love.  Tomorrow will be less intimidating, and the day after that will be even better.

LIFE LESSON:  Sometimes riding with Janis is going to be a little scary, but she damn sure knows how to bring the fun. 🙂

In Health & Happiness,

Kacy