Currently: January

She lives!  After about a week of the flu, I’m finally feeling about 99%, and I am so glad to put that behind me.  In theory, laying on the couch reading and watching TV sounds great, but talk to me after doing it for six days.  It loses its appeal fast!

Anyway, today I thought I’d hit you with a Currently post to catch you up on the inner workings since I’ve been out of commission.  Pay particular attention to the new book-and then go get a copy!

Currently: January

Current books:  Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

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Technically, I finished this last week while I was permanently glued to the couch, but I wanted a chance to tell you how much I loved it.  I’ve seen numerous bloggers talk about JoJo Moyes books for about a year now, and I finally jumped on the bandwagon.  There’s a reason she’s so popular.  This was a heartbreaking read, but so, so good.  I’m on the hunt for more of her novels so you can bet that’s what I’ll be reading next.

Current music:   Pitch Perfect Soundtrack

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It’s amazing how many to-do’s you can cross off your list while being couch-ridden with the flu.  One of mine was to watch Pitch Perfect, and I can’t believe it took me so long.  I LOVED this movie, and I downloaded the soundtrack within 1.23 seconds of finishing the film.

Current guilty pleasure:   I say it every season, but, yes, I’m watching The Bachelor.  Here’s where I give you my disclaimer that I’m actually a very smart person and everyone has their vices.

Current nail color:  Oh, you guys, it’s so bad.  After my last half, my feet look like something out of a horror movie, and the color of my toenails are the least of my worries.

Current drink:   Water.  The flu seriously dehydrated me, and I still don’t feel like I’m completely back up to snuff on that score.

Current food:   Flapjacked!  I have FINALLY gotten my appetite back, and I’ve been eating a ton of pancakes.  They’re easily my favorite food anyway so I’m really loving them now that they taste good again!

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Current shows:   We’re back on The West Wing.  We stopped watching a few months ago after finishing season six because, at least for me, I wasn’t ready for the whole thing to be over.  However, after spending five days on the couch, I ran out of things to watch so I popped in the DVD on season seven, and I’m completely sucked back in.  We have three episodes left, and I’m really going to be sad when it’s over.

Current needs:   Snow!  Yes, I know that I should be happy that it’s 70 degrees, but I’m not one of those people.  It’s almost February, and I just want one snowfall before we have to endure five months of hellish temperatures. 

Current bane of my existence:  My running shoes.  I lost a week, and I have a race in a week and a half.  That math doesn’t work well.

Current celebrity crush:   I’m going to throw you a new one today.

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I’ve always thought Chris Pine was cute, but, after seeing him in Into The Woods last month, I have a full-blown thing.

Current indulgence:  When I was in college and again when I was first living on my own, I ate dry cereal like it was going out of style.  Obviously, I gave that up some time ago, but lately it has sounded really good so I picked up a box at the grocery store the other day.  It probably won’t become a regular thing, but, man, is it good!

Current blessing:  My job.  I work with and for some really great people, and I’m so thankful that everyone was accommodating and understanding last week.  I recognize that some people don’t have the option of staying home when they’re sick, and I’m so grateful that I’m not one of them.

Current outfit:   Dress and boots.  I know the end of boot wearing season is imminent so I’m trying to wear them as much as possible.

Current excitement:   The weekend!  We don’t have anything special planned, but I’m not sick so I can actually enjoy it.

Current mood:   Euphoric :)

Current link:   I’m a little behind, but I love this Taylor Swift mashup.  One of my students showed it to me yesterday, and it is so beautiful.

What’s going one with you?  I feel out of the loop!

 

 

A Race Recap, A Confession, & The Flu

Hello, friends!  I’m a little later with this recap that I had intended, but Sunday night, just as we were pulling in from our weekend in Baton Rouge, I was suddenly hit with an intense case of the chills.  That was followed by waking up at 3:30 in the morning feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck and not being able to go back to sleep.  That’s right-the flu came to visit.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  The flu is striking down people right and left in our area right now, and our school has not been spared.  Last week we had a huge number of kids and teachers out with it, and it was probably just a matter of time for me.  The real miracle is that this is the first time I’ve had it in about seven years!

The good news is I’ve finally turned the corner today, and I’m feeling better.  I’ve still got a few symptoms and moving too far from the couch is probably not going to happen, but things are looking up.  So much so that I finally feel coherent enough to give you guys the rundown on the race!

This half marathon was the first in the 12 Races 12 States 12 Months adventure that Dad and I are on, and it turned out to be a perfect way to start the year.

Early Saturday morning, John and I left town to head to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Marathon.  We met up with Dad in Shreveport, and the three of us arrived at the Expo just before closing to pick up our packets.

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After packet pick-up, we spent some time strolling by the river before deciding that food and an early bed time was definitely in order.

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The race was scheduled for 7 Sunday morning, and it took off right across the street from the capital building in downtown Baton Rouge.  The morning was perfect.  The temps were somewhere in the mid-40s, and the skies were clear.

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Dad and I took off in the second wave of runners, and the first mile took us down the river front.  One of the reasons that running races in different cities appeals to me is all the new sights to keep you entertained why you run.

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This course did not disappoint.  It wound through Baton Rouge neighborhoods with cool architecture, a running path around a beautiful lake, and through the LSU campus.  That may have been the reason why the miles flew by, but I was a little bit in shock at how fast we seemed to be getting through the course.

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When we hit mile 9, I felt myself fatiguing a little bit, and, as was the case in each of my last two half marathons, my feet felt like they were on fire.  Unfortunately, that meant the next four miles had a few more walking breaks than I really would’ve liked.

Here’s where I need to make a couple of confessions.

Confession #1:  I told you guys last week that I wasn’t expecting anything out of this race.  I was going to use this race as a baseline, and just see how it would shake out.  However, if I’m being completely honest, I secretly expected to PR.

Confession #2:  I fully intended to never admit that had it not happened.

From mile 10 on, I knew I had an opportunity to make it under 2:10, and I was checking my watch frequently in those last three miles.  With three-quarters of mile to go, Dad said we were going to have to push to make it so I put on the gas.  That may have been the hardest stretch I’ve ever ran.  Luckily, Dad was there to give me the encouragement I needed.  As the finish line came into view with about half a mile to go, I focused in on it and just listened to Dad push me on.

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And it worked!  We crossed at 2:09:39 which shaved 3:01 off my PR.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after giving something everything you’ve got, and that was the feeling of euphoria I rode for the rest of the day.  You know-until I got home and started riding the flu wave.

Despite the fact that the race was a wee bit overshadowed by the flu bug, I have to recommend the Louisiana Marathon.  It was such a great course, they had aid stations and mile markers at every mile (<—something I truly appreciate), and Baton Rouge is a really cool city.

Next up is the Fort Smith half in two weeks.  That course will be somewhat more challenging, and I can’t pretend I’m not concerned about how having the flu will affect me.  On the plus side, however, it’s in one of my favorite towns, and it’s local so we’ll have lots of family and friends there.

Alright, I’m off to watch more TV and finish my 900th box of tissue, and, hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to rejoin the land of the living.  Have a great night!

What’s the best race you’ve ever done?

So I Have Some News

I’ve noticed through the course of this blog that I really, really enjoy writing lists.  It seems like every post I do is organized into neat little bullet points.  Blame it on my OCD, but I really love it so, in celebration of that, how about a few Thursday Thoughts organized into tidy numbered segments?

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1.  It’s almost race weekend!  As the week has progressed, I’ve found myself getting less nervous, and just genuinely looking forward to the weekend.  I’m sure the nerves will hit Saturday night, but, for now, I’m going to enjoy not freaking out about a race for a change.

2.  My friend Whitney and I were talking about race nerves a few weeks ago, and we came up with a theory.  I truly think that I’m nervous before every single race (even 5Ks!) because every run is so different.  One day you can go out for ten miles and feel perfect; the next day running ten steps feels like an impossible feat.  Unfortunately, you never know what kind of day it’s going to be, and, thus, the nerves.

3.  This semester is already flying by.  Sometimes I’m truly alarmed at how fast time is going.  Summer will be here shortly, and, though I’m not looking forward to the heat, I can’t wait to have those three glorious months off stretching out in front of me.

4.  Speaking of summer, can we talk weather for a minute?  I’m a little annoyed with ours at the moment.  It’s suppose to be 60 here on Friday.  60!  In January!  We haven’t had even a hint of snow all winter long, and I’m starting to get worried.  Everyday I tell myself that we still have all of February to go so not all is lost.  A girl can hope…..

5.  Now that all the holiday craziness is over, John and I are turning our attention back to home repairs.  Last weekend, he spent some time working in the laundry room, and we still need to get the kitchen cabinet doors painted.  We’re both more motivated that we’ve ever been because the sooner this house gets finish the faster we can start building our new one!

6.  What’s everyone reading lately?  I think I have three books going right now, but I particularly excited about this find at the library the other day.

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As an avowed Anglophile and Downton Abbey fanatic, I really enjoyed reading the first book by the Countess of Carnarvon last year, and so I was really excited to discover that she’s written another one detailing the history of some of the real people who lived their lives at Highclere Castle (setting for the fictional Downton Abbey).  It’s highly entertaining so far, and I love getting a glimpse of a world so unfamiliar to an American like me.

7.  John and I are always looking towards the next vacation, and, now that the ski trip is behind us, we’re looking forward to our annual summer backpacking trip.  This year we’re going to explore some new territory in the form of Idaho’s Sawtooth mountain range.  I was reading some information last week, and I saw it described as all the mountain you could want with none of the crowds.  That sounds as close to heaven as you get for me.

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8.  I’m sure I’ve been living under a rock, and you guys know this already but every single one of you should go read this blog right now (well, after you finish mine!).  I recently discovered Colleen’s blog, and I absolutely adore her.  She writes in a voice that I feel like I’m striving to create her on this little blog ‘o mine, and I feel like I would love to be friends with her in real life.  Seriously, she’s awesome!

 

9.  I always like to save the best for last, and today I’ve save some exciting news.

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I was named a Flapjacked Ambassador!  For those of you don’t know, Flapjacked is a company that develops clean, protein pancake mixes.  It was started by a couple with five young children who were trying to model and encourage a healthy lifestyle in their kids without sacrificing treats like weekend pancakes.  I’ve been a fan of Flapjacked for a while now, and I can personally verify that all three of the mixes (Buttermilk, Apple Cinnamon, Banana Hazelnut) are delicious.  However, my favorite one is probably the good ‘ol Buttermilk mix.  You’ll be hearing me talk a lot about Flapjacked in the future, and I really encourage you to check out their story.  I’m so grateful to partner with a company like this, and I’m really excited about the future opportunities!

9.  And that’s all for today!  I’ll see you guys back here on Monday (oh, who am I kidding?  Probably Tuesday) for a recap of my race!  Have a great weekend!

And So It Begins

Hello, friends!  It’s January so that means that the time as come to start the 12 Races, 12 States, 12 Months journey.

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Our first race is happening this weekend, and, to be truthful, I’m a wee bit nervous.  It’s been almost a year since I last ran this distance, and, although I’ve put the miles in, the last few weeks have been tough.

December is incredibly busy so long runs just didn’t happen.  I still ran three or four days a week, but nothing over four or five miles.  Then, of course, we went skiing for a week so I didn’t run at all, and, instead, relied on the fact that was still doing something pretty active.  Apparently, my legs didn’t get the message because every run since I’ve been back has been a little difficult.

I did manage a ten miler on Saturday, and I plan to get about ten total for this week so we’ll just have to see how it goes.  I know I can get through it.  It just might not be pretty.

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So as we head for Baton Rouge (Louisiana-check!), what are my expectations for the race?  The simple answer is I’m doing my best to not have any.  I intended to use this race as a benchmark so I can get a true feel of where I’m at, and build from there when I get home.  Obviously, if I’m going to do twelve races this year, I’ll have more than enough time to make some time goals.  For now, I’m just going get a base!

Of course, one of the main purposes of this race is to have some fun and make some great memories.  I’ve actually never been to Baton Rouge, and I’m looking forward to exploring a little more Louisiana culture.  It should be a fun weekend!

But, first, we must get through the work week.  I hope you all are off to a great start!

What expectations do you usually have going into a race?

Winter Playground: A Guide To Steamboat Springs

Hey there!  So this week I had all kinds of fun ideas for blog posts, but, apparently, I was way to optimistic about how getting back to the grind would affect me.  Any other teachers out there comatose by 8:30 every night?  Seriously, I cannot keep my eyes open!  It’s funny how fast your body gets out of the habit of those 5:30 wake-up calls………….

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Nevertheless, I promised a recap on our Steamboat Springs skiing trip, and a recap you shall have!  We had such a good time on trip (despite the fact that everyone came home sick!), and it reiterated just how much I love Steamboat.  Instead of a traditional recap, however, I thought I’d share my top do’s and don’ts.  Then you’ll be all set to plan your trip to the Boat!

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Just Do It!

Do buy your life tickets online.

If you buy them at least a week ahead online, you’ll get 10% off the window price.  I did manage to get this done, but, unfortunately, not in time to have them shipped to the house.  I had to wait in the line at the ticket window, and it took FOREVER.  Get those orders in early!

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Do eat a few meals out.

It’s always nice to have a condo that you can cook your own meals from instead of relying on eating every single meal in a restaurant.  However, there are a ton of great restaurants to choose from, and you’ll be missing out if you don’t give a few of them a try.  My picks are The Rusted Porch and Vaquero’s (<–seriously good Mexican food!!).

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Do spend some time on the far side of the mountain.

Lifts like Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express will get you to some truly awesome runs without all the people.  I love to ski, but no one wants to make a quick run and then wait thirty minutes to get back on the lift!

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Do see a movie at the Wildhorse Theater on Bargain Tuesday.

We actually saw two movies while we were in Steamboat last week, and one of them was on Bargain Tuesday.  $5.50 for a movie ticket?  Yes!

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Do go for a sleigh ride at the Saddleback Ranch.

John and I did this while we were in Steamboat the first time a few years ago, and it was so much fun.  You start the evening with a sleigh ride around the ranch, and end it with a seriously delicious home cooked meal in the ranch house.  The people who work the dinner are the actual family members who own the ranch, and it was so neat to talk to them about the inner workings of the place.  It really felt like a dinner at home, and it was so worth doing.

Do a little winter hiking.

Our last day in Steamboat, we struck out for a little winter hiking.  We didn’t go all snowshoe in, but we did find two firmly packed trails that allowed us to get about six miles in total.  Not a ton, but it was so wonderful to get out in the sun and snow and really enjoy the surroundings.  The two we did were Spring Creek Trail and Fish Creek Falls Trail.  The Fish Creek Falls were really beautiful, and neither is an overly strenuous hike.

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Don’t go the week after Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong-we had a great time last week.  However, it was so busy!!  You know the drill-all the kids are off on Christmas Break so it’s the prime time for families to take ski trips.  Unfortunately, because of the nature of my job, I don’t have the option to go on a random week in February, but, if you do, I highly recommend it!

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Don’t forget the layers.

You guys, it was cold.  I’m talking negative degrees cold.  To be fair, it was kind of an anomaly for this time of year, but you certainly don’t want to be under prepared.  When John and I went two years ago, it was March and still really, really chilly weather.  Layers are never a bad idea!

Don’t stand in line at the lift ticket window.

I know I sound like a broken record, but, seriously, it took forever.  Make sure you buy them early!

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Steamboat Springs remains one of my favorite places to ski, and I’m already looking forward to our next trip.  I hope these tips inspire you to check out this off the beaten path ski resort.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Do you like winter sports?  Where’s your favorite winter playground?

Because I Like Resolutions!

Happy New Year!  I hope you guys all had a happy and safe holiday.  I know, like me, many of you are getting back to the regular routine today, and I wish you a great deal of luck.  The next few days are going to require some fortitude until I get back into the swing of things!

I spent last week with family in the mountains, and it was such a nice (but cold!) and needed break.  I plan on publishing a recap later in the week, but, for now, here’s a little glimpse of our fun in the winter wonderland.

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Oh, how I wish the mountains were a part of my daily life!

I’m sure by now you guys have read your fair share of New Year’s posts, but I hope you’ll humor me as I give you my spin on the new year today.  As we were driving home New Year’s Day, I spent some of my time in the passenger seat scrolling through a few of those posts, and the overwhelming consensus seemed to be “I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions but……”.  Well, this will not be one of those posts.  I LOVE New Year’s resolutions.  I love long or short term tangible goals, and I love that this time next year I can look back and see what progress I made.

I do, however, tend to stay away from physical health related goals.  Sure, I have some of those rolling around in my head.  I’d love to lose a stubborn 5 (ok, 10) pounds, and, of course, this year I’ll be embarking on a pretty lofty adventure in the world of running.  However, I use the New Year as opportunity to imagine ways I can better myself in all walks of life, and, with that in mind, here’s what I’ve come up with for 2015.

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1.  Learn to play at least one James Taylor song on the piano

James Taylor is my favorite musician, and, after I started playing the piano a few months ago, I found myself browsing Amazon for a book of his music adapted for the piano.  My grandparents bought me said book for Christmas, and, right now, it might as well be Greek to me.  Hopefully, by the time we’re ringing in 2016, that will have changed!

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2.  Take up swimming

I have talked about this for years.  It’s a wonderful workout, and it just looks like something I would like to do.  Who knows?  Perhaps I’ll hate it, but I won’t ever know until I give it a try!

3.  Make progress in learning a new language

Again, this is something I’ve always wanted to do, but it has never gone further than an idle wish.  In college, I took four or five Spanish courses, and was able to get by on a trip to Mexico before I gave it up because of a bad teacher (silly college student).  Spanish is probably the language I’ll work on again because it will be the most useful, but sometimes I think I’d like to learn a language like French or Italian for the sheer pleasure of it.

So there you go.  That’s what I’ll be working on in 2015 along with several other things that I’m sure will pop up in the next year.  I hope your new year is off to a great start, and I wish you the best of luck in whatever endeavors you have planned for it.  Have a great one!

What are your resolutions?  

Pack Your Bags!

Hi there!  Everyone enjoying the last few days of 2014?  We’re currently in the mountains playing in all the snow, and the last exactly the way I’d choose to ring in 2015!

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While I’m tearing up the slopes, I thought I’d leave you guys with another installment of the 10 Day You Challenge.  I’m breaking the rules a little bit though.  Since Christmas was just last week, I honestly cannot think of seven wants so we’re going to jump right to six places.  I never have trouble thinking of places I’d like to visit so this one will be a breeze!

1.  England

You guys know I’m an Anglophile.  I want to see the Tower of London, and try to catch a glimpse of the Queen at Buckingham Palace.  I desperately want to follow Henry VIII’s history at Hampton Court.  This one is at the very top of my travel bucket list.

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2.  Idaho

Idaho is happening this summer!  John and I have decided on the Sawtooths for our summer backpacking trip, and I’m excited to see it.

3.  New England

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the continental U.S., but I’ve never been north of New York City.  I want to see New England in the fall, and I have this image of quaint little towns with Taylor Dosey serving as town selectman.  They’re all like that, right?

4.  The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Oh yes, I am a Harry Potter nerd.  I love everything to do with our wizard friends, and I am anxiously awaiting my opportunity to visit Hogwarts come to life.  Now just to convince my not so keen on amusement parks husband to go!

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5.  Norway

Norway is on both John and my hiking bucket list.  Every single photo I’ve ever seen is stunningly beautiful, and it will be one of our priorities in the years to come.

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6.  Prince Edward Island

I’ve mentioned before how big a fan I am of the Anne of Green Gables series, and I’ve always wanted to see the island where Anne had all of our adventures (albeit in L.M. Montgomery’s imagination!).  I think Canada is beautiful, in general, and I’d love to see more of it.

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Where is your top travel destination?  

Christmas Scenes

Happy Post-Christmas!  I hope all of you are stuffed full of food, and still lazying around enjoy your family and all the goodies you got yesterday.

We had a wonderful few days celebrating with all sides of our family, and today I just wanted to pop in long enough to show you some of my favorite scenes.

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There you have it.  Family, food, and more presents that I deserved!  I hope all of you had were equally blessed this holiday.  Have a great weekend!

Let’s Play In The Snow: My Top Five Tips For The Beginning Skier

Two days until Christmas!  Are you ready?  I just thought I was done with my Christmas shopping.  I went over to the Fort to watch a movie yesterday (Wild, finally!), and was looking around killing time before it started.  I ended up picking up a few extra things just because I thought people would like them!  I really need to learn out to set a dollar amount for each person I buy for and stick with it!

Anyway, on the blog, obviously the outdoor activity I like to focus on the most is backpacking.  It’s, without a doubt, my number one passion, and I would be happy if I could find a way to do it all day every day for the rest of my life.

However, what you may not know, is there is one more outdoor sport that has a longer and almost as big hold on my heart.

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My parents started taking me skiing when I was about three years old.  Those first couple of years, I spent a good amount of time in ski school.  I think it was mostly so Mom and Dad could ski for at least one day without me underfoot!

We went for a week-long ski trip just about every year of my childhood, and it was always my favorite week of the year.  I’m not generally a very daring person, but I loved the feeling of whipping down a slope.

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That genuine love has never gone away, and, although our ski trips tend to be fewer and farther between these days, it’s still one of my favorite things to do.

Because I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve been on my fair share of trips with first-timers so today I thought I’d share my top five tips for beginners.

1.  Take A Lesson

Some may disagree, but I’ve seen how valuable a ski lesson can be over and over again.  Even if it’s just a half day, having a professional teach you the basics will give you a huge leg up.

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2.  You are going to fall-don’t worry about it!

The older we get, the more we realize just how much bumps and bruises can hurt.  However, skiing with that attitude makes you tense, and virtually guarantees a fall.  When you’re learning, it will happen (probably more than once-make sure to wear a helmet!), but try not to focus on those spills.  Before you know it those falls will be few and far between.

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3.  Choose your resort carefully

Not every ski resort is created equally.  Some are more crowded, some get better snow, and some have beginner runs that would be categorized as intermediate anywhere else.  The good news is there are definitely small, family friendly resorts out there that ensures you a comfortable place to learn.

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4.  Dress appropriately

Do you know how many people I’ve seen wear jeans on the ski slope?  Not to mention the college girls in bikini tops on spring break.  To each is own, but I wouldn’t recommend either.  It’s going to be chilly, and chances are you’ll find yourself in the snow more than once.  You don’t want to have to spend all day skiing in wet denim!  A proper pair of ski pants and good jacket will make for a more enjoyable experience.

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5.  Embrace the bunny slope

There’s no shame in the bunny slope.  Most everyone (even the pros!) had to spend some time on the bunny slope, and it really is a great place to safely get your ski legs under you.  There will be plenty of time to graduate to green, blue, and even black runs!

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I really believe anyone can learn to ski, and I hope these few tips inspire you to get out there.  My family is headed to the mountains next week, and I can’t wait to strap on my skis.  Who knows-I may even make a run down the bunny slope for old times’ sake!

Do you like winter sports?  Are you a skier or a snow-boarder?

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