Touristy Tuesday: Boise, Idaho Edition

Well, well, well Boise. What an unexpected delight you were this week! I had no idea how much fun we would have in town. From literally the moment we got into the city until we left Abe and I had a great time! I dare say that this may have been the most fun city on the road yet!

We rolled into Boise after a relatively uneventful drive from Salt Lake City. It’s Media Challenge month for the Hotdogger crew so I was actively pitching local news outlets on the drive up. I felt like I was getting some use out of my degree from the University of Missouri when I emailed fellow alumni in the Boise media circle. As a new member of the Mizzou Mafia I hoped they would hook Abe and I up with some good coverage. (Side note: didn’t hear back from any of them! Come on mafiosos! I thought i was now part of an elite brotherhood of journalists.)

Co-Hotdogger Ben and I at the J-School graduation ceremony, sporting our Wienermobile stickers! I wonder if he’s having any luck with the Mizzou Mafia!

When we finally arrived in Boise we were a little drained from the drive. We perked up when we heard that our hotel not only served hot breakfast daily, but also offered dinner, wine, and beer Monday – Thursday! A temporary break from the Subway Diet that Abe and I seem to be on most of the time on the road.

That first night was awesome. The first thing we did in Boise was hit the CrossFit gym. I’m so glad I finally got over myself and just did it! That ass-kicking workout was incredible. To recover we had to hit the hot tub, and that’s where we met our first friend of the week – Luis.

Luis was from New Mexico and in Boise for school with the military. We got started by chatting running and it just went from there. He had done the Bataan Death March and had me ready to sign up by the end of the conversation! Since it was our Friday night, Abe and I wanted to go out to start the weekend, and as it turns out Luis is the kind of guy who lives every night like it’s Friday night!

Tuesday was my long run for the week of 18 miles along the Greenbelt River Trail. If you ever get the chance to run in Boise, check this path out. One side of the trail runs along the Boise State University campus, next to the dorms and the stadium. The other side is equally well maintained and runs next to the river, through some gorgeous areas, and up into the hills.

That was the fun part of the day. We spent the rest of Tuesday catching up on work and doing a little bit of sight seeing. I had a great mocha at the Flying M Coffee Shop in downtown Boise. Just the cheerful pick-me-up needed for working on an off day.

We also stopped by the capitol building. Abe and I are collecting pictures of us at capitols – so far we’ve got Madison and Boise, but now we have to head back to Salt Lake to get that one! We’ll be sure to get Denver while we’re in town as well!

Wednesday was my big touristy day. Abe was taking the day to just relax so I was on my own to explore! Growing up, my mom had done $50 days with my sister and I. For the three of us we had a $50 budget and had to come up with fun, frugal activities to do for the day. That’s kind of what my Wednesday was like!

First I went to the Old Idaho Penitentiary. $5 got you in to explore the old prison grounds.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Lockup on MSNBC and let me tell you, prisoners these days have it easy! Yikes, were some of those cells bad.

Of course, some problems are the same whether you’re behind bars or not, like mismatched socks!

After visiting hours at the Pen were over I just walked across the street to the Idaho Botanical Gardens.

Talk about a crazy juxtaposition! Something tells me the botanical gardens probably came after the penitentiary closed!

I was seriously impressed with them. Norah Jones just performed there and they bring quite a few other headliners to the gardens – I just barely missed some of my favorites! The gardens were also $5 and when I went to pay I mentioned that I drove the Wienermobile.

Turns out one of the girls had left free tickets under the windshield wipers for me! I wouldn’t let her give me my money back though – I can afford $5 for a non-profit! The gardens were in the process of building a children’s section that would include an entire treehouse area! How adorable is that?

That night the adventures continued when Luis invited me to the Idaho fair with some of his friends from the military school. It was the perfect night to go – Chris Young was playing!

We got in for just $7 and margaritas were less than $5. Country music and cheap margaritas – that’s my kind of event! Chris Young was awesome to see live. I tweeted at him to see if he wanted to “ketchup” for a ride in the Wienermobile, but he never responded. Even the next day when I told him he could ride “shot bun” he didn’t get back to me – bummer!

After his show we wandered around the fair grounds. After the 18 mile run I promised I was going to have a deep fried candy bar of some kind and I got my chance that night! The five of us all shared a deep fried Snickers! Talk about tasty. I only did one bite and that was really more than enough. One of the girls also got a POUND of fries, which also disappeared pretty quickly between the lot of us!

The toothless carnies sucked us in for carnival games and that actually turned out successful. Well, depending on your definition of success. Less than $100 later we had one pink stuffed bear, three goldfish that had to be given away for obvious reasons (there isn’t an aquarium on board the Wienermobile), and at least some modicum of our pride left!

Luis was ready to eat these poor goldfish before I gave them away to some deserving child!

Alex was one of Luis’ classmates and talk about one of the most impressive people we’ve met on the road yet. A graduate of the Air Force Academy and a member of their triathlon team, this guy does BQ marathons for breakfast and just signed up for the DMZ marathon in Korea. Yeah, like running to N. Korea or some craziness! Between Alex and Luis I had all the inspiration and running conversation I could handle. I know Abe was excited I finally had another outlet to talk to about mileage, shoes, and races!

Although Wednesday night was likely the highlight of the week for me, that doesn’t mean it went downhill. Thursday night Abe and I had a whirlwind cab experience but finally made it to a comedy/dueling piano bar. Yeah – comedy AND dueling pianos. The comedy was so-so and it was pretty dead for the pianos, but we still had a blast! Both our requests (our team theme song of the week “Sweet Caroline” and of course the Oscar Mayer jingle) were played, so that was a plus! We actually ran into one of the pianists at our event later in the week, where he sang the jingle for us again!

To burn off the deep fried snickers and all the drinks of the week I made sure to hit the trails. On my second 8-mile of the week I ended up running 7 miles with the CFO of the Boise Airport. Mike and I ran into each other when two paths came together and we just happened to be running to the exact same cadence. Instead of being creepy and running a perfect 10′ behind me the whole way, Mike introduced himself and we had a great time and good conversation for the rest of the run. I had been feeling pretty unmotivated at the start, but you can tell from the Garmin data when I ran into him and how he pushed that split time down!

Friday night Abe and I headed out again with the military crew, going to downtown Boise. Talk about a great downtown scene! My one regret for Boise is that I didn’t spend more time down there. There was this awesome looking Mediterranean restaurant, Opa’s, that I wanted to check out that had been highly recommended by one of the girls at our hotel. We were meeting up with the group though and they were at Super Sushi, which admittedly did have some great food!

After dinner we got drinks at Piper’s Pub, where I tried my first scotch. Blegh! For only $8 you could sample four different types. I figured why not, try a few different types and see if any of them are for me. I can profoundly and enthusiastically say that scotch is not and never will be “my drink.” Piper’s had great live music though, which went well with the white wine I opted for after scotch, which I ended up just passing around for everyone to try.

Later in the week I knew there was still one touristy thing I absolutely had to do while in Boise, which was see Big Blue – the blue turf at the BSU Stadium. I mentioned that I ran past the stadium while on the Greenbelt, but as far as I could tell it was pretty much closed off. Well on my final run of the week I decided I had to see this turf and nothing was going to stop me!

I ended up jumping the fence at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning and ran into the deserted stadium.

I figured if anyone saw me, a chance I gauged to be very unlikely, I could easily talk my way out of that one. The threat level was nil though and I was in-and-out without a hitch, with my coveted picture of Big Blue to prove my adventures!

Sunday was the big Dirty Dash, marking off Idaho on the Race for 50 States! Alex, the Air Force Academy grad and Ironman, joined us for the race. He showed us up by doing it barefoot though – talk about hardcore!

Sunday night Abe and I went for dinner and margaritas (big surprise) at this place by the hotel. Even there, at the most random bar in Boise, I managed to make friends. Turns out the mother and son sitting at the bar next to us were basically family. The mom lives in Estes Park, Colorado – blocks from where my Grandma lives! You never know who you might meet on the road!

Monday marked the end of our time in Boise, but it ended on a high note. The Wienermobile got to “meat up” with the Big Idaho Potato. The potato truck is HUGE! The potato itself, not counting the semi it’s hauled on, is bigger than the entire Wienermobile!

Abe and I went to fro-yo with the Tater Team and swapped stories from the road. What a fun group they were. They don’t actually drive the Big Potato though, there is a third guy who does that. What an interesting dynamic that would be. I think I’ll stick to Abe and i co-piloting the big dog and sharing the radio choice 50/50!

Up next we’re back to Salt Lake City, to pick up where we left off. I’ve got quite a few touristy things left on my bucketlist for that city! Our friend Matt from Fresno is coming into town, so we’ll be +1 for a lot of our adventures this coming week! Looking forward to more Mormons, CrossFit, and Mountains!

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CrossFit – Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway

My first CrossFit Experiences and Meeting Jamie Eason Along the Way!

I have been interested in doing CrossFit for months now. Literally, months! As a runner I’m in pretty decent shape. It’s not like I’m gasping for breath going up a flight of stairs. However, being on the road I’m only a runner. All the cross training I used to do, biking and swimming, has stopped because it’s just not as convenient as lacing up the old Mizunos.

As a result, I’m getting skinny fat. I’ve got the middle-aged mom arms going on (no offense!!) and they aren’t as toned as they used to be. I mean, I used to be known as Kelly “Big Guns” Goldthorpe back in the high school swimming days!

CrossFit appealed to me because it seemed like a way to get a full body workout. And, let’s not lie, people who do CrossFit look damn good! The intensity and group aspects were also reasons that I wanted to try it out. That “Type A” personality in me is all about the next challenge!

Well, weeks went by. And months. And frankly I was a big fat chicken. A real “wienie” if you will! Since I didn’t really understand how it worked I was too intimidated to actually try it out. I rationalized it by saying I was focusing on my running. (Anyone knows though that to be a better runner you need to cross train so let’s just acknowledge what a load of B.S. that excuse is!)

Finally, in Boise, Idaho Abe convinced me to come with him to this Box downtown, the CrossFit Refinery. I really was just planning on dropping him off and going grocery shopping, but they had a class that started 10 minutes after we got there. Somehow I ended up roped into the workout.

10 pull-ups
15 sit-ups
10 times
Whoa.

I didn’t think I had it in me to do one round, even with the modified jumping pull-ups I was doing. To be honest, I didn’t think I could even do the sit-ups! But, low-and-behold, I did it! And it felt DAMN. GOOD.

The let me hit the gong for me first workout!

It was so quick! Why didn’t anyone tell me how awesome this was going to be?! After one workout I immediately saw the appeal of CrossFit. It’s like ripping off a bandaid, quick and dirty. It got me sweating and I felt like a champion once it was over!

Abe and I went back last night too. I was still nervous about it but in the locker room I found another source of inspiration. I looked in the mirror and who did I see – none other than JAMIE EASON from BodyBuilding.com! I knew it was her the minute I saw her.

If you want to be impressed, meet this girl. Not only is she a knockout, but the more I talked to her the more I realized what a business mogul she was! Talk about a savvy businesswoman! She really has crafted her own brand and built an empire on it.

So why on earth was this fitness guru at a CrossFit gym in Boise? (Not exactly the first place I’d expect to stumble on her, but not a White Castle either I suppose!) Well, she was on a photoshoot launching her new product line.

Of course after meeting her I couldn’t back out of my second CrossFit workout. Yesterday was 5 dead-lifts, followed by 10 burpees, 5 times. I may have been the last to finish, but I finished! Talk about a post-workout high! It was definitely high-fives all around after that. Luckily all the guys at the gym were excited to share my enthusiasm!

The trainers at the CrossFit Refinery were awesome! They really explained all the movements to me and made sure I understood how to do everything before starting. I was so appreciative of their patience because it made the whole experience much less daunting.

So now I’m hooked! Without a question! I’m ready to find a box in each new city and keep this going! My only concern is how to mix this in with marathon training. I figured I would probably go 2-3 times per week. On my off and easy days. Does anyone have any advice on combining CrossFit with marathon training?

Alright, expect many more CrossFit posts to come! I think I might be addicted!

(Can you believe 15 months ago I almost weighed 200lbs and never exercised? I’m loving the changes this last year has brought in my life!)