Lessons of the week

No running today due to life….

I’ve learned a few things this week

WordPress lessons

1. If you somehow accidently delete your whole post you spent a whole weekend working on, you can bring back earlier drafts with some work.

2. When you transfer your blog from wordpress.com to self hosting expect to have half the photos in your old posts be missing and random “B” in all your writing.  I know my typos and general spelling is a disaster but I promise all the “Bs” in my older posts are not my doing.  I updated the photos in some of the posts I link to but the “B” well they’re there for decoration until I really get OCD and find time to edit them out.

Life Lessons

1. Mortgage companies, lawyers and all those real world things suck and make life difficult

2. When trying to renew your license online don’t mention that you have glasses, this will indeed warrant you a vision test and a 4 hour wait at the DMV, yup happy birthday to me

3. Sears sucks, stop trying to convince yourself they don’t.  They have horrible customer service and somehow manage to mess up my order over 3 times; twice the wrong price, once sent for pick up to the wrong store and a fourth time of canceling my order.  Yes, any price saving you got will be eaten away with the 2 hours you will spend trying to understand the thick foreign accidents over dicey phone connection.lines in who knows what country.

The Good Things in Life

1. I ordered a treadmill and if Sears would ever stop canceling my order it should get here soon!

This is my birthday present to myself.. okay one of many…

2. Free lunch is awesome, free lunch from Pret A Manger is even better!

What I thought was a homeless person screaming free hugs was actually a Pre A Manger employing letting us know of free lunch.  Luckily I was curious enough to check it out.

I have to say though, the bacon chicken sandwich was pretty amazing!  I think my quality of life will greatly improve with Pret A Manger opening up in Copley.

3. I got my hair done today.

My hair lady whose on maternity leave had a cancellation and was able to squeeze me in after having to cancel earlier.  It felt like Christmas or I guess in my case Hanukkah.

I then won a deep conditioning and blow-out from a different salon… Yup two hair appointments, one day… makes a busy evening.

I almost forgot what I look like without a running ponytail.

Hello there! Yes for the 10 minutes it holds up my hair looks nice before it somehow frizzes up into a mop.  Now I’m debating to try to keep the blow out or go running tomorrow…. #runningproblems

Best Pie in Boston…

Today’s Run – 6.1 Mile Runch TM @ 3 incl 54 minutes & 54 buckets of sweat

Yesterday – Jillian Michaels – 45 min No More Trouble Zones (because they’re all in pain now)

I’m back in trying to gather up some muscle and strength so I’m rekindling my relationship with Jillian; however, let’s talk about more important things now.  Pie! Pecan, Apple, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato pie.

Pie

I don’t usually do this (other than that one time I ran Boston Marathon for a charity) but I got some charity pie promotion.  It also happens to be really really good.  Best pecan pie ever.

This mostly targets people in the Boston area (but of course all cash donations are always accepted), I’m selling pies for Community Serving’s Pie in the Sky event to provide families affected by critical illness with wholesome Thanksgiving meals. Basically, volunteers (like me) sell as many pies as possible with all proceeds benefiting families in need. The pies are donated by local bakeries and restaurants and are always very tasty! Each pie costs $25. Apple pies, pecan pies, pumpkin pies, sweet potato pies, and no sugar added apple pies are available. If you are interested in ordering a pie please visit Community Servings.   Pies can be picked up from various locations throughout the Boston Metro area on Wednesday, November 21st. The last day for pie orders is Saturday, November 17th.

About Pie in the Sky
Now entering its 20th year, Pie in the Sky is the World’s Greatest Bake Sale! Last year, the sale raised $550,000 to support Community Servings’ meals and nutrition program for the critically ill, and we can’t wait to do it even bigger and better this year!

Pie in the Sky involves more than 150 of Greater Boston’s best chefs, bakers and caterers donating their time, talent and resources to provide our pie buyers with delicious Thanksgiving Pies. Equally amazing, over 400 volunteers – individuals, corporations, churches and synagogues, schools and social clubs – work hard throughout the fall to sell, organize and distribute more than 15,000 apple, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato pies.

But we couldn’t do it without our pie buyers! Each $25 pie you purchase will provide a week’s worth of free, home-delivered meals for a man, woman or child in Eastern Massachusetts who is battling a critical illness such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes or MS.

About Community Servings
Community Servings is dedicated to providing free home-delivered meals throughout Eastern Massachusetts to people homebound with HIV/AIDS and other acute life-threatening illnesses, who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. We provide our clients, their dependent families, and caregivers appealing, nutritious meals, reaching out to those in greatest need.

Our goals are to help our clients maintain their health and dignity, preserve the integrity of their families, provide nutritionally and culturally appropriate meals, and send the message that someone cares.

If you have any more questions feel free to ask or visit the website.  If I can’t answer them, I’ll get my lovely friend whose in charge of 15,000 pies to do it for me.

Trampoline Fun in your 20s

Today’s run – 8.1 miles in a little more than an hour during lunch – I miscalculated my loop and took more time than I should have for lunch but it was well worth it for the amazing weather since who knows when the next time I can run in shorts outdoors will be.

Another Confession – I almost signed up for the Plymouth Marathon today,  until I realized

1. There is no way I can run 26 miles  by the end of this week

2. I’m already signed up for a marathon that day (Philly) which I’m already backing out of.

3. I should stop blowing cash on races I wish I was ready for and spend it on hookers and blow (or charity, or something more useful.)

Sigh… if only running marathons was half as easy as signing up for them.

I’m feeling better!  A ton better, maybe it’s the weather (it hit 60s this weekend after a week of 30s), maybe it’s some time apart from my mother (two weeks together is a lot of time together), maybe it’s return back to running (with the 60s I stumbled through 20 miles this weekend), but honestly, it’s probably my antibiotics and daily dose of Sudafed with some special cough syrup I’ve been on for my sinus infection/cold virus orgy that’s occurring in my body.  I’d like to think it’s the running but either way it’s great to be able to wake up and inhale (yes I really missed being able to breath for almost two weeks).

This weekend I attempted to see just how much running capacity you will lose if you stop running for 3 weeks… it wasn’t too bad, after a rest day on Friday, I couldn’t wait for Saturday’s sunshine.

Saturday15 miles 2 hrs 6 minutes (8:24 Pace) didn’t actually feel like death.  I took it at what I thought was a comfortable speed and I didn’t feel exactly like death at the end but I could tell my hips were getting tight.

Sunday – I woke up sore!  Ooo so that’s the effect of going from zero to 15 miles.  I still have my ability to trek it out, but you will feel pain afterwards.  My legs felt stiff and useless and I decided to reward them with a “recovery run.”   5 miles on the flattest part I could find in my neighborhood going at an easy pace 8:26.

In addition to wanting extra miles and a recovery run I was warming up for some trampoline dodge-ball for a friend’s birthday party.

It’s us

vs. them

Actually judging by the look on my face, it’s more of my before and after shot.

The place we went to was in Everett, which is a neighborhood over from me.  Skyzone, which I think has multiple locations countrywide.  It’s basically a warehouse of indoor trampolines.  If you don’t want to get creamed by 12 year olds in dodge-ball  you can always somersault your way into foam blocks.  Or in my case, get stuck there because you can’t pull yourself out.

Then go back to dodgeball… in a game of 12 adults vs. 12 kids… well let’s just it wasn’t that we lost, we just didn’t win.

Or just bounce around!  I stayed dirty in my running clothes and made quite the easy puke pink target.  I’m also noticing that I resemble a gremlin or a hermit in these photos…. pink gremlin .. maybe I’m an alien.

The after shot of an hour of exhaustion.  Seriously, I sweated a lot more than I planned to just by jumping and random things hurt today.  Either way it was a ton of fun, great way to hang out and all relatively cheap ($12 for an hour).  On Friday nights they host SkyJame from 10-11:30PM where you can jump your sweat out, refuel with two slices of pizza, and a soda all for $15 in an 18+ environment.  As soon as my battle wounds heal, I would like to return for a second round even if I have to stay up way past my bed time for it.

Adventures in Spain – 12 Hours in Valencia

Whenever you plan a trip on a short time frame (2 weeks is short when you want to see everything), you will always have places you regret you did not stay at longer and places you wish you spent less time in.  Sadly I can’t change that my time in Valencia was way too short.  I almost cut it completely out of my itinerary based on lonely planet and etc. websites’ commentaries about it not being that exciting.  Little did I know that this would be one of my favorite cities I visited.

Like many European cities, Valencia had a river running through it, Turia; however, after a major flood it was diverted and turned into a runner’s dream.  It is now a verdant sunken park that allows cyclists and pedestrians to traverse much of the city without the use of roads. Basically my dream! The park, called the ‘Garden of the Turia’ (Jardí del Túria/Jardín del Turia) has everything in it from numerous ponds, paths, fountains, flowers, football pitches, cafés (with cheap beer and wine!), artworks, climbing walls, an athletics track, a zen garden and more. My mom and I took a short stroll there on our way to l’oceanografic.

I really regretted the early train I had in the morning.  I wish I had the next morning to go for a run!

My mom enjoyed the water fountains.

Our slow stroll got us hungry and luckily a food stop was right in our path.

Tuna Salad and potatoes with some cerveza (beer).

After lunch we headed towards L’Oceangrafic, my main reason for the stop in Valencia.  The largest aquarium in Europe and the 4th largest in the world.  Care to take where #1 resides in? USA! USA!  Haha JK, well not really, it’s in Georgia by Atlanta and I have now bumped up Atlanta once more on a higher list of places I want to see in the US.

The park is dividend into 10 habitats with 45,000 animals of 500 different species including fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates — amongst these are sharks, penguins,dolphins, sea lions, walruses, beluga whales, and more.

If you never get a chance to scuba (which would be a shame) going into one of these aquariums with an overhead passageway is probably the closest and most amazing thing to seeing the underwater world.

I even found Nemo!

Shark food!

These guys reminded me of ghosts when they swam over my head.

Another thing about Valencia… paella, an amazing concoction of rice, seafood and green veggies!  A signature dish in the area!

Yea, clearly it was awful and I hated every bite as I ate it all.

My mom ordered ravioli which was good, but not as good as paella.

Another reason why I loved Valencia might have been the awesome hotel I got from Hotwire for only $100 (Yup, USD not Euro).  It was the Westin- Valencia, right off Turia Gardens and about half a mile from the town center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m always a little (okay sometimes a lot) disappointed by what hotwire calls “4 star” hotels and the results I get, but this was finally a true win.  We have a pretty large suite with two comfy beds (usual Westin Comfort), two little couches, desk and open space.

There was a separate room for toilets and a room with a separate double headed shower on one half a giant bathroom on the other side.  Not to mention this weird hallway of mirrors in our room that I think was the dressing area.

Plus there was a gym spa with a ton of weigh machines, a pool, Jacuzzi and steam showers but they closed a 10PM!  Ugh… if only I didn’t have a 6AM wake up call to catch a train.  If only all my hotels came in this style..Yup.. really wish I had more time to check out all these things.

And now some more random photos from my walk around town.

More pretty old stuff, because really I couldn’t stop taking useless photos of it all.

Although the doors with faces and building with engraved human bodies really freak it me out.

Bullring in the center by the old train station.

 

Have you ever been to a place you wish you could have spent more time at?

 

Getting Back to Running in a Wintry Mix Mess

Today 6.1 Miles
Wednesday 6.1 Miles
Tuesday 5.5 Miles
Monday 2.35 Miles

Running… I’ve missed it, almost as much as Jack, but getting back into a routine after not running for almost 3 weeks hasn’t been fun.  I love running, I love getting faster, but trying to rebuild yourself back to your prior speed and comfort is not fun.  It’s demoralizing, and a little frustrating.  How does it take months to get a little faster but to loose your endurance, it only takes 2-3 weeks?

I guess being sick with a nasty cold doesn’t help.  Luckily with persistence I’m getting back up there. Monday was probably the worst day.  I made it a little past 2 miles before my nasal passage and throat felt like I going to die so I stopped.  I’ll blame that on being sick.  Tuesday I had 5.5 miles with many breaks to catch my breath.  Can I still blame it on being sick?  Be lucky I’m not sharing photos of my flem and some other things I’ve been hacking up.  .

My lunches and days have been looking something like this:

P.S. If you’re in Boston, the soup from the Mongoose foodtruck is really good!

And yes be lucky I spared you the photo of the pile of tissues I started building, but I won’t spare you from this:

Yes, my last three days in Madrid, I was sneezing and dripping so much that I gave up on tissues and just used a towel.  Gross, but I love sharing.

O yea back to running, by Wednesday and Thursday I am back at my regular 6.2 miles, I’m behind by 2 minutes of my usual time but I think by next week I’ll be only behind by 1 minute.

When I first came on Sunday, I thought about how much I missed my home and the northeast.

All the leaves were in full bright color and beautifully lining the streets on my way to work, but the sentiment pretty much died in a second when I felt the 30 degree cold!

Then it snowed in Boston this week!  And it’s been ridiculously freezing as I try to battle my raging cold. Here’s the thing… me and weather gods… we had an understanding… two years ago I brought hardcore winter boots and for two years it barely snowed… As long as I kept my hardcore winter boots, it wouldn’t snow. Now it seems the weather gods are backing out of our… and I am not happy.  I even took the tag of my winter boots today!

Did I ever mention that my cat is crazy.  Yum, snow, rain, leaves, he loves it all!  I had to drag him by the leash back inside so i could get to work.  I keep telling myself that one day I’ll convince myself I like driving and will move somewhere warmer… maybe California along the coast.

 

Casa Batlló & Last day in Barcelona

Last post about Barcelona and then I move on to other sites!

On our last day we decided to actually take a tour of one of Gaudi’s works, Casa Batlló.  While all his buildings are amazing and inspiring to see, I was curious what they look like inside.  Unfortunately the privileged to see that comes with what I think is a high price (Approx 20 Euros per person).  So while I knew if I was really that curious I could Google myself up some images, I decided I should walk within the walls of at least one.  It’s hard to capture what walking within one of Gaudi’s buildings was like.  It was like being within another world, almost within a painting.  Growing up among NYC skyscrapers, I never really considered architecture art, maybe some engineering, some historical buildings had a pretty style and cute, but nothing I considered to be art like a painting would be.

Unfortunately, as with all tourist spots, you are not alone, you will be in a mass but luckily they give audio guides so the chatter is kept to a minimum as everyone gazes and listens.

The fireplace reminds me of something out of a Tim Burton movie, I kept staring at it, expecting it to start dancing.

Mirrors and the colorful glass panels were used to reflect natural light throughout the whole house.  They say everything looks a little different throughout each hour of the day because of the light reflection.

The front room on the second floor.  Sadly none of the rooms were furnished.

I expected the elevator to eat me, or at least take me to a parallel universe

The center of the building where most of the light goes through.  The tiles actually get darker towards the top so that when you look up, visually it looks the same.

I think things were designed to make it feel like you’re underwater.

It only got more insane on the rooftop with the chimneys and this little water room that looks like a dinosaur.

At the gift shop they had replicated furniture for sale, so if someone has an extra 5K or 10K, and wants to buy me housewarming presents…. well I could always use some furniture that’s not from Ikea.

The house is always referred to as Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), it’s creepy and mesmerizing at night.  Our hotel was close by and every time we walked me by there was always people sitting on the bench staring at it for several whiles.

A tapas mix of salads, Russian salad, Greek, Salad, seafood salad and some cod fish.

While walking around we walked by another market, this one empty of tourists.  Frozen veggies by the pound!

So I might have brought a bag of tomatoes because I wanted to try them all and ate them like berries.

When I walked by this, it scared me!

I took a short walk along the waterfront.

But before that, I walked by those infamous human statues on La Ramba, I didn’t see anything too impressive, at least not as insane as the Madrid ones.

Waterfronts & piers are pretty (’nuff said)

Dinner?  Well after so many tapas, I wanted a short break and got a gyro.  It was okay, the chicken was good.

An Evening of Pintxos – Night out in Barcelona

Pintxo is a snack, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain and especially popular in the Basque country. They are usually eaten in bars or taverns as a small snack while hanging out with friends or relatives.  In a way, they remind me of dim sum only in the evening instead of morning.

The place we went to was Bilbao Berria, right next to the cathedral in the Gothic District.

Pinchos or Pintxos are always served on “pincho”, meaning “spike.

There’s meat, lots of fishes, and just some just random options.

Most are served with a slice of bread and hard boiled egg.

There were a lot of pork and beef ones but I mostly stuck to fish and this interesting bowl.

And then there was dessert!

While I wouldn’t go there for dessert, I wish I could have tried so many more!

Adventures in Spain – Barcelona – Park Güell

I was trying to combine things I did into one post but it’s impossible.  There’s just too many things I loved in Barcelona and each deserves it’s own post with all the photos I want to share.

On one of the four days we spent in Barcelona my mom and I took a bus to Park Güell, situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district.  The park originally was suppose to be a luxury housing development but only two houses were built with no prospective buyers.  Neither were designed by Gaudi but Gaudí, at Güell’s suggestion, bought it with his savings and moved in with his family and his father in 1906 and it is now the Gaudi House Museum.   Gaudí’s multicolored mosaic salamander, popularly known as “el drac” (the dragon) at the main entrance.

One of Gaudi’s unique tiles

The entrance of the park even at 10AM is already filled with tourists on a Monday

Okay, not one of Gaudi’s work but since lunch in Spain doesn’t open til 1PM and dinner til 8PM I consumed several of these a day with trail mix to keep myself from famishing and crankiness til food time.

Beyond the Gaudi structures the park is huge and lovely!  With many looping hilly trails and olive trees and cacti along the way.

I told you amazing views

You even get a nice view of the Sagrada Familia Church still in progress

Clear sign that I’m America, wearing my sneakers for casual walking!  Everyone else had fancy boots but I had no space in my luggage and picked running over fashion.

I have many more photos of the view from the hill, but I’ll stop with these =)

I’m not sure what the walkway is suppose to be but it reminds me of a mouth

The walls imitate the trees grown above them with birds’ nests built into the walkway.  I saw lots of pigeons enjoying their crib but I heard there’s some parrots there as well.

Time to bound!

Finally it was time for lunch!  A few tapas!

Patatas bravas

And clams with fresh cut olive oiled veggies.  So good!

My mom opted for a more boring chicken since my seafood scares her.  As for dinner?  Well that deserves a post of it’s own!

Losing weight on vacation

As I was getting dressed this morning, I noticed a pair of pants that fit me fine 3 weeks ago felt lose… I knew I lost some weight in Spain but I didn’t think it was ton beyond some mild dehydration.  Curiously, I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see the number 7 pounds less than it was before I left.

Had I discovered the secret to weight lose?  A diet of bread, fatty meats and lack of exercise?  Were all those years of salad eating and running just holding me up in weight?  Probably not!  But it was nice to know that I can let go, enjoy myself.

Aside from a short jog in Seville I haven’t run or exercised in 16 days.  It felt weird.  I haven’t had that many non-running days in over a year, and I haven’t been that long without a “workout” in several years.

Now I know logically it takes many days of not eating right and not exercising to gain weight, I also know that gaining a few pounds won’t make me a horrible ugly person.  Maybe it would give me some boobies and I could rejoice.  However, as a female, I’ve been emotionally brainwashed that getting fat is my mortal enemy.  I know it and I hate it every time that thought crosses my mind.  And it sucks because every time I work on trying to get rid of this brain wash mentality of a pseudo enemy that weakens women as a group (think of all that could be accomplished if women didn’t have a constant battle with food and calories) I get reinforced by others (friends, family, coworkers, countless sources of media) around me that gaining weight is the enemy and fat must be avoided at all costs.

How many of us read those magazines that tell us what we should eat on vacation, how to workout on vacation, how to workout out in our hotel room and 99 ways to cut calories?  This ramble is going on for too but I wanted to remind myself that you can let go and enjoy yourself for a week or two and the world won’t end.  It’s hard for us type As to do that.  I know, we like to control everything and have a plan for that day, but sometimes that cake needs to be eaten, those cheeses need to be tried, every pastry shop on the way must be visited and with all the sights and experiences there might be no time for exercise because you want to enjoy being in the spirit of your surrounding and those around you.  The world is still there, your pants will still fit and when you get back you can resume your normal healthy life of working, running, eating salads and veggies.

and most importantly part of normalcy is hanging out with your cat!

2012 Newport Unitedhealthcare Half Marathon Recap

The Amica half marathon took place October 14th.  I think registration was $55 for the half and $85 for the full when we signed up.  I’m sure it was slightly lower a few months before and higher closer to the date.   originally signed up for the marathon but pansied out due to a crappy run, busy work schedule and being whiny and switched last minute to the half.

United Healthcare Half Marathon

I think technically the half is called United Healthcare and the full was Amica but I keep hearing them being used interchangeably so if I mix them up, know I’m talking about the same thing.

Expo & Swag Bag

The expo was held the day before and was open til 7PM! I was super excited about it being open late due to my history of missing number pick-up when RnR expos close before 5PM.  So if you drive up after work, it’s a pain to get there in time.

The expo was small, I think they had a local running retailer there, I think powerbar stand was there and Vermont Cabot cheese samples which were my favorite.  I often wonder if I’m judged when I go up and get 5 samples.  There wasn’t anyone else there so I’ll write it of as okay!

The Course and Race

The course for the half is truly one of the most beautiful courses that I have ever ran.  I don’t think I ever ran a race on the east coast that gave so much both historical street and ocean view access to the runners.  Great job!

I woke up around an hour before start time.  I wasn’t expecting much from my body so I think I ate one of those go lean bars or something with protein and sugar.  Not my smartest prerace fuel but with rain in the forecast I was feeling quite negative.

The shuttle buses were super easy as we were staying only a few minutes from shuttle bus area and we got to the starting line about 15 minutes early.  Just enough time to use the porta pottys… except the lines were super long and after standing and not moving for 10 minutes I gave up and decided maybe I’ll just run fast enough to hold it in.

Yup those are the bathroom lines!

Doesn’t Tony look excited?

The weather grew more and more ominous as race start was delayed.  Finally 15 minutes later we were given the okay to go!

From the beginning, Tony ditched me and decided he wanted nothing to do with the 7min pace corral.  What can I say, I had great ambitions.

I had Runkeeper couch set to 7:15 but my splits ended up as follows –

mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 7:01 66
2 6:42 -44
3 7:15 14
4 7:11 -33
5 7:29 0
6 7:28 -1
7 7:40 1
8 7:23 0
9 7:19 13
10 7:45 -16
11 7:47 36
12 8:12 30
13 7:32 -65

Most of the miles went by okay.  My favorite and least favorite were miles 6-8 that were along the super windy ocean drive that took no prisoners   Miles 7 the wind went against you that I thought I was going to kneel over but by mile 8 we switched directions and the wind pushed me forward in glorious strength.

Mile 12 was a tough one for me.  My legs felt dead, I took a short walk break and found a safety pin in my shoe!   I don’t know how I ran 12 miles with a safety pin in my shoe but I guess the cold blocked it all out.  It was a good mile to walk through as the last mile went through the rows mansions and fancy houses.

The last half mile was filled with people cheering, including my own friends and I knew walking was simply not allowed.  I shuffled my way forward and when I saw the clock was at 1:37 I knew that if I just pushed hard enough I could have a slight PR.

The Results!

Total Time 1:38:08
Pace 7:30
Place 166/3346 overall 28/1993 female 14/621 Age group