If you have ever met me and Cat, you will know that I love cricket. I know that most people think it is boring and not exercise, but I don’t care, I love it. However, there is no cricket in America,* so I have had to adopt new forms of exercise. My thought process was:
Q. What are main American sports? A. American football, ice hockey, basketball and baseball.
Issues: I’m not tough enough for Foosball, am not coordinated enough on the ice to skate backwards, I’m not 7 foot tall and I am not excited about a watered down version of cricket (queue long banter arguments like this one).
What other sports can I find?
In February, I was asked to join a volleyball team with friends from my work. I stupidly thought, “yea volleyball how hard can that be?” even though not only have I never played before, but I have never even seen a match.
It’s difficult to put into words how entertaining and frustrating it is to not be able to do something that seems like it should be easy. The only thing I can equate this too is when you are injured or ill and you find basic tasks like walking / dealing with stairs / cooking difficult.
I am still fairly rubbish, but our team have won 5 games and lost 13 so far (which is apparently much better than last season!) so that’s not too bad. Everyone is coaching me lots as well which is very nice.
Colorado is actually the fittest state in the US with a 20% obesity rate (compared to 35% in Mississippi and 25% in the UK). Part of this is because everyone LOVES cycling and running here. It also helps that it is very pretty and ~5000 ft above sea level.
In fact Cat has taken the sensible decision to join a local gym (maybe 20 meters from our front door) which is nextdoor to a coctail bar / club. I however have joined the Fort Collins Running Club and decided I needed a target to get me going… so I signed up to the Horsetooth half marathon in April. It is a really beautiful run, around a reservoir and through the countryside finishing at a brewery 5 minutes from our flat/apartment.
The only problem is, it’s reeeeeeaaaaally hilly (353 m gain).
At least once you are up the top of the hills, it’s mostly downhill after, and a brewery at the end of the race is nice. Cat did take a picture of me after my first long run of the year, but I look such a mess and the internet does not need that picture (even if a certain Tyrannosaurus Peck thought it was hilarious).
4 Bonus Rob points if you got any of the pop-culture references in this one.
*In fact I found some Indian x-pats who play sometimes in Fort Collins in car parks with a tennis ball, but I was not invited to their muck-arounds. Also there are apparently only 6 proper cricket pitches in the country.
Hello again! Sorry for all the blog posts – I’ve been struck down with a cold so am trying to do something useful that does not require movement 🙂 That said, Rob and I braved the outside world today to visit the Loveland Outland Mall, since Rob has almost no clothes. Also, because the Outlet Mall is amazing and absurd.
All the Malls that we’ve visited so far differ from England in that the shops aren’t interconnected. There is just a big car park in the middle, and all the shops are around the edge. This means that if you’re feeling super lazy, you can literally drive from store to store! Although rest assured, we did not. It’s a little strange, but I guess makes more sense once you think about it. Here is a map of the mall, with all the gaps between stores being a super-massive car park:
There is also an even bigger mall across the road, with many shops of every kind plus an ice rink. We were pretty impressed.
We did much shopping, and were impressed by the many absurd discounts. At the risk of sounding like I’m advertising, it really was extremely cheap:
We of course got some new shops in the absurdly cheap shoe store! Rob got some fancy new Vans, and I got some pretty red shoes that I definitely cannot wear in the snow (or ever). Absolutely no points for guessing which are which:
Once our feet were taken care of, we headed into the massiveness that was Macy’s. Again, prices were absurd:
After much trying on of clothes, and some translating between English and American, we got there. Here is a helpful guide for future reference:
Trousers = Pants
Jumpers = Sweaters
Salopettes = Snow Pants – much to our annoyance
The last one took me a really long time, and much confusion on the part of the poor store guy 🙂 Anyway, behold!
The comfy hoody was $12.99 – reduced from $75. The trousers, $40 reduced from $65. It was very hard not to spend a lot of money, tricksy Mall!
So yes, just a little blog post for today, but important information nonetheless! The lesson here is that you must bring an extra suitcase when you visit us. And help us curb what might be the start of a crippling spending addiction.
Yes, this is happening. Like it or not, I am going to tell you about this years Super Bowl! Hopefully I have left enough time for everyone interested to watch it, or hear the results. If not, go watch it now. We’ll wait…
Okay! So, for those not aware, I’m getting very into American Football. Rob is also getting into it a little, but it probably does not make his ‘top five sports’ cut. Ironically, the things that make it appeal to me are what are off-putting for Rob. It is much more commercial and arguably more accessable than most sports. All teams have a name, a mascot, a logo, as well as the quarterback who tends to act as the face of the team. So instead of supporting ‘Denver’ you are supporting ‘Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos’, for example, which makes it feel a lot more involved. I think this is part of the reason that a much larger percentage of the population here follow American Football than follow Soccer in the UK.
The game is also broken into a series of small plays, with frequent pauses to rest, discuss the next stage or switch between the offensive and defensive players. This is a necessary part of the game, since once everyone is in a big pile on top of the ball you kind of need to stop and reset. This is also when they slip some commercial breaks in. The adverts are admittedy pretty dire, but you generally just have one or two in each short break, so it isn’t as bad as it could be! And arguably watching a ten second advert is more interesting than watching everyone line up again, although Rob vehemently disagrees…
Anyway, these individual plays have varying goals depending on whereabouts each team is in the game. Most commonly the offensive team needs to push forward 10 yards and the defensive team needs to stop them, but there are a lot of nuances to this depending on where you are, who’s in the lead, what attempt you’re on, etc… Long story short, this means that the team objectives are very short term and easy to follow – instead of the team objective being “score a goal, you have 90 minutes” it becomes “run three yards, you have 20 seconds”. For those of us who are a little attention deficit and tend to keep one eye on the nachos while watching the game, this is a big advantage 🙂
So, to last Sunday (9th Feb). Our magnificent Denver Broncos beat the abomination that is the New England Patriots (our main rivals) to win the AFC Championship. This was very exciting times, and mostly due to our outstanding defense.
This meant that we got to face the NFC Champions, The Carolina Panthers, in the Super Bowl. They were most definitely worthy and terrifying opponents, led by their Quarterback Cam Newton. They won the NFC Championships by defeating the Arizona Cardinals 49 – 15, which as you can imagine is a pretty significant lead. They also very rarely lose the lead in any of their games due to their amazing Offense, and tend to score high.
As you can imagine, we were the underdogs going into the Super Bowl, which was held in Santa Clara, CA. Nonetheless, we remained strong and optimistic, with Rob predicting a solid win for the Broncos. The whole of Colorado bought Broncos merchandise, painted everything orange, tore up some fencing to make our own ‘Defense’ signs. And we’re ready to go! Just a quick tasteful entrance…
And away we went. Fun fact – whilst the Broncos usually play in Orange, they wear White for the Superbowl, since they were wearing White in their last Superbowl win. There is a lot of superstition associated with the Superbowl, as with most sporting events, which Rob and I happily got to partake in. Since the Broncos have won every game that we’ve watched (and lost the one that we missed) we have been designed as ‘English Lucky Charms’ – we dressed appropriately:
As I said, we are really getting into this American Football mojo. So, the Superbowl!
We lost the coin toss, as always, so the Panthers kicked first. This meant that we started with the ball, and we were looking very strong both offensively and defensively. Plus all of Peyton’s limbs and joints were fully functioning, and he was shouting very decisively, which was fabulous:
I’m definitely not going to give you the whole detailed play by play, partly because it’s pretty complex but mostly because it’s obscured by alcohol. So, a quick summary of the exciting touchdowns:
And so, final score was 24-10 to the Denver Broncos. WE WON THE SUPERBOWL! Very, very exciting times. We briefly considered rioting in Downtown Denver, but the news coverage showed everyone celebrating safely and responsibly so we stayed in. We had a few more drinks, talked about our deep love for the Broncos, and were very happy. Victory Selfie!
There was a victory parade in Denver to celebrate which was pretty amazing! The team all got driven around on big trucks for the adoration of the masses, before a party at the City & Country Building.
Which looks more impressive when zoomed out a little more:
I’m told that the final zooming doesn’t really do it justice either! Final attendance was around 1 million people, which is just absurd. Anyway, to summarise…
I know it can be quite tedious for readers of this blog to hear us saying – oooh look how different stuff it – all the time…
…having said that, here is a typical winter weekday morning in Fort Collins:
5.54 am text from university saying campus is closed for students and administrative staff today (but not for research staff like me) because of all the snow (we had 4 inches of snow yesterday daytime and another 4 inches last night).
7.30 am contemplate working from home / having a snow day, decide that need to do some work and love the snow so should go outside (though angry becuase can’t make snowballs as too dry).
7.35 am decide to drive in as too cold and slippery to cycle (-4 C) and can’t be bothered to wait for the bus (which still runs in the snow BTW).
8.00 am emerge from the apartment and realise that:
a) they have ploughed the roads during the night,
b) they have also cleared the sidewalk, (yes, ‘sidewalk’, not ‘pavement’)
c) our car is now trapped with a 3 foot layer of snow surrounding it.
8.25 am finish digging out the car, and regret wearing running shoes (as they are treaded and I have volleyball later) instead of walking shoes (which would have kept my ankles warm).
8.40 am decide to park 10 minute walk from work as parking closer would require digging out my own space (smile at how quiet it is in the snow – no sound of mr train)
8.45 am help somebody with a front wheel drive car rock their car out of a space.
8.50 am laugh with international friends from work about snow and how crazily hot and humid it is in Brazil and Thailand where the other international student are from (fun fact 1: in Thailand, nobody has heaters in their home because it never gets cold enough to need them, fun fact 2: moving here is the first time my Brazilian friend had seen snow).
9.00 am establish that even though 8 inches of snow is enough to close campus, it is not enough to stop our volleyball recreational league match this evening, so that’s still on.