Monday, June 21, 2010

It's My Birthday!

So I'm going to spend it celebrating with my family and friends. But soon I will tell you about the Wasatch Back because it was AWESOME! Here is a quick summary:

THE GOOD: my team had synergy. We supported each other, we laughed with each other we fell into some fun inside jokes together. I could not have made it through without them. I later learned one teammate described it as all worth it because he got to fall in love with 11 new people. While I already knew and loved a couple of my teammates, I couldn't agree more. I especially loved running it with my sister - she took extra good care of me when I needed it. And believe me, I needed it.

THE BAD: my allergies turned to some sort of black lung cough of death full of phlegm so the altitude went from challenging to dauntingly impossible - or so I thought when I could barely suck in enough air to walk, let alone run. My second leg was especially heinous with its never-ending altitude climb. But I did it. All of it. I just wanted to die somewhere in the middle is all.

THE UGLY: the finish. The whole thing ended at The Canyons resort and they focused so much on the lame party with their vendors at the top that they forgot to take care of the runners. It was a scramble to make it to the finish line to meet my sister and she was in bad shape after fighting pedestrian and car traffic for her final 1/2 mile. I later learned many teams missed their last runner and weren't able to cross the finish line together. That was followed by a nightmare snarl of traffic fighting to get out of the parking lot. It was a terrible way to end what was otherwise an awesome experience.

Monday, June 14, 2010

random catch up (and yes, all my posts are now random)

Hmmm, looks like it is about time I do another random, rambling post so the two or three of you that still pay attention will keep paying attention and not wander off like all my other readers . . . ahem, let's get started.
  • That "ahem" was not just figurative. Due to allergies run amok I have to resist the urge to clear my throat ever 3.5 seconds.
  • I'm resisting that urge right now.
  • I have post nasal drip issues caused by allergies which not only cause an almost uncontrollable compulsion to constantly clear my throat, but also makes my voice hoarse
  • oh, and also? it restricts my breathing capacity to the point where, when I'm running, I feel like I'm breathing through a very tiny straw.
  • Like a coffee stirrer kind of straw - not those big fat McDonald's kind
  • why does McDonald's have the best straws?
  • actually, do they still have those straws? I haven't been in ages. About once every couple of years I get a nearly uncontrollable urge to get a McFlurry - the oreo kind.
  • Wow, an oreo McFlurry would do wonders for my raw throat
  • see, there is that uncontrollable urge! There is a McDonald's Cafe with a walk-up window on my walk home.
  • the old fashioned McDonald's shut down and I thought woohoo (because I'm cruel like that about franchise food) until a few weeks later it opened as this fancy looking McCafe with a more modern color pallete and design
  • the internet advises me to sip water each time I want to clear my throat, like right now
  • that's a lot of water
  • of course, it would help with the whole preventing kidney stones thing, right?
  • also - I finally bought a netti pot
  • don't know what that is? well, don't judge based on the description because it is truly awesome, it is a saline nasal irrigation and it clears sinuses and relieves post nasal drip for about 20 minutes (for me)
  • the one I bought at duane read has a suspiciously phallic looking spout - gross, I know, but I had to tell someone because it is also pretty funny
  • called my doctor Friday desperate for an appointment or drugs or anything to help me breathe better since my race is barreling its way toward me with increasing speed - it is this Friday!!
  • no one ever called me back and when I called again this morning I was told I could have an appointment on July 21st - I would hope my allergies will have cleared up on their own by then
  • the doctor (through Ida, the woman answering the phone) was eventually coerced into calling in a prespcription for my post-nasal drip
  • she was surprisingly reluctant to do so
  • it isn't like I relish in the thought of spraying inhaled steroids up my nose
  • last time I did that I gained a pound for each spray almost instantly
  • 10 of those pounds are still hanging around
  • I'm also supposed to take Zyrtec
  • Hopefully this will all kick in well before Friday to allow free breathing for my race
  • running 12.4 miles in 24 hours while breathing through a coffee stirrer is not my idea of fun
  • I'm not even sure running 12.4 miles in 24 hours is my idea of fun - I'll have to let you know about that once it is all over
  • speaking of running, the guy helping me at the running store in my debate between purchasing a hat or a visor recognized me and added me to some secret store list that gives me a 10% discount each time I'm there
  • I told him with my upcoming race stopping in has become more of a compulsion, "just in case" I need something
  • I decided on a hat
  • I liked the hat I looked at at lululemon earlier in the day better because it had a pocket - a hat with a pocket!! But it was way too big for me despite the "one size fits all" claim
  • and it was a woman's one size fits all hat
  • have I ever mentioned my small head to you before? my siblings think it is endlessly funny to mock my small head
  • don't complain to me about your big head now, a small head is equally challenging in terms of proportion and proper fitting head wear
  • for example, each graduation ceremony I walked in (3 total) required me to wear some dumb hat and despite taking my head measurement, each mortar board was too big and always flopped to the side in whatever direction my tassel was weighing it down - it also just slid around at will on my greasy, stick-straight hair - awesome for photos!
  • my head is just another part of my anatomy that seems out of proportion with the rest - unusually large hands (for a girl), extra small feet (for my height), disproportionately long legs and arms, extra short torso and small head.
  • I'm not complaining, it is just odd when I start looking at it all and get surprised I don't look like a freak with everything being either too big or too small
  • new subject - or maybe back to an old subject
  • Saturday night I did my first night run - I set off at 930 pm hoping the heat had died off from its earlier muggy ickness I experienced on my morning run (Saturday was my last 2 day run!) - my allergies weren't as bad and I was surprised by how many people were out running and strolling and riding bikes along the Hudson River
  • I even ran further south than I had originally planned to explore the newly opened park near Chelsea Piers (hadn't run south in a while)
  • I felt good, like I was in a groove and I felt confident about my race
  • upon my return I shared an elevator with 3 people heading to the roof for a party, as I left the elevator (earphones still in but with the music at a low volume) I overheard one of the girls comment "she must be a runner . . . "
  • I really wish I could have heard the rest of what she said
  • I felt validated being recognized as a runner but have had fun playing with ways to complete the sentence like "because she was dripping in sweat" or the more obvious "because she is wearing running clothes/shoes at 1030 pm and what other loser would be doing that on a Saturday night?" or my favorite but least likely to be true "because she has that leanness of a runner" ha!
  • oh, thanks for all of your support through the great sink explosion of 2010, my plumbing woes followed me to my hotel in San Diego but thankfully have not returned in my apartment (knock on wood!)
  • fyi, the apartment has been thoroughly bleached
  • the hotel in SD had a gurgily sink that was just taunting me and a really slow draining tub
  • yes, I complained but not until check out. I was too busy with work and otherwise lazy to ask for a new room while I was there - I just didn't want to bother shifting all my stuff to a new room for such a short duration
  • my flight to San Diego had a 2 hour delay sitting on the tarmac out of JFK
  • I think I'm now at the point where I'm just resigned to that sort of thing since there is truly nothing I can do about it
  • I worked some on the plane but I've also managed to read a few more books than usual so that is a bonus
  • yesterday I babysat my cousin's 6 month old baby
  • he was super smiley and adorable and when I took him out of the stroller when we got to my apartment he put his chubby little arms around my neck and just hugged me - my heart melted significantly
  • and the memory of that hug really helped get me through the part where he was so tired he didn't know how to fall asleep and just screamed and screamed
  • eventually he fell asleep and timed it well before the hug memory died off
  • just 3 hours alone with a baby gave me a renewed appreciation for moms - I delusionally thought I could do laundry, pay my bills and finish cleaning up while he amused himself on the floor . . . none of that actually happened until after he was asleep and then really only the folding laundry part
  • work is crazy and I should really wrap this up and get back to it now
  • right after I order dinner because I am starving
  • posting may continue to be light since I head out to Salt Lake on Wednesday for my race and I am sticking around out there through early next week so I can mark off turning another year older with my family and Utah friends but I'll try to catch up about the race soon

Monday, June 07, 2010

plumbing horrors, memorial weekend and stuff that's been stuck on my camera for a while

Hi friends. We're still friends, right? Even though I have been extremely neglectful and only call on you when I need something? Like right now. When I desperately need to pretend there are not two men in my kitchen as I type trying to fix whatever horrifying brokenness in the plumbing that caused my kitchen sink to inexplicably gurgle and fill with a horrifying black liquid. That's right. My sink spontaneously filled with black gunk. At least my abs are getting a work out as my stomach folds into itself in horror.

On the plus side, those dishes I was kind of ignoring in the sink? As soon as I saw the stuff coming up, I quickly emptied the dishwasher and put those dishes in there as fast as I could. After I called the front desk twice in the span of 10 minutes begging them to send someone before I was forced to remedy the situation on my own.

On the other plus side, at least I was home when this happened!! Seriously, I have been traveling so much for work lately that if this had happened any other day I could have returned days later to a nightmarish black sludge spilling all over my kitchen . . . . okay, I'm making myself sick and the reason I started typing was to take my mind off the men in my kitchen who are plunging and filling up buckets they empty into my toilet.

So here is something positive:
This is my friend Alison and I and a horse we will just call Hank for convenience sake. I had the great pleasure to spend Memorial weekend with Alison, her husband and her adorable little baby Grady (more on him later) in Portland, where they live. Alison was a little bit afraid of my friend Hank. I sort of fell in love with him, especially when he got camera shy and tried to hide out behind me during our photo shoot.
Alison and Matt were such amazing hosts. Here's a peek at them from our Sunday morning walk through Sellwood and whatever this awesome park was.

And despite the fact (or maybe because of?) that Alison is carrying an umbrella, it never rained on us. We ate lots and lots of delicious food - mostly made by Alison even though she is still adjusting to having a newborn. Actually, I'd say she is pretty well adjusted. I mean she accompanied me on my longest run ever (over 9 miles!) while that baby's life is still being counted in weeks!
I'm just asking myself why it took me a whole year and a half to finally make it out to visit. No question, I will be back. Especially when there are views like this to behold.

And this too:

Also, this:
Isn't he adorable? He really is one of the coolest babies I know. No doubt Portland is a very cool town to visit. Here are Alison and I post-lunch just before I had to get on a plane and leave. You will notice how I am politely refraining from licking the remaining chocolate hazelnut concoction off my plate. I'm pretty sure chocolate brought Alison and me together.

After I left Portland I made a far too brief stop over in Salt Lake. Luckily it was long enough for me to enjoy dinner with my sister (although I was still reeling from the chocolate hazelnut thing with Alison) and drop in on my Ragnar team captain and her chickens . . . that's right, her chickens.

I think I was far more comfortable with Hank the horse. My sister on the other hand appears to be a natural chicken handler.

Maybe Amanda will convince her to become a suburban chicken farmer too . . . although I'm not counting on that considering her reluctance to simply be suburban.

In case you are wondering, my sink is not yet fixed. I have heard gurgling and wet-vac-ing and I've been told a plumber will be here within the hour with more serious plumbing equipment. I'm choosing to focus on all the crazy photos that were hiding on my memory card in my camera that I never thought to download before.

Such as this:

Those are my favorite NYC friends. Only now they don't all live here. That photo was taken on Ruby's last night in the city clear back in February!
Also way back in February, I took this photo of when Lucy came to visit me:

And no, I did not make up the hide-a-bed couch for Lucy. That was for my faux god children Max and Christian. Lucy slept with me. She is my therapy dog.

Speaking of my god children (I bet you didn't know I had any did you?) I sort of turned them into white trash when they came to stay with me.

They wanted to drag these fancy blow-up sleds their mom left with them but I was too lazy to haul them to the park and blow them up and I shot down Max's invitation to take a taxi (after I informed him I do not have a car). I told them garbage bags work just as well. They were pretty skeptical at first. But they looked like pros in no time:

I'm guessing it was all of that Olympics stuff we were watching the night before that sort of rubbed off on them.
They were going off jumps and everything, I just wasn't fast enough with the camera work to capture their awesome tricks.

Wondering if this post is over yet? Well, there is still someone in my kitchen monitoring my nasty sink and I have been informed that those paper towels I store under the sink didn't make it so no, I am not finished with this post.

What else was hiding on my camera? A trip to Chicago! I actually had to go for work and managed to arrange my meetings for Monday morning so I could spend the weekend in the suburbs to visit this little sweetie:

That's my niece and she gets more fun every time I visit. Also, her energy doubles or maybe even quadruples. I had a hard time keeping up with all of her demands err, requests. And sometimes she mocked me for my efforts! Like when I made this little beauty during play dough time:

She claimed it was "scary" and kept knocking its head off. I realize I'm not much of an artist but it is sad when a 2 year old is such a tough critic. At least she was a little bit gentler with her critique when she asked me to draw a lady bug on a rolling pin . . . yeah, she's a creative one. And no, it certainly didn't look much like a lady bug or a rolling pin but since it wasn't scary she gave me a pass and according to my mom who was just there it was still up on her easel.

I also got to hang out with this little chub a lub of pure happiness.

I'm pretty sure if you are ever having a bad day you just need a little bit of play time with my nephew and you will cheer right up. I mean, who could resist squeezing those cheeks?

They are quite a pair those two:

And finally, isn't this the sweetest dad and daughter photo? Sometimes it is hard for me to comprehend my baby brother is a dad but then I see him with his kids and I'm just so impressed.

Well, the plumber is now here and is working away in my sink with a vacuum and there are gurgling noises and foul smells. Hopefully it will all end happily soon so I can finish watching the very cheezy movie I recorded off of ABC Family yesterday - Stick It. I was more than half-way through and it was pretty awesome but I don't think the plumber or the building maintenance guy would appreciate it.

But to finish this long mess of a post off with something less disgusting than my plumbing problems, I will give you a brief update on the running situation. Ragnar is a week from Friday. That is both exciting and terrifying. In between now and then I have a hearing to attend in San Diego and a major brief to write. Not to mention a plumbing problem that needs to be 100% fixed before I am willing to leave my kitchen unattended! As I mentioned earlier (if you've managed to read all the nonsensical words I've shoved in between the fun photos), a week ago I managed to run over 9 miles! It felt pretty incredible. I feel obligated to tell you that I take a 60 second walking break every 10 minutes to get myself through. I'm pretty sure that is a mental hurdle but breaking the length down into manageable portions is the only way I can face it.

This last weekend my training schedule called for three 35-minute runs in 24 hours. Saturday I had to attend a shower in Brooklyn. You can see all the lovely photos from that event here. The mom-to-be looked amazing despite the sweltering heat and backyard venue while I cursed my decision to wear jeans (!!) and a silk shirt. The chocolate fountain, a bundt cake shipped all the way from Arizona, great conversation and the discovery of something called Ting soda made it all worth it. Not to mention a chance to catch up the star of the show Kamillah!

Anyway, a journey to Brooklyn is always an all day affair, especially when subway lines are confused and stop in tunnels for extra long periods of time (at least it was air conditioned!). So squeezing three runs in on Saturday was out of the question. Instead I opted to push the job to Sunday.

But Sunday morning I woke up feeling awful. Sure, there was the daunting dread of having to face not one but three runs but there was also a severe onset of cramps (not to overshare but of course my period started early on the day I wore white jeans! luckily no junior high embarrassing moments happened) and a nasty head ache and an overall feeling of malaise. By noon I realized there was just no avoiding the runs, I had to just push through it all and ignore the excuses. It was a terrible, terrible, terrible run. The temperature was around 90 degrees and I had to stop at every water fountain I saw but that did nothing because the humidity was so intense there was no relief to be had.

[Umm, I am sort of afraid of what is happening in my kitchen right now. It can never be a good thing when you hear a gush of water and your plumber utter shit under his breath. And yes, in case you are wondering, this plumber comes with the obligatory plumber's crack. What is up with that? Is it seriously a job requirement?]

Anyway, back to the terrible run. As it turns out the first 17 or so minutes of my run were the good part because when I hit my half-way point and turned around I discovered that the wind was insane. Apparently there was some sort of hurricane lingering off shore somewhere in the distance was sending some of its excess wind our way. It felt like someone was physically pushing me backwards. I hated every step. I even cheated. I paused my ipod, sat down on a bench and fiddled with shoes and toyed with the idea of quitting. But I didn't quit. I laced my shoes back up and started running again. I took a couple of extra walking breaks but I finished the run.

For run number two, I went to the gym. The monotony of the treadmill was infinitely better than facing that wind and heat and humidity a second time. I told myself I would do the third run outside. But I couldn't do it. I just couldn't chance running into that wind one more time. So I went to bed after watching the Lakers lose (hurray!) and got up at 615 to do my third run before meeting with my trainer at 7, well within 24 hours.

I only have a handful of training runs left before I pack myself into a van for the real deal. I wish I could say I was ready. Mostly I am just hoping adrenaline will kick in and carry me through. Also, I'm hoping this plumber will have something positive to say soon because I really need to go to bed. It has been a very long day.

UPDATE: It is just about midnight and finally, FINALLY, my kitchen is back in order. There is still one guy in my apartment mopping (I guess this wasn't all bad). Actually, he just mopped himself out the front door and I am left with a fan drying the floor and a promise that someone will replace the cupboard doors under my sink tomorrow. And yes, I am a little afraid of my kitchen right now but it appears they have done a great job with the clean up. So I'm going to bed. Thanks for helping me get through this terrible ordeal.
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