Monday, November 29, 2010

Mile High Turkey Trot

There are two people I can count on when I want to add some excitement to my life or check off something from my bucket list. One is my husband, Chad and the other is my best friend Malia. Both are up for anything at virtually any time and I've learned through time neither one will bail out on me and are there to help me achieve my goals. For a long time now I've had "Run a 5k" on my list of 'must do in life.' It started with me wanting to do The Bolder Boulder, a 10k a few years ago (which incidentally I never ran) which led to me working out in hopes to get in shape to run a race like that, and finally dumbing down my goal by picking a 5k. I figured, hey even the worst in shape non-runner can complete 4 miles. Well in that time I have become obsessed with yoga, spin and hiking and so the idea of running no longer became as important to me. Yet I still had that desire should the opportunity ever arise. Over this past Thanksgiving it did, in the form of the United Way's Turkey Trot.

A friend had suggested we signed up for this fun run/walk 5k on Thanksgiving day. Said friend had done the race last year and found it to be enjoyable. At the prospect of being with our friends the morning of Thanksgiving and knowing we had no place else to be, Malia and I signed up. As it turns out we were the only ones who signed up because the one person who told us to wasn't able to go. Obviously we were annoyed because our yoga studio was having donation based yoga classes the same day and this Turkey Trot had cost us $40. To make matters worse the weather was in the 20's and neither Malia nor I consider ourselves runners. However, we vowed to make the best of things and approached the race with a positive attitude. If nothing else, I could finally check this off of my life's list.

The amount it costs to run these races has been a deterring factor for me before. I know the money always goes to a good cause, and the United Way does a lot in the community but considering hiking a 14er is free and more thrilling, I all but dismissed paying to do something I could do free (i.e. running around a park). Malia and I showed up at about 8:30am so we could get our numbers and free t-shirts. The race wasn't supposed to start until 10:15 but we wanted to get numbers for the first corral so that we could be first out of the gate and hence finish sooner. You are supposed to pick your corral by how fast you run (and in most races you are assigned based on your times from previous events) but we figured we could handle the first slot if we just stayed in the back so as not to get run over. There were lots of people there, young and old; those dressed up for Thanksgiving with turkey hats and those dressed in state of the art running gear; serious athletes and weekend casual runners; even some with dogs. We stood in the cold for a good half hour while guest speakers made announcements on a podium above the starting line and then we were off.

The race itself was held at Washington Park in Denver. It was a lap around the outside of the park that looped inside and then finished at the top of this hill lined with a beer garden and booths with free goodies. The first two miles were through the street and some of the houses lining the way had bands playing music or people watching outside with their bloody mary's and noise makers cheering us on.

I wasn't sure how I would do running but all my other activities have me in shape enough where I never felt winded or needed a break. Malia however, was not enjoying running so I would get a little ahead of her then stop and wait. She urged me to leave her but I wanted us to cross the finish line together and so I silenced the competitive urge within and kept her pace. After all, this was supposed to be a fun event and it we weren't in this together all the way what was the point? We crossed the finish line exactly one hour after we started which isn't a great time but not bad for people who basically slow jogged/walked the majority of the race. At the end we were greeted with water bottles and free bagels from Einstein as well as energy drinks and pint glasses. According to my friends who have run other races we got jiped in the freebie department but it was just as well because we didn't really want to linger outside any longer than we had too although the temperature had warmed up a bit.

After all was said and done I was glad I participated in the Turkey Trot, a tradition that has been ongoing for 37 years in Denver. If I were to do another race I think I would enjoy something a little more competitive and in a different setting. Part of what makes hiking so alluring to me is that the mountains are spread throughout Colorado and each one has different scenery and terrain. I have been to Washington Park many times, so aside from marveling at the gorgeous houses that line the streets around there, it really wasn't anything I hadn't seen before. I would, however, recommend this race to anyone who is considering starting out running and doesn't have much experience. It would be a great event for families to attend or to give you a break from your family that was in town. I commend the volunteers who donated their time to help with the race and make sure those in attendance were set up and having a great time. As hard as it was for me to get out of bed early and be out in the cold, I can't imagine doing that knowing I wasn't even going to be running - just standing around handing out water! All in all it was a great start to the day especially knowing I could eat Thanksgiving dinner guilt free after burning those calories.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Questions from the Curious

Being a flight attendant is akin to being a circus animal - when you are working you take center stage. It's even worse if you are a regional flight attendant like I am because there is no audio or video on the plane to distract the general public from us. Like it or not, we are constantly being stared at and questioned. Since my jump seat is sandwiched between the aisle seats in the back row I'm constantly fielding questions from travelers which range from the mundane to the bizarre to the just plain idiotic. So if you've ever been curious to ask a flight attendant a question, let me go ahead and answer the most common ones we receive for you:

1. Is this your normal route? - Regional flight attendants do not have routes per say. We are given our schedules a month in advance and where we fly varies monthly as cities are added and service is taken away or bumped up. For example in the winter we do more flights to Aspen because the demand is up. As far as having a place where we constantly fly to day in and day out there's no such thing for those of us living in larger domiciles where the routes themselves fluctuate.

2. Does this job pay well? - When I first interviewed for my job I was shown a pay scale so I knew exactly how much I would make from year to year with the company. In theory the starting salary sounds great - $17.80 an hour. However, what you don't realize is that the pay is based on flight hours. I like to tell people we get paid like taxi cab drivers, from the time the airplane door closes until the time it opens. Beyond that we make a per diem of $1.65 an hour which is non-taxed and added in to our paycheck. When you first start the job you are guaranteed a minimum of 75 flight hours that we will work yet we could be away from home as much as 300 hours. So no, most of us start out at poverty level wages working more hours than we are getting paid for. All that time delayed in the airport due to bad weather? Yeah we aren't happy about it either because we are getting paid that some $1.65 whether we are relaxing in the hotel or waiting for mechanics to fix our plane.

3. Am I going to make my connection? - I would say more than half of the general public really believes flight attendants are super humans who have the capability to predict a multitude of things ranging from weather to whether their plane is going to be on time or not. In actuality we have no way of knowing whether you will make your flight or not, if they will hold it for you, when the next one leaves, or what's going to happen if you make it but your bags don't. We have no way to find out nor do our pilots. Can you imagine if every airplane in the sky clogged up the radio asking if so an so's flight would be waiting for them or not?

4. Do you like your job? - This is a loaded and unfair question really because does anyone really like their job? It can be fun and exciting but like anything called work, it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. Our passengers, our fellow crew members, the airplane we are working on, the cities we fly to, how on time or delayed we are, all of these can contribute to a good or nightmarish day and not one of these things do we have any control over. Unlike most jobs, we can't always just take a time out and walk outside for some fresh air. So depending on the day you will get a thousand different answers for this one.

5. Is this flight going to be full? - Flight attendants hate this question more than any other and we receive it from just about everyone boarding the flight every time we fly. In truth we are given an idea on our trip sheets when we check in for our duty day about how full the flight is going to be. But delays, cancellations, people wanting to jump on an earlier flight, stand-bys, and a variety of other reasons can cause our flights to be more or less crowded than expected. We know you want to know the chances of anyone sitting in front, beside, or behind you but in truth what does it matter really? Most flights are full these days and that's just the way it is. If you like flying solo do everyone a favor and charter a private jet - you'll be much happier.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Faking it like a Flight Attendant

Traveling can be a pain, especially during the holiday season. I should know, I'm a flight attendant and for the past five years it's been part of my job to spend time in airports and up in the sky. While I can't do anything about that dreaded back row seat by the bathroom that won't recline or the guy taking up your armrest, I can offer some advice on how flight attendants navigate the world of airline travel. Follow these tips and you'll have us guessing which airline do YOU work for?

1. Pack like the pros - Everything I need for four days must fit in one suitcase which requires me to pack small and light. I've learned through my job it's OK to wear an outfit more than once (no one cares trust me) and you really only need one or two pairs of shoes. A good rule of thumb is if you can't lift your bag up and put it on top of your fridge, there's no way you will be able to put it in the overhead bin.

2. Take it all off - There's a reason flight attendants get to cut ahead in the security line - it's because we are faster than you. We know to leave our jewelry, cell phones, coats, belts, loose change and anything else in our bags until we are past security. Notice how we all wear slip on shoes as well.

3. Pack your lunch - Peanut butter sandwiches, cut up fruit, vegetables, candy bars, you name it we bring it and it saves us money and time. Contrary to popular belief you DON'T have to eat at the airport unless you like spending $10 on a turkey sandwich.

4. Bring an empty water bottle with you - Yes you can bring empty water containers through security, and guess what you can fill them up at the various water fountains around the airport. On the plane we aren't allowed to give away big bottles of water (0r even take them for ourselves!) but we can fill up your bottle (and ours) and we will happily do it for you. Ditto goes for coffee.

5. A little bribery never hurt anyone - When we fly it's on a space available basis so we know sometimes a little extra kindness is required. A bag of chocolates for the gate agent or a variety of tabloid magazines for flight attendants can ensure you'll be treated like royalty. It's a small way to say thank you for those working so hard to get you on your way as safely as possible. Trust me, it's hard to say no to the passenger who wants to change seats when we know that person just gave us a handful of treats!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flying without the Hassel - it is possible

This past Saturday the Magees were flying through the air and we didn't even have to worry about the hassle of checking a bag, long security lines, or waiting last minute for a seat assignment. That's because we weren't flying on an airplane....we flew on a Trapeze.

I am a daily subscriber to the which sends out daily deals for businesses in the Denver and surrounding area. In July, one of the deals of the day was a 1.5 hour trapeze lesson at this place called Frequent Flyers ( which is in Boulder. It sounded interesting and at $16 you couldn't beat the price so I bought two coupons for myself and Chad. My friend Malia ended up buying one too, but with our busy schedules we weren't able to coordinate the lesson until Saturday. This worked out great because it was Malia's birthday weekend so we thought we could count the lesson in as part of our celebration.

After filling out the necessary liabilities paperwork at the front office of Frequent Flyers, we were then allowed into the trapeze room. What we were greeted with was not what I was expecting to see:

When I think of a trapeze I think of the circus. I envisioned wearing a harness and having to climb up a platform where I would then be taught how to catch a swing, how to swing on it, and then build up the courage to let go and hope the person on the other end catches me. Of course, there would be a large net if I fell. In this room I only saw four swings and four thin gymnastics mats underneath. I began to have my doubts - how am I going to fly through the air if there's no net to catch me?

We started out with a warm up to stretch the leg and arm muscles which had a little yoga mixed in there and we met the four instructors that would be working with us that morning. Then we split into groups of four and took our turns on the bar. The class, as it turns out, was more of an introduction to the art of aerial dance using a trapeze bar rather than the standard high flying trapeze we are so accustomed to seeing in circuses. We practiced getting on and off the bar, sitting and swinging, and the "animal series" which was a set of poses involving contorting your body in various positions like the sloth:

and the monkey:

Then at the end of the class they put up two of the four bars and had us take turns using the other two to practice moves which basically involved building enough momentum to swing from them hanging by your hands. I have to be honest I did not think that this would be much of a workout but by the end of class my hands and shoulders were sore and I was out of breath from running back and forth, building speed to "fly."

The Frequent Flyers group features a variety of classes for adults and kids age 5 and up. They have everything from Fabric, Lo-flying and Circus Trapeze to stilts, aerial fitness circuit training, aerial composition, aerial sling and even aerial burlesque. You can register for all the classes online and even book private lessons and birthday parties. I thought the class was a great workout and a fun and different way to exercise and all the instructors were nice and encouraging. So if you want to earn your wings and fly without the hassle check out their website: and get airborne!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bcycling all over Denver

Our good friends Meghan and Neil were in town for Halloween this past weekend and we spent the day Saturday doing what their city of Crested Butte is known for: bicycling. Of course most everyone in Crested Butte owns a bike and the town is a lot easier to get around since it's so much smaller. Since Chad and I don't live anywhere near downtown and we only own two bikes, we introduced Meghan and Neil to the easiest way to cover the city of Denver which is renting a B-cycle.

The B-cycle is a bike sharing program that Denver adopted this past Earth Day on April 22nd. Denver is one of only five cities in the United States that has a program like this. The concept is very simple - rent a bike from any one of the dozens of stations around town and return it to any station convenient whenever you like. The stations are solar paneled and all you have to do to rent your bike is to swipe your credit card, select your bike and you're off. It's $5 for a 24 hour period and within that time frame you can rent and return any bike and as long as you use it less than 30min you incur no extra fees. Use the bike anywhere from 31-60min and it's $1.60; 61-90 minutes it's $3.30; 91-120 minutes you pay $6.60 and every 30min after that it's an extra $4.40 with the daily maximum of $65. Obviously these bikes are only meant for quick trips around town with the daily rate being a little high. The best deal if you can take advantage of these bikes daily is an annual membership for $65 which allows you to check out a bike directly from the dock and not have to hassle with the station machines which can be finicky as we found out. For October they even ran a deal where you could get $10 off your membership and a free helmet.

The bikes themselves are fantastic to ride. Each has a basket on the front and a lock and key should you need to secure your bike while running an errand. They have lights on the front or back, bells, and three speeds as well as being adjustable so any person of any height can make themselves comfortable. Plus they are the easiest way to get around downtown Denver. We took M&N down the cherry creek trail, through uptown and back around and it being a Saturday there wasn't hardly any traffic at all to worry about. This is probably one of the most fun and cheapest activities you can do in the city and an especially nice way to show out of town guests around. We have even used them after a night out to ride from one end of town to the other instead of walking or hailing a cab.

I hope more cities install this program in the future. I love the concept of being able to rent a bike whenever I want and to return it at the end of the day. I wish they had this when I first moved to Denver because I didn't own a car and this would have been a great way for me to run my errands and easier (cheaper and more eco-friendly) than renting a car. You can even go online before you ride to see how many bikes each station has and how many docks are open. Take advantage now because the system is only open March through November, between then you are stuck walking through the snow!

Happy B-cycling!