Sunday, November 13, 2011

Santa Barbara International Marathon!

(Let's just pretend I haven't neglected my blog for the past 2 months)

So, this weekend was the Santa Barbara International Marathon. I registered for this race back in May or June as my "Plan B", kinda like Nike Women's Marathon. The thought was that if I didn't get hired back or find work over the summer, I would have something to focus on so I didn't get too down on myself. A goal to keep my positive. Well, it turned out I didn't need any "distractions" and this marathon proved to be a serious training nightmare.

Although I was pretty excited to get a good deal on some new diggs when I moved back up north and got my job back, I didn't anticipate the huge hit commuting would take on my fitness/running/personal life in general. The commute has been destroying me, and it destroyed my workout routine. Boo.

But I really can't blame it all on the commute. I was sneaking in treadmill time after work, even though I was exhausted. I was just too tired on the weekends to get good long runs in. Every time I tried to get a couple hours in, they always fizzled short. And then, after a couple trips to Vegas, the real bad news happened.

After Vegas trip #1 (September) I got a nasty case of Bronchitis. The verdict was that I had illness induced Asthma (so they thought) and I was put on a breathing regiment. I got some runs in to keep in shape for the bridesmaid dress, but all the long runs went out the window. I was back to training runs of 9 miles and less.

After Vegas trip #2 (October), the asthma took a turn for the worse. Apparently I am allergic to Vegas, as well as where I work/live, and was diagnosed with Reactive Airways Disease (whatever the heck that is...guess they couldn't decided it it was seasonal allergies of cigarette smoke). The weeks leading up to the marathon involved multiple trips to the doctor for emergency breathing treatments, chest x-rays, and physical therapy to fix the 3rd rib that popped out of place during one of the asthma attacks. Awesome.

The good news is that I am getting my breathing under control. And the rib is back where it belongs. When I am away from my triggers (smoke filled casinos and Napa Valley), my asthma disappears. I am still learning how to catch asthma before it flares up and adjusting medications so I can do what I love (run) without killing myself (seriously). This is my excuse for not blogging. So much has been going on, I have been in survival mode and haven't felt like sharing my struggles. Mostly because I was still figuring out how to make the best of them.

As you can imagine, my expectations for SBIM were pretty low the week leading up. On Wednesday, I was not sure if I would be running because my asthma was seriously flaring up. But once I got in the car and made the trip down to Santa Barbara, the mood changed and I knew it was going to be a great race.

SBIM is by far the best race I have ever run, and it has everything to do with the people who were supporting me. I got the most amazing text messages the nights and day leading up the race, it did so much to get me pumped up. Being there with my mom, aunt, and dearest friend gave me the confidence that life had sucked out of me the weeks leading up to the race. I went from not knowing if I would toe the line to setting a very serious sub 5 goal in a matter of hours. Marathons are mental games, and without all the love and good energy sent my way, I don't think I would have had as happy an ending.

The Good:

  • My support team was awesome. I had people cheering me at at least 8 different locations on the route, which was an extreme morale booster. Every time I saw them I got so excited, my garmin went crazy telling me to slow down. The energy they fed me made the miles fly by.
  • The volunteers were AMAZING. Everything was enthusiastic, kind, and caring. They made you so happy to be there, even though the miles were torture. Best volunteers of any race I have ever run, hands down.
  • I met Skinny Runner and Once Upon A Lime at the start line (You can see my 5 seconds of fame here). I was just standing there, and I look over and recognize these two pretty ladies, and realize that they are my favorite bloggers. They were so nice, so positive, it just added to my already fabulous mood.
  • The race was small, which made it easy. No corrals to bother with, no pushy crowds. Everyone was relaxed and it had a small town feel. Big races have lots of nervous energy, which can be very stressful. Instead, people were kind and generous, making it a very pleasant place to be.
  • No bleeding, chafing, crying, or blisters. Yay!

The Ugly:

  • Although I was on pace to finish sub-5 for the first 20 miles, I hit the wall bad on mile 21 and completely lost my pace. I never got it back. Better than Boston (I think I fizzled out at mile 16?), but still kinda bummed I was so much closer and couldn't pull out any more gusto to get me through the last 6 miles. I blame it on the lack of training and think this is totally fixable. I did a really good job of monitoring my pace, and having the pace tat on my arm really helped out.
  • Got a NASTY cramp at mile 23 in the left quad, right after I got to the top of the ugly hill from hell (it was TERRIBLE). It was the weirdest feeling ever. I think I had too much to drink on the course and not enough salt. I ate 2 packs of margarita show bloks, but I don't think it was enough. I was disappointed that the medical tents didn't have salt tablets or that skin numbing spray they had in Boston. Are these unreasonable requests? Next time, I am totally packing salt tabs and equiping my support team with the numbing spray. I don't think it would have made a difference for my sub-5 time, but it might have made my time a little better.
  • People were texting while running. Seriously. People can't put their iPhones away for 5 hours to run a race. What is our society becoming? I think one lady might have been playing angry birds while running. No joke. This was just bothersome.

When things fell apart at mile 21, I thought a lot about Boston and how it was really hard for me to be happy with my results. I made the conscious decision to make this race a good memory, shooting to PR without tearing down my body and spirit. I decided to walk/run the final 5 miles, and it made a huge difference. I was still able to shave 10 minutes off my previous PR in Boston, and crossed the finish line feeling FANTASTIC. I was strong, happy, and proud. It felt good and reminded me of why I started running: to feel the overwhelming wave of accomplishment and personal satisfaction of becoming a better person than who I started out as.

The biggest thing I bring away from this race is the power each of us has to be in control of ourselves and our experiences. I pulled a lot of strength from a Zen quote by Shunryu Suzuki, "You yourself make the waves in your mind." We alone shape the reality of our experiences. We decide how to process the sensations of the body and soul; the body and soul do not shape them for us. It is a very powerful when you realize that pain is only as agonizing as you allow it to be. Instead of beating myself up for not being able to make sub 5 a reality, I immediately set a new goal. I did not allow disappointment to make waves. I chose happiness and made it happen. I managed and minimized my pain (and there was PLENTY of it) instead of using it to punish myself for falling short of my goals. I think we have a tendency to do this often, and I am beginning to believe that it may be the root of much of our suffering.

Next steps? I have found a new place to live so I only commute 10 minutes instead of an hour and 10 minutes. This should give me more time to train for the Napa Valley Marathon (March 4th), where I have SERIOUS goals of running a sub-5 marathon. I am going to work more on pacing and getting some longer runs in before the race. Most of all, I am going to keep working on breathing and making sure that asthma doesn't define who I am or keep me from doing the things I love to do!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

She's something-seven

I just LOVE birthdays. They help you set mental milestones where you can let go of the old and welcome in the new. Birthdays are also a good time for reflection and setting a tone for the next 365 days. If you can look back on the past year and say with confidence that you are a better person than you were a year ago, then you know you are living your life right. They should not be about feeling old or freaking out about what you have or haven't done. They should be a celebration of the good, a focus on what you have going for you and what is yet to be.

A month ago, I was worried that this was going to be the first birthday that I wasn't going to look back and feel like I had grown as a person and become a better version of myself. How could I overlook the amazing things 26 had to offer????? 26 was very good to me. Here is my year in review.

  • Not only did I run my first marathon, but I ran 2 marathons and one of them was BOSTON. That in itself just blows my mind now when I look back on it. I think these marathons are my proudest accomplishments. They are the hardest thing I have ever done, have had the most positive effect on my personality, and have changed me the most. This is HUGE.
  • I took my first BIG vacation and went to Tahiti. I never thought that this dream would become a reality, and now the travel bug has bit me hard. It gave me the confidence to hop on planes and travel the globe. I did tons of traveling this year, including 2 trips to Boston, Washington DC, Las Vegas, San Diego, and of course French Polynesia. I can't wait to continue my travels, with Boston again next month, Santa Barbara, and maybe even Vegas again at the end of the month (for a conference). I hope I can convince someone to go with me to Thailand and maybe even knock some other outdoor adventures off my bucket list.
  • I became the first person in my family to get an advanced degree when I got my MA this spring. I always knew I would do this, but having it done feels so good and I am so proud that I can share it with my family; I never would have been able to do it without them.
  • I got my first full time teaching job and was asked back for a second year. I am very confident my calling in life is education, and it feels good to do something that helps others elevate their status in life, even if they do not realize it. Teaching is rough and some days I find myself questioning my choice of HS (darn teenagers!), but ultimately I know there is no other job I could feel more fulfilled in.

27, 27, 27. I feel good about the person I am become and where the next year will take me. 27 is going to be about me and my family. Not about trying to live some idea of perfection gathered from other people's experiences. People I love having babies? That's cool, but that doesn't mean I need one soon. Houses, nice cars, husbands? This year I am not going to let myself feel pressured because I decided to take a different route and focus on work and school. In the past fews years I have met some amazing people, and I think what is going to make 27 great is just focusing on making those relationships flourish.

After all, I have decided that my Wonderful, Wonderful (thanks Xaarlin, I love this term) will be someone who is revealed when I least expect it, someone who is more than a lover or boyfriend but a best friend I can't live without. The best relationships are ones that are not forced, so here's to a year of just taking it easy and letting the world show me all the wonderful things it has it store. 27 is going to be the best version of me BABY!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Las Vegas!

One of the top 10 best weekends of my life, and it happened at exactly the right time. Comparable to the "We Still Got It" weekend with the bestie in NYC 2008. Although it is going to take several days to recover from Amanda's Ultimate Bachelorette Party, it was worth loosing my voice, unexplained bruises, and the cute little dent it put in my wallet. 

Just to recap, the past months have consisted of getting myself rehired, moving multiple times, teaching new classes, and how to get comfortable with myself in my new social situation. Vegas made me feel like a million bucks again, reminded me how much I have to offer, showed me that there is a "wonderful, wonderful" waiting for me somewhere out there, and empowered me to just love life and let the details work themselves out.

The girls were amazing. Amazing does not give them credit for how fantastic they really are. We had so much fun, no drama, just lots of screaming good times. I wish they didn't live on the other side of the continent. Even though we met a few unsavory individuals (ND fan in the casino, boundary crosser in Toby Keith's), we met so many super fun, super enjoyable people. Doctors, Engineers, Marines, Sailors, Surfers. We got VIP treatments and were constantly reminded of how truly awesome we are. Everyone needs a shot of self-esteem boost every once and a while!

How did I loose sight of the awesomeness? Not sure, but I have had a bad case of life burnout. Too much focus on everything that didn't go my way, and not enough focus on all the great things that are waiting to be seized. We start a new year this week, and 27 is going to be FANTASTIC. A year to bounce back and return to becoming the better version of myself. I am so excited for what this next year will have in store!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Digs

Hopefully I will be getting keys to some new digs in the next 48 hours. I am super excited because there is some good running and wide open country to explore!!!!! Between the gym and the pools, I am hoping that I am get into a more respectable level of fitness. In fact, I think I am going to run 13 miles this weekend just because I can. Hollar!

The stress of finding a place to live is entirely overwhelming. When you are staying with someone you work with, it is particularly important not to overstay your welcome. Let's just say Danielle is getting a pretty nice baby shower gift as a "thank you" for putting a roof over mine and Gunther's heads. It is going to feel so good to have the keys in my hand. I am not thrilled about having to commute now (30 minutes...wahhhhh!) but I am totally stoked about the money I am saving (like HUNDREDS of dollars) because I am not in Napa. Woohoo! Maybe the distance will help me manage my workload and not spend so many late nights at work. But then again, I have NO FURNITURE for my apartment, and can't even think beyond purchasing a mattress, so maybe I will be staying at work. Mom, if you read this, I think I need a living room for Christmas.

I can't wait to tell you all about my upcoming run... I have been scoping this route for a year and now I am going to be living near it! And, now I live only a half marathon away from the Bestie (a whole different run!), so you better bet I am going to run to her house and beg for a ride home!

Ah, stability is just around the corner....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Freeway fruit

10 miles/ 2:04:00

Instability has allowed me to fall into a training funk, but today was the exception. With so much on my mind as a look for a place to live and get ready for a new school year, I have been prone to just wander aimlessly in my thoughts, sometimes while walking around a store, driving around town, or just sitting/lying around. This morning I decided it would be best to try to get my head organized by getting out for a run. No music, no gadgets, just 2 gels and a bottle of water.

Lately running has felt like a chore or a task on a to do list, and I have been really envious of people who get out and run/bike/swim/spin for the shear joy of it. I decided that my training needs a drastic makeover. I am abandoning my training plan (for the most part) and running based on feeling. I had no idea how far I ran today until I got home and mapped it (I had a feeling it was around 10 or 11). I was pretty impressed with my pace, considering I stopped to stretch at mile 2, stopped to eat a pear off a tree on the side of the trail by the freeway at mile 5 (awesome, right?), and stopped to ask for a water refill at mile 7 (which they didn't have. Well water is one of the few downsides of country running). Even with all those stops, my time tells me I am running around the pace I want to be to finish my next marathon under 5 hours. That, my friends, feels GREAT.

I absolutely love country running. Today I ran past a ton of different crops: summer wheat, walnuts, sorghum, alfalfa, corn, squash, grapes, pears, apples, and sunflowers. I saw some great metal sculpture art in from of a farm house. People don't mind sharing the road when the shoulder is narrow and overgrown. Cute cyclists tell you hello. There was a refreshing breeze blowing off the delta and the sun was shining. It was the perfect day for a run.

Life is full of restart buttons and chances for re-dos. Sometimes it is difficult to see it as such. Yeah, my training is in the crapper and I haven't felt my best, but today seems like a pretty good day to press that restart button... again. I'm off to go have a chicken & roasted beet salad. I decided yesterday to reintroduce vegetables back into my diet :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's that time again...

I'll be hitting the road in 6 hours to move back up for 10 more months of work. No furniture, no place to live, but at least I have a decorating scheme planned! I'm thinking geometric print accents in Navy/Royal blue and grey, with tan and/or white as base colors, depending on what color the walls/doors/cabinets are in the new place. I've been walking around a lot of model homes lately...
OK, maybe not that much blue patterned crap, but you get the idea.

In the meantime, my homelessness might interfere with blogging, as well as running, healthy eating, and general sanity. So you might not hear from me, but don't loose sleep over it :)

I hope to return sooner than later with good news about not being homeless, starting the new school year, new training routines, and all the awesome things that must be awaiting me.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

4 good things

4 little things that have brought me small pleasures so far this week:

1) Starbuck's cool lime refresher. Tastes like a mojito, minus the rum. 100 calories for the trenta size (but I got smaller). A nice treat in this nasty hot weather. It's my new craveable (move over popsicles!)

2) TIGI Bed Head Moisture Maniac shampoo. Smells like white gummy bears. Makes we want to take more showers. Everyone wins with this one.

3) My mom. When we are together, we laugh so much. She is my number one fan and makes me feel so good about myself. I'm so incredibly grateful we are so very close. I'd put a picture up of use being silly, but she would kill me if she ever read this!

4) My new classroom. Now I am officially in the Math building, I feel like I am in the cool teacher's club. Being in the same building as the refrigerator is going to be dangerous! Maybe pictures will come when I finally get my keys!

Why I keep slacking on the good things posts, I don't know. Even when things are bad, there are always good things to smile about, and I need not forget that!

What's putting a smile on your face this week?

Monsoon Moisture YUCK!!!!!

Like a good girl, I set the alarm and got up at the weee crack of dawn so I could do my 12 miles. Even when the alarm went off and I was laying in bed, I was ALREADY covered in sweat. Big nasty monsoonal moisture clouds have been attacking the region, making it terribly uncomfortable to be outside and flash flooding some areas. Beautiful but scary. Where did my friendly marine layer go? WAHHHHHHH!

So, because it was already in the 80's and 80% humidity, I did not go out for a run. The last thing I need is to pass out and die alone on some country back road, found only when some hillbilly looking for roadkill follows the vultures circling my dead body. Instead, I kicked out some amazing work for the next school year, working on a classroom webpage as well as researching some alternative grade books.

I am not a big fan of the educational system and a lot of the decisions that are being made way above my head, but I do love teaching.  Even though the state of public education is quickly spinning down the crapper, I am so excited to get back in the classroom and try to make a small difference. I have a new classroom in the main building (yay!) an have a new class (geometry), and I am very excited to take my Standards Based Grading to the next level. I think this is going to be a very good year.

So, as far as training goes, this is probably going to be a pitiful week. I missed last week's long run (the 12 miles) and MOVING AGAIN, I doubt I am going to be getting in a lot of miles. But, I do want to make the gym membership a priority, so no matter where I am living for the first few weeks of transition, I can at least get my fitness on after/before work. I am hoping I can hit a really good streak once I get back north; if I don't I am probably going to fall a little short of my 5 hour goal (but still PR).

Most importantly, I need to get back into shape and get ready for vegas. I really hope my work clothes still fit me when school starts, yikes. So, once I get back up in Northern California, all this indulgent eating is going to have to come to an end! Fitness is a mindset, so for the 8 hours I am driving back, I am going to program my brain into a fitness and healthy eating machine!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Barrel Tasting Recap

The good: 
Unlimited wine, catered food, and GREAT company made this an excellent night. And, I didn't spend any money because I decided to hold out until my purchases from last summer become available. Which I couldn't get a solid timeframe on, hence my apprehension. Will it be really really good or is it so bad they are afraid to release it? This years Cab Franc will only spend 6 more months in the barrel before it is bottled. WTF?

The bad:
I accidently threw a glass of wine on my mom. Doused her in the most expensive wine they were serving. I wish I could blame it on the alcohol, but pretty sure it was a result of being silly and would have happened even if I was sober. Made sure to stain treat it as soon as I got home to be a better daughter. I also will be her slave for the next week to make it up to her. Whoops. Not looking forward to tomorrow morning.

The ugly:
Drinking a cup of coffee when we got home, staying up late putting cheddar mohawks on Pringles with a can of easy cheese. I tried to convince someone to stay up with me and get biscuits & gravy at 2 am, but no one was having it. This is why no matter how much I run I will never loose weight.

Wine futures are expensive. And they are risky. Until I know ho my first gamble turned out, I am not ready to make future investments. I do know I need to further develop my palate and take advantage of all the tasting opportunities Napa has to offer. After reading this, don' you miss you could hang out with me so I could douse you in wine and make cheddar mohawks together at 1 am?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Whining, wine-ing, and winning

6 miles/ 1:09:26

Hot and humid, this run had it's ups and downs. I probably made it harder than it should have been by changing course mid run and opting for a more hilly 3 miles back. Had to stop to cool down a few times, which might have been avoided if I had left the house before 8 am. Whoops. But, with an average pace of 11:35/mile, I am happy that even with major hills I am still improving. That's 15 seconds/mile faster than my 5 mile run last week. The best part is, I am just running what feels god and not pushing it. I never really know how I did until I check the Garmin stats when I get home.

On a side note, I am getting a pesky ache in my hip. It isn't there when I run, but if definitely bothering me when I am standing around the house or in the kitchen. I am not sure if being in flip flops all day is helping. I should probably start looking into icing and stretching because I am 90% sure it is a hip flexor thing.

Tonight I'm looking forward to picking up some wine futures! We'll be heading up to a local winery for their annual barrel tasting event where they bring out a barrel of the each of the 10 varieties they plan on bottling at the end of the summer, with food pairing for EVERY ONE. Seriously, it is like I have died and gone to heaven because there is so much good food. And they serve the wine directly from the barrel, all you can drink. AMAZING!!!!

Last year I had such a good time and my parents had to drag me home when I wanted to stay until the last employee left. I also bought  half case of their white Field Blend (Riesling/Viognier/Muscat blend...a sweet little treat!) and a half case of Cabernet Franc, which is aging so well they still haven't released it from the barrels! Usually the longer it stays in the barrel, the more expensive and tasty it is when they release it. I think I paid around $12 a bottle (futures and DEEPLY discounted because you are taking a gamble), and anticipate it going for AT LEAST $50 a bottle when released. In the past we have gotten deals where we paid $25/bottle and when the wine was released it went for $125. WOWZA!!!!! I was the only one who took a gamble on the Cab Franc. Maybe I know more about wine futures than I lead on ;)

Until then, I am off to the Nike Outlet to spend a gift card given to me by my fabulous Boston Bride at the Boston Marathon. Mama needs some spandex! Maybe there will be other back to school treasures at the outlets as well!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A good morning to run

3 miles/ 33:03

Todays short little easy run was FANTASTIC. Contributing factors:

  • After a full day of not feeling sick anymore, I went to bed looking forward to my AM run. Alarm set, went to sleep early, I was prepared!
  • Left the tunes at home. Even though I though ahead to make sure the shuffle was charged, I was so excited to run I didn't want the distraction. First time running without music this training cycle, I was super focused on how I felt instead of just getting through it. A VERY good sign that more good things are to come.
  • Cool thick marine layer. I love running on grey mornings. This is typical of regions where wine grapes are grown, so I am glad that the regions I do most of my training are both known as wine country!

I am super stoked about the 11:00/mi pace. Today I felt like a runner and not someone slogging around imitating jogging. I know that many people still consider 11:00 miles "jogging" but for me it is definitely running. I didn't struggle with the running blahs I usually have to battle through for the first 3 miles of my run. I get a different mindset with shorter runs, non of the mental struggle of knowing you are going to be suffering running for 2-3 hours instead of 30ish minutes.

I doubt my 6 mile tempo will average 11:00/mile pace but I do think it is going to be a good run. I am getting excited about training again. Yay!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Running Blahs

This is the second time this week I have taken a day off because I feel puny the day after a run. No fever, but achy, sneezy, congestion, and a faint sore throat. Two thoughts on why this might be:

1). I am fighting off a cold and since running can temporarily bring down the immune system, the cold is flaring up the next day.

2). I am not doing something right in the recovery phase, such as not drinking enough water or eating enough/the right things after the run, so my body is turning on me.

It really could be either, as I tend to not really eat much after a run and have to force food down my throat because I am not hungry. I doesn't help that I also don't eat much when I am feeling icky. I wish that it was the other way around: when I don't run, I don't shove food down the hatch at an alarming rate.

Needless to say, no 5 mile run today. Instead, naps and fluids. I had this problem in 2008 when I was first starting training for races. It might be too much training too quick, but I really don't want to admit that yet. Not until I start getting the knee & hip problems back will I give in. I am on a plan and I am doing an OK job of following it (I am certainly not doing more than the plan calls for!), so I am still hopeful. I'll hope for 5 miles tomorrow morning before we go to the beach to celebrate birthdays, eat fried chicken, and bask in the sunshine!

Anyone else deal with this? Anyone have an easy fix? I am such a baby and just won't run when I feel like crap. It DOES NOT make me feel better.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Getting a little bit faster...

5 miles/ 59:08

Folks, thats about a whole minute faster than my last 5 miler. And this one had a doozy of a hill in the middle, HOLLAR!!!!!!! Needless to say I am pretty stoked about todays 11:49 average pace. Short runs are getting easier, which os good because they are supposed to be easy runs. I procrastinated/got busy/didn't feel great so I have to cram all my runs into the end of the week. Good week it is an easy week, only 2 more 5 milers. I might just try to see if I can beat 11:49! To put things into perspective, my pace for a sub 5 marathon needs to be 11:26/mi. Although 5 miles is nothing compared to 26.2, I am getting closer to my goal pace, and that is a great start!!!!!!

Today is a big day, my SPAM lovin' Dad's birthday, so I made an AMAZING ice cream pie. If death by chocolate exists, that sinful tin of dark chocolate terror is sitting in our freezer. I'll make sure to post pictures & recipe once we cut into the little devil.

To celebrate his birthday, mom and I went and got our toes done. OK, we are actually taking him to a pub in town, but we wanted to look good for him, yes? While they were grinding off the calluses and blisters from miles of running, I got to thinking about if lady runners get their toes done or if I am just wasting money. I get french tips, and they usually they look pretty haggard after a week, but I know how to touch them up at home. Does getting rid of the dead skin get rid of precious cushioning? I always have them cut them short so they don't put holes in my socks as fast. Then I got to thinking about black toenails. I have been blessed; 2 marathons and I've never had toenail issues. I have decided that if that day did come, I would just polish it dark red so no one would know. But I think I would do it at home instead of submitting some poor vietnamese man to that level of nasty.

Foot hygiene: as a runner, do you just keep them blister free or do you try to keep them pretty too?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Rip and Tear your way to CRAZY TASTY TOWN!

Living most of my life in California, spam has never been a dietary staple. In fact, we never had it in the house until my mom married a Marine. My only memory of Spam is a camping trip where an aunt who grew up in Arkansas tried to pass it off as bacon. OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!!!!

But, needless to say, my step dad grew up on a ranch and was a career Marine so he has an affinity for this peculiar processed pork product. Which means we ALWAYS have spam in the house. In spam's defense, the ingredient list is more simple than most things people eat in a typical day (only 7 items) and I can pronounce everyone and have a vague idea of why it is on the list.

I wasn't looking to mock the meat wonder, I just wanted to look at the Spam Single package because it was so foreign and interesting to me. I was not prepared for the poetry of the packaging. You are in for quiet a treat. Behold, the Spam Single Pouch!

That's right... destination Crazy Tasty Town.

If it was a foreign product, I would think that this poetic packaging is just bad Engrish or something lost in translation. But it's not. It is made by Hormel in the good ol' USA.

The back of the packaging is where the real gems lie. At the top of the package is the dotted line where you rip and tear your way to tasty town with insightful instructions:

"A solid line would say 'NO! DO NOT CROSS!' but this one is dotted. Feel free to enter"

Alright, enter we will! Thanks for the clarification

Not sure how to prepare this pre-cooked gourmet masterpiece? I wasn't sure either because the baking instructions read:

"TO BAKE: Use your oven, turn the appropriate knobs, and bake at 475 for 10 minutes"

Crap! Our oven doesn't have knobs! I guess I will just have to use the microwave to "Nuke it until SPAM is good and hot"

I didn't bother reading the nutritional information because someone in my family actually eats this stuff and I don't want to be seriously concerned for their health.

Now this is where the best stuff lies. introducing the SPAM Idea o'Wheel. Not sure what to do with your SPAM single? Hormel suggests you "make a necklace" by threading a ribbon through the hole at the top of package and wearing it around you neck, like flava-flav. Our packages at home also suggest that you buy the larger can of SPAM because "4x the SPAM means quadruple the flavor". The judges are still out on that one.

And for the grand finale, I saved the best for last. Here is the insightful prose to the left of the Idea o'Wheel, the "Meaning of SPAM singles":

"Isn't this the most easy and convenient SPAM ever? SPAM singles are already cooked. This might just blow your mind. For your own safety, stop thinking about how easy SPAM Singles will make your life. It's time to enjoy. Take another bite and throw your head back and think wonderful thoughts of faraway places while you chew. Like a magical SPAM castle in the sky and what a delicious and convenient visit you'd have. This is the meaning of SPAM singles."

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Now go buy a SPAM single and put it on your coffee table as a conversation piece.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

At Last!

10 miles/2:02:13

FANTASTIC long run yesterday! My average pace of 12:13/mi was ahead of the 13:12 pace on my training schedule, but I just kept a pace that felt good. I really did feel great and didn't struggle with the hills as much, so it was a huge step forward. This week is an easy week, three 5 mile easy runs, which will have plenty of hills and hopefully I can keep a 13:08 pace.

Not going to lie, I was SORE and TIRED today. Naps and extra strength tylenol helped, as well as all you can eat sushi buffet. I am a glutton, it is no secret. Even with the pain today, it still felt good to get a double digit run in and not feel like I was going to die. I am very optimistic about my 12 mile long run at the end of the month. I might just finish this marathon sub 5 hours after all...

A couple of things probably made this run better:
  • New shoes. Well, same model, but fresh pair. More shock absorption, it was time for a new pair.
  • Hydration Belt. Brought along fuel and had gatorade in one bottle, filled the other with water and refilled both along the way. It is H-O-T even when I leave at 7:15, so I am going through a lot of fluids. 
  • Garmin. Beeps at me when I fall below pace and helps me keep track of distance because I ALWAYS take wrong turns and end up somewhere I didn't plan of being. 
  • iPod Nano radio. I am sick of my play lists so radio adds some much needed variety.
  • Country Roads. Ran a lot on undeveloped country roads, so I didn't have much traffic or pounding of pavement.
  • Nice people. Runners in the area keep hoses outside of the gates of their properties so runner can refill. Super important when the only thing around are sprawling horse ranches and gated estates. This kept me from drinking reclaimed water from a sprinkler at mile 6.

and one more little thing.....
  • Having a job. I was rehired back at the High School, so I will be doing another year of math, definitely with a better course load (some non-remedial classes!!!!!) and hopefully with a better classroom.

This means moving back up to northern California and finding furniture and a room mate because I sold nearly everything when I moved. This will be quite the daunting task, but I am so thankful to have work in this education-unfriendly economy. I was seriously getting worried, which is probably why my runs were so sucky. Running is a mental sport. If my mind is not in the right place, my body isn't either. People think I exaggerate when I tell them that the marathon is 80% mental, but for me, it is all about if I can get my head in the game.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


5 miles/ 1 hour exactly

When did running become so difficult? Today's run was dismal, even though I took a bunch of precautions to make it better than Tuesday's atrocity. I ate an english muffin with jelly to give myself some fuel before I went out, I carefully monitored my water intake, I did some little stretches, and most importantly, made it out when the marine layer was still nice and thick. I even had garmin on me so I could monitor my pace and make sure I wasn't pushing myself too hard (although I knew that probably wasn't the case).

I am so stiff and sore. I think that the problem is the hills. There is nothing flat out here, it is all hills. Less than a mile in I wanted to stop, I felt like I was going to drop dead. If another runner hadn't passed me by I think I would have just walked home. Trying to do a tempo run on hills is impossible for me right now. I was supposed to maintain 11:33 but the stupid garmin just yelled at me the whole time. Average pace was 12:00/mi. The good thing is that if I can keep my chin up and stick with the training, all these hills are really going to help my improve my time for SBIM. Pretty sure the screaming beeps of the garmin are going to haunt me in my sleep.

I'm trying to channel positive running memories, but it isn't easy. I keep flashing back to Boston and the 4 miles I cried as I ran because I was in sooooo much pain. Thank goodness for this blog allowing me to look at past entries where I was celebrating running instead of complaining about it. I used to love the challenge of hills, and now I LOATHE them. I think I still have a lot more work to do to get my mind back into the right place for training. I think a job offer would help ;)

One more long run scheduled for Sunday but will likely be Monday morning due to travel. Supposed to be 10 miles. I might have to drive out to find a flat place for this one, not sure I can do 10 miles of hills at this point.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hardest Easy Run EVER.

The lucky winners of the training books are K who will be getting the Marathon/Half Marathon Training Guide and Steph (aka Anonymous) who is getting the Non-Runner's Marathon Guide for Women. Steph, I am bringing your book to Vegas and K I will be contacting this you for an address this week.

I would be a fool to think I could hide the fact I took last week off from training due to the physical/emotional stress of moving, so I won't pretend I did anything related to training over the past 7 days. oops. Looks like I am taking these PR's really seriously...

I am officially temporarily relocated indefinitely (read: no job, living with parents). It is true that you love your parents (and that your parents love you) so much more easily as you get older. So far I still can not see why I was so afraid of moving back home for so long. The running is (potentially) great, I have someone to rip on The Bachelorette with, we take turns making dinner, and I get to relax with a glass of wine and good conversation every night. Why get married when I can just live it up with my mom?????

Speaking of potentially great running....

Today I tried to get back into the training plan with a 4 mile easy run, which ended out being the hardest 4 mile run I have run in a really long time. This training tragedy is brought to you by sloth and procrastination!

What made it so difficult? Instead of getting out the door by 7 am when the marine layer is still cool and thick, I got out around 10:30 am when the fires of Satan are sweeping across the land. No problem, I thought, I'll just plan a route around parks with water fountains, bring a bottle, and drink plenty of water. Can you suffer from hyponatremia on a 4 mile run? The answer to that question feels like "YES!!!" at this moment.

So after slothing around the house, not eating breakfast or doing anything to help this run be a good one, I took off. About mile 2 I learned the dotted line on map my run meant "dry river bed trail" and proceeded to run in the sand with full sun exposure. Not the nice sand by the water at the beach, but the ankle twisting shoe filling sand by the beach parking lot. I got lost and had to backtrack at least 3 times to find the trail that didn't dead end in a rattle snake death pit. I could see the rich people sitting in their air conditioned mansions looking down on the stupid girl running in death canyon and laughing as I kept getting lost, but I was still trying to be positive and kept running in the sand even though it was ridiculously hard. At mile 3 I had to stop regularly in the shade to cool off, I was already through about 24 ounces of water. By the end of a very hilly mile 4 I stopped because my chest was hurting and I felt dizzy, so I used the last half mile as a cool off and walked home.

I didn't bring the Garmin because I want my easy runs to be easy running: no paying attention to pace and just enjoying the miles. I have no idea what miserable pace I kept, and I am just happy to be alive. Upon my return I battled the potential hyponatremia with the saltiest thing I could find in the pantry: beef jerky, mini saltines, and easy cheese (cheese in a can). And a glass of chocolate milk. Within about 10 minutes the weird headache/pain behind my eyes has pretty much gone away and I don't feel like vomiting and passing out.

Next time I am going in the AM and bringing a camera so you can see the new sights!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Moving makes me SICK!

There is something about packing and moving that is physically revolting to me. I hate doing it, and have done it nearly every year for the past 10 years straight. Packing boxes and making moving arrangements makes me sick to my stomach, literally nauseous and sucking the life out of me. At first I thought it was dehydration and now I am quite certain it is stress. It just isn't my time to become settled yet. Boo.

The only way I can escape it is to get out of the house and see people. So once a day I try to plan a little something to keep me from feeling like puking my brains out all day long. Get out and chat with people who make me smile and help me forget the stress of sorting through past memories and dealing with the aftermath of a really long year.

Moving the training schedule back a day this week and dropping a cross-training day. There were not enough hours in the day to get in my 4 miles, so I have set my alarm to rise bright and early for my easy run. Hopefully it will help me prepare for a little more packing and make it all a little less sickening.

Am I weird? Does moving/packing/major changes make anyone else sick? Like food poisoning feeling, stomach sitting in your throat, extreme yuckiness?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Free Book Giveaway!!!!

So, as many of you know, I am moving. Part of this process is getting rid of stuff I don't need, which includes 2 books on marathon training for beginners. Which means free books for you.

The Books:
Don't click to look inside, I am "borrowing" the picture from Amazon.
The NonRunner's Marathon Guide for Women by Dawn Dais. This book is hilarious and is written by a young woman who is training to run a race for charity. She views herself as an unlikely runner and tells her tale while giving you training tips in a very comical way. The first book I read when I decided I was going to run a marathon. You'll love it.

The click to look inside arrow is point to the guy's shorts. Gross. 
Marathon and Half-Marathon The Beginners Guide complete 26 week training program by Marnie Caron and The Sports Medicine Council of British Columbia. This book is very informative and much more structured than the other book in the give away and has information on everything from  nutrition to information and also includes a very detailed training plan. Great for someone who has never ran or is really intimidated by running and wants solid information about how to be successful without feeling pressure to be a super fast runner.

I am a big believer in reading books and passing them on for other's to enjoy, so if you want either/both books leave a comment for me by Wednesday at midnight telling me why you want the book (I don't care if you make up an elaborate lie, just tell me something). I bought the books myself so there is no sponsorship or anything involved. No one is paying me to get rid of them, I am only motivated by the need to minimize the amount of junk I am hauling into storage until a job comes around, which means liquidating nearly all 400+ books in my collection. I'll figure out some way to choose a "winner" if more than one person wants one. The odds are in your favor since only 18 people read this blog. Heck, if you know someone who you think might want them, enter for them. Since it is a give away, I'll even ship the books to you if you or the person you want to have them are in the US. Sweet deal, no?

A Covey of Quail!

Masters of camouflage, surprised I saw them!
Seen on my long run, a covey of quail! Tiny quail are so cute, they just bop around like little feather balls. No wonder everyone wants to eat them up!

A day delayed, today ends my first week of training for SBIM. I approached it as a "get your life together and just get out there week" and it went over quite nicely. Getting back into a training rhythm is a little challenging, but it is turning out to be very rewarding, as always.

Week in Review: 15.5 miles run 
Models make it look easy.
Monday: Crosstraining. Paddleboarding on the American River. Awesome core workout, you gotta try it! Made me want to learn to surf and windsurf.

Tuesday: Easy run. 2 miles on treadmill, supposed to be 3 but I pulled up the wrong training plan. whoopsie!

Wednesday: Rest. Had to save my energy for the DMV.

Thursday: 5 mile tempo. Warm up, 3 miles @ 11:32/mi pace, cool down. Had to break it in half because there was a dude hovering near the treadmill only 15 minutes into my run (HATE THAT). Of course, I stick to the time limit (30 minutes) and when it is his turn he totally goes over. After 40 minutes, I started to hover to give him a taste of his own medicine. It felt kinda dirty, but it worked. Did 20 minutes weights, 10 minutes core, 5 minutes stretching while I waited for Mr. Hoversby.

Friday: Rest. It's week 1, so I needed to not get too excited and over-exert myself. Especially since I crammed in weights and core with my tempo run Thursday. However, I did play some frisbee at the park, which got my heart rate up for a few minutes. Any activity counts for something, right???

Saturday: Epic hike. Palomarin trailhead to Alamere falls, 7.5 miles 600 ft elevation gain. Waterfall goes right into the ocean. Anyone in the bay area MUST do this hike. You can even lay out on the beach after. We were a fast moving bunch, practically trail-running, so it was a really good workout.  

Sunday: Rest. My legs and butt were hurtin' from the hike, which is how I knew it was a good one. Planned to run 8, but my running buddy was too sun burned from the hike so we just ate pancakes her husband made instead. After a beautiful drive up the coast and over the Golden Gate bridge to get home, it was too hot to make up the run. So I took a nap instead!

Monday: 8.5 miles. Supposed to be 8 but took a detour to stop by a school to refill water bottle and soak my hat. Running hats are terribly dorky, but they sure get the job done! It took me 2 years to break down and wear the goofy thing, and it has changed my life (or at least my body temperature). Supposed to be run at a 13:21 pace, but I didn't bring the garmin. With water stops and breaks in the shade to cool down (I slept in too late and had to run in the heat), the average was 14:07/mi. Which means my actual pace when running was probably around 13:00/mi. 

Today wasn't about hitting the paces, but committing to the miles so I can get into my training plan. I know that if I want to hit my goal of a 5 hour marathon I am going to have to really pay attention to my times, but for the first week I think i am off to a promising start. I was not in a good mental place for my Boston training cycle, it is really affected my ability to log good miles. Now I am in a much better place. I could immediately feel the difference today on the long run. Of course the first few miles were really crappy, but I fell into a great rhythm and really enjoyed the miles logged. Best of all, the past week I really feel like I have returned to my old self again, and it feels great!

Week 2 training plan:

Tuesday: Easy run 4 miles @13:17
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 4 miles speedwork including warmup, 2x1600 in 10:58 w/800 jogs, cool down
Friday: Crosstraining (probably pool with some core & weights)
Saturday: Moving day, so lots of lifting!
Sunday: Long run 9 miles @3:17

Excited for speedwork (although 10:58 isn't really speedy at all) and I am loving crosstraining. My final week in Napa so I am going to have to take advantage of the beautiful scenery!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Next Marathon Stop: Santa Barbara!

After weighing the pros and cons, I have registered to run the Santa Barbara International Marathon (SBIM) November 12, 2011. This is my last shot to fulfill my 2011 goal to complete a marathon without having to stop and walk. After knocking 20 minutes off my last race time, as well as choosing a course that is less challenging than San Francisco and Boston, I think I have a really good chance of getting this done! I also have a secondary goal, which is to finish in 5 hours or less (a VERY tall order!).

Thats 3 races lined up for the fall, September-October-November. Heartbreak Ridge Half, Temecula Half, and SBMI. I have never had such an intense line-up! There is something about actually being registered for a race that YOU have to pay for that makes training easier. Call me cheap, but I don't want to see that entry fee go to waste!

I think the biggest difference between this training cycle and Boston's training cycle is stress. I am much less stressed in the summer (school is out) and I have less financial stress since I'll be packing up and moving home with the parents. Finishing grad school also is a huge burden removed. The past 2 weeks I have felt so much like my old self, nothing like the I have the past 9 months. I find myself smiling when driving, laughing out loud at TV shows, excited to see people and go places. You never really realize how crummy you felt until you start feeling better. I am really looking forward to my first long(ish) run of the training plan (8 miles) which had to me moved to tomorrow AM due to heat. I bet it is going to feel GREAT.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hard Corps!

So, I talked to mi madre a day after I told her about the 13.1 heartbreak ridge race. She thinks I am crazy.
Race website course description (no map or elevation profile available):  13.1-mile course, 90% gravel off-road through the breathtaking rolling hills of Camp Pendleton in the 43 area. Course is on packed fire-roads.  This course offers a little bit of everything - it’s an out and back course, including rolling hills and some flat and fast stretches intermixed throughout. 
Not so scary sounding, right?  Maybe a little challenging, but no western states endurance challege.

Mom's description (has a vague idea of where it takes place, more than I do at least): I talked to a guy I work with who does triathlons and ironmans. He was talking about that race. There is a reason they call it heartbreak. Marines train there. It is not going to be easy (imagine it a tone of intimidation).

My response:  It's only a half marathon so it can't be as difficult as a full marathon. Boston had a hill called "heartbreak" hill, so if I could do that, I should be ok.

Mom's response: But that was a hill. This is heartbreak ridge.
(awkward pause)

My response: you are saying I probably won't PR?
(awkward pause)

Mom's response: Well, I'll be there to cheer you on anyway. Maybe after we can go down to the beach and I can lay you out on a stretcher next to me while I lay out. First we can put you in the water and see what you attract. Go shark fishing.

My response: You need to have a fishing license for that.

I am so lucky to have family that supports me in my running endeavors, even though they don't really fully understand why anyone would want to be a distance runner. And knowing my mom, she was probably using some reverse psychology on me to make me train harder so I do PR at the race. She knows how competitive I am, and knows that anytime someone doubts my ability to do something it pretty much guarantees that I will get the job done. After all, if people hadn't expressed doubt about my ability to run a marathon, I probably never would have stepped up to the plate and got it done. Call it the Type A in me, but I am a goal/challenge oriented person who has a controlling desire to prove that I can do anything.
...and then I found this race picture. Maybe mom is on to something...
So, gotta train harder to make sure I PR on this breathtaking hilly/flat course that I now have a reason to be very afraid of. Good thing my new training ground is crazy hilly!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Bucket List

I mentioned a while back that I was working on a bucket list. Now that I have it rounded off to an even 55, I am happy to post it and hear if anyone has any tips for completing any of this list. I was originally shooting for a number more glorious, like 101, but nearly 8 moths have gone by and 55 was the best I could do. Let's just consider it a work in progress? Some are much easier (and cheaper) than others. I hope to get the first 55 done by the time I am 55, although I hope I continue to add a ton more to the list and make it impossible to get everything done before then. Life is short, so I better hop to it! Bold italic items have been completed.

55 by 55

1.         See Dave Matthews Band in Concert
2.         Go on Wheel of Fortune
3.         Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
4.         Ride in A Helicopter
5.         Hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim
6.         Hike the Narrows in Zion National Park
7.         Visit Acadia National Park
8.         See icebergs and glaciers
9.         Complete a through hike (PCT or AMT?)
10.      Backpack to Machu Picchu
11.      Learn to trail run
12.      Complete the Dipsea
13.      Complete a Triathlon
14.      Complete an Ultra Marathon
15.      Complete the Boston Marathon
16.      Run a half marathon under 2 hours
17.      Run a marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes
18.      Learn to kiteboard
19.      Learn to surf
20.      Learn to windsurf
21.      Go whitewater kayaking
22.      Go Canyoneering
23.      Do a zipline through the jungle
24.      Get 6 pack abs to rock a bikini in
25.      Travel to Costa Rica
26.      Travel to Morrocco
27.      Travel to Thailand
28.      Travel to Tahiti
29.      Travel to Hong Kong
30.      Travel to Japan
31.      Go on a cruise
32.      Go on a trip outside the country, just Mom & I
33.      Visit all 50 states
34.      Learn a second language
35.      Obtain a Master’s Degree
36.      Teach Elementary School
37.      Become a certified Sommelier
38.      Volunteer to teach adult literacy
39.      Get published in a scholarly journal
40.      Donate blood on a regular basis
41.      Be married to the love of my life
42.      Give Birth
43.      Own a small ranch
44.      Have a gourmet Kitchen
45.      Cultivate a large vegetable garden
46.      Learn to compost
47.      Own a goat.
48.      Own chickens.
49.      Learn how to fish.
50.      Make Turducken
51.      Make homemade cheese
52.      Make my own wine, from vine to bottle
53.      Knit a blanket
54.      Win an award for something at the fair, like crafts or photography.
55.      Be completely debt free

It's moving season

A year ago today, I was offered the position at VHS and accepted my first teaching job. I was so excited to have a job, after 40+ applications and tons of rejection letters, it was the peace I had been desperately praying for. I was headed down south to wait out the interviews and low and behold, the offer came when I was on the road. Two offers, actually. Within an hour of each other. I felt so blessed!

365 days, 15 applications, and 1 pink slip later, it's moving time! A week from tomorrow the parents come up and i'll try to cram all my stuff into the back of the truck so I can move back down south and play the waiting game. Although I have had an offer, the salary was much too low for me to support myself on, so I had to say no. Now to cross my fingers and patiently wait for an interview.

To occupy myself in the interim, I registered for the 13.1 Heartbreak Ridge on Camp Pendleton early September. I hope there are lots of handsome Marines there to cheer me on! Having my marathon training plan really helped me get through the stress of job applications, moving, and starting a new job. Although it also caused me to spread myself a little thin last year, I think the absence of grad school will make it a little easier to meet the goals I am setting for myself. Being that my stepdad is a Marine, it would be cool to do a race on his own training grounds. Plus, a goal of 2011 was to set a new PR for the half, which I think I might be able to do with some training. However, this is a hard course so we'll have to see how that goes. My other half marathons were flat, so I am really setting myself up for a challenge!
I also was able to convince my mom to do a 5k in Temecula in late October! I am not sure if I am going to do a 5k or half, but I am really excited to do another race with my mom :)

I still haven't selected a Marathon. One of my goals for the year was to run a marathon without having to stop and walk part of it. I am also going to try to PR again, hopefully with a sub 5 hours time! I have narrowed it down to Mailbu International Marathon or the Santa Barbara International Marathon, both the weekend of November 12. There really aren't a lot of races to choose from in the late fall, I am guessing it is because of all the holidays. Here are the pros and cons of each, and maybe you can help me decide:

Malibu International Marathon
Only 2 hours from my parent's house
Runs along the coast
Pace team
Beach towel instead of shirt
Coconut water and other hippie stuff on course and at finish
Potential Groupon? (They had one last year around September)

Expensive ($145 entry fee)
Pay to park ($8)
Inclines in the end (eerily similar to Boston)
Heard the first half near Camarillo is boring farm land, but flat
Sunday means no rest day before going back to work (if I have a job)

Santa Barbara International Marathon
In Santa Barbara, which is amazing and beautiful
On a Saturday, so more rest time after race
Gu on the course, which is my gel of choice
hills are more rolling, less challenging than Malibu
Cheaper than Malibu ($115 Entry Fee)
Cheaper hotel rates for the night before
3 hours from the house means Friday night hotel (cha-ching)
Course is difficult to understand

Obviously I am leaning towards Santa Barbara. If anyone wants to run it, we can split a super cheap hotel room from Friday and Saturday nights (I do believe it is a holiday weekend). Whatcha think???

OK, enough typing about running. It's time to get outside and start doing some. I forgot how to like running and need to train myself to like it more than being lazy. Time for some tempo miles!

Everything Else Moorea

Beside tempt fate with shark and raw fish, we did a less risky tourist things as well.
Sunset from the overwater bungalows at the Hilton.
Unlike everyone else who lives in California, I have never been to Hawaii or other tropical island, so of course I had to do a polynesian dinner show! We chose the Fire dancing show at the Hilton because a) it was about $50 cheaper than the tiki village show, b) bbq dinner with a menu we both could agree on for the price (probably around $70pp), and c) it was at the Hilton and we wanted to crash a 5 star party. It was a really good choice. The food was amazing and the dessert bar made me feel like I had died and gone to heaven!!!! The pastry chef there was amazing. I had 5 little bite sized desserts, including a 3 bite creme brulee and a weird vanilla foam thing. I didn't have one thing I didn't love.

I bet these guys are a ton of fun to party with!
After all that good food, we were front row for an amazing show! These people love to perform. After the show they let you come up and take pictures with you. They are so happy, laughing and having a great time. I wish I spoke french so I could have had an intelligent conversation.

They asked me to come up and being the awkward tourist trying to shake my hips, but since I had on really tall shoes that I had never worn before, I passed. Good thing, because they picked the lady sitting behind us and she could dance really well.
Not sure I would be down with this
They did the fire part of the show outside, and it was pretty awesome too. Hard to see because I didn't bring my glasses and had to stand on a chair to see over all the cameras people were holding up, but still awesome.

Another night we did happy hour at Hotel Hibiscus, where they had a great singer/guitar pair. It started with Tahitian music, but then she started taking requests and did popular french songs. Everyone was having such a good time they started doing audience participation songs, some of which I remembered from French 1 my freshman year of high school. Win! She even sang a song in English and dedicated it to us. Such a fun night!

If you ever make your way to Moorea, make sure to go to the lookout. We rented a car one rainy day so I could go buy my pearls, we go go to a dinner show, and to see the island. The views are amazing, especially on a clear day. On the way home from the lookout, we stopped at the juice factory. Probably the biggest inside joke on the island. Thinking we are going to get to try all these yummy juice drinks made fresh, it ended out they only wanted to serve us alcoholic drinks. Pre-mixed cocktails, rums, liqueur, and something that tasted like moonshine. Only one taste of pineapple juice at the end. Fun, but definitely not what were were expecting. No one wants a DUI in a foreign country.
View from a trail just above our resort
Before we left we took a hike to get an overview of the private Motu where we had been snorkeling and to capture the breathtaking beauty of the island. I would totally come back here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why my Bestie is the best

Bestie's Bachelorette 3 years ago. Strangely we have few picture together, especially since college. 
Seeing the Bestie with her little one made me cry. It took everything I had to hold back the tears, but the dam just broke loose when I went to say goodbye. After I left the hospital, I cried some more. I have never cried like this before. Is this normal? Is it cliche to keep saying how amazingly beautiful a new baby and his mother are?

She is everything I hope I can one day be. She is a wonderful wife, wonderful hostess, great employee, and amazing friend. After seeing her with Trent, motherhood is just so natural to her. She makes it look so easy. 36 hours after his birth she is full of grace and charm. Like 18 hours of labor is no big deal. And now I can add fantastic mother to the list of everything she does so well.

When something amazing happens to really good people, especially really good people you love, you just become overwhelmed with joy. I am not a big fan of crying or being overly emotional in general, but I wish I could feel as insanely happy as I do today EVERYDAY.

Congrats Raquel. Sorry if the goodbye was awkward today. I just love you guys so much!!!!!

UPDATE! You can see Trent's birth story here. It is pretty much a scene from a made for TV movie. If you love babies, then this is for you. The pictures of this little guy will MELT YOUR HEART.