Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in Pictures

Here we are at the end of another year! Where the time goes, I'm not sure. Anyway it must be time for a pictorial review of the past year.

But before I get to the pictures, I need to make a complaint. It isn't even New Years Day and already Starbucks is out of eggnog lattes! Or at least the few I visited are. And this is why you can start drinking eggnog lattes before Thanksgiving - because before you know it, eggnog lattes are over and you are still wishing for one more.

And now on to the pictures!

From left to right, starting at the top row:

1. January - My first visit to what has become my new favorite store, Laura Bee Designs
2. February - Cannon Beach, OR
3. March - Snorkeling in Hawaii
4. April - Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
5. May - Relaxing in Firastefani (Santorini, Greece)
6. June - Race for the Cure
7. July - Cinderella's Castle (Walt Disney World)
8. August - Me & my sister at her wedding
9. September - Wieliczka Salt Mine (yes, it was salty, but no, I didn't lick it!)
10. October - Me & Jana at Animal Kingdom (Walt Disney World)
11. November - Newgrange (Ireland)
12. December - Christmas

And there you have it. Happy New Year! Bring on 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Operation 5 to 10

My "training" for the half marathon has begun in earnest. I have my long runs scheduled out, taking into account a few weekends I will be out of town. The plan is to do a couple of short runs during the week and a long run on the weekend from now until March 7th, slowing building up the long run to 12 miles. I figure if I can do 12, I can do 13.1!

And what is my "worry" for this race? My concern is all about the 16 minutes per mile requirement. If you can't meet the requirement, my understanding is you can be swept from the course which means no finisher medal!! My first half I came in at over 17 minutes per mile, but that was walking only and 5 years ago (the beginning stages of my racing career). Lately I've been fairly consistent at around a 14 minute per mile pace (14.22 for the Tower of Terror 13K and 13.45 for the 12Ks of Christmas). The question is, can I keep up the 14 minutes per mile for the whole race and not get swept?

I was reading an article about running and one way to shave time is to lose 5 lbs. Okay then, it is (almost) the beginning of the year, perfect time to try and lose 5 lbs. But we'll say 5 to 10 lbs to add some leeway for the Christmas cookies and other goodies that I have consumed over the past week. So, starting January 1st (because what better time to try and lose weight?) I will be attempting to lose 5 to 10 lbs by March 7th.

Why am I posting this for the world to read? Well, mainly to keep me honest. And to, nope that is it - to keep me honest. Watch this space for updates.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka

As Christmas Day draws to a close, I'm watching one of my favorite Christmas movies - White Christmas. Diane & I share a love of White Christmas and saw the musical earlier this week. I enjoyed the musical, but the movie is still my favorite.

Christmas morning began at the reasonable hour of 7 a.m. My brother had been threatening 5 or 6 a.m. so I was happy with 7 a.m. Chloe was very excited and enjoyed helping everyone open their presents. Her favorite? A stuffed Husky dog, which was actually one of my presents until Chloe got hold of it. For the brief seconds the Husky was mine, I named him Jake Locker. My favorite gifts - an alarm clock for my iPod, Up on DVD, and a painting.

With presents done, I braved the cold-ish weather and headed for the park. While we did not get a real White Christmas, the frost on the ground gave the impression of a White Christmas. The park was fairly active for Christmas morning. I even saw a few muskrats enjoying the sunny Christmas morning. The sun was so bright - who would have thought I would have needed sunglasses?

8 miles later it was time to head home for what has become a Christmas tradition for my family - heading to the movies. On my way, I stopped at an open Starbucks on the way home to get a hot drink to help warm me up! In line, I decided it was a good day to buy the coffee of the person behind me in line.
The movie we saw was The Blind Side, which was very good.

One of my co-workers made a really good sausage stuffing for Thanksgiving and an early Christmas dinner and brought in the leftovers. It was so good so I attempted to make it for Christmas dinner. While it was not as good as my co-worker's it didn't turn out half bad! And it also fulfils #6 on my 32 Things list! Woohoo!!

And there you have it - Christmas 2009! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Two Turtle Doves / Two Miles Run

It's Christmas time, which also means it is time for the 12Ks of Christmas run! I really enjoy this race, it is very festive with all sorts of costumes, both on people and dogs. One of these years I should run with a Santa hat.

I woke up to rain, but at least it wasn't snow! Fortunately the rain tapered off. It was getting close to the time to start and I was still in line for the bathroom, which is so unlike me. I'm usually in line waiting and waiting. I don't leave things to the last minute. Not to worry I thought - this race never starts on time! Except of course today. But I managed to get through the bathroom and to the start chute before the race actually started. I started back in the 12+ minute section, because that is my pace. However not everyone lines up according to their pace. And I had to run over a few people. Not run over literally, but dodge slower runners until the crowd thinned out. But I felt like running over them literally! Especially when it was a group of 5 that was spread out across the road.

My goal this time was to see if I could once again run 2 miles before my first walk break. I began to doubt as I ran up the first hill. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other and soon I was passing by the 1K sign, then the 2K sign, and the 3K sign and finally the 2 mile sign! Nice! And just in time to walk up the giant hill. From there on out it was run 5 songs, walk 1 song. That's right, I have improved to running 5 songs!

I have always known there are people who walk faster than I can run. And today I had it demonstrated to me. I was plodding along when a woman power walked right on by me. While I never caught up to her, I did keep her in my sights for the remainder of the race.

In some ways the race passed by quickly, in others not so much. But I kept passing by the K signs and then I was crossing the finish line! My goal was to finish in under 1 hour 45 minutes. Mission accomplished! I finished in 1 hour 42 minutes and 28 seconds!

They had a booth giving free 5 minute massages so I hopped up on the table and had a brief massage. Hm, I'm thinking Christmas present to myself might be a massage.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Twas the night before the 12Ks of Christmas

So I thought I was done Christmas shopping. Yay me! Time to pour some eggnog and sit back and watch Christmas movies! And then I went to wrap presents and realized I was not done. Two more presents were left to buy. Back out I went into the throngs of Christmas shoppers. At times I felt like a salmon swimming upstream, fighting against the masses of people. A few parking lot skirmishes - mainly conducted in my mind because let's face it I am not usually the confronting type. I survived the parking lots, the packed aisles with barely any room to maneuver, and the checkout lines that were miles long and how is it that I always choose the slowest line? And now I am officially done - well done with the shopping. Bring on the wrapping!

Tomorrow is the 12Ks (approx. 7.46 miles) of Christmas race! I love this race. It is so festive and a good length. Time to go lay out my clothes for tomorrow!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Love Roundabouts!

One of my brother's graduation presents (from a few years ago) was enough miles for a trip overseas. Earlier this year he decided he was ready to cash in the miles and asked if I wanted to go to London. London? Are you kidding me? I'm so there. My brother loves London probably as much as I do. We decided to go to Dublin first, and then spend a few days in London.

The plane ride over was fairly uneventful, despite the pilot warning us it was going to be a bumpy ride. We landed and several hours later we boarded the plane for Dublin. If its possible to get seasick on a plane, it was on this flight. It swayed from side to side, especially on the take off and landing. But finally we were on the ground, with our luggage and making our way to the rental car. The rental car was a Toyota Corolla, so much for a European car. At the last minute, we decided to get a GPS unit which was a fantastic decision. A few roundabouts later, John was comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road.We got to the hotel just in time for the rain to start pouring. After getting situated, we set off in search of food. Fortunately the rain had subsided and we walked into town, and discovered Trim Castle was literally across the street. We ended up at a Chinese restaurant, which served margherita pizza. I didn't chance a margherita pizza at a Chinese restaurant, and instead had sweet and sour chicken.

We woke up the next morning after having listened to the wind howl all night long. After breakfast, we walked over to Trim Castle and explored. Next we set the GPS coordinates and made our way to Kells to see the High Crosses. We tried to find another castle but it wasn't in the listed in the GPS so we continued on to Newgrange. However the GPS had the wrong coordinates for Newgrange so it was back to the map. Finally on the right track, we ran into a detour. The road was flooded. But we arrived at Newgrange just in time for the tour. It started to pour as we arrived at Newgrange. Stepping inside the narrow pathway, it was amazing to think this was built prior to the Great Pyramids. And the ceiling, which was over 5,000 years old had never leaked. The ancient people (as the guide called them) had even carved gutters on the roof to drain away the water. Amazing!! Lunch was at the Newgrange visitor center cafeteria. Leaving Newgrange, we missed the detour sign and ended up going through the massive puddle of water covering the road. And then we came to the next giant puddle. Not sure if we could make it, we waved the people behind us through. They pulled up and told us they thought we could make it. After watching them go through (and their car was about the size of ours) we decided to chance it and made it through. Whew. Our next stop was the Hill of Slane, where St. Patrick lit a fire to celebrate Easter which reportedly ushered in Christianity in Ireland. Quickly running out of daylight, we hit two more ruins - Mellifont Abbey and Monasterboice, which had several high crosses. It was then time to head back to Dublin. Finding the car rental return was a bit challenging but we made it. We caught the bus into Dublin, getting off right near our hotel. Due to the late hour, we ate dinner at the hotel. I had Irish stew, which was quite yummy!

We set off the next morning, making our first stop at Christ Church Cathedral. In the crypt, there was the mummified remains of a cat and a mouse. The cat had been presumably been chasing the mouse when they got stuck in the organ and were mummified. From there we went to Dublin Castle. One of my favorite rooms was the Ladies Drawing Room, which was gorgeous. During a ball, the single ladies had to hang out in the Ladies Drawing room until they were asked to dance. We also learned about the whistling corridor. They were worried about servants stealing food and so between the dining area and the kitchen they had to sing or whistle to prove they weren't stealing. We had lunch at a pub near Trinity College. I was all set to have a traditional pie, but then I saw they had a cranberry and brie sandwich. Once upon a time, when I was working in London, the cafeteria had a fantastic cranberry and brie sandwich. This one wasn't as good as I remember the other one, but it was still good. John had corned beef and cabbage which made him quite happy. After lunch we headed over to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells, which was neat, after having been in Kells the day before. Next up was St. Patrick's Cathedral before making our way over to the Guinness Brewery. At Guinness, besides learning about beer, we were able to learn how to pour a glass of Guinness from the tap. Dinner was in Temple Bar - we found an interesting place - it had a little bit of everything, including margherita pizza. This time I did have it! It was good, not the best, but still good. And after dinner? Why gelato of course, even if it did feel like it was two degrees outside!

We started off the day making our way over to Number 29, a town home decorated in the Georgian style. On our way over we passed by numerous dissenters who were on strike. We got to Number 29 and had a few minutes before it opened and so I was able to walk around the square and take pictures of doors! Not every door, but a lot of doors. The tour was interesting and on it we learned that the style back then was fairly uniform and the place where people could express their individuality was on the doors. Finishing up the tour, we walked over towards the Natural History Museum only to find it was closed for renovations. By the number of strikers around the nearby buildings, it was doubtful we would have been able to see it anyway. John wanted to have lunch at the self proclaimed "oldest pub in Ireland" so we walked towards it, doing a little shopping on the way. After lunch (of stew) we headed towards the Jameson Distillery where John volunteered to be a taster. On the tour we learned that one of the important distinctions of Jameson Whiskey is that it is distilled three times. One of things I had wanted to do was to go to one of the suburbs outside of Dublin and walk along the cliffs. Not knowing if we'd have enough time, we left it as a possibility. Coming out of Jameson, we were nearly blown over by the gust of winds. It was probably a good thing we didn't go out to the cliffs as we might have been blown over! The last thing on our list was to visit Kilmainham Jail. Deciding to chance that it would be open, we set off. The jail was outside of the city center and a bit of a trek. As we started out it started to absolutely pour down rain, along with big gusts of wind. We were almost there when we passed by another closed museum, with the now familiar picketers out front. Still holding out hope, we went to the entrance and were greeted by a locked gate, but no picketers. Our hypothesis was that the picketers were at the museum across the street as it was on a bigger street, and had some cover from the elements. Oh, well. We stopped back by the hotel to change out of wet clothes before heading out to dinner. Since it was our last night in Dublin, I had Irish Stew. Yum! And after dinner, even with the rain and the cold I stopped for gelato.

We woke up to a bright, beautiful, but very windy morning. We checked out, caught the bus, and were on our way to the airport. Heathrow was backed up, so to avoid circling endlessly, we sat at the gate. But finally we took off, you could definitely feel the wind as the plane swayed from side to side. Even with the precaution of waiting in Dublin, we still circled several times around Heathrow before landing. We checked into our hotel and headed for one of my favorite places in London, The Muffin Man, for a late lunch. Then we headed over to Buckingham Palace before going to the Cabinet War Rooms. And then it was on to the London Eye. They added a 3D show to the beginning, which was a little random. And then it was time for our flight. I love the London Eye! It's like the Peter Pan ride, only better! :) Dinner was at a pub where I had steak and ale pie and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Yum!!

We woke up to a sunny but windy day. Breakfast? At the Muffin Man, of course! And then it was off to Dover Castle. We arrived at the bottom of the white cliffs of Dover and began the climb up. Hills, stairs, and more hills and we were finally at the entrance. We had lunch at the cafe before exploring the grounds of the castle. The Great Hall was really neat! It was decorated in medieval style. We toured the secret wartime tunnels, which are not so secret anymore. These tunnels were originally built for the Napoleonic Wars, and then were remodeled to be used for WW2. Operation Dynamo, to rescue the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, was directed from the secret wartime tunnels. After the tour, we finished exploring the castle, visiting the remaining lighthouse from Roman times and the church originally built by the Saxons. Back in London, we finished the day by visiting Harrods, which was all decked out for Christmas.

Another sunny, windy day and the Muffin Man for breakfast (sound familiar?). And then it was off to Stonehenge! We alighted from the train and caught the bus to Stonehenge. If I thought windy before, it was nothing compared to the wind at Stonehenge! Bone-chilling wind! What was interesting was seeing Stonehenge after seeing Newgrange as they were built in similar time periods (5,000 or so years ago). The rocks are so immense, it boggles the mind how these stones got here. Finishing up at Stonehenge, we got off the bus at Old Sarum, the original town of Salisbury which was abandoned. Not much was left as the stones and other building materials were re-appropriated. Back in Salisbury, we walked around the town and the cathedral. The cathedral has one of the tallest spires in Europe. It also houses one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. Back in London we visited King's Cross and platform 9 3/4 before heading back to the hotel to pack.

Last day, last breakfast at the Muffin Man and then it was time to leave. Farewell London, I'm hopeful I will be back soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Three French Hens

I am thisclose to being done with Christmas shopping!! I have a few more gifts to buy before I can move on to Christmas wrapping and Christmas mailing. Some of my Christmas shopping was done online and are supposedly on their way. Although they don't always show up on the various trackers. Not that I'm checking.

No, I'm not checking every hour to see where my packages are now.

Well maybe I am a tad bit curious as to where my packages are.

Where are they you ask? Well, 1 came yesterday (but never did show up on the USPS tracker), 2 left Earth City, MO this morning at 3:36 AM, one isn't in the system yet and another says its shipped but I got nothing - no tracker or anything. Who doesn't offer tracking on packages? Don't they know I need to know!!

Let's see, what else is going on besides calmly awaiting packages? My office feels as if it is at the North Pole, or the South Pole, whichever is colder. The windows that suck in the heat in the summer, suck in the cold in the winter. And while I know there are much colder places than Seattle, it should not get this cold in Seattle!! Isn't this supposed to be a mild temperature zone?

The treadmill and I are in a love / hate relationship right now. But I'm feeling fairly good about the 12Ks of Christmas (a week from Sunday!!).

Monday, December 07, 2009

Mickiewicz & Mickey Mouse

My dreams of every writing up my trip to Krakow and Paris are going by the wayside. But I did want to at least post a few pictures and commentary from the trip. So here we go - in pictures rather than words this time.

Main Market Square - we spent a lot of time here. Krakow was a very charming city.

We weren't sure what the purpose of the animals were - we started calling this ferret square.

After pouring rain, the sun came out at Wawel Castle.

Kazimierz - the former Jewish community. During WW2, Nazis destroyed the cemetery and gravestones. After the war, remnants were pieced together to form a mosaic wall.

Oskar Schindler's factory

Auschwitz - the sheer size of Auschwitz & Auschwitz II is absolutely overwhelming. At Auschwitz I there were rooms filled with eye glasses, suitcases, and shoes of the victims. At Auschwitz II, the rows of barracks seemed to go on forever. I thought it was a little more clinical than my visit to Dachau, but still very moving.

If you look closely, you'll see the "B" was welded upside down, a small piece of rebellion.

Wieliczka Salt Mine - I felt a little like Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, deep in the mines. Lots of statues and chapels carved out of salt. Below is the Chapel of St. Kinga which was incredible!
A different view of the Main Market Square, from the top of St. Mary's Basilica (239 stairs up)

From Krakow, we flew to Paris.
Inside Notre Dame

We took the bus out to Malmaison. Josephine bought the house for herself and Napoleon. She kept the house after their divorce and lived there until her death.

Orangerie Museum

A trip to Paris wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower! We were in line when the sparkle lights went off so did not get to enjoy the sparkle lights fully. Overheard while we were in line - Pilier Est? Is that estimated?
We were so close to Paris Disney, so why not visit?

The roller coasters (specifically Rockin' Rollercoaster & Space Mountain) were 14 times scarier than Walt Disney World, if by 14 you mean 1,000,000 times scarier!!
And we finished up our trip to Paris, wandering around the Latin quarter. We visited the Pantheon (below), which houses Foucault's pendulum and the resting places of a number of famous persons (Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo and Marie Curie to name a few).

And a stroll along the Seine to visit my favorite pont (bridge) in Paris - Pont Neuf.
Our last night we had dinner in a super tiny restaurant, which was so good!!

A little different, but hopefully it gives you a flavor my trip.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Five Senses Friday #12

* Chloe in a new sweater. I'll see if I can get a picture of her and post it.

* Christmas music! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Deck the halls!

* Nothing is coming to mind or to nose as the case may be.

* Thanksgiving leftovers - the downside to being away during Thanksgiving is no Thanksgiving meal. But my mom saved me a plate. Thanks Mom! And then a co-worker brought in leftovers as well to share. I love when she brings in leftovers because she is such a good cook!

* Cold - wow the temperature dropped! Time to dig out the winter coat! That and buy a portable heater.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Five Senses Friday #11

* New Moon on opening night, which means I went to the midnight showing last night (early this morning?). I had been resisting the Twilight craze for awhile but then finally started reading the books and to my surprise, I enjoyed them. And somehow I got caught up in the excitement and decided it was a good thing to go to the midnight showing. The movie was fine - cheesy, but cute. The book was way better, as is usually the case. In fact the only time I have ever come across the book not being the better one is Wicked. I tried to read that book but after the first chapter I could not force myself to read anymore. The show on the other hand? Rocks!!
* I also went and saw 2012. I can't tell you the last time I saw 2 movies in one week! 2012 was better than I thought it would be but it was extremely stressful. I think I sat tensed up for the entire second half of the movie.

* Myself in a video at work. Why is it that the sound of your own voice can be so foreign? And notice this is not in the "seeing" section. That would be because I averted my eyes so I didn't actually have to watch myself. Sometimes I can watch myself on video, but this was not one of them.
* My name over the PA system as they were able to get me a window seat after all!!

* Coffee and lots of it!! Did I mention I went to the midnight showing of New Moon last night?? And then got up early for a sample sale at work.

* Jessica, Nilufer & I went to Mexico for dinner. Banana mango salsa, sweet potato fries, and fajitas - need I say anything more???

* Super tired. Are we sensing a theme here? :)
* Excited to be back in London! It's Thanksgiving which generally means time for Emily to hop across the pond. My brother and I are leaving tonight for a few days in Dublin before heading over to London for another couple of days.

Monday, November 16, 2009

You're a Nice Vampire

So I was really hoping to finish my Krakow & Paris (otherwise known as Parkow) pictures and report before the latest Disney one, but it was not meant to be…

Great motivation for going to the gym? Signing up for a race! Great motivation for signing up for a race? Why a Disney race of course! Jana & I were already thinking about going to Disney and the race gave us a great excuse - I signed up for the 13K while Jana signed up for the 5K.

I arrived late Thursday and due to a plane issue Jana arrived early Friday morning. After some sleep, we were up and off to Animal Kingdom. It was hot, but not super crowded. We were able to do most of our favorites and took advantage of the extra magic hours before heading over to pick up our race packet. I do have to mention that after we rode Expedition Everest both of us looked at each other and said "It wasn't as scary as I remember. Stupid Paris!" The Paris Disneyland roller coasters were a bit more intense than their Disneyworld counterparts.
After picking up our race packets and shirts we headed over to Downtown Disney for dinner. Oh my word, dinner took forever! We were wandering through the stores afterwards when Jana glanced down at her watch and realized it was after 11. Both of us deflated after that so we caught the bus and headed back to the hotel.

This entire trip we didn't set the alarm, which was really nice! Not that we slept super late, but it was nice to take it easy in the morning and not rush. Today's agenda was Hollywood Studios and tonight would be the race! It was getting close to time to leave Hollywood (to get ready for the race) and we headed over to Rockin' Rollercoaster to use our fast pass. Afterwards, we had the same feeling of Paris was scarier. Don't get me wrong - it's still scary, it just wasn't as scary as it was pre-Paris. Walking away from Rockin' Rollercoaster we passed by my nemesis, Tower of Terror. I have been too scared to ride it in the past, but that was all about to change. It must have been the adrenaline, or Jana was really persuasive, or something, but before you knew it I was standing in line for Tower of Terror. Our ride operator was perfect - he had the creepy voice and movements down pat. Which resulted in me being scared out of my mind even before the ride started. Oh my word! Well, I did survive. Although I was ready for it to be done and it dropped us two more times. I immediately texted Michelle to let her know I had finally, finally, finally ridden the Tower of Terror. (Don't worry Michelle - I'll still ride it at Disneyland in December. You just might have to hold my hand!!! Hopefully it won't be scarier at Disneyland!!)

We finished up at Hollywood, went back to the hotel for a quick, light dinner before the race. And just like that we were back at Hollywood lining up to start the race. I said goodbye to Jana as the 5K started first. And then finally it was time for the 13K! I don't know if it was the leftover adrenaline from finally doing the Tower of Terror but I ran the first 2 miles, with just a brief water stop! That is definitely a first for me. Could I have pushed myself to 3 miles? Possibly, but at that point I had 6 more miles to go so I settled back into my run 4 songs, walk 1 pattern. I got to mile 7 and basically fell apart, I'm not sure why. Fortunately I only had a little over a mile to go and was able to run 1 song, walk 1 song until I saw the finish line which spurred me on. The park was still open so after drinking water and stretching we went to do a little Midway Mania. By the time we finished the ride and ate it was 2 a.m. and time for us to go home!

Magic Kingdom day! We had tickets to the Not So Scary Halloween Party later that evening so we packed our "costumes" and set off. The park was fairly empty, which was fantastic!! Most lines were 10 - 15 minutes at the most. We were walking back from Pirates when a very large, tall man passed us. It was Shaq himself! Enjoying some family time before basketball season. Pretty soon it was time for the Halloween party. We didn't go all out for costumes, we just got shirts that said "Princess" and a tiara and called it good. A lot of people really dressed up. A girl in front of us waiting to her her picture made with Cinderella's carriage was dressed up just like Cinderella! A little girl waiting in line with us informed the vampire behind us that he was a nice vampire, but then she looked at us gave us a disgusted look and told us we were not wearing costumes. Oops! We tried to time the Dumbo ride so we would be on the ride when the fireworks started but we were one ride off. We were getting into our Dumbo when the fireworks stopped. Oh well. We didn't stay to the end of the party as the combination of the late night and the race had us losing our magic before the clock struck midnight.

Epcot day! The park wasn't super crowded, but it was very hot! And there isn't a lot of shade in Epcot. As part of the food & wine festival, they have different acts come to sing and Boys II Men happened to be there when we were there so we got our Motown Philly on! There were also lots and lots of characters out, with short lines. We finished up Epcot and decided to head back to Magic Kingdom for extra magic hours. Unfortunately Toon Town was closed so we missed out on one of our favorites, Goofy's Barnstormer. Something for next time!

And just like that it was time to go back to reality. See ya real soon!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Five Senses Friday #10

* Christmas lights on the trees outside my building!! I love Christmas lights!

* Drip, drip, drop. I hope the rain subsides a little by Saturday morning so I can go for a run and not get completely soaked!!
* Hey I got your postcard! Yes, it only took 2 months, but my postcards from Krakow finally made their way across the pond. I really liked Krakow and one of these days I'll get around to finally posting some pictures.

* Someone's very strong perfume when I got into the elevator.

* New York cupcakes! We had a baby shower at work and what better excuse to get some New York cupcakes!

* Tired, and somewhat in disbelief that it is already the middle of November. Where has the time gone?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Five Senses Friday #9

* Lots of yellow and red leaves. I love fall!!

* "Great job, keep running" - I don't know how people know that I need lots of cheers, even when I'm just out running at the park, but this came when I was just about to start walking and I was able to keep running for another song.

* Purell as I continually reapply - I am trying to ward off any and all germs.

* My first eggnog latte of the season! I feel a little guilty about this as I am usually a purist and don't drink eggnog until after Thanksgiving. But I couldn't help myself, it was calling to me.

* I normally don't have a problem with this category but I'm not coming up with - oh, got one! I am trying acupuncture (for headaches) so I am feeling the slight "pinch" of the needle.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

32 Things Update

What better way to procrastinate than to update my 32 Things to do before I turn 33 list! Let's see what I've been up to!

1. Travel to a country I've never been to before. In September I visited Krakow, Poland.

2. Run (or walk) a half-marathon. I am officially signed up for the Princess Half Marathon in March. Where else but Disney World!

7. Start consistently doing a weight-training or strength-training program. I have been staying for the weight class after kickboxing.

17. Take a wine-tasting class. While this wasn't an actual class, I did go wine tasting at Ste Michelle and Columbia Winery.

18. Go to an acupuncturist. My appointment is next week!

19. Go to an outdoor movie. Diane, Nikki & I went to see Sex and the City at Redhook.

22. Treat myself to a facial. Sally & I went to get a facial a few weeks before her wedding.

24. Get a manicure every couple of months. Not very exciting, but I have gotten a couple of manicures.

27. Get the most out of my annual Walt Disney World pass. I went in May for my triathlon, in July just because, in October for the Tower of Terror Race and I will be going in March for the half marathon (#2 above).

28. Buy a new camera. I am now the proud owner of a Canon SD960.

31. Go to the podiatrist. Done - I went a few weeks ago.

32. And one I'll keep to myself for now. This was actually two different things and one is complete and the other is in progress.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tower of Terror

My poor, sorely neglected blog. I still haven't finished up my trip report from Krakow & Paris and now another trip to WDW is waiting in the wings to be chronicled.

But to whet your appetite, I ran the Tower of Terror 13K last Saturday!! It was a lot of fun. Despite falling apart on the last the mile, I managed (barely) to finish under my goal of 2 hours - 1:56.01! Yippee!! And with that under my belt, I am now officially signed up for the Princess Half Marathon in March.

And a joke for today:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to your house

Knock, knock
Who's there?
The chicken!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Last Training Run

The Tower of Terror 13K is a week from today! Which means today was my last "big" run. The forecast for this weekend? Rain. Alrighty then, let's go. Ever wondered what goes through my mind during a run? Today you get to join me...

The alarm goes off. Snooze!

The alarm goes off again. Is that rain? Ugh.

Windshield wipers are on low, it shouldn't be that bad.

Made it to the park with the windshield wipers still on low, maybe I don't need the raincoat.

No, I need the raincoat. Stupid hood won't stay in place. Oh, I have a hat in the car. With the hat on top of the hood it is staying in place, but my head is getting warm. We'll see how long this lasts.

It lasts about one song. It isn't raining too hard. Hat and hood come off. Maybe I didn't need the jacket. (As an aside, I know running with an iPod isn't always recommended, so you can better hear your body and your surroundings but right now I don't have enough self discipline to run without it so it goes with me)

Stupid jacket. I am hot. Okay, I can think of it as simulating hot weather. After all the weather also did say Orlando would be 80+ degrees.

Wow, those girls ran past me as if I was walking. I need to get a jacket like hers with yellow. Which she is taking off and wrapping it around her waist. Well if she can take off her jacket, so can I! Except not as gracefully. She didn't even pause, while I am slowing down to walk.

Isn't it a walk song yet?

Woohoo, a walk song! (Another aside - my pattern lately is run 3 songs, walk 1)

Not much longer until the park and the bathroom.

Ooh, I like this song!

Made it to the park. And the bathroom.

And off we go again.

Why did it start raining again? Jacket back on. Hood back on.

Okay, its not raining too bad. No more hood.

Keep going. Just think, tomorrow you get to have gelato with Diane. Yum, gelato. Ge-la-to! Ge-la-to!

I hate this hill. At the top of the hill the jacket is coming off.

Top of the hill aaaaand jacket off!

Go left. If I were to go right it would lead back to my car and I could go home where it is warm. Except I still have to go to hot yoga after this.

Smile at the runner coming towards me. "Morning"

Did it get darker? Yup it sure did. That is one big dark ugly cloud. Please don't rain on me cloud.

And its raining. Pouring down rain.

Rain, rain go away.

Here comes the couple I saw last week, with their golden retriever. "Hello"

What's the point of putting on the jacket? I'm soaked, regardless.

If I can just make it through this straight-away, I'll be under the trees for awhile.

Yay! Tree cover.

Ugh, this is not my favorite song. I need to take it off my shuffle.

Ge-la-to! Ge-la-to! It is going to taste so good.

My shoes are so squishy.

Here comes a group of runners. They look as wet as I feel. Paste a smile on your face. "Morning"

Wow, even with the torrential rains people are still out and friendly.

A dad and his two girls are coming towards me. The dad tells me I'm hardcore for being out here. I don't know about hardcore. I have a race in a week!

Rain, rain, go away. Watch out for the puddle.

I pass the runner I passed earlier. She throws her hands up, "what is this?" I know. Stupid rain.

Okay, keep running just a little big longer. Then you can walk up the rest of the hill.

Aaaaand walk. Yes!

Here comes the group of runners again. Still smiling. One of them calls to me "its still raining".

Yup, still raining. Still pouring rain. Squish, squish. Top of the hill and I get to go right! Woohoo!!

Wow, how did so much water accumulate in such a short period of time? Go around the puddle.

There's my car. Whew. Off to hot yoga.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Random Thoughts

It has been a long few weeks between work and getting over my cold.

I should be doing a lot of things right now, my pictures, my trip report, at the gym - the list is endless. But I am vegging in front of TV. And thinking random thoughts...

Happy Birthday Kyle! Happy Birthday Bailey! I hope you both had good birthdays and I hope to come down and see you sometime soon.

Whenever we order pizza at work I usually have the thin crust, thinking it's not as bad as the regular kind. And then I slipped up and had the normal crust. Wow, it was really good! That was such a bad decision on my part! How am I going back to thin crust now?

I was following the Ironman Championships this past weekend. Wow, that is a crazy, insane race. While a little tiny part of me wondered if I could do that someday, it was quickly quashed. I never feel the need to do a marathon, especially after swimming and biking! However, a half Ironman isn't out of the question, or at least out of the question yet. And maybe the next progression will be an Olympic distance... But for now I'm sticking with sprint distances!

Fall is here. I love fall - football, the leaves changing, the crisp air. And don't forget pumpkin spice lattes!

Speaking of caffeine and things that I don't normally have, I had some Diet Coke and Diet Dr Pepper. I had forgotten how good they are! I gave up caffeinated sodas for Lent a few years back and don't normally drink them anymore, except on vacation - until last week when I gave in to temptation. And it was good. Now that things are normal again, I should be able to resist.

Note to self: it is a good idea to stagger your running / gym shoes. That way, when you need to get new ones you aren't breaking in two pairs at the same time.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Five Senses Friday #8

* I switched my High School Musical calendar to October and it is a Troy month!

* The incessant thump and whirring noise of the treadmill. As much as I love fall, the one part I don't is that by the time I leave work there isn't enough daylight left for me to run outside so I am relegated to the gym.

* Still not a lot, as I haven't quite shaken the cold. I think at this point there are just a lot of different strains of germs cycling around. Get rid of one and the next starts.

* Chocolate chip cookies that Jessica brought in to work. And peanut butter cookies that someone else brought in to work.

* Frustrated. Not with one thing in particular, but with a lot of things in general.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Five Sense Friday #7

* UW beating USC!!!!! GO DAWGS!! And since I actually dreamed we won the night before (except the score was 24 - 21), I got to celebrate twice - once in my dream and once in reality!
* A big gigantic bug on the hood of my car. Fortunately it was on the outside of my car while I was on the inside and the windshield was between us.
* Fall season premieres - I did really enjoy my summer of extremely reduced TV watching, but there is something about the start of the fall season shows that sucks me in. And if I hadn't already been intrigued and planning on watching FlashForward, the fact that the future day is April 29th (my birthday!!) would have put me over the edge.

* Wicked!! There is an argument that this should be in the seeing section but I'm going to put it in the hearing section. It is such a good show!
* A "good for you!" cheer and some clapping while I was out running. Once again, my definition of "running" is running interspersed with walking and I'm sure many people can walk faster than I can run. But still, I love the cheer - it kept me going up the hill when I wanted to quit running and start walking.

* Not much since I am still battling a cold. I am feeling a lot better though!

* So Jessica & I have been going to the grocery store at the beginning of the week and getting sandwich fixings for the week. It has worked pretty well because for whatever reason, I'll make my sandwich at work, but not at home. Anyway, we made our turkey sandwiches on Monday and later that day neither of our tummies was happy. So no more turkey sandwiches for this week and instead we've been having smoothies for lunch, except for today when we splurged and got Red Robin.
* Lots and lots of tea to help with the cold.

* Still a little run down from my cold, but a little more energized from hot yoga.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Up and Down

This has been an up and down type of week. I flew home on Sunday (more to come on that) with either allergies or a cold. As the week progressed it became more and more evident that it was a cold. My routine became come home, drink tea and go to bed. Weighing in the back of my mind was the fact I had a triathlon coming up. Prior to my vacation I had decided this was going to be a fun race (not an "A" race). With the cold, I had to decide if it was worth doing even for fun. My decision changed pretty much hourly. Wednesday was a bad day and I officially decided against the race. But Thursday dawned and I was feeling much better. The race was back on!! And then came Friday. I had a coughing fit carrying boxes across the office. Even though I was feeling better, the cold had settled in my chest. The race was back to being off. Final answer? Yup. Oh well, there will be other races which was one of the deciding factors actually. The Tower of Terror 13K is in about a month and that is an "A" race for me. It is probably better if I sit this one out and get better.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another Five Senses on Wednesday

* A great big beautiful moon in the sky the last couple days, along with less and less hours of daylight as fall is approaching.

* Several different families riding their bikes with no helmets. Seriously - make the kids wear helmets, especially riding on a somewhat busy road!!

* The rain as I lay snuggled, warm in bed, deep under the covers.

* Delicious smells wafting from Coldstone as I walked by.

* Wine at Chateau Ste Michelle & Columbia Winery before heading over to the Barking Frog for dinner where I had some yummy prawns and a very good beef tenderloin.

* Really awkward as I tried to breathe on the other side while swimming. I'm going to have to work on that.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Five Senses Friday #6

* My sister, looking beautiful, as she got married. And of course, me looking all dolled up for her wedding.

* About Michelle's first week of teaching juinor highers! Well technically reading her emails, rather than hearing. But I can just see Michelle telling the story, so that should count as hearing! :)
* "You go rockstar!" as I was riding my bike. This cheer was actually given to the girl ahead of me on the path, but I am taking it as mine because I'm a rockstar! :)

* Freshly baked bread as I walked by Great Harvest on my way to the grocery store.

* California burger & beer ice cream at Redhook Brewery - yum!! I had forgotten how good it was!

* The onset of an ear infection. Yuck!! I am trying to ward off with home remedies.
* Excitement for my upcoming trip to Krakow & Paris.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Five Senses Friday #5

* A white streak down my arm. How'd I manage to do that? And this is why I practiced several times before doing the spray tan for real, which will be this Saturday, before my sister's wedding on Sunday.

* What if dreams, as in what if we do win the lotto tonight? Mega Millions is up to some large number so a few of us pooled our resources. It is nice to dream! My what if dream? I would buy an around the world plane ticket and take a year to explore.
* Lots of geese honking as the geese police dog came and chased the geese away, and right in time too as I was about to jump in the lake for an early morning swim.

* I sit near the kitchen and the other day someone brought something in that did not smell very pleasant.

* Yummy cupcakes from NY Cupcakes for my sister's bridal shower. Yup, it's usually all about the sugar for me.

* Exhilarated after finishing my triathlon.
* Relief after picking up my dress for the wedding!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Number 7

It's a little hard for me to fathom, but on Sunday I completed my 7th triathlon. Granted all of them have been super sprint or sprint distance, which are manageable distances, nothing crazy like the Ironman. I am feeling a bit proud of myself, especially considering how much I loathed gym all through school.

The hardest part might have been picking up my packet at the expo on Saturday. I arrived shortly before 10 a.m. and was greeted with a line down the block. I reached the end of the block and realized the line went down the next block. I reached the end of that block and realized the line kept going around the corner and up the next block! Finally I reached the end of the line! To amuse myself while waiting, I played games on my phone. I was feeling hopeful as I neared the building only to find a whole new set of lines inside the building. To quote my friend Nikki, it was as if the carpet of hope was ripped out from under me and I was left with the hardwoods of disappointment. Nikki & Diane were also helping to entertain me via posts on Facebook.

Finally I reached the end, of what turned out to be the first line, got my swim cap & timing chip. Then I decided to stand in another line (voluntarily) to sign up for next year's race. Why? Because this race sells out fast! And to have it done and not worry about getting up early the morning it opens to sign up was worth another line. Next line? The one to pick up my t-shirt. A couple of women in line were nice enough to hold my place while I went and stood in another line to get body marked so I was able to stand in two lines at the same time! Finally I was body marked, had all my goodies and my chip and signed up for next year. Then it was off to "rack" my bike. Considering all the people in front of me to check in, traffic wasn't too bad to go drop off my bike.

With the pre-race activities done, all that was left to do was the race! My parents dropped me off bright and early Sunday morning and I got on to the bus. The butterflies in my stomach had started fighting each other. I laid out my transition area, did a few stretches, went to the bathroom one last time before making my way to the swim start. I took a dip in the practice area to get used to the water temp, which wasn't too cold. Standing with my yellow swim cap wave, cheering on the waves in front of us, the familiar excitement began to build.

The Swim
The crowd counted us down and we were off! I started off in the back but was soon passing a few people. Yay me! I was able to keep a good tempo, with only two moments of slight panic where I stopped for a moment to refocus myself, and continued on towards the finish. I was feeling pretty good as I exited the swim and made my way over to my bike.

Transition 1
Let's just call this the "what I need to work on for next time" section. When I got to my transition area, I was surprised to notice there were a lot of bikes still on the racks! Shirt, race belt and sunglasses all went on pretty quick. Socks and shoes I struggled with a bit but not too bad. And then I went to put on my helmet. For whatever reason I could not get the helmet to fit right. I took it off and tried putting it on again but when I buckled the strap it still didn't feel right. I knew I was wasting time at this point but I could not make myself go faster. Finally the helmet went on. I wrestled my bike off the rack and was on the course!

The Bike
I was feeling good on the bike, passing a number of people, and getting passed as well. During my training I tried to work more on hills and I think it helped. It's on the bike where I am reminded of how much I enjoy this race and why - the echo of the screams in the I-90 tunnel, the "on your left, you go girl" encouragement as you are getting passed, basically the camaraderie. You are not running this race alone.

Transition 2
Nothing out of the ordinary here. My rack was a little crowded so it was somewhat of a challenge to wedge my bike back onto the rack.

The Run
Almost there! I started off slow but finally got into a rhythm - run 15 cones, walk 5. Once I started running it got easier to say run 5 more cones. Not long after I passed the half-way point I heard my name - it was my friend Joni. My new goal became to beat Joni to the finish line knowing she would catch up to me - and sooner rather than later. I crossed the finish line and a few steps behind me was Joni!

And let me just say, if the weather for my first Seattle Danskin was too hot, and the weather for my second Seattle Danskin was too rainy, the weather for my third Seattle Danskin was just right! And yes, I do feel a little like Goldilocks at the moment.

I do have to admit, when I first looked at my times I was a little disappointed. My long-term goal is to finish in under 2 hours, my short term goal was to shave time off my Orlando time. I did finish 36 seconds better than Orlando, which is a start. And when I started comparing my times, I started to feel better about my time.

Seattle Swim: 24.31
Orlando Swim: 26.29
An improvement of almost 2 minutes!! Assuming the course lengths were the same.

Seattle T1: 6.54
Orlando T1: 4.58
Oops! Stupid helmet.

Seattle Bike: 51.52
Orlando Bike: 51.51
Basically the same

Seattle T2: 3.00
Orlando T2: 1.27
Not bad, considering the size of the transition area comparatively speaking

Seattle Run: 43.05
Orlando Run: 45.12
Wow - another 2 minute improvement!!

And there you have it. There is another triathlon coming up in a few weeks and as of right now I am going to go for it. This may change depending on what life throws my way.

Getting dropped off
Crossing the finish line
Another medal!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seattle Danskin = 2:09:24

The race went well, if not quite what I was hoping time-wise.  But it was still a good finish time, for me anyway.   More to come later!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rain or Shine

In my last post, I made the foolish declaration of Thursday being a brick day come rain or come shine. Guess what it ended up being? It was pouring as I began to shut down at work so I talked myself into going to the gym for another "modified brick" but by the time I got out of the parking garage the rain had subsided so I made my way over to my new park of choice. I had forgotten how hilly that area was! I didn't end up going to far on my bike but enough to get that "my legs feel like a ton of bricks" feeling as I switched over to the run which ended up being mainly a walk/run instead of the run/walk that I have worked up to. Partly because the rain and slip factor, but mostly because I didn't feel like it - it was not my best workout. I made it to where I had planned to turn around but since I had started to feel good I decided to keep going, until I saw the two raccoons up ahead. They looked at me, and I looked at them, they looked at me and I let them win the staring contest. Raccoons can be mean so I decided it was a great time to turn around!

And that concludes the training portion of this race. I don't feel super ready, but when do I ever? Ha!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All I can do is laugh

So here we are, less than a week to race day and boy is it shaping up to be an interesting week! I haven't been posting a lot of training posts, but I have been training. Sunday I was all set to do one last big brick (can you feel the foreshadowing?). I pulled my bike out of my car and was putting on my helmet when I heard "POP! Hisssssssssssssssssssss" and just like that my back tire was deflated. I debated briefly still running but instead threw my bike into my car and left as I had a gazillion errands to run (What, me exaggerate? I would never in a million years exaggerate!). While I was disappointed I didn't get my brick in, I was very thankful if my tire had to pop it did so before the race. And then when it was getting fixed the technician noticed I had a broken spoke. Whew! Sometimes a flat tire is a blessing in disguise!

Monday was fairly uneventful, with the exception of the rain that started pouring while I was out running. I usually don't mind running in the rain - I just don't want to catch a cold this close to the race.

Tuesday I woke up early, as I had an early morning chiropractic appointment. The rain was still falling steadily so I decide against taking my bike, which had been my plan. I arrive at the chiropractor right on time for my appointment. The receptionist looks at me as I walk in and tells me my appointment is on Thursday. I just start laughing. Dang it!! I am such a creature of habit - I knew I had an appointment this week and since my appointments are usually on Tuesday I assumed this appointment was also on Tuesday. Whoops! This is so unlike me. By the time I get to work the rain has pretty much subsided but my bike is at home so instead I go to the gym after work where I discover I have left my shirt at home. Fortunately I have a backup gym shirt! Woohoo!! I do a modified brick in that I do the stationary bike and then the treadmill. Which means I will be doing a real brick on Thursday, come rain or come shine. Hey, isn't that a song?

Considering the direction this week has taken, I am thinking I probably won't participate in the kickball tournament at tomorrow's work picnic, just to be on the safe side.

Okay so I re-read my post and it was a lot funnier in my mind when I was composing it. But hopefully you see the humor!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Weekend Magic

Hi-ho! Hi-ho! It's off to Disneyworld we go! Way back in May, it seemed a good idea, since I was planning to go back in October, to buy a annual pass to Disneyworld. And because I had an annual pass, any excuse to go would do! The excuse this time? I have an annual pass, there was a sale on hotels, and I would need to make a trip by the end of the year to ensure I keep my silver elite status on Continental. It didn't take much rationalization on my part!

Jana & I met up at the Orlando airport and were soon off to our hotel. This time we were staying at Pop Century. We arrived at the hotel, dodged the rain drops and checked in. Before heading to our room we made our first purchase, a Mickey poncho which turned out to be the best $6.10 I spent this trip! :) We got to our hotel, changed and were off to Hollywood Studios to catch Fantasmic, as this was the only night it was showing while we were there. We were greeted at Hollywood with the news the 9 p.m. show of Fantasmic was cancelled. As the rain had pretty much stopped, we decided to chance it and stay, assuming the 10:30 p.m. show would not be cancelled. We had dinner and did a bit of shopping and before we knew it, it was time for Fantasmic, which was as usual, Fanstasmic!! It is probably one of my absolute favorite things to watch at Disney.

Hollywood had extra early magic hours so we set the alarm and managed to make it there to enjoy some time before the park opened. We didn't manage to make it on Rockin' Rollercoaster as we decided to use our fast pass on Toy Story Midway and the regular line was just a little too long for our liking. But it helped knowing we would be back in October (so we can run in the Tower of Terror race). We finished up at Hollywood and set off for Magic Kingdom!! We arrived at Magic Kingdom in time for it to start raining - perfect time for lunch! We had lunch at Tony's restaurant (Italian - are you surprised?) and lingered over dessert as it was still pouring. Finally we finished, put on our ponchos and headed out into the rain. The scariest ride of the day turned out to be the Jungle Cruise - it was dark when we went on it and a little frog jumped into the boat and onto Jana. It probably wouldn't have been such a surprise had it not been so dark. The best ride of the day turned out to be Dumbo - we got on just as they were doing the fireworks and so we were flying while watching the fireworks go off - it was really spectacular! Magic Kingdom had extra evening magic hours and while we didn't make it until 2 a.m. we did get close.

Extra magic hours in the morning and evening makes for an extremely long day! It seemed as if my head had just touched the pillow when it was time to wake up. Off to Animal Kingdom! There were a ton of giraffes and rhinos on the safari ride!! After hitting the highlights (for us), we headed over to Epcot to visit Nemo, hang glide in Soarin' and tour the world. The previous day was catching up to us, along with the heat, so we decided to make it an early night.

We finished up the trip by exploring Downtown Disney until it was time to go home. See ya real soon!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Five Senses Friday

I think we're up to #4!

* A brand new stoplight at the intersection near my house. I can now go this way to work and not worry about whether or not I will ever be able to turn left!

* "it's a small world after all" which is still stuck in my head after being back from WDW a few days now, also stuck in my head "The Monkey's Uncle", another Disney song

* I'm trying a new lotion - plum. It has an interesting scent, but I think I like it.

* Hot chocolate - the air conditioning at work finally caught up with the weather only for the weather to turn cool.

* The heat wave was good for at least one thing - Lake Washington wasn't quite as cold this morning when I went for a swim!
* I will be feeling relaxed after my massage tomorrow!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Five Senses Wednesday

The theme for this week is, wait for it, "heat wave". I'm early this week as I'm leaving tomorrow for Disneyworld!! Have I mentioned how much I heart Disney? :)

* You know, I had a good one for this all picked out and now I got nothing. I blame the heat.

* The soothing sounds of a multitude of fans, every where I go, except when I'm at the store wanting to buy another fan and then they are nowhere to be found.

* Stale, muggy air

* My new favorite restaurant - Tutta Bella. The pizza was yummy and the gelato was so good. I tried the blueberry and lemon - the blueberry was super, the lemon was good as well, if a little on the tart side.

* Very hot - my cube at work is right near the window and the shades do not offer much protection from the heat. And then I get home and my house is hot as well.
* Anticipation for my weekend jaunt to Disneyworld!
* The impact of the first jet of cold at my very first spray tan - my sister is getting married in a few weeks and I thought what better occasion for me to try out a spray tan!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five Senses Friday No. 2

Let's see how long I can keep up with this! I like it because it's a creative way of thinking about your week. Although this one will have a lot of references to training as my race is in three weeks!! Yikes!

* The sun slowly setting as I race to get through my first brick of this training session. I make it and then I am treated to a fantastic sunset on my way home.

* Fishes!! This was a week of firsts - first brick and first lake swim.

* Chatter everywhere about the coming "heat wave". It is supposed to be 95+ in Seattle starting on Sunday. It is a favorite topic of discussion at the moment.

* Hm, nothing really comes to mind for smelling.

* Ice cream sandwiches!! It was ice cream treat day at work and boy was it yummy!
* Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza from CPK - I gave in to temptation.

* The cold water as I tiptoe into Lake Washington for my first lake swim, along with the slight ebb and flow of the waves.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Five Senses Friday (on Sunday)

I saw this on Mandi's blog and it looked like fun, but as usual I'm a little late.

* lots and lots of cameras as I'm trying to narrow down the many choices out there
* fluffy white clouds against a beautiful blue sky

* not a lot - it is summer time so the office is really quiet as people are using their vacation

* ew!  skunk cabbage or something like it on my bike ride this morning

* smoothies

* the cool side of the pillow as it has been on the "hot" side (for Seattle anyway)
* the air from my new fan (also to help combat the temperature)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Today's Date

So today is July 8, 2009 or 7/8/09 as in why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9!! That has amused me all day, especially when I've written out the date, which I've had to do a bit today.

Here's a new joke (or new to me):
What did the grape say when he got stepped on by the pig?

Nothing, he just let out a little wine!

It doesn't take much to amuse me! :)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

15 Books in 15 Minutes

When I first saw this meme on Mandi's blog I thought no problem, I can do this. Fifteen minutes came and went without a complete list. But I did finally come up with fifteen books. And what does my list tell me? I probably need to visit my library a bit more. After I started working I began reading, almost exclusively, what my mom would call "trash" books but what I call fluff books - purely for entertainment and books that don't make me think too hard, which means they usually don’t leave much of an impression.

Instructions: Don’t take too long to think about it. List 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you — the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Copy the instructions into your own note, and be sure to tag the person who tagged you.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." I was hooked from the beginning.

2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - the intricacies of the revenge plot were so masterful.

3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - Oh fiddle dee dee! I was fascinated in the beginning with the description of the dresses and the plantation and soon was absorbed into the story.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - This is probably my least favorite book but my dislike has stuck with me (20+ years later) so it made the list. What really stuck out in my head was the fact someone interrupted the wedding. I probably should re-read this now to see if my opinion is still the same but I shudder anytime I think about reading it again. It's like broccoli - my tastes have changed but every time I even think of trying broccoli, I'm immediately transformed into a kid at the dinner table being forced to eat it.

5. Persuasion by Jane Austen - my favorite Jane Austen book by far. I am a sucker for unrequited love stories.

6. Exodus by Leon Uris - an amazing book, interweaving several stories against the backdrop of the birth of the modern Israel.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Scout was the coolest.

8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - the red hair, Anne spelled with an "e" (which is my middle name), Gilbert - such a great story. Prince Edward Island is on my places to visit list because of this book.

9. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne - this is for both the actual book as well as the Disney read-along version which I wore out as I child. I love Winnie the Pooh!

10. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White - the first chapter book I ever read.

11. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - a great mystery set on a train with a satisfying ending. It was a thrill for me when I was in Istanbul to eat dinner at the hotel where the actual Orient Express would stop on its journey.

12. The Babysitter's Club #3 The Truth about Stacey by Ann M. Martin - so when I first saw the title of this book I thought it said The Babysitter's Clue and I was super excited to read it because I thought I had found a new mystery series to read. But no, instead I found the tales of Kristy, Mary Anne, Stacey & Claudia which I devoured. I would save my own babysitting money to buy these books. I had quite a collection until one day I sold it at a garage sale.

13. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - a simply magical story.

14. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne - I never actually read this book. I read a lot as a kid and my mom began making me read a "good" book before I could read Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins (later Sweet Valley High), Trixie Beldon, or the Babysitter's Club. I was in a rebellious mood when she gave me this one to read and decided only to read the end of this book (sorry Mom!!) so I could hurry up and read something else. Whew, I feel better having gotten that off my chest. Confession is good for the soul!

15. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy, what more can I say? I have read this book many times and still get so caught up in the story.

And there you have it! What's on your list?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One of those days

Ever have one of those days? What exactly does that mean anyway? Ever have a frustrating day and you are on your way to yoga to work out your frustrations when you get stuck in the garage at work? So really, it was more annoying than anything and it could have been much worse. The garage door would only go about halfway up before stopping and coming back down. I made a new friend though - she was stuck as well and she and I tried what we could to get the door to come up but nothing worked. Finally security showed up and fixed the door but it was too late for yoga so instead I went home. And that ends my day. Wonder what tomorrow will have in store?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Adventures in Training

I haven't been keeping up with my training as in my mind I still have several months, while in reality time is passing by quickly!! I went for a bike ride this morning and took a curve a little too fast. Halfway around I knew I was going to fall and tried to catch myself. It didn't work and I ended up in the bushes. Yes, I was fortunate enough to fall into the tall grass that grows along the river. I tried to jump up as quickly as possible to assure anyone who saw my tumble that I was fine! I never jumped up so fast! A runner was behind me and came over to make sure I was okay. All I could do was laugh.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


It's only been a month since my trip - but finally here is my trip report!

Greece!! To this day, I'm still not sure how we happened to choose Greece, but we did. The "we" in this trip is myself, Jessica and Nilufer (who will probably be referred to as Nilly), friends of mine from work. Also on the trip was Cedric, a little traveling gnome our boss had given us to take along on our travels. The flight to London was fairly uneventful until baggage claim. Because of the flight times, we had decided to spend the night in London before heading to Greece early the next morning. At baggage claim Jessica's bag emerged followed closely by mine and what looked like Nilly's bag but it wasn't. As it turned out, Nilly's bag was back in Seattle. After checking into the hotel, we spent our first moments in London shopping so Nilly could at least have a few things as the airline wasn't sure at this point when she would be reunited with her luggage. From there we made our way over to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge to at least see the famous monuments. And then it was off to Buckingham Palace, where we discovered Cedric was not very photogenic. We walked over to see Big Ben before meeting another co-worker who was at the tail end of her trip. We had tickets for the London Eye, unfortunately the weather was cloudy, but it was still fun to fly high above the city and admire the sights. Dinner was Italian (big surprise, right?) and then we said our goodbyes and headed to our respective hotels.

Three hours later (more or less) we were waking up to catch our extremely early flight to Athens. I have no recollection of this flight - I was sound asleep. Jessica & I got our luggage and so did Nilly! Her luggage had caught up with us in Athens. We checked in for our next flight and hung out in the Athens airport until our flight was called. We landed in Santorini and had an extremely interesting cab ride to our hotel. The cab was going fast on these small, narrow, winding roads and I think he sped up when he saw our white knuckles holding on for dear life. We checked into the hotel and then dragged our luggage down a steep hill to our cave room. It was a nice big room with a beautiful terrace. After dropping everything off and freshening up we headed out to explore. We walked down to the town of Fira and explored the narrow streets, stopping for gelato. Yum! After exploring a bit more and watching the sun begin to sink in the sky, we found a restaurant for dinner where I had moussaka. We then began the long climb up to our hotel. These stairs were brutal, especially in the dark! It was at this point my goal for the entire trip became not to trip and fall.

The next morning dawned bright & early as there were no shades on the windows. Surprisingly, for me, I was able to ignore the sun and slept a little bit longer. We finally got up and switched on the hot water heater and waited the requisite 15 minutes for the water to heat up before beginning the round of showers. Finally we were all ready to start our day. After breakfast at the hotel, we stopped at a travel agency for information on a boat tour out to the volcano for the next day. We ended up deciding to join a bus tour starting shortly, plus the boat tour. We hurried down the hill and through the narrow, twisting roads to catch the bus. Whew! The tour was neat - it took us up into the mountains and down to the beach. Lunch was not the best but as it was the only restaurant around we didn't have much of a choice. After lunch we went down to the beach to relax a bit before getting back on the bus. We finished up the tour at a winery. After the bus dropped us off in Fira, we explored down the narrow streets, popping in and out of shops that caught our eye. Dinner was Italian, at a restaurant most of the way up the hill so we didn't have too far to walk back to our hotel.

Volcano day!! I had really been looking forward to seeing the volcano! We took a bus along a very narrow, winding, steep road to the new port where we boarded our boat which took us to the volcano. We climbed and climbed and climbed and finally made it to the top of the volcano, enjoying the view and catching our breath before starting the trek back to the boat. From there we went to another island where we had an opportunity to swim to the hot springs. I am not a good jumper into cold water which is basically what I had to do! I hung on the ladder for as long as I could before plunging into the freezing cold water! It wasn't too far of a swim to the hot springs, which were actually more like lukewarm springs. I smeared a little bit of mud on my arms as it was supposed to be therapeutic. The boat stopped for lunch at the island of Thirisia, where you could climb up the cliff to the town at the top, or you could eat lunch at the restaurants at the bottom. We chose not to climb. It was then over to Oia where we could watch the spectacular sunset. This time we had no option but to climb up the stairs. Well, we did have an option to ride a donkey most of the way up which I wasn't too keen on, but Jessica was, however she decided to trek up the stairs with me & Nilly. Those stairs were super steep and seemed never-ending but finally we made it to the top! After that we definitely deserved some gelato! We wandered around until we realized it was about sunset time and hurried over to the end of the island where we basically just missed the sunset, or maybe we didn't and it just wasn't that spectacular. I'm not sure which. We still had time before the bus would drop us back in Fira and as we were tired and hungry we decided to take a cab back to our hotel. We got crepes from a store not far from our hotel and took them back to our room to eat while watching X-Men.

Our last day in Santorini! We thought about waking up early and going to the beach, since we never made it but decided not to wake up early and just to walk down to Fira, after a breakfast of crepes from the place where we had got them the night before! Those crepes were good! Before we knew it, it was time to catch the ferry over to Naxos. We arrived in Naxos and took a taxi to the hotel, which was actually not the main hotel, but another building down the road. The taxi driver let the hotel know we were there and someone from the hotel drove over to check us in. It was an interesting room, in an interesting part of town. I wasn't sure what to expect. After claiming beds and freshening up, we headed out to explore a bit. We walked over to a travel agency to see about booking a bus tour only to find out there were no seats available. We contemplated what to do, including taking a ferry over to Mykonos, while we walked over to the Portara. There we met a couple from San Francisco on their honeymoon, who convinced us to rent a car and drive around the island. I have never before rented a car in a foreign country, usually because I don't want the hassle of driving or navigating in a foreign country. In the end, they made it seem easy so we decided that's what we could do the next day. We wandered around, getting somewhat lost in the process, before finally making our way into the center of town. At the hotel, they had told us about a good Italian restaurant which we finally found. And boy was it worth it!! The owner (or who we assumed was the owner as it was her life story on the menu and her name was Susanna and the name of the restaurant was also Susanna) was really nice and the food was delicious!! And get this - I had spaghetti carbonara, not margherita pizza! After dinner we walked back down to the center to get gelato before trying to find our way back to the hotel.

Rental car day!! We walked along the waterfront to a restaurant that had been mentioned in our guidebook for breakfast. It was then time to begin our car rental adventure. We decided to ask and see if they had an automatic as Jessica & both had driven sticks before and probably could again, but if there was an automatic available we would take it to cut down on the stress! The first place didn't but he called around and found a nearby car rental place that did. We could have two drivers on the car and I was not allowed to be a driver as I was to be the navigator. I'm not sure if I should feel insulted by this or take it as a compliment! :) The route the clerk at the car rental place suggested was very similar to the bus tour. We stopped at the gas station to fill up and the attendant gassed up the car and we were off. Our first official stop was the Temple of Demeter, located along some back roads. We tried to find a Venetian tower next and I think we drove by it twice but couldn't find a good place to park. This would be a theme for the day. Any tower or castle we were not able to find. Next we stopped at the town of Halki or Chalki, depending on which map you are looking at. We walked out to see a church, visited the Kitron distillery (made from citron, a fruit similar to a lemon) and looked around the town before continuing on. Up and up the narrow winding roads we drove to Apiranthos, the “marble village” where we had lunch and were entertained by a couple of kids playing, and one kid pouting. Nilufer took over driving duties after lunch and drove us to our next stop, Panayia Drosiani, a tiny little church. Our next stop was to see an unfinished statue. We saw the first one and decided to hike up to see the next one. It ended up being a little farther than we anticipated! On the “you are here” map it indicated the remains of an aqueduct were nearby. We searched high and low for the aqueduct but as it would be getting dark soon we decided to give up and walked back to the car and headed back to town. Not too far down the road we saw a sign for the aqueduct! Woohoo!! We found it, or at least part of it. We pulled over and saw a section of the aqueduct. After that we drove back to town and dropped off the rental car. We explored the old town of Naxos before going to Susanna’s for dinner. I was back to my old staple, margherita pizza. It was really good!

On to Athens! Someone from the hotel drove us to the port where we caught the ferry to Athens. A mere 6 hours later we arrived at Pireaus. To say the taxi line was chaotic would be a gross understatement. Trying to find the end of the line proved difficult and when the driver from the first taxi in line came up to us, I figured he was legit and we climbed into the cab. One of the warnings of Athens was the potential to be ripped off by cab drivers. Knowing this, I should have asked what the price was prior to getting into the cab, but being in the actual taxi line, I figured we’d be okay. The cab driver seemed friendly enough and charged us €20, explaining there was a €5 surcharge from the port. I had read in both my book and Jessica’s book that the surcharge from the port was only €1 and so I argued and asked the hotel clerk how much the fare should be and he said €15 -17. Now the thing of it is, had he not said there was a €5 surcharge I would have paid the €20 without even thinking about it. We settled on €17 and he drove off. This was so not an Emily thing to do, but it was the principle of the matter.

With that settled we checked into the hotel and then headed out to start exploring Athens. Our first stop was the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. When I was in middle school/high school, I was intrigued by Greek mythology and read all about Zeus, Hera, Athena and the rest so I was really excited to be in Athens. From there we walked along the promenade around the Acropolis before heading into Plaka to have dinner. After dinner we wandered around a bit more before making our way back to the hotel. At first glance, Athens reminded me of Rome. Or should I say Rome reminded me of Athens as before all roads led to Rome, I’m sure a number of them led to Athens.

Even though we had successfully driven around Naxos, we weren’t sure if we wanted to do it in Athens and instead signed up for a tour out to Delphi. This was another thing I had really wanted to do because the Oracle at Delphi featured in so many of the myths. It was about 3 hours to Delphi and our tour guide regaled us with stories of history and mythology such as Delphi was considered to be the center of the earth (or the naval) because Zeus had sent 2 eagles to the opposite ends of the earth and they met in Delphi. The guide took us up to the Temple of Apollo where the people would come to ask the oracle questions. After explaining more about the oracle, she let us explore on our own and we walked up to the theater and then to the stadium before meeting back up with the guide to go through the museum. The bus then took us to lunch. Lunch was not very good. We had hopes for dessert though, until they passed around a basket of dirty, moldy fruit. No thank you. The journey back to Athens took forever – there was construction and an accident and traffic in general but finally we arrived back in Athens. They dropped us off at a hotel near Syntagma Square. We asked for dinner recommendations and ended up at Cibus, an Italian restaurant with a great view up to the Acropolis.

We signed up for another tour, this one a half day to Corinth, so it was another early morning to catch the tour bus. Our first stop was at the Corinth canal which cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth. It is really cool to see! The next stop was ancient Corinth where we explored the ruins and saw where St. Paul preached to the Corinthians. We once again ran into traffic on the way back, but finally arrived back in Athens. I had printed off Rick’s “Welcome to Athens” walk so we decided to follow it, hoping to find a spot to have lunch on the way. There hasn’t been much mention of Rick so far and that is because his Athens book didn’t come out until after I got back. The walk started off in Syntagma Square, right in front of the Parliament building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From there we strolled down a pedestrian street, stopping to have lunch at a noodle bar and doing a bit of shopping. We continued along the walk, missing one monument which threw us off track but finally after taking a roundabout way we caught back up with the tour. Along the way Jessica became fascinated with the graffiti and it became a mission to find the coolest graffiti on our walk. Our walk finished in Monastiraki Square. We were beginning to become familiar with this area. We had dinner at a pizzeria in Plaka, unfortunately it was not very good.

Ruins, ruins and more ruins! Today was the day for ruins - the Acropolis, the Agora, etc. We were going to be on ruin overload by the end of today. But first, before heading to the Acropolis, we found the missing monument from our walk the day before. From there we hiked up stairs and hills and more stairs, passing by the Theater of Dionysus and other ruins before reaching the top, the Acropolis! The Parthenon was amazing! And to think it is still standing after all these years. I attempted to take a picture of Cedric, however couldn’t quite get a good angle and got close to the ruins. An attendant came up to me and said to delete the picture, which I did, thinking it was because I had gotten too close. So we tried again, holding Cedric in the air but again the attendant came over and we finally realized it was Cedric himself they didn’t want a picture of with the ruins. I wish they had posted the rules somewhere because I am generally a rule follower, if I know the rules. We continued exploring the Acropolis before making our way over to Mars Hill, where St. Paul preached to the Athenians. There were two options to get to the top of Mars Hill, the steps cut into the hill, or the metal staircase. Knowing my penchant for tripping, I took the metal staircase option. From there we walked down to the agora and admired the Temple of Hephaestus. We were on our way to lunch when the unthinkable happened – I broke my camera! Fortunately, it was the second to last day and we had just finished up with the Acropolis. We went to lunch where I pouted a bit about my camera. Although I have been wanting to buy a new camera and now I have no excuse not to buy a new one! So really, it was a good thing. After lunch we headed to the Roman agora and Nilly lent me her camera as she wasn’t much of a picture taker. Jessica had wanted to see Omonia Square so we started walking towards it, coming across a cheap jewelry store (think Claire’s) and of course had to stop. We continued on to Omonia Square, this time passing by a riot squad in full riot gear which we walked rather quickly by. We arrived at the square, looked around, and headed back to Plaka. None of us was really hungry so we decided to get a couple of appetizers to share. Our couple of appetizers turned out to be a lot of food! And so much for us not being that hungry, as we made quite a dent into all the food.

Our last day in Athens! Jessica had suggested waffles for breakfast so we headed out, only to find out the restaurant didn’t open until a little later so we continued on to the flea market. There were treasures to be found at the flea market, if you took the time to look. We browsed through the various stalls until we figured the restaurant was open and headed back for our waffles. Yum! It was Sunday so the streets were fairly deserted. We were walking past Parliament when we noticed guards making their way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so we stopped to watch the changing of the guard. It was really interesting ceremony – the guards had very elaborate, intricate footwork. Our next stop was the top of Lycabettus Hill so we went in search of the funicular. I thought we were doing okay when we reached a fork in the road and as we paused to check the map a lady walking by who asked if we were going to the funicular. She motioned for us to follow her, which we did, and thank goodness for that because she led us, turning down a couple of different streets, to the funicular. We never would have found it on our own! The funicular took us up to the top, where we admired the view of Athens before heading back down. We decided to visit the Panathenaic Stadium, which was used for the “first” Olympic Games in 1896 and the Olympic Games in 2004, plus for the Panathenaic Games in ancient times. We started towards the stadium when we came across a street that looked familiar to Jessica. She and Nilly had wanted to see the Running Man statue but since we had no idea where it was (they had seen it from the bus on one of our tours) we didn’t think we would see it until we came across the familiar road so we detoured to find the Running Man statue. It was pretty cool – made up of stacked glass. The detour didn’t last long and we were at the stadium, which was really neat. The stadium is made of marble. We walked back to Plaka, stopping by the Temple of Olympian Zeus one last time. Coming out of the Temple I tripped on a rock and stumbled for probably a good 5 to 10 feet before finally catching myself. I didn’t fall, but I came so close. It seemed as if I was in slow motion. Well, at least I didn’t fall! We spent the rest of the evening as we had most of our evenings in Athens, strolling around Plaka. On our way back to the hotel, Nilufer and I got the giggles and Jessica was embarrassed to be seen with us.

We woke up early the next morning to go to the airport, ending our trip to Greece.

For more pictures, click here.