Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Team in Training in SF!

I wanted to write a whole separate post specifically about my Team in Training experience in San Francisco, mostly because it was surprisingly awesome. I wasn't so sure - I had heard a lot of different opinions and I wasn;t sure what to expect. I did spring for an Inspiration Dinner ticket for H, much to his chagrin. I think he would have chosen to visit another awesome restaurant in SF.

The afternoon started at 3:45 pm when we met as a team. It was mostly housekeeping stuff, where our table was, what to do the next day before and after the race, and how much money we raised. Sarah spoke most of the meeting.



Then at the end, they passed out candles for us, and we all participated in a moment of silence and lit candles for our Honored Teammates and Honored Angels. Those we have lost and those who were still with us. I had to pinch my arm a few times to keep the tears in check. It was pretty emotional.



After the meeting, I only had a few minutes to collect my H and meet up with some teammates so we could walk to the dinner location together. When we got there, we were totally unprepared for the masses of support team cheering us on!



It was huge. It was deafening. All the LLS and TnT Staff, Coaches and Mentors from every single team was there cheering! Hundreds and hundred of them. It was overwhelming but in a good way! Even my H was impressed!



It also might have been the biggest Inspiration Dinner that TnT puts on, as the Nike Marathon is their biggest event. I asked Gina, who is TnT Alumni, and she said she had never seen an Inspiration Dinner like this.



The food was a decent carbo load - pesto and marinara pasta (with pine nuts as a condiment we could add ourselves! I love me some pine nuts), salad, rolls, and lots of water. H was disappointed there wasn't a cash bar. LOL

The speakers were the best part. Joan Benoit Samuelson, who was one of the co-founders of the race spoke. Super incredible experience. Most memorable quote: "The woman who starts the marathon tomorrow will not be the same woman who finishes it."



Next John "The Penguin" Bingham spoke. He was funny! Lots of jokes that you might not appreciate unless you were not only a runner, but a slow runner. LOL



The last person to speak was a woman (and I suck because I don't remember her name). She was running the event, but was also a survivor of Hodgkin Lymphoma. In fact, against the odds, both of her parents were diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma years before. If you know anything about these blood cancers, you know that there is no genetic link, so the odds of all three of them to be diagnosed are off the charts! Fortunately, all three of them are in remission! Hooray!! Her story was so inspirational, especially the parts of how LLS made a difference to her personally.



After dinner, we took pictures! Here I am with Coach Melissa, our Campaign Manager Vicki, and Gina:



And here I am with Coach Jennifer and Coach Lynn!



The next night was the victory party. I did not purchase a ticket, but I did sign up to get mine just in case. It turned out that Lindsey was going to dinner with a friend, and gave us her ticket. It actually sounded kind of fun, and since we had the tickets, we thought we would go. they did something completely different this year, with multiple rooms, including an 80's room, Karaoke room, game room, photo booths, etc.



The Karaoke room was crowded, never even got a chance to sing! LOL



I did find some of my teammates, and we danced the night away.





I did take one last photo of our inspiration board - the reasons we run: the people afflicted with these diseases.



I would love to do this event again as part of TnT, just because the experience was so incredible. I'm sad to know that not every TnT event is as amazing and huge.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Randoms from Dip's Kitchen

Just a couple no-so-creative but oh-so-yummy things!

First we took figs



Cut them in half and stuffed them with goat cheese



Then we took bacon



cut the strips in half



And wrapped them around said goat cheese stuffed figs





Baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes



YUM



And in preparation for Halloween, I made Skittles Vodka! This was the easiest thing on my 101 list, I'm sure. LOL

I gathered my ingredients



And assembled. Now they are going to steep for the 5 days until All Hallow's Eve. I have some sparkling water to mix them with, along with candy eyeball drink stirrers :) I'm so excited!



I might have to make Vodka Gummi Bears too! Whooo! I love Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Crow Bar

Since our Anniversary and OC Restaurant Week were jutted up against each other, H and I decided to use the opportunity to try something new. We had read about The Crow Bar in a magazine and thought this was the perfect excuse to try it!





Of course, from the moment we decided to go and all the way through the meal, I couldn't help thinking about Sable Crow.





The Prix Fixe menu for OC restaurant Week was only $30 per person!



We started out with drinks: I had the Fox Barrel Pear Cider while H had the Stone Pale Ale. The Pear Cider was very good - traditional cider with just a hint of sweetness and more of a bite than the normal Wyders you usually see! Both were $5 - An OCRW special!



In addition to the OCRW choices, we also decided to add an order of duck fat fries for $8



These were delicious - crispy and rich in flavor, served with a house made ketchup and a truffle allioli.

next came out appetizer trio: a blue crab deviled egg, a grilled stuffed date (chorizo and laura chenel goat cheese filling, with port syrup), and a croquetta (crispy potato dumplings filled w/serrano ham and manchego cheese, with roasted red pepper allioli).



I loved both the date (decadent!) and the croquetta (savory!) but since I am not a crab person, I took one small bite of the deviled egg and gave the rest to H. He enjoyed it.

Next, we had our salads:

H got the ice cube salad with pt. reyes blue cheese dressing, oven dried tomatoes, and bacon bits



While I had the rocket salad with pecorino romano and aged balsamic vinegar.



We shared, and both salads were delightful! The oven roasted tomatoes were so richly flavored and held up very well to the blue cheese and bacon. The rocket greens were spicy and the balsamic added the right amount of sweet and tart.

For dinner I ordered a glass of the "Permutations" Pinot Noir from Victoria, Australia for $10. It was a decent Pinot, recommended by our server. It did not, however, pair well with the entrees we ordered. I should have gone with my gut and picked a spicy Zin. Live and learn, I suppose.



Next we split the entrees:

The grilled cheese of the day: Gorgonzola, prosciutto jam and a fried egg with arugula



And the Mushroom Flatbread: roasted crimini mushrooms, seven cheese sauce, sauteed leeks, white truffle oil, and reggiano.



The flatbread was to die for. Rich and earthy, nicely balanced, crispy crust and simply delish. Unfortunately, the grilled cheese was oversalted. Not sure what part of it was over seasoned, as the prosciutto jam and the egg each tasted fine on their own. Maybe the combination just didn't work as well as the chef had hoped? Very disappointing.

Dessert was chef's choice - flourless chocolate cake - delicious but not exceptional as far as flourless chocolate cakes go.



Overall, it was a really good experience. The Crow Bar calls itself a "Gastropub" and I agree - everything is familiar, just with a nice gourmet twist. I would definitely go back, although I would probably stay away from the server's wine suggestions and the grilled cheese concoction. There are so many items on that menu I would love to try - from the various appetizers to the list of whimsical desserts that look much more fun than flourless chocolate cake!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Running vs. KTFU

I have to vent about this. Every now and again, H brings up my running and tries to imply that it's keeping me from getting pregnant. The week before the Marathon, I had a minor cycle vent and was worried I would get my period right before my pap smear. The pap smear was on Thursday, and it was Monday evening, and I had just gotten my period, which was just in time, considering I only have it for two days. I said "Finally" he asked why I was happy, so I told him. He was confused and wanted to know why I didn't expect to be pregnant and why I would be happy I wasn't. I tried to explain (AGAIN) that our chances of getting KTFU before his surgery was slim to none and that I haven't been hopeful about getting pregnant for a while.

Then he asked me if I would have tested, to which I replied, "Sure, but not until the morning." So then he says "If you were pregnant, would you still run your marathon this weekend?" Of course, I said "Yes. Why wouldn't I? I just ran a half marathon yesterday. I would still run, but just take it easy."

And here is the clincher - he actually told me he wouldn't want me to, and hinted that he would forbid it. WTF?? After everything I did to train and fundraise, he would try to prevent me from doing my race?

I still can't believe he would use it against me. I'M the one who eats healthy. I'M the one who has lost weight to get healthier. I'M the one that has no apparent fertility issues. I still ovulate and get a period. ME! My health has greatly improved because of my running, especially my long runs. Let me elaborate.

I lost 40 pounds in early 2006, changed my eating habits and began going to the gym. After losing the 30 pounds, my cholesterol wasn't great, my blood sugar wasn't great, and I was diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome which is a precursor to Type II Diabetes. Even after two years of eating moderately healthy and working out regularly, my bloodwork hadn't changed much and I was starting to get concerned.

Fast forward another year - the year I was regularly training for a full and a few half marathons, which also helped me lose another 20+ pounds. I no longer have Metabolic Syndrome, and guess what, my Cholesterol is as good as it has ever been! My total Cholesterol is 247, which seems high, BUT:

My HDL is 105! (Anything higher than 46 is good, and anything over 65 is heart protective)
My LDL is 125 (anything less than 130 is good)
My Triglycerides are 85 (anything less than 150 is good)
And my ratio of total cholesterol to HDL is 2.4 - most people have to work very hard to get it under 5!

I guess 4 hour long runs are good for something! :)

So here I am, publicly announcing that if I ever get pregnant, I will continue to run as long as my DOCTOR says it's okay. I don't really care what my husband thinks, as long as my doctor says it's okay, I'm RUNNING dammit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Nike Women's Marathon



Wow. I am still in amazement. I don't even know where to start! I will open my tale with this statement: it was harder AND easier than I thought it would be. I shall elaborate.



My day started with a 5:00 am wake up call. I immediately jumped out of bed, started the coffee and scarfed down a couple bananas. I got dressed, made sure my chip and race number were on, drank coffee and water. Waited for hubby to get showered and dressed. Called family and texted teammates. It was actually pretty relaxed, considering! I worked really hard at not thinking too much about this race, and the morning was no exception. I was so glad this was not my first race! All I had to do was ignore the fact that I was running 26.2 miles and I was fine. LOL

At 5:50 am I grabbed the backpack and H and we headed down to my Team's meeting spot. It was so busy! I checked in and waited. My pacing partners showed up soon after and we posed for some pictures before heading out the door as a huge group.



We walked the three city blocks to the start and the place was just PACKED. H hung out for a few minutes and took another a picture of us



(how do you like my Princess crown? LOL) but left soon to scope out his spot just past the start. The three of us talked and joked, and waited for the race start at 7:00 am. We thought there would be traditional waves, and we wouldn't cross the finish line until about 7:30, but we quickly realized we were progressing to the start line much more quickly and crossed about 7:15!





It was so crowded, so many people around us. We didn't even have time to think about what the hell we were doing. Before we knew it, our first walk break beeped at us, but since we were surrounded by masses of people, we decided to skip the first one. However, we knew we couldn't skip too many because we had to save our energy for the finish. By the second walk break beep, we were off to the side... and I realized that once again, I needed to pee. WTF??

We were really good about taking our walk breaks pretty much the whole time. I found a disgusting bathroom along the Embarcadero but it did the trick. ::insert pukey face here:: Thank goodness I hit that bathroom before my legs were done, because I totally did the hover ::another pukey face::

At mile 2 we ran past Boudin and the lovely smell of fresh sourdough (YUM). Right after mile 3 we encountered our first hill, a hill that I was not expecting. You see, I ran what I thought was a similar course at the SF Half in July. I thought I knew the hills on the first 1/3 of this course, but these guys decided we needed to make a sharp left turn to run up a short steep hill instead of continuing down the Embarcadero. Hmph.

The first spectator bus stop and cheer station was at mile 4. I looked and looked for my husband, but did not see him. I knew we had started about 15 minutes earlier and we were on a great pace, so I wondered if he had enough time. I called him and left him a message saying I had already passed mile 4 so to just continue over to Golden Gate Park. I found out later that the buses couldn't get through and he watched me run by while he was stuck on the bus. So sad!

A little after mile 6 we hit the first "real" hill. I remembered it from when I ran in July. We got to the top and I saw the turn for the Golden Gate and thought to myself, "That was the big one, and now I'm done!!". Lindsey looked at me and said that we were over 25% done. I didn't want to dwell on that one, because me being the glass half-empty kind of gal, 25% didn't seem like much. But we were happy for the downhill! This time at least. But before long, we had another steep uphill. WTF???? I didn't think the second hill was this high, but whatever. As soon as we finish this one, we're totally done with hills, right?

Wrong. The first big hill was actually two hills. Ack! I conveniently forgot that part of the elevation map. ::face palm:: Right about mile 11, we start to run uphill again. Except this time it was a slow, steady climb over FOUR MILES. Gah! To make things even weirder, right about mile 11.5 the half marathoners split off so we went from running in a crowd to running practically by ourselves in comparison. But about mile 12, I saw my hubby! He gave us all high fives which was awesome. :)

Back to the four mile hill. It was an out and back at this point, and there were runners coming back to our right. I saw Coach Melissa (Yeah!) and she gave me a high five! But we were still climbing. About mile 13 we turned a little bit of a corner and I looked up and saw people higher than me, which meant the hill wasn't over yet ::sniffle:: I must have had that emotion flash across my face, because another TnT runner coming the other way yelled "You can do it!" and put her hand out for a high five. Oh man, I can't even tell you how much I needed that right at that moment.

We climbed a little more and just before mile 15 we started downhill again, thank goodness. We saw Lindsey's family and her sister ran with us for about a half mile. About mile 16, we turned onto the Great Highway and started running along the beach. This was near the finish line, so there were tons of people which helped my motivation. However, we were running up yet another gradual incline. I almost missed my family, who yelled my name loud enough for me to hear after I had passed them! I gave them a little fist pump and then went back to work. Gina started to fall behind a little at about mile 17. I couldn't remember seeing her eat anything so I wondered if she was running out of fuel. I could see Lindsey slow down a little too. I tried to give them pep talks, but they were quickly losing it, especially with the uphills. I spent some time waiting for them and trying to encourage them to run, but they were pretty tired. I felt bad for them.

By mile 18 my quads were cramping a bit, probably from all the downhill running. We saw Coach Jennifer right before mile 22, and she gave us some salt and a pep talk. I love Coach Jen, serio. She is the best. And then mile 22 was the chocolate mile - a whole mile of people handing out Ghirardelli chocolate!!! That part was awesome.

At about mile 23, we hooked up with another girl named Janna that was a TnT participant from the Sacramento chapter. She had lost all of her teammates so we invited her to hang out with us. Soon after, we saw Coach Noah. After yelling at him about the lack of hills during our team runs, he gave us a bit of a pep talk too. Just a short uphill and then the rest of the way was a gradual down. YES! Unfortunately, I lost Gina on that uphill, and Lindsey shortly after. I was still taking my walk breaks, but I was also telling myself that the quicker I went now, the sooner I would finish.

My last walk break came at about mile 25. I looked at Janna (who was the only one keeping up with me!) and said this was our last one! As soon as it was time to start running, I just put my blinders on and kept going. I'm not sure when I lost her. That last mile was pretty difficult. I was counting my steps to 10 over and over to keep my mind from taking over. But before I knew it, I saw the finish line! I plastered a smile on my face, sped up and just went for it. Maybe 300 yards before the finish, I heard my name and looked over to see my aunt, uncle and the family of my Honored Teammate! I gave them a smile and a wave and went back to sprinting. It was a long sprint - I could feel my lungs burning and for a second I wondered if I would pass out. But I went over the finish line instead!!!

Immediately I burst into tears. That was such an emotional moment. I know I was emotional about finishing a marathon, but that could have also been the lack of glucose in my bloodstream. Whatever. As soon as I ran over that finish line, I could see the blue boxes. Ok, there might have been fireman in tuxedos holding those blue boxes, but I didn't even notice that. I walked up to the first one, and grabbed my blue box, sobbing. He said "congratulations" so I looked up and he smiled. I think he was cute, but all I remember is that he was short and blonde. And then my watch was beeping at me for my next walk break - I stopped it then and my time was about 5:20 or so. Whatever.

Anyway, back to the harder AND easier statement. The hills were much harder than I expected. I thought there would be more flat, but honestly, most of it was a hill of some sort. It was a killer of a course, that's for sure. But easier? That's because I never felt like I hit the wall. I never said in the middle of it that I would never do it again. The whole time I was running, I was happy to be there and excited. I was already thinking about my next.

This race was the best I have done! I felt pampered and spoiled. I'm still not sure if it was because of Team in Training, or if it was just the race. I TOTALLY want to do it again next year! That being said, since the medals are the same for the half and the full, I am totally doing the half next year. :oP

Official time was 5:19:37 and while I could have done it faster, I am also happy that I have a time I can easily beat! LOL I also have to thank the girls who were my inspiration: Fitty, 10YT, Cat, Andrea, Jessica, APK - if it wasn't for you guys, I would have never even considered doing something like this. xxxooo

This is the best part: My first Blue Box from Tiffany!!! Squeeee!!!!





I haven't taken it off since!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Time

AHHHHHHHH! It's totally here. I am excited. And I can also feel the nervousness in my tummy. The next time I post in this blog, I will be a MARATHONER! Wow. Crazy!

Even better news than that, is due to the many MANY extremely generous people I have been lucky enough to know, I am OVER my fundraising goal! Woot woot! I am also excited because the family of Nicole, my honored hero, is coming to cheer me on this weekend! And I am getting a Blue Tiffany Box. From a FIREMAN in a TUXEDO! Can't forget that.

So now I need to finish some work, since this is my last day in the office until next week, AND I still have a ton of stuff to do tonight to prepare too! I guess keeping busy will keep me preoccupied.

GO TEAM!! :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Insanity

"Running is a mental sport... and we are all insane"

I have the Long Beach Half Marathon tomorrow, and am starting to get all pumped for the race. There is something about racing that makes me super happy, super excited, super crazy.

So why is it that all I have to do is see some bling:



And suddenly I am bound and determined to run FOUR Marathons in 2010? I shake my head at myself. You see, if you complete four Rock 'n' Roll full marathons in one calendar year, you qualify for the bling you see above. It is even more blingy in person - heavy and thick and sparkly. UGH LOL There are other blingy medals too.

So here I am planning out my next year of FULL MARATHONS.

Arizona Rock 'n' Roll - January 17
San Diego Rock 'n' Roll - June 6
Seattle Rock 'n' Roll - June 26
Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll - December 5

I can't tell if I am truly insane, or just temporarily insane. WTF am I thinking? BTW this is not set in stone by any means. Well, not really.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Update Schmupdate

I haven't felt like posting much. Old flame is more than squashed, so that's a good thing. Grandmother passed away, but she was 88 and in a lot of pain. She has lived her life, and is now in a better place - no matter what you believe, she is at least done with pain. Funeral was nice especially seeing the family, even though taking the time off (like most things with my asshole boss) created enough problems in itself. I gained 6.6 pounds eating and drinking like a fiend last week, so now I am on operation lose 4.6 pounds before Thursday so I don't have to pay for a WW meeting! I think (HOPE) most of it was water weight. Douchey SIL is having her baby. yay. :/ No update on the interviews, but they both went well and we hope he will have an offer by the end of the week. ::touch wood:: We are researching chile suppliers since ours sold her business, and tamale making season is almost here! I am one week away from the Long Beach Half Marathon and two weeks away from Nike!

I still have a blog post to make regarding our Anniversary dinner at the Crow Bar in CDM - I don't even know if I have downloaded the pics. I did reach level 100 in Mafia Wars. I knew it was just a matter of time wasting. LOL Now I am trying to motivate so another Sunday doesn't pass me by. I don't know what we are going to do. Maybe visit Tanaka Farms and/or Rogers Gardens. Maybe I'll take the old Olympus and fill up the compact flash. :)