Photo Dump: Random from the Last Week and a Half

I’ve been forgetting to take photos daily, but here are a few from the last week or so. I’ll try to be better!

New yellow kettle! From the lovely Christine and Ken.

Juicy Oozers. Yum?

My hottie friends on opening weekend of Harry Potter. 3-D at the Uptown, what what.

My future father-in-law made cherry pie. And oh lawdy in heaven. It was to die for.

The shawlette is coming along nicely!

Erin and sweet baby Derek, not even 24 hours old! I can't believe Suzie is a mama.

This is apparently now a cat picture blog?


Life in the Slow Lane

There are many reasons why I think my friends are really, really fabulous. One of the biggest is that they are willing to come out to my running races to cheer me on. This would be great in itself, but it’s especially awesome considering that they have to stand out there for an incredibly long time.

Behold the speed and prowess of the four long distance races I have completed in my lifetime:

  • Revenge of the Penguins 10-Miler, September 2010: 2:09:52. (Granted, this course was all kinds of effed up and was actually more like 10.65 miles.) ~12:12/mile pace.
  • Victoria Half Marathon, October 2010: 2:44:03. ~12:30/mile pace.
  • Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, April 2011: 2:11:20. ~13:08/mile pace.
  • Vancouver Half Marathon, May 2011:2:51:37. ~13:08/mile pace.

Yeah. So I’m not gonna lie – when I hear people complain about how SLOOOOOOOW they are with a 10:00/mile pace, I sort of want to die a little bit inside.

I know, I know. It’s all relative. And I shouldn’t be comparing myself to other people. At my level, it’s pretty much useless anyway, because everyone is faster than me, including walkers, senior citizens, and men who skip rope or juggle balls while racing. I know, because all of these types of people have beat me in races. Real life.

Unattractive tights aside, check me out smoking an old man! Photo taken by Matt S.

I should clarify that I am a run-walker, in which I take walking breaks during set intervals. Jeff Galloway has popularized this method in the last few years. Sometimes it’s controversial. Some people claim that you can’t call yourself a runner if you take walk breaks. I think this is BS, honestly – why does it matter to anyone else if you stop to walk? If you run, at all, then yes – you’re a runner. That’s all there is to it. Stop being so haughty about running, people.

If you’re thinking, “Well, maybe if you didn’t take walk breaks, you’d be faster?” Yup, have explored that already. And sadly, I don’t even think I’d make it to three miles if I didn’t walk every once in a while! It’s true that if I took less frequent or shorter breaks, I would likely go faster. I’m working on that. But I have to say that I don’t think I’ll ever cut out walking completely.

This has been on my mind lately because I’ve taken an extended break from running since the Vancouver race on May 1st. It turns out that my significant slowdown since the fall, which caused a lot of frustration, confusion, and tears during training, was actually related to recurring health problems. I’ve undergone treatment and am feeling better, so the running itch is back again after almost three months of having no desire at all to hit the trails.

I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I enjoy lacing up my sneakers just to run. I must admit that I run for the thrill and excitement of the races. I’m obviously not racing in the sense that I have a chance of winning (we have clearly established that is not the case). But I love me a good race, and it’s what makes me run. I run when I have a goal. I run when I have a training plan. I run when there’s a medal at the finish line. I run when there’s a tech t-shirt on the line. I run when that means I can look up hideous, overpriced race photos of me on the internets. I run when I can experience butterflies in my stomach the entire week before the race. I run when I can proudly put a sticker on my car window.

As long as I stay healthy, I’d like to sign up for another race soon. Maybe a 5-miler in October, although I’m not sure I’ll be ready by then. Possibly, my third half in the spring – perhaps Vancouver again (and this time, I’m doing hill training, dammit)? Or somewhere in Hawaii, since I’d we’d like to go there for our delayed honeymoon next year.

Maybe I’ll see you on the sidelines at my next race. Just plan on going to brunch while you wait. Or at the very least, do what Thomas does and bring a book.

Why Seattle, Exactly?

I visited Seattle for the first time in June 2002. I was traveling on my own, and wrapping up a 30-day tour of art museums in six U.S. cities. William and Mary funded my entire trip – it was an approved project for their Monroe Scholar program (rough life, I know). I was feeling very fatigued from travel at that point, and incredibly lonely. I had never traveled solo but thought I’d be cut out for it. Sadly, no. I think that traveling on your own can be extremely fun and rewarding, but only if you have the right kind of personality. Me – I’m certainly no extrovert, and the thought of approaching others at the hostels where I stayed made me queasy. So I kept to myself. There was a lot of holing up in bookstores and reading for hours and hours on that trip. Seattle was the final stop, and I was excited to get my stay there over with so I could finally make it home.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I loved Seattle. Even though I didn’t venture out to the fun neighborhoods (I stayed at a hostel a block away from Pike Place Market, and mostly wandered around the downtown area since I didn’t know any better), something about the city and the air just seemed different. Maybe it was the proximity of water and mountains? Who knows, but I was captivated. It helped a lot that the weather was positively perfect – 70s and sunny every day. Helloooooo, Seattle summers. I vowed to make a return trip to explore further.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long – I was back in November 2004. That was an utterly spontaneous trip  that I took with my new friend and co-worker, Christine. Thinking back, the whole thing was a little ridiculous. But I guess these are the kinds of things that early 20-somethings do. I was a little worried that it would be rainy and miserable, but we lucked out big time – we had gorgeous, ideal fall weather. I also got to visit some of the young, hip neighborhoods of Seattle for the first time. I specifically remember checking out Fremont, Capitol Hill, and the University District. And drinking beer. There was a. lot. of. beer. We had an amazing time, and needless to say, that experience sealed the deal. I was in love with the city!

What did I tell you about the beer?

The next jaunt to Seattle was in October 2008 – and that time, I brought Thomas with me, who had never been before. Seattle was just one stop on our 10-day tour of the Pacific Northwest (we also saw Portland and Vancouver). We hung out with our friends Anne and Dan, who had just moved there from the DC area that summer. We had a grand old time and visited even more neighborhoods and fun places.

I can’t tell you how and why it happened, but something finally clicked last spring, and Thomas and I decided that we would move to Seattle. Even early on in our relationship, we had always talked about moving to a new city together. Chicago was a contender. Austin, weirdly, though we’ve never been there. San Francisco/Berkeley too. But in the end, Seattle just made the most sense. I already knew I loved it, and Thomas, being the laid-back one, was happy to go along with it. He liked the city well enough, so why not?

We made it our goal to move by April of this year, and started planning on how we were going to make that happen. Sort of unexpectedly, we got engaged, and that threw a wrench into our plans a bit. I wanted a DC fall wedding, and the earliest time that could happen was this year. I was not wild about the idea of planning a wedding from the west coast, so we pushed back the move to November. And now, here we are.

We’ve been back to Seattle since we decided on the move, just to make sure. And yeah, we’re sure. I can’t really explain it, but the city just fits us. I think we’ll be really happy there. We could be wrong, of course. There is always the possibility that we’ll get there and hate it. Hate the constant rain, hate not having a billion friends around, hate our jobs, hate our apartment. But how will we know unless we try?

Photo Dump: Week of July 7th

In which I try to take a photo every day with my phone. The Android app I use is called Vignette.

7.7.11: Marta loves coffee!

7.8.11: Two of my very favorite ladies

7.9.11: Rockies @ Nationals. Of course, the Nats lost.

7.10.11: The best pizza in the universe: the Filletto at Pizzeria Orso

7.11.11: Bodystep launch at Gold's Gym, South Arlington

7.12.11: This was waiting for us when we came home.

7.13.11: Okay, another cat picture, and a bad one at that. But she is a huge fan of my knitting.

The Route

2 adults. 1 dog. 1 cat. 1 Subaru Impreza. 5 cities. 6 days. 3,888 miles.

We leave in late November, which is why we’re taking the long way through parts of the south and southwest. I worry about driving through blizzards and the like, so I think it’s better to play it safe through warmer climes. I also wish that we could make this a more leisurely road trip (honeymoon!), but our darling pets will be with us. It wouldn’t be so bad with just Wallace, but little Neko will be very, very freaked out. I think it will be wise to get to Seattle as quickly as possible.

Obviously, all our furniture and other crap won’t fit in the Subaru. We’re planning on packing up a storage unit and hiring someone to drive it across the country. This makes me nervous (I am just a nervous person, can you tell?), but I feel much better about that than driving a big ass truck ourselves.

Photo Dump: Week of June 30th

Lately, I’ve been taking at least one photo with my phone each day. I’ve been really into this since I downloaded the awesome Android app, Vignette. (I’ve tried them all, and I really think Vignette is the best.) Yeah, I know the whole distressed, vintage looking photo thing is super trendy right now. But I can’t help it. I love, love, love how these photos turn out!

6.30.11: My boss received a gorgeous hydrangea plant.

7.1.11: Amanda and her new bike! Awesome fact - she got the very same one as me. Bike twins!

7.2.11: Stacy, Sophie, and Dave. Sophie is two now, and a bundle of energy!

7.2.11: Brown butter waffles. Seriously the best thing ever. I was going to take a picture of the cooked waffles, but I ate them too quickly.

7.4.11: Iwo Jima

7.5.11: Work baby shower for Suzie!

7.6.11: Baby hat! I'm not usually a fan of WACKY colored yarns like this one, but knitting this delights me to no end.

I’m going to try to do this each week. Nothing like a lazy, easy way to create a post!

Fireworks at Iwo Jima

Want a fabulous view of the DC Fourth of July fireworks? Turns out that you don’t have to camp out all day in the nasty summer heat and humidity, among the throngs of sweaty, patriotic people. In our case, you just have to head down the street.

We are usually too lazy to plan a Fourth of July gathering. Too hot, too many crowds, too many logistics to deal with, etc. But here in our last summer in our nation’s capital (ack, it feels weird to say that), we decided to do as the Romans do and check out the fireworks, along with hundreds of thousands of other celebrants.

Okay, so we’re not crazy. We weren’t about to camp out downtown on the Mall all day long. I did that plenty as a child (hi, Mom!) and while it’s certainly a unique experience, it’s not something I’m raring to sign up for again.

I have to say that I’m really proud of how well everything worked out this year. It was all quite perfect, actually. Around 4 pm, we packed up an amazing (if I do say so myself) picnic dinner, drove down to Rosslyn and parked at the public lot next to Holiday Inn, walked 0.7 mile to Iwo Jima, and claimed our spot on the grass. There was practically nobody there yet at that time.

We had the perfect view of the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.

Our view from Iwo Jima in Rosslyn

On the picnic menu: hummus, tabbouleh with goat cheese, charred corn salad, feta dip (spicy!), avocado lime fruit salad, various accompanying veggies/chips/pitas, and fruity sodas. For dessert: brownies and lime white chocolate chip cookies.

We ate very well.

It was a very hot and humid day yesterday, and the bugs were out in full force. Thankfully, it was also very cloudy, which saved us sunburns, at least. The clouds looked quite ominous all night long, and it even sprinkled a few times, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle.

We chatted, played a few rounds of the weirdo card game Fluxx, knitted, and watched all of the amusing people around us. There was an overly friendly young man in head to toe Under Armour who wanted to play Euchre with everyone around him. There was a crazily made up woman who waited by herself for at least couple of hours, shooing people away who tried to set their blankets down nearby, because she was supposedly saving the space for 25 friends. (They eventually arrived. It was a church group.) There was a rotund Asian baby sitting on his grandfather’s lap.

The fireworks were delightful (if not a little anticlimactic), of course. Note to fireworks planners: crowds LOVE it when you do heart shapes. Just sayin’.

The show wrapped up around 9:20-9:25. We fought the sea of humanity on the way back to our car, and won. We made it back to our apartments before 10. Pretty amazing, considering.

We like the Fourth of July. I think Thomas said it best: “You have to love a secular holiday in which people celebrate that it’s pretty cool to live here. And it ends with watching things blow up. Pretty cool.”