About Nico

I was born in 1982 in Mendoza, Argentina. I moved to Reno, NV in 2003. On July 24th of 2010, I married my other half, Kelly.

My loves

Here are some of the other pictures I took on Kelly and Jovi’s last walk of 2013.

wow

Wow, I haven’t blogged in a long time.

Wow, a lot has happened since the last time I blogged! There are many, many things I could have written about!

Wow, it’s so hard to catch up when I haven’t done this in a long time. Feels like a tremendously big empty canvas ready to be painted, and also having a lot of paint, a lot of imagery but the size of what needs to be tackled is overwhelming and it feels like it’d take forever.

Wow, I know better than that. Just start, and since it’ll take a long time to get there, might as well enjoy the journey.

Wow, I was right! This is kind of fun. I really do need to blog more often.

Wow, what a lame intro. Story time.

Kelly last Saturday, and is now in Costa Rica. She’s chasing her dream, and I’m incredibly proud of her for finding the strength to do so after going through some really trying trials of life. I won’t see her for another 13 days or so.

Kelly and Jovi, Nov 30 2013

Wow, I miss her.

I ran a marathon

Yesterday, I ran in the San Francisco Marathon. What an experience!

But I’ll start telling this story from the beginning, which was the end of 2012. This is when I signed up, marked my calendar and chose a training plan. February 11th was the first of many, many training days.

The training was pretty great. The first week didn’t feel hard, and this probably planted a big seed of confidence early on. The continuing weeks built up in the length of each training run, which in turn means longer duration… and soon enough, I was spending more than an hour running for practice. A few weeks later, it was going to even longer.

Important background detail of things also happening during this time: my BB love had a career change after realizing that some things are more important than others.  She was in need of a student to practice teaching a new subject: Yoga. I sometimes became that student, and I’ve really been enjoying Yoga!

In some styles of Yoga, I find it possible to get a slice of something that I can best describe as ” inner enlightenment”; being in certain poses, focusing on my breathing and with my eyes closed, I become aware of things that can only be seen without seeing. Luckily for me, the Yoga that Kelly likes to teach does this for me, and frequently. However, it probably also helps me that I’m in love with this woman, and her smile alone makes me happy.

Anyway, I’ve been able to find that kind of trance-like state of mind during running. It seems that somewhere after 45 minutes of running, my brain finally lets my body be in auto-pilot to regulate my breath and effort, and maintain a decent form… and then BAM, there I am: a clear mind -and probably a creepy smile to all the people that see me run by.

I would often come home and talk to Kelly about all the things I thought about while I ran, with a catchphrase that I thought about myself: “You know… I was thinking… because I was running, right? And when I run, I think, right? ( wait for acknowledgement> So, I was thinking while I was running that…” and then something would come out. Good ideas, things to talk about, different points of view on things we’d already talked about… stuff that was interesting to talk about, and all of that talking would make me feel closer to her.

I started to love running. How could I not, right? It was an outlet of energy, an excuse to eat uncontrollably, a source of blocks to keep building the relationship that I hold dearest, and also time to be alone, outside and even unplugged at times.

I think that a big part of this training program -and probably that of any program- was that it was sort of a snowball and it builds momentum, and also kind of like an athletic version of How To Eat an Elephant. I made the commitment way ahead of time, and the strategy was simple: I would take 4 bites a week, and the last bite would be a big splash.

SF Marathon 2013 results

The last bite was indeed interesting.

I got to the start line with enough time to walk around and shake of the nervousness. I was about 30th in line for the porta-potties with 25 minutes to go, and I decided that the chance to get locked out of my corral was not worth the little pee I had to make.
The Marathon started, and things got going smoothly. Pretty soon I was feeling pretty good! I was sticking to the pace-keeper for a 3:45 finish along with about a hundred other hopefuls, with plenty of time to take in the gorgeous sights as the sun rose.

About 50 minutes into the whole thing, I ran past one of the aid stations, which had a line of 3 already for the porta-potties, and I thought to myself “If I could just pee already, this would all be even better!”. So it was without shame that I pulled over as soon as I saw a suitable tree to hide behind on the side of the rail, and emptied my bladder.

45 seconds later, I was a new man. I joined the human train of sweaty faces huffin’ and puffin’ into the first hills, and aimed to catch the 3:45 leader who was now out of sight.

The course was fun during the first hour, and running on the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty amazing. I enjoyed the view, the privilege of running on the bridge itself (fun fact: it’s the only time of year that this is legally possible!), the cool ocean breeze and the cheers of encouragement from people that drove by. I also really enjoyed the company of so many people that were doing the same as I was. Being one of thousands, felt kind of like a pack, or a herd. Men and women of all ages, sizes, shapes, religion and origins, all doing the same thing.

SF 2013 Marathon Golden Gate Bridge1

The first half of the San Francisco marathon is quite scenic. One of the last landmarks before going into Golden Gate Park is Baker Beach, and then something more than just the landscape changes: supporting locals come out. Some hold signs, some blast their stereos and dance on the sidewalk, some poke their head from behind their front door as they sip coffee in their bath robes.
To each and every one of those people being unofficial cheer volunteers: I noticed you, and I appreciate you!

The volunteers of the race were phenomenal. Most of them could be classified as either young kids at the water stations, or some sort of gnarly 50+ year old sportin’ leather and chillin’ next to their Harley which was blocking a street or two. At each water station, there were at least 2 super-enthusiastic volunteers who would go out of their way to make sure no one missed water/gatorade if they needed it. I hope these people were properly recognized with more than a souvenir T-shirt, because they were super-duper-cool.

Back to the running story now: that good feeling faded, and by mile 14 I was starting to feel worrying discomforts in my legs. Then reality sunk in: I hadn’t caught up to the 3:45 leader since that pee behind a tree, and there had been a few more pees behind trees since that, too!

Novice wisdom I’d read and already knew about says that you should make sure to not go too hard at the beginning, to pay no attention to all the endorphins and to slow down. Turns out, that’s kind of hard to do! Also and in retrospect, I wasn’t very good at going slower during training either.
So, in the last 10 miles of the Marathon, I worked on finding exactly where that gear is between “boring slow” and “building heat“. If I could re-do my training, I’d make a bigger conscious effort to run in that gear.

Photo Credit: Dinno Kovic

Photo Credit: Dinno Kovic

After running through the Haight as I listened to some trance music for motivation, I was in a mostly uncomfortable place. I took walk breaks when coming into water stations, to make sure I’d gulp everything down and stretch out calves and hamstrings.
This strategy got me to mile 23, and that’s when I felt like it was time to do as they say in the vernacular and dig deep. Another fascinating term about this practice that could also apply: HTFU.

I focused on my breath, my form, and put my headphones away. I knew I could run the last 3 miles, and after doing some fuzzy math I figured that I could still make a sub-4 hour finish… If I started going even a bit faster.
Luckily, there were tons of cheer stations along the south-east portion of the course, and they provided enough distraction from my body complaining and wanting to quit.

Quickly reviewing the recent events, I realized I wasn’t really enjoying myself. My inner dialogue became an argument about whether to finish under a time limit or to enjoy the thing that I’d been excited about for weeks.
That discussion came to an abrupt end when the finish line was within sight. It looked like I was going to finish under 4 hours, and that alone gave me a boost to also enjoy every second of  that moment that lasted about 3 seconds.

After the finish line, I was quickly wrapped in a cool space blanket, accosted by paparazzi and eating and drinking whatever was within reach. It was probably during this time of of exhaustion, accomplishment and enjoyment of delicious snacks that I managed to do what I’ve just now discovered happened at some point: my activity was deleted from my Garmin GPS wristwatch.

But that’s ok, Garmin. You can’t take my marathon away, because I did it! Sure, I would have loved to see the pretty graphs that show my speed, heart rate and elevation gain over time, I don’t need them.

Yesterday, I ran the San Francisco Marathon.

Cooking with Jovi: Alfajores de Maizena

To make Alfajores, you’ll need to get your human to bring home the following:

  • 2 1/2 cups cornstarch ( Maizena Brand)
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter (two whole sticks!)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • The rind of one lemon, as small as possible.
  • 1-2 teaspoons caramel liqueur
  • Dulce de Leche

Ingredients

First of all, you’ll be in the kitchen for a while (up to 2 hours if you get distracted by bunny rabbits like I do), so go put on some good music to jam to. Wash your paws while you’re at it.

In a big bowl, beat the butter until creamy. You might have to put it in the microwave for 40 seconds to make it easier to work with, but it gets there after a good while of whisking.
Add the sugar gradually, beating until the mixture feels light and sandy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each one goes in. Then beat in the vanilla, lemon rind and liqueur.
Alfajores-Jovi-step-1
Now we add the dry ingredients (the cornstarch, flour, baking powder and salt). Gradually add them to the butter mix one bit at a time, beating until thoroughly combined each time. This is a lot easier than putting in all the dry ingredients at one, and also helps keep the mess down.
Speaking of mess, time to use your paws. Put both of them in the bowl and start grabbing. Work the dough until it feels like it’s all the same one thing.
Roll the dough and flatten it with a rolling pin. I like to use a shot glass to cut the cookies, and do it over and over until the dough runs out.
Alfajores-Jovi-step-2

Spread some butter on the cookie sheets, load them up and the’lly go in the oven at 350 degrees for about15 minutes.
Alfajores-Jovi-step-3
Take them out of the baking sheets as soon as you get them out of the oven, and let them cool down. If you want to leave them in the fridge overnight, that’s ok. Just don’t leave the kitchen a mess before going to bed.

The cookies should be hard, but they do fall apart easily if you mishandle them! So be careful while you spread some Dulce de leche on a cookies and make a sandwich with another one. Then, you roll this on some shredded coconut, which ends up sticking all around because of the Dulce the Leche that squeezed out. You could also help it stick by spreading just a bit extra Dulce de Leche on the side of each “sandwich” before you roll it on the coconut.
Alfajores-Jovi-step-4

2012 in retrospect

2012 was a year of growth.

Some of this growth came as the result of careful planning, or hard work towards a goal.
Professionally, I poured a lot of energy into a project that was in the making for over a year, and switched the 2 core applications that our business runs on to a brand new vendor: A PACS and a RIS.
There were long hous with long to-do lists, gallons of coffee drank to make it through countless conference calls and a lot of opportunity for learning. The execution of the project wasn’t flawless, but nowadays apparently nothing is 100% right on v1.0; and with that standard I suppose one could say we succeeded.

Musically, I ended up using a Mixtrack Pro DJ controller (that I got Kelly from Craigslist for her birthday) as my tool to finally find a way to express myself musically. I’ve never played an instrument, but I’ve been a fan of electronic music for a long time, and this finally somehow came together.
I set up my controller with a laptop, and into our home sound system. I’ve DJ’d in our living room since May, and in the very end of the year I found the thrill that can be found in DJing at a party to try to get people to dance. If you’d like, you can listen to the set I did at a party for New Years right here!

Athletically, I applied myself in the gym to finally hit my goal of deadlifting 315 lbs with decent form, and basically real-life RPG’d with most of my points coming from free weights to be a cool level 35 on Fitocracy.
Serendipity also brought me to finally give Yoga an honest try, and I seem to have discovered something quite excellent. I’ve found Yoga to be a bit more than doing stretches that feel amazing once you understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Yoga has filled my agnostic-based spiritual gap with the reassurance that living in the now, letting things flow and being oneself are the means to that feeling of wholeness.

Spiritually, read the above. And the below.

Some challenges came uninvited and unannounced. They were like little monsters, bearers of bad news. But that’s life, right? Bad things come our way all the time. ( good times come by too).

Most little monsters can be seen from far away, and with time and experience, you figure out how to make sure they don’t make their way into your little bubble, your fortress and your castle. I figure these skills are learned from our upbringings, or how we come out from life events (breakups, school, friendships, traveling around the world and finding out that you are actually not the center of the universe).

But there are a few monsters that are not that little. There are monsters that have taken a ride on other monsters, and they come in herds. You might knock down a dozen, but a few are just too close and BOOM, you got hit by a not so little monster, and now it’s trouble.
This monster is digging deep, going places that aren’t explored and making you chase it. It’s dark and scary there. The monster leaves behind distractions, traps that make you wonder if maybe you should just give up, let the monster get away and just go back to watching some more reality TV.

 

Altogether, 2012 taught me one of life’s biggest lessons yet, and the easiest way to explain it for me is to keep going with the analogy.
Some of those monsters mean no harm and know us so well that they make it past all our defenses, they’re practically impossible to beat. These monsters are actually wise teachers who have lost patience with our distractedness, and it’s no longer OK to not pay attention. This wise and now apparently wrathful monster does not mind knocking us down until we can’t move, if that’s what it will take to make us listen.

But when we listen to this wise beast, and give up the fight -because we either surrender or we are just too tired to fight anymore- we discover the source of something unique and beautiful.

Year 2012 was one to be remembered. It was the year that above anything, I found the biggest fountain of happiness that there could be: the true love of my wife, who shared a journey of her own and trusted me with her heart and soul. To add to the list of things that apply to the format I ___ Kelly ( such as “love”, “adore”, “cherish” and “can’t stop thinking about”), I am unforgettably proud of her. Her love continues to fulfill me, and it makes anything and everything better.
I know a lot of people that say that 2012 was not a good year. It wasn’t so bad for me, but that’s because the love that I’ve found with Kelly surpasses everything that could be bad.

I’m sorry bad news. There was a bunch of you, and you sucked big time. But I can’t, won’t and don’t let you win. You can keep trying, but 2012 was a year that made me stronger. Now please go away and let 2013 be a bit more gentle so we can have a bit more fun, yeah?

 

 

PS: We got a puppy! I could write forever about her, maybe another day.

Jovi and Kelly in SierraVille

Jovi and Kelly in SierraVille

 

Our family expands…

Say hello to Jovi. She’s a mini Australian Shepherd, and was born on August 22nd 2012.

Happy 2nd anniversary, Kelly

2 years ago, I lived one of the happiest days of my life. Every day that goes by, that one day means even more.

We’ve shared many memories, smiles, trips, meals, dances, tears and disagreements. I cherish every single one of them, for bringing us to where we are today and for leading us to wherever we’re going. That makes me very happy, because I don’t really care where it is we’re going: holding your hand in mine makes any journey wonderful.

I’m sure some more my happiest days of my life are yet to come. I’m also sure you’re going to be a part of every single one of them.

I love you.

Wedding smooches

Kelly touched a horse

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER

Back from Hawaii!

We are back from our trip to Hawaii. Needless to say, we had a very nice time!

I’ll try to post often and dump pictures as they come, in no particular order. Here’s the first batch, which are probably some of my best shots from the whole week.