Thursday, May 31, 2012

I love my job

I’ve been absent from blogging because I’ve been out here for work:

work2I’m working on this sweet site cleaning up some toxic groundwater.  Beneath this beauty is some nasty nasty nasty stuff that has contaminated the groundwater; the contamination is for the most part contained and groundwater remediation has been ongoing for 10+ years.  I get to work on some cutting edge bio-remediation where we inject bugs that will actually eat the contamination.  Cool, right??  I love my job (and the fact I get to be outside all day long).

We also had some friends in town all week.  They have these two hilariously amazing little girls, ages 3 and 6, and we had so much fun!  But man, I am tired.  I don’t see how all you parents out there have any energy.

guestsI have a bunch of blog posts I want to write and hope to catch up this weekend.  Oh and a week from today Jeff and I will be in Utah for the Utah Valley Marathon!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hide and Seek

Yesterday Jeff and I got in a nice easy run and prepared our carb-filled dinner (20 miler this morning).  As we are sitting down eating, we hear a strange noise.  Then we both look at each other and say “Where is Elle?” “When was the last last time you saw her?” “Was that strange noise Elle?”

We start looking in the usual Elle hiding spots (yes, she hides a lot and had good hiding spots, usually under things).

where is elle

Elle is nowhere to be found.  PANIC sets in as we don’t remember when we saw her last.  Did she run away?  Did someone steal her (this is unlikely because nobody would want her besides us, but the thought crossed my mind)?  Is she ok??

Then I hear, “I found her!” Then “Ohmygosh, how did you GET there?” And then laughing.

In the basement laundry room there is a closet that goes back deep under stairs.  This is where we keep our camping gear.  In the very back corner we see this:

FOUNDELLERemember how I said how she is horrified of flies?  Well, we hear and see a fly in the basement and realize she is shaking in complete fear.  Poor thing!  She was hiding from the fly!  So we did what ever good dog-parents would do and killed that fly.  Then we showed Elle that we killed it to put her at ease.

FLY IMG_2062 Unfortunately just as she inspected our killing, the fly came back to life!  It started wiggling and nearly gave the poor dog a heart attacked.  We then stomp on the fly to make sure it is dead.  Order is now restored in our household.

(I can’t believe I just wrote an entire blog post about this.  I kinda feel like that weird dog lady.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Camping Before a Half

Jeff and I have done several half marathons that are located off the beaten path; the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon, the Ocean Shores Half Marathon, and the San Juan Half Marathon.  In these instances we have decided to make the weekend a car camping weekend combined with the half marathon.  These instances make me oh so happy because these are my two favorite things to do!
But don’t think that we are roughing it before the half….. we need us a good night of sleep before we run 13.1 miles!  We figured out a camping system fit for royalty and hope to do some camping/halfing here in Colorado too.
We have a large roomy tent that you can stand up in.  We love our REI Hobitat Tent.  (They have changed the rain fly since our version and I think the 2011 version is much better than what we have, esp. for the Pacific NW rain.)
Bring a queen sized air mattress and bedding (yes, we also have the coolest zebra print blanket for camping).  Heck, we even bring our feather bed and down comforter and forget we are camping.  And yes, we also bring beds for our dogs (the dogs are good campers), but those little creeps always manage to burrow their way into our warm and cozy bed by the morning.  Oh and for entertainment we bring books, music and a portable DVD player (I told you we don’t rough it).IMG_1171Bring plenty of delicious food.  We always do foil dinners and pre-cut all the meat and veggies and put it in Ziploc bags full of marinade before we leave.  Then when we are at the campsite we just put the food in foil and cook over the camp fire.  Soooo good and soooo easy!
IMG_0871 I have a well-organized camp box full of all supplies necessary for camping.  That way I never forget anything (in theory).  Just look at this amazing spread, I even bring a table cloth and plastic wine glasses!  Jeff and his brother love when I take surprise photos of them.
IMG_0876 Come race morning I have my Jetboil to heat up water and then drink instant coffee (Starbucks Via is the best).  I eat my banana, oatmeal (using the Jetboil again), protein bar, and GU chomps like I do at home.  Then I just go run my little heart out.  Here are some pictures from past races/camping:
IMG_1101 The night before North Olympic Discovery Trail Half, our dogs share a moment watching the sun set over the Straight of Juan de Fuca.  Precious and quite nerdy.
bus to start Taking the bus to the start of the NODT Half.  I ended up having a terrible race, I think Jeff did pretty well. The race was fun and had some great views.
Ocean ShoresThis is on the Washington coast after the Ocean Shores Half.  The half ran about 5 miles on the Washington coast beach.  But don’t think that is hardcore, because the sand here is very compact and you can even drive on the beach.  This was the only race I had a DNF.  I was 2nd female at mile 10 when I had an emergency…. I had to poop, but I was on the beach where there was no cover.  People saw, I was embarrassed and had to leave the course and sneak back to the finish.  Terrible memories.  I drank away my sorrows that night, we even played blackjack at the Indian casino.  Classy.
san juanThese are photos from the San Juan half.  I took second female, but that isn’t saying much because it was a small race.  The course was gorgeous, but ridiculously hilly and windy.  Hardest course I have ever ran.  Jeff got to drive and see me in several locations and even gave me Elle to run a few miles with me to keep me company, you can see her little body in the first picture.
I totally recommend doing this because it makes for a really awesome experience and you end up saving a ton a money (no hotel!).  And you get to go to some races that are off the beaten path.  LOVE IT!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The balance between TOUGH and Feminine

Call me weird or not “running trendy,” but I just don’t like running skirts or really any girly color or pattern.  I have tried to like the running skirt or running in pink with cute ribbons or sparkly headbands…. but I just end up feeling silly, awkward, or weak

How can you possibly feel tough when you are in a dainty pink skirt?

Is this a product of my soccer and basketball days?  I remember hearing “don’t wear white shoes or a ribbon in your hair, that will just make you a target.”  And because I played center midfield and was the skinny kid going up against strong girls with 20-30 pounds on me, I could not be a target.  I even thought that wearing baggy soccer clothes would make me look bigger, stronger and tougher (um, fail there, it just make me look awkward but at least I felt comfortable)… and definitely in a “tough” color.

I prefer to wear to wear black, blue, and red.  Tough colors (in my mind).  And I prefer a tough style (no ruffles or skirts).  I feel more comfortable and in my mind I look better in these tough colors and styles.  And when I look good, I feel good.  When I feel good, I perform better.  Tough = Fast in my mind.

With all of this being said, I don’t judge other women for wearing pink skirts.  If looking feminine makes them feel better and if embracing femininity makes them feel empowered, I think that is wonderful.  Everyone is different.  I also think it is great that there are so options out there for them, in fact, I feel like there are more girly options out there than “tough” options!  Power to the pink and to the skirts…….

But please don’t eliminate my tough colors and styles!  I feel like it is getting harder and harder to find colors and styles that make me feel tough.  Very few companies have found the right balance between tough and feminine. 

Recently, I discovered a women’s running apparel company that is based out of Seattle called OiselleI feel like they NAILED the balance between tough and feminine.  Oiselle has managed to appeal to my tough side while producing clothing that won’t make me look like a man.  They use modern graphic designs that feel fresh and current…..and their feminine touches are subtle.  Oiselle also puts an emphasis on running, and on running fast.  Their clothes are comfortable and practical while looking both tough and feminine.  Nice work Oiselle, nice work.  I respect what you are doing…. and THANKS.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

13.1 + 4.9 = 18

Jeff is in San Francisco this weekend leaving me to get in 18 miles on my own.  I am not a fan of long runs, especially if I don’t have someone to help motivate me, so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get the miles in.  Then I noticed that there was a half marathon starting and ending at City Park in Denver.  The entry fee was $95…. um, I definitely did NOT want to spend that much to have others to run with.  But I noticed that someone was selling their bib on Craigslist for $40, YES PLEASE!  So I ran the Colfax Half Marathon as Lisa, a 38-year-old female. 

Part I- 13.1

The race started at 6AM in the freaking morning…. soooo early!  But I made it to the start just in time for the gun to go off. 

As I started running, a man near me struck up a conversation.  He was very friendly and we immediately hit it off chatting away as we logged in the miles.  I soon discovered he was a sports writer for the Associated Press who covers local college and pro sports…. AND skiing and track and field.  He is living the dream in my eyes.  He gets PAID to go to sporting events and then to write about them.  He has been all over the world to cover various sporting events.  His next big trips are to Eugene for the Track and Field Trials and then to London for the Olympics.  JEALOUS.

I don’t think we stopped talking the entire 13.1 miles, and it was quiet possibly the most fun race I have ever ran!  THANK YOU PAT GRAHAM!!  Oh and Pat, if you ever need an sports assistant writer or running partner, call me (but please don’t judge my writing based on this blog…..).

I finished the half in 1:42:05.  Not too shabby for talking the ENTIRE time and not really pushing myself (and hopefully Lisa, the 38-year-old female whose bib I wore, is happy with her time)!

Part II- 4.9

I have been emailing/tweeting a runner in the Denver area who runs at a similar pace than me.  We were both in town this weekend and I asked her if she would run a few miles with me after the half so I could get in 18 miles.  We met up and started my “cool-down.”

Laura and I ran around City Park, chatting the entire time.  I am so glad she met up with me because, again, the miles flew by due to great conversation!  We logged 4.9 miles, enough to put me at 18.00 miles.  I hope that we meet up more in the future because I think the two of us could feed off each other and improve our speed.  It is fun to talk to someone as into running as I am!


What a great morning!  It just reinforces what I already know…. I LOVE RUNNING!  And I love the running community…. Running has allowed me to meet some pretty awesome people and today was no exception.  Thanks Pat and Laura!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thinking but not Blogging

My mind is a constant whirlwind of thoughts.  I am constantly thinking of things or observing things or reading things that then send me into more thinking. 

Now that I have this blog thing, I feel the need to pollute the internet with my thoughts via writing!  Don’t worry, I try to filter these thoughts and only share a very small percentage of what I am thinking about.  With that being said, I haven’t been doing daily posts lately….. and I think the internet is very relieved (the internet really did just sigh in relief). 

The little tornado of thoughts in my brain is still very active right now (and is very distracting to me at work). 

I recently found a bunch of SPIDERS in my basement.  I killed them all, but then I thought… “Crap, now there are going to be more insects.”  Spiders or Insects, which do I want least?  I’ll take spiders over insects.  Mostly because the little white and black dog is horrified of flies and other flying bugs.  If a fly gets in the house, game over.  That little runt is freaked the hell out and hides in strange places like behind the toilet.
scared elleIs is bad to buy a race entry off Craigslist because it was 50% cheaper than to sign up as myself through the official website?  Nope, I don’t see a problem in this.  I think it is ridiculous that most races are “Non-refundable and Non-transferrable” and if they do allow a transfer, they charge an additional fee.  In fact, I will be running Sunday in a half marathon as a 38-year-old female.  I paid her $40 for her entry instead of $90 through the race website.  No shame here, I got myself a deal.

The garden looks sick.  I don’t think Jeff and I will get good crop of vegetables.  Our cucumbers look dead and the rest of the plants are on the same road to death.  Nobody is to blame here, (but if I had to point fingers, my index finger is pointing at Jeff) because we are beginner gardeners and know nothing about gardening.  I think they were being over-watered (Jeff was in the opinion that more was better….) and now that we are limiting the watering to only the morning, the plants appear to be improving.  Time will tell (for the record, if they all die, it is Jeff’s fault).
garden failAre product-related contests bad and if you enter a contest does that make you a little product whore?  I applied for that Nuun HTC contest and failed to make the cut.  No biggie, not everyone wins….But then I saw a little GU Brew contest on twitter and made up a story that allowed me to WIN.  Score for me.  But does this make me a product whore because I made up the story and am I now a contest applying internet freak?  Hmmm, maybe a little.   Oh well, at least I got me some GU and I now have a 50% success rate on electrolyte tablet contests.  We can all sleep better tonight knowing that I am not a complete contest failure.
contest whoreIs it worth applying for these product-sponsored contests if you have little chance to win?  There is a contest for running buddies to go to Eugene for the T&F Olympic Trials through a Seattle-based women’s running apparel company.  A friend and I want to put something together because it would be so fun to go to together…..we realize that we have little chance for being selected.  Do we waste our time and energy and apply?  Hmmm…..I really want to see the Trials and get to go with my friend…. Hmmm.  We actually have a decent idea and might throw something together.  What is the worst that could happen?  We plan on working on our little project this weekend; I will work on it fueled by a box of wine.  Glorious boxed wine is the best fuel for creativity and humor, trust me……

Do you want to see what happens when people are fueled by boxed wine and are in the middle of an empty campground listening to the Fleet Foxes?!?  You are welcome internet, enjoy this Fleet Foxes music video. 
And if you don’t think it is funny…. well then go drink a box a wine.  You will then find it hilarious.  At the 2:00 mark notice the strange whack-a-mole-type behavior behind the tent.

And you thought YOU were crazy…..

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3 Year Olds are Fun

I just got the pleasure of spending the weekend with my 3-year-old nephew.  He is such a delightful kid and the age of 3 is a fun and entertaining age.  I can’t get enough of the kid and here is why……

So many smiles and giggles.  He always has a smile on his face.  How can you be in a bad mood when that little guy is smiling all the time?  And if he is in a bad mood, just wait a few minutes and I’m sure that smile will return.  Or just put him to sleep or distract him with candy.  I wish that is all it took to turn my mood swings around.

IMG_2025 All sort of hilariousness spews out of his mouth.  They just say what they want when they want to. So refreshing and so simple.  For instance, we are sitting at Mother’s day brunch and this really tall and large women walks by.  The 3-year-old’s eyes get HUGE, he points and yells out “Look how BIG that lady is!”  (he does this twice and it was hilarious to me)  There are lots of other hilarious things he said and did, I just can’t think of them all right now.

He gives the best compliments.  “Oh Aunt Barb, I love you SO much!” “Aunt Barb, what a pretty dress!”  “Aunt Barb, I will miss you SO much!” “Aunt Barb, you are SO much FUN!”  “I like you Aunt Barb.”  I don’t know if my brother and sister-in-law are putting him up to these statements, but I don’t care, it makes me feel good.  His hugs also make me melt, they seem so sincere and real!  Usually I hate hugs (yes, I am strange that is a whole separate post), but I miss those tiny hugs, they are the best.

cheersIt doesn’t take much to make him laugh.  I feel like a freaking comedian after this weekend.  I can make this 3-year-old giggle on command.  Plus I can be my goofy self and not get judged for being immature, I’m just being fun and silly.

Every time he poops, he thinks he deserves a cheering section and celebratory party.  I think that this should continue the rest of this life.  In fact, I think that I deserve a cheering section and a personal butt wiper.  Any takers?

3-year-olds are the center of attention.  All eyes on the kid!  All attention on the kid!  Stop what you are doing, its NAPTIME!  Stop what you are doing, it is time to POOP!  LOVE IT, wish I was 3 again.IMG_2029

I also want to give props to his parents for what a great job they are doing raising my nephew.  My brother and sister-in-law are both teachers and it is evident in how smart, engaging, and well-behaved the kid is.  In addition, he has some awesome grandparents who are also a huge part of his life.  It will be so much fun to continue watching him grow and develop! 

(Disclaimer- I know NOTHING about mini-humans and have never really spent much time around kids.  I was the youngest in my family, including cousins on both sides, so I never grew up around them.  Plus, I have never really been interested in being around kids.  So everything I am observing about this kid is new and really funny to me.  Jeff, who has been around kids all his life, does not understand why I am so intrigued and entertained by the actions and behaviors of my nephew, ha!)

(Disclaimer X2- Being an Aunt is the BEST.  You can play and have fun with the kid and then send them home with their parents.  Also, when they are bad, just call in the parents or other disciplinarian figure.  The thought of having full responsibility of mini-humans 24/7 still gives me the hives.  Also, I still don’t enjoy babies; babies are boring and needy.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Running with the Cows Half Marathon

Time 1:31:20 (PR), 5th place female, 31th overall, 2nd in 30-34 Age Group
finishThe Race: The Running with the Cows Half Marathon took place in Bucyrus, KS which was about 30 minutes south of where my parents live.  The half marathon started and ended at the Queen of Holy Rosary Catholic Church and School, and this is who put on the race and where the proceeds went to.  I LOVED that my entry fee ($45) went to this church and school and all the kids helped at water stops and some even participated in the 5K.  There were about 2000 runners doing the half.  It was well organized but they could have given better directions to the start and opened up multiple roads/parking to avoid the traffic congestion that occurred (it took us 20 minutes to go from the highway to park).  It was only the second year of the race, so I’m sure it will be fixed next year.
raceThe Course:  The course was an out and back that went by cow pastures and corn fields and consisted of rolling hills.  I don’t think it was necessarily a “flat” course, but the rolling hills were not bad, in fact it was nice to have a change going up and down using different muscles.  It was beautiful out there and the air was so fresh!  There were water stations manned by the catholic school kids every few miles.  There was a headwind the first half, but the second half it was at our backs and felt great.  The temperature was mild and humidity low, the race started in the 50s and ended in the low 60s.  I liked the out and back aspect so that you could see who was in front of you (at the turn I was the 6th female) and the other participants were cheering you on.  Everyone was so friendly!  YAY for Kansans!
frontrun2Other: They gave nice medals and cow bells at the end (you can never have too many cow bells).  There was a “health festival” with some delicious BBQ to eat after the race.  If you are one of those people trying to run a half in every state, I would definitely recommend running this as your Kansas race!  So much fun and a great, PR-friendly, course.

I wasn’t setting out to PR this race and was really just using this as a tune-up race in preparation for the marathon June 9.  I wanted to start out slow and then just run based on feel.  I didn’t pay attention to my watch and just ran (much less “pressure” this way!).  I started off feeling really good and was enjoying the run, and I ended the race feeling great.  I never felt like I wanted to stop or go slower, and even felt like I was holding myself back as I knew I wanted to get in 6 miles the next day to get in 40 miles for the week and don’t want to tire out my legs. 
sideI also ran as a "cow” wearing a cow ear headband and a cow tail.  This made it so much fun and the crowd loved me!  And even the other runners cheered for me.  I mean, it was “Running with the Cows” so why not run as a cow?!  It helped me to not take myself so seriously and I just ran to have fun. 
backcowMy mom came to the race with me and brought her bike.  I loved having her there and she was able to make it to mile 7 and then biked next to me a bit and then saw me a few more times at the end.  She also got some great pictures, thanks Mom!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Going to Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come…..

I’m in Kansas City all weekend (the KANSAS side) visiting my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  I already ate some delicious BBQ.

bbqI also visited my brother at his school and watched him coach track.  I strangely wanted to run 200s with them and it took every ounce of self control not to try to race them (I probably would have lost).  It really made me want to get in contact with some local coaches and see if they need any help…..even though I know NOTHING about coaching track or cross country. 

My brother and I picked up my 3-year-old nephew, JP, and we headed to my parents so I could eat some spaghetti.  JP and I played in the backyard; we played lots of very important games like pretending we were mowing and run around in circles until we get dizzy.  I really like that kid, we have the same idea of fun.

family dinner

Oh and I’m also running a hilarious half marathon tomorrow, Running with the Cows.  Its a small one about 30 minutes south of where my parents live.  I have no idea what to expect and it is really warm and humid right now (I HATE humidity for running).  Not expecting to PR or to feel well, but I’m sure I will have fun!

moo half

Jeff stayed back in Denver because he is headed to San Francisco next weekend with his family.  He also has to tend to the garden.  He told me that Elle has volunteered to keep watch over it and sent me this photo:

garden watch dog

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recycled Runners

My brother is a high school teacher and also coaches cross country and track.  The school is in a blue-collar area where running is definitely not the “cool” thing to do.  But the kids that run, end up really enjoying it.  And I think that running has changed the lives of some of the kids (I need to get more stories out of my brother because I love success stories when it comes to running).

The last time I was in town during cross country season, I ran with his kids.  When I was running with them, I noticed the craziness of clothing they were wearing.  One girl had on velour fashion pants on with really worn out running shoes and a huge cotton t-shirt.  Another kid looked like he was on his way to basketball practice.  They were good runners, but didn’t have the running gear to back them up.
I got home and went through all of my running clothes and decided to bag up half of it to give to my brother to give to his runners.  If these kids are going to run, they need to look like runners!  Plus I used to (and still do) LOVE getting free stuff, especially sporting clothing.   My brother handed out my stuff at practice and the kids LOVED it, as I expected.  One girl said, “Coach, this is better than Christmas!  I never imagined how much I loved running clothes!”  A girl after my own heart, as I spend 75% of my allotted clothing budget on running clothes.

I don’t know about you, but when I wear actual running clothes, I FEEL like a runner.  And when I feel like a runner, I typically perform better.  Running clothes are meant for running; they fit well, wick sweat, etc. so you can concentrate on running and not worry about your clothes.
barb_trail_run In my mind, my small contribution made these kids feel more like runners and maybe, just maybe, made them a little faster.

I am headed to Kansas City and will go to my brother’s high school track practice on Friday. I have with me some running clothes to give out.  Unfortunately I don’t have as much this time because I gave it all away last time.  I wish I had more to give.

This got me thinking, I should ask runners to start going through their running clothes and put aside the shirts and shorts that they don’t really wear or maybe don’t fit anymore.  Instead of throwing that stuff away or giving it to Goodwill, runners should save it to give to high school runners that would appreciate it more and some who really need it.  Maybe I should use this blog to do some good?  I could call it “Recycled Runners.”    

What do you think??? 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Things that we thought were “normal”

When you were little, did you assume that everything your family did and how they acted was the norm?  Then you start hanging out with friends and you see how different families act.  At first you think, “That family is so weird, why aren’t they doing things the same way as my family?”  You continue to get exposed to more and more of the world and you still think everyone else is weird…. Then one day it hits you, maybe YOU are the weird one?!?

Well, this happens to me all the time. 

Not everyone gets “asparagus pee.” 

And not everyone talks about asparagus pee or knows what I am talking about.  I remember how my family would eat asparagus and then we would talk about how our pee would smell.  I would go around talking about my asparagus pee and think it was so hilarious.  Then I come to find out that not everyone smells their asparagus pee.  Jeff informs me that he didn’t know what the hell I was talking about and that his pee never smells after eating asparagus.  Damn.  But really his pee does smell, he just doesn’t have the ability to sniff it out.  Side note, I gave my dog asparagus and when I let him out, I could totally smell asparagus pee.  Hilarious.

Cars run even when you aren’t wearing a seatbelt.

So growing up my parents would say, “The car won’t run until you buckle up!”  We would all happily buckle up to get the car to start, because OBVIOUSLY there is a mechanism that prevents the car from starting if you don’t have your seatbelt in place.  I come to find out that was a lie.  Cars start even if you don’t wear your seatbelt.  And not all parents tell their children this.  When I have kids, I will tell them the same thing because it is funny.

Dessert is not always served at the end of every meal. 

My family sat down for dinner at 5:00 PM EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.  We watched the nightly news and discussed our day.  We also inhaled our dinner as fast as we could so that we could get to the main event.  Dessert.  A meal was not complete until dessert was served.  I come to find out that not every family does this.  In fact, Jeff tells me that my obsession with concluding every meal with dessert is bizarre.  You are silly Jeff, dessert must ALWAYS be served.  In fact, it should be implemented to conclude breakfast too.

People give nicknames or use shorted versions of names. 

My father has always called me Barbara. And really nobody in my family had nicknames or even used shorted versions of their names.  Even when cheering at soccer games or most recently a marathon, he yells “Go BARBARA!”  I became a little fastidious brat concerning this and for a long time I would get furious if anyone called me anything but Barbara.  They would call me Barb and I would correct them, “It’s BarbARA.”  And don’t even try to call me Barbie, I will drop you.  I finally succumbed to being called Barb because it was hard for teammates to say “Barbara, pass me the ball!” during soccer games.  Plus Barbara is harder to spell and the a’s and r’s get repetitive.

Not everyone eats squirrel with their neighbors. 

Enough said there.  Don’t judge, I thought this was acceptable.  Although really strange and very gross, I still think it is funny.  In case you were wondering, squirrel tastes like chicken. 


What things did you think were NORMAL but later you realized that they were not?  I can’t be the only one that is always discovering things that I assumed everyone knew or did but really are isolated.  I could go on and on about this, but these are the just things that popped in my head this morning.

Monday, May 7, 2012

That time in Alaska….

I noticed that my vacation bank is getting full again and it got me thinking about vacations.  In fact, every few months I start itching to take a vacation to somewhere fun and somewhere off the grid.  Granted, Jeff and I are going to take a mini-road trip in a month to run the Utah Valley Marathon, but I want to go somewhere for a extended time.  Like that time I went to Alaska.
I’ve actually been to Alaska twice, once to visit our friend and the other time for work.  Both times were AMAZING.  I love Alaska and would move there if it wasn’t so far from family.   There is just so much to do there and so much to see.  Oh how I miss Alaska and it got me looking through photos from the trip. 
Tune out if you don’t give a hoot about my trip to Alaska, or tune in if you are interested in what we did there….. (by the way, I got the nickname Barbarazzi there)
We flew into Anchorage where our friend, Melon (nickname), picked us up and we did some King Salmon fishing on the Kenai River.  Melon and Jeff both caught huge Kings, I got skunked.  But it didn’t really matter.
kenai Then we headed up to Denali State Park where we went backpacking.  Jeff almost got us killed when he spilled Chili Mac all over our tent, “Come here Bears, come eat us while we sleep!”  Good thing Melon was armed just in case.  denaliYes, the three of us shared that little yellow tent.  It was nice and cozy…. and the smell was horrendous, mostly because of MY feet.  Sorry guys.
On the way to Valdez, where Melon lived, we stopped and toured a glacier.  The geologist part of me got all sorts of excited over the glacial striations and the fact that it was receeding.  Oh and the three of us should be models, just look at our outstanding poses!  The Look-Away is always a crowd pleaser.glacier In Valdez we fished upon “The Short Bus,” Melon’s boat.   The pinks were all over the bay and were practically jumping in our boat.  Have you seen that Sesame Street episode where Ernie says “Here Fishy Fishy Fishy” and the fish jump in his boat?  Yeah, it was like that.  We also became professional fish bonkers (sorry PETA, but it was fun to bonk the heck out of those feisty salmon).
boat We then headed out a bit further to go after the big guys and set our hooks at 300 feet to catch us some Halibut.  I got a couple of chickens (small Halibut), and then Jeff and Melon reeled in the big guy.
fish1 We caught ourselves 100 pound of pure fury!
fish2After fishing a few days on Prince William Sound, we headed inland to Chitina where we did backpacked out to do some Red Salmon dip netting on the Copper River.  More fish… we got really good at cleaning fish.  Call me if you need your fish cleaned.
fish3 We also went white water rafting and shot some guns. 
whitewaterGreat fun was had in Alaska.  Now do you see why I want to go back?!? 
Sorry to recycle “old” photos, I was just taking a trip down vacation memory lane and decided to make you take the trip as well.  And hey, this is my blog and I can do what I want.

Growing a Garden

I have been receiving updates from my parents on their gardens (yes they have multiple, they are practically professional gardeners now) and in the last email my mom said:

“You should plant cherry tomatoes this weekend.  All you need to do is dig a hole, about an inch deeper than the container the plant comes in  and put the plant in, then water it from time to time and you will have lots of cherry tomatoes.  Dad uses Miracle Grow, but you don't have to.  Then next year you will probably have volunteers that come up on their own.  That area on the side of the garage would work well.”

They also sent photos and showed me that if my 3-year-old nephew can garden, I can probably figure it out.
jp gardeningSo Jeff and I walked across the street to the neighborhood nursery, asked which plants any dummy could grow, and picked up some plants with crazy names:
2 Sweet 100 (red cherry tomato) plants
1 Sun Sugar (yellow tomato) plant
2 Thin Skin (bell pepper) plants
1 Sonora (small pepper) plants
1 Jalapeno plant
2 Cucumber plants
plants1 plants2First of all, my mom made it sound so easy that I felt stupid calling and asking really what to do.  So I did what everyone in 2012 does, and Googled “How to start a garden” and watched a bunch videos of old people making their vegetable gardens.  I found out what materials we needed and went to Lowes and picked up some tools and soil/fertilizer.

SO glad I bought the 4 bags of soil (and by the way, it is NOT dirt…..DIRT is what gets under your fingernails, just a little tip for an geological engineer), because after I pulled all the weeds and started cultivating the soil, I found out that the previous renter put all his dog’s poop in the very gardening bed that I was going to do my planting in!  There was petrified poop from multiple years of living at this place and it took me FOREVER to shovel all the poop out.  There was more poop than actual soil in one part.  So disgusting. I continued the gardening process in the clean and safe (poop free) areas and before I knew it I had a garden.
prepareing_garden beforeafterI am so excited to see if we get some good veggies.  But I have to wait.  Waiting is not something I am good at and I want my vegetables NOW.  Let’s hope I don’t forget to water them, good thing Jeff is good at that sort of thing. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Long Run followed by the Derby

Saturday Jeff and I got in 16 miles.  It was a warm sunny day and we chose a route that left from our house and took a running tour of our neighborhood and close-by neighborhoods, making sure to go by parks with drinking fountains to fill up our water bottles.  It was a fun route and we didn’t get bored.  I want to make my next long run through different Denver neighborhoods to explore through running.


  • Miles 1-4 paved flat Clear Creek Trail
  • Mile 5 through Regis University past graduation ceremony
  • Miles 5-6 through Sunnyside neighborhood, great brick houses, great parks/schools
  • Miles 6-9 though Highlands neighborhood, more brick houses
  • Miles 9-10 around Mile High Stadium, LOVE this stadium with all their sculptures, can’t wait to go to a game there
  • Miles 10-12 around Sloans Lake while a 5K was going on, we cheer for the leaders as they ran past us
  • Miles 12-16, getting hot and tired, ready to be done but got in the miles!  Woo Hooooo!

We downloaded some new songs for our long run, and I found this one by Alabama Shakes called Hold On, so different and good.  I really like the lead singers voice.

After our run we showered up and headed to a co-workers house for a Kentucky Derby party.  He told me to arrive hungry, and we diligently listened.  Ohmygosh he had the best food; smoked meats, delicious BBQ sauces, tons of salads and desserts.  We devoured 2 plates each and enjoyed some local beer.  Everyone bought a ticket (randomly selected a horse to cheer on) and Jeff and I were cheering for Creative Cause and Union Rags.  Neither won, but it was still fun to watch.  I didn’t take any pictures from the Derby party so I am going to recycle photos from when we went to the actual Kentucky Derby in 2007.

derby2007 Yes, in 2007 the girls all wore sundresses and hats and the boys wore thrift store suits.  Good times.  I want to go back to the Kentucky Derby next year, it is amazingly fun.  In fact, everyone should go to the Derby at least once in their lifetime.

We left the party and went to a bowling alley/bar right by our house to have a few beers and to mingle with the locals.  It was fun to talk to people from the neighborhood and they made us promise we would come back (I’m sure we will).  They even said we could bring Jay and Elle and to stop by if we were out for a walk.  It was a fun casual atmosphere with good people. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Double Down Thirstday

Today I have decided to review two very tasty adult beverages: the 120 Carmenere from Santa Rita, Chile and the White Rascal Belgian-style white ale from Avery Brewing (Boulder, CO).  Both were so good I couldn’t decide which to tell you about…. so I chose both.

$6.99 (Costco), Twist Off, Chile
The back of the bottle says:
“According to legend, 120 patriots, exhausted after a long, hard battle during the fight for Chile’s independence, reached the lands belonging to Santa Rita.  On that fateful night in 1814, these forces of liberty found refuge in the estate cellars.  Today, within these same cellars, our award-winning 120 wines are crafted to honor their heroic character.
Our 120 Carmenere, the signature grape of Chile, has rich aromas of ripe, red fruit.  On the palate, lush fruit flavors and a touch of spice lead to an elegant finish.  A heavenly choice every time.”

First of all, any wine that can educate me on history wins in my book.  Secondly, this wine tastes expensive, like I thought it should have cost me at least $15 (that is expensive to me).  It has a bold flavor, but isn’t bitter, and has a really good aftertaste (or finish as they say?).  In addition, their website was really cool and made me want to go to Chile to visit the Santa Rita vineyards and to pay my respect to the 120 patriots of Chile. 

Next we have my first beer review.  This beer blew my mind, but then again I was extremely thirsty after a hard run and was craving beer. 
The website says:
“A truly authentic Belgian style wheat or “white” ale, this Rascal is unfiltered (yup, that’s yeast on the bottom) and cleverly spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel producing a refreshing fruity thirst quencher.”

This beer was soooo good!  I love most wheat beers, but this one had a more refreshing and spicy taste like they talk about.  I can definitely taste the hint of orange peel and like that I can taste it without polluting my beer with an actual piece of fruit.  Yum yum yum this beer makes me happy. 

One issue, I am really freaked out by the devil-creature on the label.  I don’t like it at all and had to pour my beer in a mug so that this devil creature wasn’t leering at me with every sip.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Does anyone speak Dog?

Jay is 12 years old and have never been much of a barker or a talker.  In fact, I had him for close to a year and didn’t know what his bark sounded like.  But recently things have changed.

The little old man of a dog has been feeling really good, prancing around following us from room to room.  He also has started talking to us.  At first it was funny and cute like most things start out.  “Ahh look, Jay is is talking to us!”  He will give different tones, loudness and intensity to his bark based on the situation.  And most of his barking is directed at Jeff, specifically the demanding loud and obnoxious barks.

barky For instance Jeff and I will be making dinner in the kitchen and we hear Jay in the living room.  He typically perches on the coach and lets his presence be known.  For typical dogs, barking means one of 4 things:

  1. I have to pee
  2. I have to poop
  3. I’m hungry
  4. I’m thirsty

In the past he is typically self sufficient and will help himself to food and water (no barking) and if the water bowl is empty he will help himself to toilet bowl water (that is why we have to keep our toilet closed at all times) or cups of our water…….and if he has to go outside, he will just stand for hours staring at himself in the sliding glass door (though I bet he thinks the reflection is really a dog waiting for him outside).

This barking ensues and we check the food and water (full) and let him outside (doesn’t have to go); the howling and barking still continues.  Sometimes even louder, more demanding, and increasingly annoying!  What the hell does he want?!? 

I don’t speak Dog and can’t understand what he is saying.  And I think this frustrates him too.  I don’t know what to do.  They really need to make real life translators like they have in UP:

My suspicion is that he just wants attention because he will stop backing if we lay on the couch with him.  But it is just so weird that this is happening for the first time since I have had him (8 years and counting).  And its super annoying when we are trying to get things done.  Ugh.  Silly silly dog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Comparing Progress and Getting that PR

First of all, I didn’t realize how lackadaisical I was with training for my previous marathons until I started recording and tracking my progress.  Thank goodness I discovered Garmin Connect and started this blog to keep me honest!

I studied my previous weekly/monthly mileage and am so surprised at how “little” I was actually running.  I was lucky to get in 30 miles a week and took off a minimum of 2 nights a week (keep in mind I was playing soccer 2 times a week and did not count record these in my Garmin).  My monthly totals were consistently less than 100 miles per month (more like 75-80 miles a month) and somehow I ran a 3:23 marathon last October.  I also had a bad habit of skipping out on long runs and just ran consecutive days of mid-distance runs (8-10 milers) on weekends.  I just get bored with long runs….. or would find other things that I would rather do.

I’m really surprised I ran that fast and felt that good without injuring myself.  It also makes me more and more excited for my upcoming marathon.  I am the most prepared for a race that I have ever been and I still have a whole month of training left (fingers crossed I don’t injure myself or get sick of running). March 2012 = 135.54 miles and April 2012 = 137.78 miles…. compared to August 2011 = 79.89 miles and September = 116.98 miles before my STL Marathon PR.


But running is a strange and unpredictable beast.  No matter how prepared you think you are, there a ton of factors that go into running your best and/or feeling great while doing so…..and it is a 1-day event that you trained months for!  I could sit here and analyze the heck out of my training and predict that I will run a sub-3:20 marathon in June.  But come race day, a ton of $hit could go wrong or right…..

  • Weather- this is a HUGE factor in success or failure.  Will it be hot, cold, rainy, or sunny?  Will there be a tail wind or a head wind?
  • Course- how does the course compare to previous courses?  Is this course hilly?  Have I adequately prepared for hills?  Are there a lot of turns?  Will the course be crowded and I get stuck behind someone slow or I have to do a lot of weaving in and out of people?  
  • Travel/Sleep- Will I have to travel for this race?  Is there a time change?  Will I get enough sleep the night before?  Will the hotel pillow be just right?
  • Nutrition- Will I eat the right things to properly fuel myself pre/during the race? Will my stomach act up and force me to stop during the race? 
  • Injuries- Will I get injured the week before the race?  Or will I get a phantom taper injury (this is what happens to me before EVERY race; I THINK I am injured…..)?  Will I step in a pot hole at mile 3 of the race and twist my ankle?

And the list could go on and on and on. 

Really I don’t know why I run when there are so many things out of my control.  Plus running is pretty much a giant mind-f*ck of a sport.  Worse than any other sport, in my opinion.  At least when I had a crappy soccer game I could blame it on one of the 10 other people on the field with me.

But somehow I still love running.  I love seeing how far I can push myself and how fast I can go.  When will I reach my plateau of speed?  Or have I already peaked?