Monday, October 26, 2009

Leavenworth Half-Marathon

Can you believe it? I ran my first half-marathon on October 3, 2009! It's hard to believe that I ran 13.1 miles. As with all of my running accomplishments, it's something I could have never imagined doing just a couple of years ago. But with determination and a strong support team (my running club), I was able to get all my training runs in and go into the race feeling ready and strong.

After the race (exhausted!) with members of the running club I belong to.

The weekend of my race was very busy and unfortunately didn't leave a lot of wiggle room for playing a tourist. Leavenworth is about 3 hours from where I live. It's a town in Washington that used to be all about the logging industry. As the industry petered out the town was about to die. In a desperate "Hail Mary" move, the town decided to re-make the entire town in the Bavarian style. Every single building in their downtown area looks like the buildings in a German village. (Even the Starbucks and gas stations - when I lived in Germany, I never saw a fast food joint or gas station look 'Bavarian,' so that part isn't truly authentic, but whatever, they're trying.) The entire town's livelihood is based on tourism. Elaborate festivals are sprinkled throughout the year to encourage tourists. The half-marathon I ran in was attached to Leavenworth's Oktoberfest. Friends from my running club were able to stick around and check out the festivities after the race - but I drove straight back to Seattle where I volunteered at a fundraising dinner. So, seeing as how I got to Leavenworth after dark Friday night and left early Saturday afternoon after my run, I didn't get to see the town the way I wanted to. But it is one of my goals to get back to Leavenworth and do the tourist and festival thing at some point. The reason for this trip was solely to run.

The course was beautiful and the weather was perfect. My time goal was to stay at 2 hours, 15 minutes or under. I finished the 13.1 mile run in 2:13:43. So my time goal was met! I felt strong and finished the race feeling like I could have gone a little bit faster if I had wanted to. I was also fairly pleased with my rankings.
Overall: 620 of 1149
Females, All: 342 of 775
Females, Ages 25-29: 76 of 175
I could not be happier with my first half-marathon. It was a truly memorable experience that I will always be proud of. And I'm pleased to report that I ran my second half-marathon (a club group run, but 13.1 miles nonetheless) just this past weekend. Two half-marathons in one month. I'm awesome. That is all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fremont Brew Ha-Ha, the Space Needle, and the Kilt

One of Robb's goals before he turned 30 was to run a 5K in his new kilt. I don't understand the man, I just married him. Luckily Robb chose to run his 5K in Fremont, the section of town that is the epitome of "do your own thing and no one will take a second glance at you." He ran the Fremont Brew Ha-Ha 5K, a celebration of Oktoberfest. It was a small and relaxed race; Robb ran in the Beer Belly Division, which meant he got about a minute head start ahead of the regular runners. He reports that he got lots of compliments from fellow runners on his kilt as he ran through Fremont. He finished the 5K without walking and wasn't last place - always the goal to shoot for in my book.

After the 5K we decided not to check out the beer tents and instead go to lunch at Gordito's Healthy Mexican restaurant in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. This place was definitley a winner, with awesome burritos with amazing freshly grilled meat. (I don't know if the portions that we ate would qualify as "healthy", but whatever, that's why we run.) Always on the lookout for a good burrito, we've now got a few serious contendors in Seattle if the mood strikes us.

Our last stop of the day was the Space Needle. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside and we decided it was finally time to put out the money ($16 a ticket) to take the elevator to the top of the Space Needle, our city's iconic landmark. You don't want to spend that money on a cloudy day, but this day couldn't have been more perfect. We were expecting some decent views, but we were blown away by how amazing everything looked from 520 feet. We were more impressed than we thought we would be and a little less bummed about spending all that money.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Museum Weekend

Robb and I both had Labor Day Weekend off and decided to take the time to get in a lot of local activities that we have been meaning to get to. It was a rainy and cool weekend, so we did the museum thing.

On Saturday we hit up the Tacoma Glass Museum. Robb and I had been told by multiple people that this museum was incredible and we would be impressed. Even so, while we knew we needed to see this local attraction, we couldn't actually imagine loving a museum of glass. I mean, how exciting could a building full of glass actually be? Well, the Tacoma Glass Museum is beyond impressive. It was an amazing museum with awesome exhibits. I never knew glass could be so versatile and beautiful. The glass museum starts outside. You have to walk over a bridge that is lined with pieces of glass work (by the famous Dale Chihuly) to get to the museum, which is surrounded by glass sculptures. Once you go into the museum, there is a glass-blowing room where you can watch the artists create their craft. And in the permanent gallery, the exhibit shows the contrast between different styles of glass. (For example, glass can be perfectly smooth or textured. Glass can serve a scientific purpose or be a piece of abstract art. Glass can be big and bulky or tiny and delicate.) Another gallery featured an exhibit by Preston Singletary. This artist features his Tlingit Indian roots in his work. This glass work didn't even look like glass; it looked like wood carvings or stone. The entire museum was fantastic. On Sunday we went to the Seattle Art Museum (otherwise known as SAM). Robb and I really aren't "art" people, but we thought we should see our local museum. Some of the exhibits were impressive. I really, really liked the Andrew Wyeth collection and the photographs by Imogene Cunningham. And the museum had a little bit of everything, including Monet, Warhol, and some freaky weird modern art. Overall, it was a nice museum, and much larger than what we expected. But we really ended up preferring the Tacoma Glass Museum during our museum weekend.
The last big event of the weekend (not museum-related) was Robb's purchase of a Utilikilt. He has been saving money and planning for quite some time to buy a kilt from this Seattle-based company. These kilts aren't your traditional, plaid Scottish kilts. These are kilts made out of modern, hardy material (think khaki and Dickies) meant for wearing everyday. I've seen quite a few men in Seattle wear these kilts. It's kind of a punk fashion statement. Don't ask me why my husband decided that a kilt was a fashion statement he wanted to make. But, overall, I support the purchase. I'm a little uncomfortable with him wearing the kilt any place but Seattle, (like our Federal Way suburb), but I suppose I'll get used to it - just don't mind the permanent furrowed brow I have. Stay tuned for kilt pictures...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Life Update and Roller Derby

I know, I know. I've been a bad blogger. I've been a tiny bit busier on the nights and weekends, but not too busy that I couldn't have blogged at some point in the last month. What have I been up to in the last few weeks? Well, mostly I've been running. I'm training for my first half-marathon, which is quickly approaching in early October. Look for the update on that in October! I've also recently started working for Panera again. I'll work there every Saturday in the opening shift; yup, that's 5:00am! I ran into my old boss and he asked if I would come back. I figured, why not? It's nice to get that extra money for work that isn't very hard. And finally, Robb's 30th birthday is in mid-October, so we've been trying to cram in a lot of activities on his "30 Before 30" list. We've completed a couple of movie marathons and been to a few different tourist attractions in the last month.

One of those activities that Robb, for some unknown reason, decided to put on his list, was to go see the Rat City Rollergirls. We were not really familiar with the roller derby, but as you may know, it's made quite the comeback in the last few years. We went to the last "bout" of the season. I wasn't exactly thrilled about seeing a roller derby; I thought it would be somewhat offensive to women and expected to see some cheap fights between the girls on skates. However, as we watched, I surprised myself with how much fun I had. I really enjoyed this sport and really appreciated the athleticism, passion, and skill these women had for this alternative sport. These girls were fast, they weren't really violent, and they could even jump over other skaters that had fallen. Robb and I didn't really know the rules as we watched, although by the end we could definitely tell how points were scored. I think I cheered much louder than Robb did. It was truly a blast and I'm sure we'll go again next season.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Denny Creek and Franklin Falls

The end of July and early August we had miserable weather. We had days in the triple digits. Seattle experienced the hottest day ever recorded - 103 degrees. I know that much of the country experiences extremely hot weather. But those places generally have air conditioning. Most houses here in the Pacific Northwest have no need for air conditioning. We only had one tiny fan. Robb bought another one - one of the last - at a Wal-Mart one night. People were happy to go to work because office buildings have air conditioner. Then the evenings were spent in the movie theaters and malls. I just sat in shorts and a t-shirt and tried not to move; we avoided cooking or turning on the stove.

One Sunday (it wasn't in the triple digits that day, but I think it was in the 90s), Robb and I headed to the mountains to beat the heat. We wanted to do a little hiking and get around some water. I did some research and found a couple of easy trails to try out.

First we went to Franklin Falls, probably a mile hike from the trail head. This waterfall was absolutely beautiful. When we first arrived there were a few people hanging out and splashing through the creek. By the time we left the area was packed with families and kids. The water was cool and inviting in the heat. Even I waded through the water - and I'm a warm water type of girl. It felt so refreshing!

Our second trail of the day was close by and was along Denny Creek. This trail promised to take us to a natural swimming area, complete with rock slides and picturesque waterfalls. We were not disappointed. We arrived at the swimming area and found several different pools and waterfalls. The creek and pools just kept going and going, along with the people. Again tons of families and teenagers were cooling off in the water. I think that both Franklin Falls and Denny Creek are great hikes for families. Each hike is only about 2 miles round trip; families and kids get to experience nature, get some exercise, and then get to swim in an unforgettable location. Robb calls it God's Natural Waterpark. I couldn't agree more. On a hot day this is a much more exciting place to take the family then a local swimming pool.
Our final stop of the day was at the town of North Bend to visit Twede's Cafe. I've never seen the show, but apparently this is where Twin Peaks was filmed/based. There is famous cherry pie in the show, and Twede's is the place that makes it. Robb and I ate a couple of hamburgers (decent, but not the best I've had) and then tried some cherry pie. I'm not a big cherry fan, but I must say the sugar crust was delicious!

Robb's First 5K - Seafair

Last year I completed the Seafair Torchlight 8K. I considered that my first serious race and have been running and building up my mileage ever since. Robb was my big support last year, cheering me on and taking pictures. This year I was lucky enough to be his support and document his entry into the running world! He completed his very first 5K at this year's Seafair. His goal was to finish the whole 3.1 miles without walking. To be honest, I was a little worried. He really didn't start training early enough. The longest run he had completed without stopping before this race was only 2 miles. But it turns out the crowd and race day excitement was the ticket! He ran the whole thing and finished his first race! I was so proud! Unfortunately, since then, he's been diagnosed with runner's knee. (I think a combo of being on his feet all day at work, combined with running, combined with running too much too soon, has something to do with his ailment.) But hopefully once he gets it under control he'll be back to training and we'll be able to run a race together!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Maryland and DC Visit

Michelle's wedding ended late Friday night and my Dad and I drove back to my sister's house in Maryland. Briana was a phenomenal hostess while I was there. She took me to the Metro station and let me use her Metro card. She let me drink her wine. She even let my friend Megan spend the night at her house so that we could get a good chance to visit. Plus, Briana and Adam took Monday off of work to gallivant with me around Baltimore before my flight left that night. I hope that when they finally come to visit me that I can be as accommodating as they were.

Even though Michelle's wedding brought me to DC, I had a huge agenda to see tons of people while I was there. Because I attended college in Virginia and the vast majority of my friends are in the surrounding areas, I had a lot of visiting to fit into only a couple of days. On Saturday I woke up early and took the Metro into Washington DC. I was on a mission to spend the day with Amanda and Christine, two fantastic friends from college. We started out with lunch in Georgetown then headed to the National Portrait Gallery. I think museum was really wonderful and we loved seeing the Presidents' portraits. We didn't stay terribly long though because museums aren't really conducive to girlfriends catching up after not seeing each other for several years. We walked around downtown DC, grabbed Starbucks, and talked about everything. I even spotted a Starbucks in "Chinatown" that was spelled out in Chinese. I have never noticed anything like that in Seattle, even with our huge Asian population! That night I had dinner with my Dad, Bri, and Adam. We went to a great "French-inspired Vietnamese" restaurant. I'll spare you the picture of my steak. But imagine a steak smothered in a lime sauce with a fried egg on top. It was awesome! On Sunday my Dad left to go home to Florida and Briana and I drove to Arlington, VA. As luck would have it, one of our high school teachers from Germany was in the area for a couple of months. We chatted with Mr. Schmidt and one of his kids, a girl who is now a shy, grown up 12 year old, when I used to babysit her as a precocious 3 year old!

After coffee, we drove back to Maryland to wait for my dear friend Megan to join us. Megan and I go all the way back to 2nd grade. We've stayed the best of friends even though I have moved all over the country in the years since we first met. Megan drove to spend the afternoon and evening with me and left early Monday morning. Our first order of business was to do a little shopping. Then we headed to the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. This Maryland winery boasts that they're the only local winery to have their product served at the Kennedy Center. Megan and I tried a 10-wine tasting and then enjoyed another glass in their outdoor seating area. The wine was okay. I'm not sure if it was my favorite wine or worth the prices, but the ambiance of the winery was pleasant and relaxing. On Monday, Briana, Adam, and I went to Baltimore for the day. It was a city that none of us had really spent any time in. It seemed to be filled with history. Our first stop was the Baltimore Inner Harbor, where we decided to tour the USS Torsk and the USS Constellation. The Torsk was a submarine in commission during WWII. And the USS Constellation was one the last commissioned all-sail ship in the Navy. The Constellation help fought slave trafficking in the 1800s. Both ships were really interesting. I had never been in a submarine before; even though you an imagine the tight space, it seems even crazier to see it in real life. We had a mediocre lunch in a charmingly-decorated Italian restaurant. We then went to see the original Washington monument. (The one in DC was created after the Baltimore one.) We wanted to do a lot more historical/tourism things, but we didn't want to continue to spend money and the free locations seem to be closed on Mondays. At any rate, the money we spent on the ship tours was money well-spent and Baltimore is on my to-do tourism list in the future. That night I flew out of Baltimore and headed back home. All in all, a great trip with fun, friends, and family.

For my next posting, I'll get back to our regularly scheduled Pacific Northwest fanfare...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Michelle's Wedding

One of my best friends in the world got married in July. I made my way to the East Coast to be a part of her beautiful day. I flew out of Seattle on a Wednesday night; I took a non-stop red eye to Baltimore with the hope that I could get some sleep and avoid taking off an extra day of work. The sleeping part didn't work too well; I only got about three hours of sleep during the flight. My sister picked me up at the Baltimore airport on Thursday morning and we made our way straight to the Pentagon, where she works. Briana gave me a mini-tour of the Pentagon, we ate lunch, and she sent me on my way via the Metro to Northern Virginia. Michelle picked me up at a metro stop and we spent the afternoon getting food, much-needed coffee, and primping. The evening was spent rehearsing, eating, drinking, and catching up.

Robb wasn't able to come to the wedding, his cancer treatments this year took up all his vacation days. But I was so lucky that my Dad was visiting DC from Florida for business that week. He decided to stay the weekend to be my date at the wedding (my parents love Michelle and vice versa). I love spending time with my dad, plus he danced with me and was my designated driver. The wedding was simply gorgeous. And the night was filled with dancing and fun - my legs hurt for two days afterwards. And of course it was wonderful visiting with Michelle, seeing Michelle and Jason pledge eternal love, and celebrate with such fantastic people. I felt so privileged to be a part of their day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Garden Thriving, Broccoli Failing

The garden, for the most part, is incredible. We've been eating lettuce for quite some time now. And we had our first zucchini the other day. Our tomato plants are just huge and the tomatoes look like they'll turn red soon. I ate peas straight from the pod the other day - my first time! We've got a variety of herbs in bloom in the flower box on our front porch (I love my cilantro!) We've also got spaghetti squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant, onions, and potatoes in the works. Our failure is the broccoli. In fact, I think we're going to dig it out. We just can't get it harvested in time before it flowers. But at least we tried. Taking the broccoli out will make sure there's more room for the spaghetti squash to move. Everything looks like it's on the cusp of becoming a real live vegetable (of course, not counting the vegetables that we're already eating - those are obviously real.) Soon we will have more veggies than we will know what to do with.

Federal Way Fireworks

I'm behind again in the blogosphere. This week I'll attempt to catch up.

So on the 4th of July, after I rode the ducks, Robb and I decided to hit up the Federal Way fireworks. The hoopla surrounding the fireworks wasn't great. It looked like a decent place to bring a family; there was a teen dance floor and kiddie games. But there were only a couple of food vendors and some fairly poor entertainment. We found a place for our blanket on a hill, which seemed like a great spot. (However, the hill was so steep we kept sliding down and had to re-adjust.) The fireworks were actually pretty darn good for being in a "small" town in the midst of a recession. I think it may have been the only time Robb and I have spent an Independence Day together. Normally he works at night, so it was nice to experience some fireworks together!