31 January 2012

The Tale of Tinny The Tinman - a Mascot Adventure

Over the weekend The Group rented a cabin in beautiful Winthrop, WA. It really is a quant, fun little town, especially when it's all covered in snow - have a look! 

Downtown Winthrop - yup that's all of it!
Best advertising ever. Healing Ointment for man AND beast!
While I was packing, I made a grave error - I forgot to bring along Grandpa Max!!! Hey, don't get mad at me! Sometimes he forgets to speak up when I'm packing, and he gets left behind - it's really his own fault! Luckily for everyone, when we arrived at the (freezing) cabin we found a happy little mascot waiting for us!

 Tinny the Tinman complete with a little red heart.

We had a fantastically great time with Tinny - he participated in all sorts of adventures! Including (but not limited to):

Futon Relocation to optimize sleeping comfort
Reading about and plotting a way to get into the Guiness Book of World Records
Cuddling (as big spoon, of course)

A troublemaker at heart, Tinny also let loose a little - one could say he got very liberal with his oil can.

Wine Drinking
Beer Guzzling
Succumbing to peer pressure
Passing out on perilous ledges
Let the lessons of Tinny the Tinman be learned by all: a weekend with The Group is not something to be taken lightly. You better bring your A-game, your dancing shoes, and your drinking pants. I think in this case Grandpa Max was more than happy to enjoy a quiet weekend alone in my apartment.

20 January 2012

Sledding Video

What sledding adventure would be complete without some video?!?!? 

Here's Allison and Kessler going for a ride! Watch out for that bump at the bottom!

Me mid-slide on my new sled - named Green Gonzales (after Speedy Gonzales, and, you know, because it's GREEN!)

Have I mentioned how happy snow makes me!?!?!?!

18 January 2012

Snow Day!

Seattle has made national news this week for Snowpocolypse 2012. People are making videos about the ridiculous things people say in the NW say when it snows, and of course we can't forget this video from the great snowstorm of 2009. It's true, Seattle people really can't drive in the snow!

I, for one, LOVE the snow! If it snowed here in the winter I would have much less desire to move away. But, because it snows so infrequently, Seattle basically shuts down when it even looks like it might snow. It did snow overnight, I woke up to about 2" at my house this morning. Here's a look!

I worked from home today, but took a long lunch break to head to gasworks park and play in the snow. En route I had to buy a sled of course! I saw lots of other people out and about:
Cross Country Skiers
Man riding a shopping cart down the street - Why Not?
 Once the sleds were acquired, we set off to find a wicked hill to ride on!
My cohorts, Allison, Dave, and Kessler
We arrived at Gasworks to find lots of other sledders - mostly adults, not even that many kiddos! We had a great time!
Gasworks covered in snow!
Look at all those people! There's a couch over there somewhere, wish I had seen THAT ridden down the hill!
Getting my saucer on!
And I didn't die OR get a black eye!
Saber war
Thanks for the great Snow Day to all of my partners in crime, and thank you mostly to Seattle. You look good in white!

17 January 2012

More Half Marathons Part 2

Having completed my first and second half marathons, I was ready to go for a 3rd to get an official sub-2 hour time!

Allison and I signed up for the Seattle Ghost Half about three weeks before the event. She begged the organizer to let us in, and he relented! Allison can be quite persuasive.

The run was held on the Saturday of Thanksgiving Weekend. The weather had been absolutely abysmal for weeks in Seattle and the weekend forecast was looking to be more of the same (clouds, fog, wind, rain, cold, sleet, misery). But somehow, despite the odds, we lucked out and had no rain from when we got out of the car to when we crossed that finish line (then the skies opened right back up and people got SOAKED).

Smiling before the race!  So glad it's not raining!
The course took us through around Seward park, along Lake Washington to Leschi, and back. The course also had full marathon (two loops) and ultra marathon (four loops) options. Those ultra runners are crazy!

Unlike my previous two races, this run was small and didn't have a timing chip! I made sure to be one of the first people across the start line to get an accurate time recorded. This was good and bad - good because my offial time was only about :10 seconds off of what I recorded, but bad because it meant that I spent the first half of the race getting passed. It can be difficult mentally when people pass you.

Again I started off slow, but about mile-3 I realized I was going TOO slow and I was actually in quite a bit of pain. I picked up the pace and suddenly I felt loads better! It was amazing to go from feeling like I might not even finish to being confident I would DOMINATE this thing! It also helped that I started passing all of the people who had passed me earlier.

Chris (Allison's Husband) was on hand and took some action photos.  Love it!

Allison and her running buddy in the last 4 miles
Blurry action shot about a mile from the finish!
I had set up a playlist that was exactly 1:59 and when my last song, Numa Numa, came on, I gunned it and ran as fast as I could towards the finish. Time?: 1:58:13!!!!  Yes under two hours! Man I was stoked! Allison did even better with a time of 1:52:36! Way to go Alli!

To top it all off, out of 50 women, Allison was 10th, and I was 18th! It's so fun to do these small races - it makes you feel like a rock star to come in the Top-20!

Top 20 Finishers - #Winning
Victory Lift!
I loved this half marathon and definitely plan to do it again in 2012 if I am able! I am also considering a full marathon, but I have a while to decide if I want to commit to that. For now I am signed up for the San Diego Safari Park Half Marathon, which goes through the San Diego Zoo! I'm very excited! I guess I better start shopping for  leopard print running shorts!

Love the Ghost Medal!  In the background you can see my other two medals as well.

13 January 2012

More Half Marathons Part 1

In July 2011 I ran my first half marathon! With not much in the way of training, I was able to finish in 2:05:31. I was happy with my time, but as the year progressed I decided I wanted to train a bit more and try to beat the 2 hour mark.

The Leavenworth Half in scenic Leavenworth, Washington, seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a PR (Personal Record in runner speak). The course was beautiful, flat, and I was able to convince some friends to run it with me!

We drove to Leavenworth on Friday afternoon, picked up the race packets, and stayed in a cheap motel in Wenatchee for the night. The morning of the race dawned perfectly: not too cold, a bit overcast, and no winds. I was excited!

Bring it on Leavenworth! I've got this!
This race utilized a timing chip, meaning your time doesn't start until you cross the line, so I wasn't really concerned about starting right up to the front. BIG MISTAKE! The beginning of the course took us through narrow horse paths and everyone got backed up on top of each other. It was a total cluster. I was running through sand to get around the slower runners, who were seemingly oblivious that running should be like a freeway, fast people on the left. I think I'll always be amazed by how clueless some people with regards to passing....but I digress.

Starting about mile 2-3 we were back on the road and people had spread out a bit. Continuing with my strategy of starting slow, I fell into a rhythm and then picked it up about mile 7. I don't have an accurate pace monitor (not yet anyway - but I want one of these) and so I'm guessing, but I think I started at well over a 10 minute mile pace (at the clustered start) and was doing about an 8:50 by mile 8.

Miles 5-8 took us right past the main Bavarian drag

The run was beautiful and I really was feeling good, so I picked it up again at mile 11. Only 2.1 more miles to go!

With the finish in sight I hit the gas and went all out! Before I knew it I was sprinting across the finish line in disbelief - my time registered at 1:51:47! WHAAA now? I really just took off over 15 minutes of time?!?!?!?

My elation was quickly thwarted when I was informed that the race had been 0.8 miles short. Someone screwed up and everyone's time was wrong. It was really disappointing.

Ginger and I with some festive racers. Many people dress in costume!
Ever so slightly dejected, we all celebrated our new ridiculous PRs nonetheless at the local brewhouse where we indulged in bacon burgers and Irish Death (my favourite beer). Doing some math, my time more or less would have been about 1:59 for the full 13.1 miles. But I was still disappointed that I didn't have a sub 2-hours officially on the books!

Seattle welcoming us home
I signed up for another race over Thanksgiving weekend to get my official time once and for all! How did I do? You'll have to read my next blog to find out!

11 January 2012

The Boulder Project

In climbing, Bouldering refers to climbing a short, difficult route on large rock boulders without the safety of a rope. Smart climbers will buy crash pads to soften their landing in the (very) likely event of a fall.
Bouldering at Joshua Tree, courtesy of Wikipedia
The term Project refers to a specific route or series of bouldering moves which someone is working on. Like a school project, slowly the route comes together, until the climber/boulderer can send (climb) the route clean (without falling and/or resting on the rope).

I am not what one would call a Boulderer.  I do not like to boulder. This is mostly because I don't like to fall - something about the sensation of landing always frightens me. I won't even jump off a high diving board into water. Call me a wheenie if you want, but I just can't hang with the big bouldering boys.

I do, however, have my own version of a Boulder Project. In September, I alluded to my budding obsession with the outdoorsy mountain town of Boulder, Colorado. In November, my partner in crime Allison accompanied me on a weekend trip to Ft. Collins, Boulder, and Denver.  The goal was to get a 'feel' for the 'vibe' of Boulder to determine if I was 100% sure that I wanted to relocate.

Boulder - do you belong here?

Well, Boulder had me at hello. We landed and the sun was out. We found our rental car, which we promptly named Rosy, and drove off down the Colorado Welcome Mat into Ft. Collins. Beginning with a delicious lunch,.the visit easily became one of the best weekends of my life. Seriously.

The whole weekend was completely serendipitous. With nowhere to stay 48 hours before we left some fellow Couchsurfers took us in and spent the weekend showing us around. We drank local microbrews, visited the Boulder Street Market, went for a hike, made a delicious dinner, ended up at a bar with a mechanical bull, heckled bar-goers as they dropped their IDs, ate yummy breakfast where I learned I do like eggs over easy, went for a run, and checked out my new happy place Movement Climbing Gym. Before I knew it the weekend was over and we were back on a plane to the land of clouds and fog.

So what exactly is MY Boulder Project you ask?  It's the challenge of finding a job and moving to Boulder where I won't have the Seattle Safety Net to catch me.

Unlike bouldering, I'm not afraid to 'fall' - moving to Boulder is a risk I'm willing to take, and one I'm very excited about. I've thought about this for a long time and my heart is in it - I'm ready to leap! I will put as many crash pads into place before the move to catch me should challenges arise. I can't wait to get there and to build my life surrounded by mountains, snow, and sunshine. In Boulder it won't even be weird that I climb, ski, run, and cycle, it's just expected that I do those things! I will of course miss my Seattle Family, but I won't be too lonely, especially since I'm pretty sure I can make about eight of them move down there with me *insert evil laugh here*

I'll leave you with some photos of my first Boulder adventure - it certainly won't be my last!

Crawfish at Lucille's, a must for anyone heading to Colorado!
Free Hugs?  Yes please!
View from atop the Flatirons.  Is that sunshine I see?
Of course I would greatly appreciate any job leads or support you can provide as I complete the Boulder Project. I'm really looking forward to this next chapter in my life!

09 January 2012

2011 Year in Review

A few years ago I started making a list of things that I wanted to accomplish each year. My list for 2011 consisted of 11 items, of which I'm proud to say I completed 9 of them. I ran my first half marathon (and then two more after that), I took up a new sport (somewhat successfully - I think I like biking more than it likes me), I redecorated my apartment, I spent my birthday doing something that I love (climbing in Smith then Bridesmaids Theme Party), and I traveled to a new international country - HONG KONG! I also led a 10b outside, cleanly top-roped a 11c inside AND was promoted at work! 

Smith Rock - My Happy Place
Cycling a Love/Hurt relationship
Tai O, a lovely stilt town outside of Hong Kong
The largest seated, bronze statue in the world
HK all lit up - view from Victoria Peak
Leading in Mazama, another one of my happy places
To top it all off, I way surpassed my goal of reading 13 books by putting back an astounding 22 novels and non-fiction works. The top 5:
All in all, 2011 was a pretty banner year - who cares that I never finished my Tuscany painting? That thing is a beast - who knows when it will be finished?!?!

The Paint-by-Number Epic (you didn't think I was painting this with my own talent, did you?)

Looking ahead, 2012 is shaping up to be another banner year!. I'm really excited about my sunny future. The goals so far:
  • Run at least 10 miles a week (done and done - I've run 19.2 miles the first 8 days of the year) with the goal of hitting 600 miles this year
  • Lead a 10c/d outside, and cleanly top-rope an 12a inside
  • Travel to a new international destination (to maintain my streak starting in 2005)
  • Read 23 books
  • Move to Boulder
That last goal is the most important and significant. You'll be reading more about Boulder in the coming days.

02 January 2012

The Breakup and a Happy New Year

I should have known better than to post about the budding relationship between me and my live-in apartment mascot. It's like he can read or something, because no sooner had I posted about Stanley then he abandoned me. That's right. Stanley the Speider has moved out. I don't know what happened, and I may never know...but I'll continue to hope that he's safe and that he finds happiness someday (maybe with a more suitable partner).

Don't get me wrong, I was definitely completely inconsolable for about 10 minutes, but I've gotten over it...moved on....found other apartment mascots and various distractions.

Speaking of which, for Christmas and New Years I celebrated by skiing in Whistler, puddle jumping on Vancouver Island, and wearing my prom-dress best to a Masquerade Party (yup! crossed another theme party off the list!):

Top of Whistler Peak - the weather wasn't super sunny, but the snow was still spectacular
Grandpa Max at the Pacific Ocean - gorgeous
High School Homecoming dress! Gotta love my growing 'costume closet'
Lovely Ladies in Red
A little taste of the ridiculousness
Happy 2012 Everyone!  Keep your eyes peeled for my 2011 year in review blog.  You know you're excited!