June 30, 2015

East Coast Road Trip

E & I had planned to spend the 4th of July holiday in Georgia (immediately after the GA fireworks law made fun legal!).

At the last minute, E was sent out to Boston for a work thing, and then we thought through the logistics of him flying home for just a couple of days and flying back out and it really didn't make any sense, *especially* because we had people like grandparents, uncles, friends, and a corporate office visit we could fit in between Boston and Atlanta.

So, here's what we did while working remotely and driving in the rented Chrysler 200 over the last week or so:

Apparently, on the east coast, there is this thing that happens where water falls from the sky.  Even in June.

This is a friendly perspective on the storms we encountered on approximately 30% of the driving.  We feared flooding.
Anyways, we had a great time catching up with folks in all locations on the map, in a few hiding from the rain, and in all working remotely from hotels and cars (full disclosure, I almost never drove, I was more of the asleep, working, or "entertaining" member of the driving party).

Despite close of quarter pressures, lots of work, time zone ridiculousness, and lack of sleep, we saw and experienced several things that were awesome on this trip, including:
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walking trail of bricks tracing several historic Boston landmarks.
The Freedom Trail -- Charlestown Bridge

Boston Harbor, from the pier at the end of the Freedom Trai.

Sunset, from the top of the Prudential Building, over the Charles River (Citgo sign!)

Richmond, VA -- This always to tyrants (the abuse of power).
We stopped for the best brunch I've had in years at The Magpie in Richmond.  Seriously.  Southern food meets French/Modern but in a location/decour that has very believable authentic older family member influences such as a stuffed magpie, and repurposed sewing machine treadle lamps.  Did I mention this was the best brunch I'd had in years?  Yeah, brunch.  In the south.  Biscuits (with Manchego, here).  They know how to do it.

Near RVA capitol, a monument to the group who filed the first lawsuit that eventually consolidated to Brown v. Board of Ed.

Note the cars -- this is a huge fireworks building.  Also, no smoking.
 A colleague in North Carolina noted, "South Carolina is perhaps the most lawless state in the Union."  I have no insight into whether this is true or not, but they do have quite a supply of fireworks for sale.

Happy E before buying fireworks to take to the lake.
 And there you have it.  Our week involved much driving and interaction with folks far from home.  It was great to see each and every one of 'em.  I'm thrilled to add DE and VA to my states tally.

In terms of workouts, this week is essentially a complete write-off.  I fit in 18.06 miles total (clearly not much walking) including several interval workouts: 1 min hills at home, some heat intervals in Sacramento, some incline intervals on treadmills, and finally, early this week a technical, hot, but gorgeous loop around this lake in NC:

Bond park lake. The south is a constant reminder that our drought in CA is real.  Nothing is this green where I live.
At one point on this loop, there was a "fitness course."  You know the gig.  Pushups.  Dips.  Hops.  Kicks.  Weird stuff.  Since I'm not truly training for anything I was actually free to opt in.  So I did.  My shoulders and biceps and triceps would like to have a word with me tomorrow.  But while I was torturing them, I got to watch a local kid do hill repeats with his coach timing.  HE WAS FAST.  I told him so on my way out, but I don't think he thought my opinion held any weight.  Regardless, I had such a fun time watching him and doing just one more dip, pushup, etc.  It's so fun to realize that you can do the functional equivalent of someone with youth on their side, simply by doing your best that hot, humid, hilly day.  And I did.  I'm hopeful it will pay dividends.  

And with that, I offer best wishes to all for a great 4th of July holiday.  I've got lots of work and travel and other obligations coming up, but I'm going to be balancing things (full body workouts on trails that aren't scheduled, work that means no sleep, too much celebration, etc.) against 10K training for some fall racing.  It feels good to have some speed goals in the works.

June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Summer squash, cukes, hot peppers & the first tomato -- not bad for first harvest.
I remember when my dad was dying (like literally, the last few days of his life, while he was in the hospital and we all hoped this wasn't the final stay), a few things happened that were so funny that everyone in the room laughed.  And we didn't just laugh a little bit.

That laughter in the face of impending death was full-on body-racking tear-jerking belly laughter.  Midway through one of these shared laughter-fits,  I remember being shocked that this was possible.  I was feeling some of the most intense joy and mirth that I'd ever felt.  Right there, in the middle of the worst pain and sadness I'd ever felt.

Today, I woke with a desire to call my brother.  I wanted to thank him for being such a wonderful father.  I'd just dropped his daughter off for camp yesterday and she'd been our guest last week, so I had firsthand knowledge of what a great job he's been doing.  But before I called, I logged into Facebook.  And, I was met with a wall of happy fathers and children.

So. Much. Exuberant. Celebration...   So wonderful.  But also: ouch.

Staring at the screen, I knew there were folks who agreed that fathers should be celebrated, and yet, if they were like me, then this day would also bring their own personal losses painfully in focus (and some wouldn't even have the benefit of brother-fathers or others they can call).

It struck me that this emotion was just like the almost absurd laughter the week my father died.  Humans are capable of such a crazy range of simultaneous emotion, and sometimes, the big feelings in one area open the doors to the big ones in another area.

I feel the most loss for Dad just at the same time that I'm so happy and joyous for all of those around me who are celebrating the dad-is-still-here-and-great things.

So, before I called brother, in hopes of comforting others in (or near) my boat, I selected a fun photo of Dad and posted it with a promise of virtual hugs for anyone who needed them.

In honor of my dad, I'm sending a big huge bear hug to anyone who could use a hug this father's day. {{HUGS}}
The response was impressive.  Many of my friends and Dad's friends and fans liked it -- they'd all been recipients of his hugs, which were the best.  But, also, acquaintances and friends with fathers/husband-fathers who have passed (some of whom I didn't know about), single mothers, and people with difficult relationships with their fathers liked it.  It was clear that even in my small FB circle, there is quite a bit of pain in the middle of the father's day celebration, and I felt honored that Dad had given me an opportunity to acknowledge it and offer big bear hugs.  Who doesn't want a bear hug to soothe their pain? 

What really gave me chills was the comment from the acquaintance on FB who asked if I knew who was in the Barney suit.  I did not.  It was a family friend, very close to Dad, a father, who'd passed just last year.  At times like these I just can't help but feel that Dad is still with me.  I had literally thousands of photos I could have selected to send my FB message of big bear hugs from Dad to those who need them, and yet, somehow, I chose this one, which obviously resonated with Barney's family.  I love it when I feel like Dad is obviously with me.  And today, I do.

In other news, Niece Week destroyed my workouts.  And it was totally worth it. 

Looks like she'll be taller next year.
Weekly mileage: 14.73, most of it walking with niece.  Instead of running, I did a full day of SF fun (Beach Chalet, California Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden) with Mom and Niece, plus some street soccer kick/pass time and walks with the Niece to lunches, dinners, pedicures, and Jurassic World at our local theatre.  I wouldn't trade the time with her for anything.  But I am excited about my upcoming commitment to quality and speed with more cross-training for the rest of the Summer.

June 14, 2015

Return to Seattle

View from our hotel.
5 years ago, I ran the Rock 'n Roll Seattle half marathon with a friend. This weekend, I returned for a rematch with the same friend. She ran a 45 minute PR! I paced her and was shocked to see the last few intervals all well below 10 min/mile, including one at 9:00/mile. She is fit! And I had a great day running in perfect weather in a gorgeous city celebrating her impressive improved fitness.  We agreed to return in another 5 years!

The week's total distance workouts were 28.1 miles.  I tapered a bit and focused on quality, doing 19% sub 10 min/mile, plus an unexpectedly insane 75 minute hot yoga workout on Thursday, followed by a Friday off to fly, the race on Saturday, and a Sunday full of easy walking to brunch.

I feel great.  Such a fun way to spend a weekend. 

Also, I love how Seattle always seduces me with its perfect weather (except for the winter months when I lived there with E in 2011).

This weekend, the weather was beyond perfect.  Highs of 70 on race day and 75 the other days.  Clear skies.  The mountain was out:

Mt. Ranier, From The Plane

For today's brunch, CC took me to West Seattle.  Did you know there was a beach in Seattle with volleyball and partying like a Californian coastal extravaganza?

 Yeah.  Me neither.

But there is.  And when the weather is nice you can view the space needle from afar, by the beach.
The Seattle Rock 'n Roll is a great race.  A bit crowded (my garmin claimed we finished in 13.5 and I believe it due to the dodging and turns), but the weather is great, the course is picturesque and the people are wonderful.  If I had to do it one more time, my only modification would be to show up to the start later.  They allocate 1-2 minutes per corral and we were in corral 20 or so.  There was no need for us to be there 30 minutes before the start.  Showing up at the start would have been more than fine.

June 7, 2015

Just Getting On Base

Lately, I am not swinging for the fences in any area of my life.  Instead, I'm all about doing the best I can to score some points and preserve my energy for the next at bat. 

I actually went out with girlfriends in a limo on Friday night, staying out past 1 AM enjoying champagne, a drive to sausilito, a delicious dinner, and dancing.   So that gets me mad social points despite essentially doing nothing else social this week other than BBQ and an impromptu brunch with friends who came to us.  Lesson learned? The best way to wait for someone's late flight is circling the airport in a limo while sipping champagne with friends. 
Our night out included a timeless San Francisco Institution
In addition to our monthly books, one of the members of book club suggested that we may want to do an online course on Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I love the idea of developing a stronger knowledge of this literary form, and I hadn't read most of the required reading, so I signed up.  I'm 2/3 through the first set assignment: The Lucy Crane Translation of Grimms' Household Tales.  If this week is any indication, the reading is likely to be several hundred pages a week.  Doable, but a bit more than I typically read (with my eyes) outside of work.  Thankfully, the writing assignments are 270-330 words each week, and we only have to peer-review 4 submissions each week, so that will not take much time.  The trick will be to figure out how to either (i) get the books each week and fit in more reading time at the gym; (ii) justify even more time at the computer reading the online versions; or (iii) cheat and go for audiobooks.  Unfortunately, despite it being the easiest solution, I'm guessing I won't find audiobooks to meet my goals here.

Side Note:  Ashenputtel (the German Cinderella) is a *much* darker story in the Grimms' version than the one you probably know.

In other news, the low-travel plan for June changed, and E's now traveling for 13 days in the next 4 weeks, while I'm traveling for 14.  Flights have been changed, more hotels booked, driving routes calculated and recalculated.  And, of course, I still need to book a rental car.  Not surprising.

More travel?  Yes, please.  I had to drop a race, and we'll have to host less BBQs, plus find a way to deal with the laundry and time zone madness, but overall, I'm excited for both of my trips.

Work has been *very* busy.  I took on several new clients and projects in May.  I've been paying for it with late nights, some weekend work, and insomnia.  I woke at 3:45 AM last Thursday and couldn't go back to sleep.  So, at 4 I plodded to the computer and worked uninterrupted for 3 hours.  The good: work stress levels dropped.  The bad: had to cancel the PM yoga studio session, I was too exhausted.

More work?  Hmmm... I guess I said yes.  And I guess the main thing I gave up was sleep.  Perhaps I can find a way not to do this one again.  

Japanese studies so far have been less than half of what I'd hoped to do.  My online progress report at japanesepod101.com informs me I've done 19 lessons for 16 hours 29 minutes of total study.  I've maybe done an additional 5 hours of time away from the computer.  Keeping this rate up is unlikely to make a huge difference.  But, like most of the stuff I make space for, it's better than nothing.  If I were to choose a big pie-in-the-sky goal with Japanese, it would be to know the kana before I depart for this trip.  If I can do that, I'll consider everything else a bonus. 

More Japanese?  Ideally, yes.  But if not, then at least I'd like to keep it at this level.  One change I could make is to swap out Japanese for audiobooks in my running and chores.  The problem is, language study is even *more* mentally demanding than audiobooks and will slow down both my running and chores.  Right now, I'm not willing to make this change, but perhaps the last month before we leave?

Work-out wise, I'm also just doing fine. I hit my target mileage (35.48) for the week, and did okay on the quality workouts (9% sub 10 min/mile including 6X1 min @ 8 min/mile and a decent 8 miler with the local running ladies today).  I made up a few tabata and then missed enough to be worse off than where I started last week (current status: 6 to make up).  And, as I noted above, the yoga studio session was cancelled due to lack of sleep.   But I just booked this week's session, so that optimism has to count for something right?

More workouts?  I'd love to, but at least for the next month or two, I think just aiming to keep it roughly where it's been is ambitious enough.  I'm looking forward to a visit to Seattle and the Rock 'n Roll half this weekend, where I'll be pacing a friend.  After that, I have no races on the calendar.  So perhaps I will be able to find a local goal race to work towards in July or August. 

The garden is limping along, but it really needs some attention, so hopefully I'll get to that this week as well.

And there you have it.  Lots of singles.  No home runs.  But I'm playing the game, and doing my best to enjoy it.