Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This morning I did what I know I shouldn't do - selected an emotional film for our distraction during a tough interval training workout.

It was an honest mistake. I figured Up, Pixar Studios latest animated film, would be light-hearted entertainment to keep our minds off the labored breathing, thigh-burning, sweat-soaked 90 minutes.

I was right.

And very wrong.

There are two scenes - virtually no dialogue required - that are simply heart-breaking.

It just isn't safe to try intervals while fighing back sobs. Serious oxygen debt while riding a bike is a dangerous thing - even on a stationary bike.

I loved Wall-E, but "Up" may be even better.

Pixar may make "kid" movies, but in my opinion, they make some of the best films. Period.

Even if you don't have a kid handy to provide an excuse, go rent Up; while you're at it, pick up Wall-E, too. It'll be the best double-header you've seen in years.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Special Place

My mom is quite the accomplished quilter and makes us really cool placemats for eating as well as decorative mats for our kitchen table.    We now have a set for every season!

Fritz especially loves the decorative ones.   This one even matches his eyes.

From this special spot Fritz can catch sun beams, watch the bird feeder activity, watch his favorite mail man - Nick, and wait for us to come home.

Rex is now asking for one for his favorite spot - on top of the file cabinet.  He says that what he has is not nearly as nice as the ones Mom makes for Fritz.

I told him maybe for Christmas.....if he is good!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Our good friend Lowry, who now lives in California, stopped by while visiting his mother here in Denver.

Lowry and his wife Colleen are one of the best parts of hooking up with Joanne.

Their adventuresome spirit has led us to sharing vacations together in several awesome places, such as:

- Twice to Hawaii
- Twice to the Grand Canyon
- Boulder, Utah ( including my favorite restaurant - "The Devil's Backbone Grill")
- Yosemite National Park
- crewed for us at the last Leadville 100

Our next adventure with Lowry & Colleen is mountain biking on the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park in 7 weeks - I cannot wait!  :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Snow

We missed the storm on March 19, as we were still in Texas. I guess Mother Nature didn't want us to feel left out, so we got hit with another storm after work yesterday. I think we have a little bit over a foot on the level. The snow is very heavy and wet, so it compacted quite a bit overnight. Phil has been running the show thrower for about 2 hours now and is finally making some progress.

March is going out like a lion!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Back from San Antonio

Since the weather forecast for Saturday was rain showers, Joanne came up with the idea of not riding and spending the day and night in San Antonio.  Neither of us had been there before and most anything sounded better than riding in the rain.

So, we drove off in the rain and luckily got to check in to our hotel in San Antonio as soon as we got there.

I chose our hotel due to the fact it was 1 block from the Alamo and on the riverfront district.

The day turned out to be windy, cold, and crowded due to spring break.

Unfortunately, we were not to impressed with San Antonio.  It all seemed sort of run down to us.

We were more than happy to get back to Denver and see that the snow was rapidly melting.

We will be riding on dry roads here before you know it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Texas Hell Week

On Friday the 12th we headed down to warmer country for a bicycle training camp called Texas Hell Week. 

Located in Fredericksburg, Texas in the Hill Country of Texas between Austin and San Antonio.

Although much warmer than Colorado, it was still pretty cool every morning and we were glad we had brought all our stuff!

Texas Hell Week is in it's 20th year and has about 350 riders from all over the US show up.   They provide no support and give you a turn by turn cue sheet for 3 different rides each day of 50, 75, and 100+ miles.

There are every type of ability and body geometry present.  From racers to raisins. 

The routes primarily follow back country routes with very little traffic for very relaxed riding.  However, most of the roads are chip sealed and some are very rough which take it's toll after numerous long days.
The local Texas drivers mostly drive huge pick-up trucks and are super courteous when they pass.

The major dangers are the occaisional super slick low water crossing and countless cattle gaurds.
The first day of riding was about 108 miles, 2nd was 56 miles, 3rd was 106 miles and on the fourth day we woke up to rain.  So, with sore butts and tired legs we decided to take the day off for Joanne to do laundry and for me to spend a couple more hours in the brand new Museum of the Pacific War.

The museum opened up in Dec. 2009.  I spent 6 hours there and did not get to see everything.  It is incredibly well done and well worth your time to come visit.  The museum is in Fredericksburg, Texas because that is where the Pacific commander Admiral Nimitz grew up.

One very cool feature of the museum is this garden area with stone walls with many, many plaques.  The plaques are memorials of WWII veterans, squadrons, ships, etc.    It was very heart touching to walk and read them.

It reminded me of my grandfather Albert Phillips who served in the Pacific campaign, and like a lot of vets did not share many stories of the war with me.

Several of the things I will always remember about this trip besides the museum on the Pacific War are all of the amazing ranch gates, beautiful ranch homes, and goats.   Lots of cool looking goats! 

The weather has been nice for the last three days and our last ride was today to Luckenbach, Texas.   Where I almost hit a musician while I was gawking around as we were leaving.  I am sure it wasn't Hank or Willie, but he was definitely one of the boys.
The weather is turning bad again tomorrow, our butts of had enough of chip-seal roads, and our legs are now toast from countless 13% + hills.  So, we are skipping the last day and heading into San Antonio to play tourists and see the Alamo, walk the river walk and probably have a nice glass of wine. 

There won't be too many more of those until we hit race weight for Leadville, if that is even possible this year.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

While they are away - We want outside!

[by Phil]

When we are away on vacation, I quickly miss our cats, Fritz and Rex.

My guilt about leaving the cats locked up in the house has led me to building several things for their enjoyment.

First, better windows with convenient perches to watch what is going on outside.  Including mail men, other cats, and us returning home.

Second, a bird feeder with numerous vantage points for the cats to chatter at the birds.  That chatter is easy to interpret as " I would kick your ass and eat you, if I wasn't locked in here!"

Third, an outdoor cat condo for Fritz and Rex to go outside whenever they want to in a safe environment.   To nap in the sun, smell all the cool stuff cat's can smell that we can't, get strangers to pet them, or to talk smack to the other neighborhood cats.

But what Fritz and Rex really want is to be able to run free outside, which they can't do while we are gone. 

They love to cruise the neighborhood, and especially like our neighbor to the Easts porch.  Which can be quite sunny and a great place to hide from the occasional kid or dog.

But for now, they will just have to suffer until I get home and squeeze them until they squeal - then they will be able to go outside!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ladies Tee

Phil sent this clip to me this morning with the note: "I have felt his pain."

I couldn't stop laughing. maybe if we spent more time golfing and less time biking this would not be such a familiar scene!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Club

Book Club (or “Another Reason Why I Love Our Neighborhood” by Phil)

A friend of mine just bought a very swanky house in a very swanky neighborhood. While looking at the pictures of his new place, I wondered why he wanted to move from his hard-earned newly remodeled home. The answer quickly came to me that he had no sense of belonging to the neighborhood where his remodeled home is located.

So, regardless of how nice his remodeled home turned out, there were no relationships that compelled him to stay.

The homes where Joanne and I live would never be classified as “swanky”! However, our neighbors are committed to making where our homes are a “neighborhood.” One of the tools used to create a “neighborhood” is the Book Club.

Our neighbor Crystal started up the Book Club and invited the women who live all around her and some other friends as well. They meet once every two months at one of the member’s homes to share each other’s company.

Last night Joanne hosted the Book Club at our house, and I found something else to do to give them their girl space.

I wanted to give them space because I realize discussing the book is very secondary. Discussing the book is just an excuse or purpose assigned that pulls everyone together.

The real benefit of the Book Club is getting together to share current life experiences, laugh, drink wine, laugh, eat treats, and laugh some more.

The shared time and laughter is the mortar which holds a neighborhood together – and builds a strong, vibrant community.

I came home last night to a house full of laughter and felt so happy to live where we do, in neighborhood that might not be swanky, but that is growing strong.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Because You Never Know What Wonders Await

Jane Brody's column in the Health section of The New York Times caught my eye today.

The gist of it that trying to get people to exercise by telling them "it's good for you" is about as effective as getting kids to eat Brussels sprouts by telling them about starving kids in Haiti.

But, if you saute those sprouts in bacon fat and roast them until they become sweet, you might get a vegetable eater because the kid likes what he or she is eating, not because it's "good for him/her."

Same with exercise. Once you find the non-health benefits - friends you look forward to seeing on the bike path, or at the pool or for a walk around the neighborhood - exercise becomes something you do because you like it.

Getting up at 4 am this morning to do a Core & Strength workout, followed by high cadence and 1-legged pedaling drills is not something I looked forward to. But working out next to Phil, watching The Smartest Guys in the Room (about the Enron debacle) and being done with my workout as well as learning something new by 6 am? That I liked.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Fever

The sun is shining! It will be over 50 degrees today! Hip-hip-hooray!

We rode outside yesterday and it was the first ride without fenders on my bike and winter cycling boots since . . . November? Wonderful. It was still tights, vest and warm gloves weather, but hints of spring are seeping through.

We had friends in town from Argentina, so I undid the benefits of our four-hour bike ride by making Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Bourbon Cranberry Pan Sauce (recipe below), asparagus, couscous & honey/cinnamon-spiced oranges for dinner. A couple bottles of Catena Malbec also disappeared . . . it was a yummy dinner.

We won't be watching the Oscars tonight - I don't think I've seen an Oscar telecast since junior high. I haven't seen too many of the Oscar-nominated films this year. We have seen The Hurt Locker (pretty slow and no real effort to make me care one way or the other about the characters) and Julie & Julia, which was light, easy and fun.

We'll be heading to Texas for our version of spring training at the end of the week. Hopefully that will provide fodder for some more interesting posts. The winter blahs have started to break up . . . finally!


Note: For best results, buy similarly sized chicken breasts. If the breasts have the tenderloin attached, leave it in place and follow the upper range of baking time in step 1. For optimal texture, sear the chicken immediately after removing it from the oven.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat

2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 recipe pan sauce, optional

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Using fork, poke thickest half of each breast 5 to 6 times; evenly sprinkle each breast with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt). Place chicken, skinned side down, in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake until thickest part of breast registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and transfer, skinned side up, to paper towel-lined plate and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. While pan is heating, whisk butter, flour, cornstarch, and pepper together in small bowl. Lightly brush top side of chicken with half of butter mixture. Place chicken in skillet, coated side down, and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. While chicken browns, brush top side with remaining butter mixture. Using tongs, flip chicken, reduce heat to medium, and cook until second side is browned and thickest part of breast registers 160 to 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to large plate and let rest while preparing pan sauce (if not making pan sauce, let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.)


1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup bourbon

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

salt and ground black pepper


Add shallot to now empty skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and add broth, bourbon, cranberries, and thyme. Return pan to medium-high, and bring to simmer, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Simmer rapidly until reduced to 3/4 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter; season with salt and pepper. Spoon over chicken and serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Radio Silence from the Morrow / Kriz clan

What we have been up to…. [guest blog by Phil because Joanne has been such a miserable slacker]

Well we got into the Leadville 100 once again. Getting in definitely puts a more serious tone on training, eating right, and oh yeah - skip the alcohol. For me, I have found it is mentally easier to train hard than it is to curb eating & drinking to get to race weight.

I feel lucky that we got in. The rumor is that over 6,000 people signed up for about 1,500 slots and some of our friends did not get in. However, looking at 6 months of consistently harder training each month has a little sobering effect at first. Which probably has led to the radio silence….

We went to Palm Springs golfing with my boss and his wife over Valentine’s weekend to warm 80 degree days. It was so fun to see green grass, flowers and a warm sun! We changed up the game we play from best ball scramble three against Bruce, to Bruce and Joanne against Dar and me. Needless to say Dar and I got our asses handed to us. So, we need to change the game a little next year, because I don’t see Dar and I closing the gap through better performance.

This year we got to help watch after Bruce’s 7 year old grandson, Beau. I was a little worried how that would work out at first and it really worked out great. Joanne put him in a headlock right away, the rules were set, and the rest of the weekend was fun and games. Hitting golf balls on the range bright and early, golfing during the day, rough-housing in the pool in the afternoon, picking lemons & grapefruit from neighbor's trees in the dark (makes it feel like you are getting away with something), and then passing out after supper.

[The odd expression? Well . . . I was caught in the act of tormenting Beau with a wet Willie. Hey, gotta get your licks in while they're little . . . they pay it back in spades as they grow up!]

Five days went by way too fast. Then it was back to reality.

Drilling wells without much success in Nebraska for me, and contract negotiating for Joanne.

Oh, and 2 hour workouts at 4 am…can’t forget that.