Interviewing and a Ragnar relay

It was amazing having a week off of work while my friend Lia was here, but my life got back to being crazy right after she left.  As mentioned in the last blog post, I was interviewing for jobs lightly in June, and it become more intense towards the end of June.  Typically with tech interviews the first couple of interviews are phone interviews which are relatively easy to work around your schedule, although they require some prep.  Then if you make it through those, you start getting full day interviews scheduled, and those require a lot more prep and are a lot harder to work around your schedule.  So I had a one-day interview the day before Lia flew in (see previous blog post), and I had another one the week after Lia left, and those were the two primary jobs I was considering.

The interview before Lia came went well, but it honestly didn’t feel like the right fit for me.  The work was all work that I already know how to do (and have been doing) for the past couple of years.  It honestly didn’t really feel worth it to me to change jobs just so I could keep doing the same thing… I really wanted some opportunities to grow and do something totally different.  The job that I was interviewing for a week later at Sonos seemed much more in line with my goal to learn and grow.  The “gotcha” there is that it of course meant that I wasn’t uber qualified for the job.  Oh, and the second “gotcha” is that most of the team was located in the Boston Sonos office rather than the Seattle Sonos office.  So a few *slight* roadblocks.  However, the first two phone interviews went really well, so I found myself with a full day interview scheduled in Boston.  I flew out on Sunday afternoon and got to Boston around 6pm.  Ideally enough time to get to bed early and adjust to the time difference since Boston was a three hour time difference from Seattle.  I interviewed all day on Monday, and then flew back to Seattle on Tuesday at 7am (4am Seattle time!).

The interview itself felt like it went really well.  I got good vibes from everyone on the team, as well as the hiring manager, and the other people on the interview loop.  Of course, I didn’t have much domain knowledge for the job (embedded software team lead), but I was very up front about that before the Boston trip, so everyone was on the same page as far as my knowledge went.

After the interview, the hiring manager invited me to dinner with himself and a few other managers.. super nice of him!  I was honestly exhausted after the trip and the day of interviewing, but it seemed like a good sign that I got a dinner invite and I wanted to spend more time getting to know the people at Sonos.  We went to a tapas place with an outdoor patio and sat outdoors during dinner… the weather was just perfect!  After dinner, I went back to the hotel and decided that I REALLY needed a run to wind down and calm my adrenaline-filled day.

The St. Charles River that runs through Boston is just gorgeous!

So pretty! And calming!

So pretty! And calming!

 

The sun set while I was running, and it was just so peaceful.

Lovely

Lovely

And then of course there was the 4am alarm the next morning (1 am Seattle time!) so I could catch my 7am flight.  Kind of an exhausting trip, but such a great interview experience!

Long story short, I got a job offer, accepted it, and started at Sonos on Monday (7/31).  Super excited to be there, and I’m already learning so much!  Ready for the journey!  🙂

So… what else has been going on?

Well, two weeks after the interview, I had a big team relay race (Ragnar Northwest Passage) that I had signed up for back in December.  Basically, a team of 12 people split up into two vans run a 200 mile relay race over 1-2 days.  I honestly was feeling like I already had so much going on that I wasn’t sure about doing the race, but I had already signed up and it definitely wouldn’t have been fair to bail on my 11 other team members.  So I went into it with the goal just to get through it.  And of course, as is the way with many things in life, I had such an amazing time!!  I’ll detail how it all went.  I apologize in advance if you have no interest in running.  But for what it’s worth, Ragnar isn’t a normal race, and you may read this and decide that you want to run one too.  🙂

I was in Van 2, which meant that the six runners in Van 1 started running the relay first.  The race started up by the Canadian border around 10am, and the six of them had to cycle through their legs before my van started.  Our van met them about thirty miles south of the initial starting point at the start of Leg 7.  We arrived there in plenty of time to pick up our Ragnar shirts, decorate our van windows (which seemed to be an exceedingly popular thing to do) and “tag” other teams’ vans with our team’s magnets (another exceedingly popular thing to do).  I also learned that you mark the numbers of people that members of your van pass on the van as well, so you can keep track.  It’s all in fun though… everyone who passed me was really nice and encouraging to me, and I did the same when I passed others.  And then around 2:30pm, we got word via text message from Van 1 that they were close to the exchange point.   So our first runner, Alex, queued up at the exchange point, ready to grab the baton and start running.  The first exchange point was really busy… lots and lots of teams waiting for their first set of runners coming in.  When the sixth runner from our first van streaked up, Alex grabbed the baton and took off, and then Van 1 got a break for several hours while our van of 6 people cycled through their legs.  The members of Van 2 piled into our van and started off to the exchange point between Alex (runner 7) and Anna (runner 8).  It was HOT.  And most of the roads weren’t shaded.  A couple of us in the van checked the weather and saw that my leg (9) and Drake’s leg (10) were going to be the two legs during the hottest part of the day.  And I really wasn’t trained for this with all the interviewing prep I’d been doing.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Time to put my running shoes on, pull a Nike, and “Just Do It”.  Alex handed off to Anna, and we piled back into the van and drove to the next exchange point.  I had time to do a few stretches and use the porta potty before we saw Anna coming down the road.  The sun was very hot on my head.  This was going to be rough.  I grabbed the baton and started off.

Starting the first leg after taking the handoff from Anna

Starting the first leg after taking the handoff from Anna

My first leg was 6.6 miles, which isn’t a ton but felt like a lot in the hot sun.  I hadn’t brought a water bottle with me, because it wasn’t hot in Seattle, so I didn’t realize how hot the race was going to be.  Fortunately one of the other runners (Ken, who really ended up being our hero) lent me his.  The van passed me around mile 3, and they offered to give me water, but I shook my head.  I had made my legs find a groove and didn’t want to risk stopping.  Plus I had the water bottle that I was carrying with me.  After what seemed like a really long time, I finally saw the “1 mile left” marker by the road and picked up my speed a little (even though Anna had warned me that sometimes those “1 mile left” signs were a little inaccurately placed).  A mile later, I approached the hand-off, gave the baton to Drake (who was already sweating just standing in the hot sun), and then he took off.

Checking off my first leg on the van window

Checking off my first leg on the van window

I was left standing there with my other van members literally dripping sweat.  My average pace was 7:54min/mile.  Fortunately we had tons of baby wipes in the car.  Most of the runners in our van were veteran Ragnar relay runners who knew the value of baby wipes in the absence of a hot shower.  I wiped off as best I could, and we headed for the next exchange point.  Nick started stretching.  His leg was fairly short, so he wanted to run it fast.  Drake came in hot and breathing hard and handed off to Nick.  Back in the van, we were already starting to plan.  Anna’s achilles had been bothering her a lot in the few weeks prior to the race, and it was really hurting after her first leg, so we were trying to figure out a way to minimize her running by trading legs.  My next leg was 2.2 miles, and hers was 5.5 miles, so she and I decided to swap.  And Ken, our 12th and final runner, who is a running monster, said he’d take her third leg in addition to his own (which meant he was running four legs instead of the three everyone else was running).

Nick came in fast, and Ken took off fast (they’re both 7 – 7:20 min/mile runners).  When we picked Ken up after his leg, we had about four hours off while Van 1 took over for the next six legs.  We found our way to a grocery store that had a buffet in the deli area and we all got some dinner.  I didn’t want to eat anything that might upset my stomach since I knew we’d be doing our night runs next, and night running definitely wasn’t something my body was used to.  After eating, we drove to the exchange point where we’d pick up from the Van 1 runners.

Driving to the next exchange point in the fading light... the number of people we passed marked on the van window

Driving to the next exchange point in the fading light… the number of people we all passed while running aggregated and marked on the van window

A bunch of vans were already there and many runners had sleeping bags laid out on the grass to try to catch a few hours of sleep.  Unfortunately there was a giant Ragnar party going on at one of the houses across the street from the exchange point, and they were blasting loud music and had a lights show going on, even though it was already 10pm, and the sun was setting.  The six of us went to a grassy area and foam rolled out our muscles to keep them from getting stiff before we started our second legs.

Waiting for our night runs

Waiting for our night runs… Drake out cold

Drake wrapped himself in a sleeping bag and enviably fell asleep immediately.  The rest of us just foam rolled and talked as it got darker and darker.  Around 11pm we got word that the Van 1 runners were just about done, so Alex got ready to go and got to the exchange point.  There were still quite a few runners around us, but definitely not as many as there were the first time we exchanged between Van 1 and Van 2.  Our team was surprisingly fast (certainly not the fastest, but faster than we had expected to be) and had started putting some distance between us and other teams.  Alex took off, and I (taking over for Anna) would be going next.  I had originally been dreading the night leg, but after the super hot sunny weather earlier, I was actually very excited to run in the cool darkness.  With the sun down, it was 55 degree running weather… completely perfect!  And my night leg would be along the shore of a lake, over the lake on a mile-long boardwalk, and then along the other side of the lake to the hand-off point.  I was definitely shivery as I waited for Alex to show up at the exchange point.  Running in 55 degree weather is perfect, but just standing there waiting isn’t quite as perfect.  Finally I saw Alex’s swinging hand lamp (almost everyone else had headlamps, so Alex was easy to spot) coming down the road.  He was running fast and almost missed seeing me until I yelled his name.  And then I was off!  The van wasn’t able to stop to give me any water or anything on this leg because it was on trails by the water (and on the boardwalk bridge over the water), so there wasn’t any access for cars.  But I didn’t need water.  I didn’t need anything.  The weather was cool, there was no hot sun beating down on my head, and I felt like I was flying!  When I hit the mile-long boardwalk, I completely zoned out and just focused on the rhythmic thud-thud-thud of my footsteps on the boards, and I came off of the boardwalk at a dead run.  Half a mile more, and I’d be at the exchange point.  I even managed to pass a few people as I emerged from the trail at the exchange point.  I handed off to Anna for her 2.2 miles, and then I was done with the second leg.  And it felt great.  Well, great is a little strong of a word.  My hip flexors were kind of sore.  But overall I felt great.  It’s that runner’s high that everyone talks about.  The night runs were tough on our team, because there were some really long ones.  Alex had a 10 mile run, Nick’s was 9 (and went over the huge Deception Pass Bridge to Whidbey Island), and Ken’s was 9.  So we were driving most of the night.  Around 3:30am we handed off to Van 1 and went to get a few hours of sleep.  We had less of a break this time, because the lengths of Van 2’s last legs were pretty short, so we knew they wouldn’t take more than three hours or so to get them all run.  We drove to the final exchange point hoping to get a little sleep since (with the exception of Drake) no one had slept yet.

The last exchange point was at a school, and runners had the option of sleeping in the school if they wanted.  Sleeping in a room with a couple hundred other people on a hard gymnasium floor didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to sleep in the van.  Eventually, Nick, Anna, and Alex went into the school to sleep, and Ken, Drake, and I tried to find comfortable positions to sleep in the 15 passenger van… so nice that we had such a big van!  We all got our own row!  Definitely not like the crowded car trips you may have taken in the past!  I still ended up mostly curled up in a ball against some of the luggage though (probably not the best thing for my already-sore hip flexors, but oh well!  It was an adventure!).

I had set my alarm for 5:30am so I could have a little time to clean up in the school bathrooms before we would be taking over from Van 1 for our final let around 6:30am.  However, I ended up waking up around 5am without the alarm for a grand total of 1.5 hours of sleep.  I grabbed the container of baby wipes, my last change of running clothes, and headed into the school.  I looked and felt like a mess.  Almost no sleep, sweat from two runs still sticking to me, my hair pointing every which way.  There were already people up and moving around in the school, so there was a line in the women’s restroom.  While I waited for a restroom stall, I used one of the sinks to at least brush my teeth and wash my face.  Then, when I got into a stall I pulled out a bunch of baby wipes since that was all the “shower” I was going to get.  I found myself in that little bathroom stall staring down at my bag of running clothes, and my meager bag of toiletries and feeling like a total mess, and it felt like such a deja vu moment of Lia’s, Mike’s, and my experience a few weeks earlier when we got rained on during our several hour hike and ended up cleaning up afterwards in a Walmart bathroom.  I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.  Was this a new pattern in my life?

I emerged from the bathroom stall feeling a little cleaner and a lot clearer headed.  Interestingly, my most tired point had been around midnight, but my run at 1:30am woke me up and got me going again.  And that 1.5 hours of sleep really seemed to have brought new life to me.  Alex was already awake and getting ready.  Apparently the Van 1 runners were running even faster than we’d been anticipating, and they were going to come in 15 or 20 minutes early.

Van 2. Drake, Nick, Alex, Anna, me, and Ken

Van 2. Drake, Nick, Alex, Anna, me, and Ken

Everyone in our van got roused, got ready, and prepped for our final run.  Alex took the hand-off a little after 6am.  The nice thing about the early runs is that the sun wasn’t fully up yet, so it wasn’t as hot as yesterday.  My run wasn’t until 8am or so, though, so I fully expected that the sun would be fully up and it would be hot.  But definitely not as hot as the afternoon run the day before!

Alex came in strong, despite the hills that were the hallmark of the final legs, and handed off to Ken, who was taking Anna’s last leg.  He took off like he had a bear chasing him, and we drove towards the next exchange point.  I stretched as much as I could, but at that point I was stiff and sore, both from the two previous runs and from sitting in a van for 24 hours.  So I honestly wasn’t really trying to optimize my general muscle soreness… I was just trying to optimize my last run.  I figured if I could get through that, I could take the whole week to recover if I wanted to.  Ken came in strong (as always), and I picked up from him.  It took me a mile just to get into a rhythm.  My stiff legs were rebelling.  I kept waiting for the van to pass me, but it didn’t.  I wondered if they’d given Ken some extra time to dry off and stretch out, since he still had one more leg to run.  My last leg was 7 miles.  It was definitely hilly.  Up a hill, down a hill, up a hill, down a hill, etc.  Not the best movement for my sore muscles, but at least this last leg was mostly shady.  There was only about a mile that was in the full sun, and I knew that the last half mile was all downhill, so that was good to look forward to.  Finally when I was halfway done with my leg, the van passed me.  They offered me water, but at that point I had my legs in a groove and definitely didn’t want to stop.  When I turned the last corner and felt the final downhill start, a huge runner’s high kicked in.  I was almost done!!  I ran as fast as I could down the final hill, and Drake was at the bottom waiting to pick up from me.  He headed off for his last leg, and I tried to process the fact that I was done running.  However, we didn’t have a lot of time to process, because we had to head to Drake’s hand-off point.  Everyone’s last run was strong, and Ken, our final runner, was really fast (despite it being his fourth leg, and despite the hot sun which was now definitely overhead).  All of us waited a tenth of a mile back from the finish line for Ken to come in so that we could all cross the finish line together.  As it happened, Ken was chasing down the runner in front of him and was running so fast that he didn’t even see the eleven of us (despite the fact that we were all wearing bright turquoise matching running shirts), and so he tore across the finish line with the rest of us running frantically behind trying to catch up to him.  🙂

Official finish line pic for our team of 12

Official finish line pic for our team of 12

 

Because we had more men on our team than women (7 men, 5 women) we were judged in the Men’s Open category and came in 8th out of 162 teams in that division with a final time of 26:38:27.9.  We all ran fast, but we definitely could not have pulled that off without Ken.  He would have won the MVP award if we had one.  🙂  But anyway, it was absolutely a blast!  It took running, which is such an individualized sport, and turned it into a team sport where we all worked together and all cheered each other on.  I am totally hoping to do it again next year (maybe even on the same team if that same team forms again).

And you’re probably all thinking… this job interview stuff is fine, and the Ragnar relay is fine, but where is MIKE in all of this??  I read the blog mostly to hear about what MIKE is doing!

So Mike wasn’t interested in running Ragnar, but he has been going to the gym regularly and lifting lots of heavy weights.  Very heavy weights.  Dead-lifting, benching, squatting… those kinds of heavy things.

Mike has been very work-focused for the past several months.  I suggested to him that he get a hobby, but he is enjoying learning a bunch at work and said he would rather work extra hours than have a hobby (crazy guy!!).  So he has been working, and he also read a really long autobiography of Keith Richards’ life (from the Rolling Stones) that I got him for his birthday last year.  It took him awhile to start reading it, but when he actually started reading it, he literally couldn’t stop.  Some nights he came to bed at 3am, having read for several hours.  Now that he finished that, we bought the biography of Elon Musk for him to read.  And we have been watching Game of Thrones together now that the current season is airing.  And he’s been playing with Piper.  🙂

We still go out for a date night at least once a week.  Last week’s was Thai food in the Queen Anne area of Seattle, and it was DELICIOUS!

Mike and me having yummy Thai food! Mike's with a spice level of 1, and mine with a spice level of 4. Exactly how we like it. :)

Mike and me having yummy Thai food! Mike’s with a spice level of 1, and mine with a spice level of 4. Exactly how we like it. 🙂

 

And…. that’s all that’s been going in our corner of the world lately.  Hopefully now I’ve talked about the big things going on, and the next post can be a more day-in-lives-of-Mike-Karena-and-Piper kind of post.  I PROMISE to get Mike out doing more things so that there will be more info on Mike in the next post… Stay tuned!  🙂

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A wet hike and reluctant Walmart shoppers

So… I think we can all agree that I’ve been terrible about blog posting.  Life has been so crazy and hectic.  Not in a bad way… just in a “the merry go round keeps spinning and I don’t really have a chance to get off for a breather” kind of way.

I could try to go way back and talk about everything that Mike and I have been doing since the first of the year, but that’s too far back.  And who knows how good my memory actually is anyway… it probably doesn’t even go back that far.  January feels very far away.

So let’s just go back a month or so.  The one and only bestie Lia came to visit in mid June!  What a blast!  We had a very fun week together… a good mix of hiking, nice restaurants, and tourism (the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at Seattle Center!).  And I still have to get you Mike’s and my pictures from your visit, Lia… oops!

I took the whole week off of work, had a job interview on Monday (more on that later), and then Lia flew in on Tuesday and stayed the rest of the week.  The job interview on Monday was a little surreal.  These all-day tech interviews always seem a little surreal to me.  I interview with five or six people over the course of the day, and then at the end of the day I find myself in the parking garage or at the bus stop thinking, How did that go?  Did they think I’d be a good fit?  Do I think they’d be a good fit for me?  Basically I walk out of there not knowing anything and having no feelings yet.  I typically need a good night’s sleep before I can actually process the interview and decide whether I think it went well, whether I think they’ll want to hire me, and whether I think I’ll want to take the job.  So it was especially perfect that on Tuesday, rather than continuing to think about the job interview, Lia flew in, and instead I got to hang out with her and take off my job-hunting hat for awhile.

Lia!  In Seattle!  :)

Lia! In Seattle! 🙂

Mike didn’t have Tuesday off and worked late (which is mostly what he’s been doing this spring and summer), so Lia and I Uber’d up to Capitol Hill and went to a great tiny hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant and shared several dishes.

Yummy Indian!

Yummy Indian!

The spinach curry was especially amazing!  After that we headed back to Mike’s and my house, and lucky Piper got a catnip mouse present from her Aunt Lia.  What a lucky cat!  She definitely went crazy over the catnip mouse!

On Wednesday we went to a couple of different shopping areas and had lots of fun.  Well, Lia and I did.  Mike may or may not have enjoyed this part.  He did get two new pairs of shoes, though, so at least he benefited from the trip.

We had decided to go hiking on Thursday, which we did, although in retrospect maybe we should have tried to find a drier day!  It was drizzling rain in Seattle, but as we drove east towards the Cascades the rain increased, and by the time we got to Lake Serene where we were planning to hike, it was raining pretty atrociously.  However, we had all brought raincoats, so in theory there was no issue.  We decided to at least start hiking, and see how it went.  The first 15 minutes was fine.  Our rain coats still gave the impression of being water proof, and our feet were still dry (despite the fact that the trail in some places resembled a creek more closely than it resembled a trail).  Half an hour in, we were definitely wet.  Wet as in: our coats were definitely water resistant rather than water proof, and their resistance had given way to the endless rain.  By this point our feet were starting to feel a little damp as well.  It’s amazing how many other things can be endured as long as one’s feet are warm and dry.  Damp feet lead to damp spirits.  There are my words of wisdom for the day.

We continued hiking for another hour, and ended up at the most beautiful waterfall!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I had literally no idea that there was anything so beautiful so close to the city!  Mike and I had seen Snoqualmie Falls several times, which is amazing, but this was amazing in a much more rugged, wild, kind of way, whereas Snoqualmie Falls has a hydroelectric plant surrounding it.  😉

You can google pictures of Bridal Veil Falls in Washington State.  It was raining too hard for us to take pictures (although it looked strangely mystical and ethereal through the rainy mist).  Once we had stopped for a few minutes at the falls and were no longer climbing up a mountain, we realized that we were actually freezing and a hasty trip back down would likely be in order.  Soaked honestly didn’t begin to describe us… drenched may be a better word.  We returned back down the mountain path pretty hastily, noting that the trail resembled a creek even more closely than it had done on our ascent.  We finally arrived back at the car and weren’t even sure how to proceed to get into the car.  We were all dripping water, and although I had thoughtfully remembered to pack about thirty protein bars and 2 gallons of water, somehow had neglected to pack so much as a hand towel.  We at least got out of the wettest of our clothing (i.e. those outer “water-proof” jackets) and decided we would stop at the first store we came to so that we could buy towels, a change of clothes, and warm up and dry off, so in the meantime we packed into the car and drove away shivering and still very wet as Mike kicked the car heater into high gear.  We drove for about twenty minutes without seeing any store that looked like it would have clothes and towels.  (There seems to be a problem with these wilderness hikes…. there are no hot showers or malls nearby.  This is my main problem with hiking.  Really it’s my only problem with hiking.  Can someone solve this?)

However, we eventually came across a store, and as my luck that day would have it, that store was Walmart.  I have ethical problems with Walmart and have basically sworn them off.  But now, freezing and drenched and forced to choose between my Walmart standards and my warmth, I am somewhat ashamed to say I chose my warmth.  (Only somewhat ashamed because… you all know you would have done EXACTLY THE SAME.)

We walked into the store as a confident, bedraggled, group of three, looking like we’d just emerged from living in the wilderness for the past year, and we left a dripping trail of muddy water as we headed directly to the clothes section.  The squeaking from our three collective pairs of water-logged shoes was loud enough that it drowned out the 90’s pop music playing on the Walmart sound system.  I was forced to admit to myself that Walmart may actually have been the only store in the history of the world where we didn’t even stand out despite our disheveled appearances.  An advantage of shopping at Walmart: You can literally show up wearing ANYTHING.  And people do.  All the time.

We immediately split up, Mike heading for the men’s section, and Lia and I heading for the women’s section.  Five minutes of frantic searching later uncovered a terrible discovery.  All of the clothes were SUMMER WEAR!  It’s fifty degrees outside, the air conditioning is blasting inside, we are all soaked to the bone, but it’s JUNE!  And the only thing we can find in the clothing aisles are tank tops and bikinis!!  I was beginning to think I was getting what I deserved for breaking my never-shop-at-Walmart standards when Lia located some hoodies.  They had no hoodies in our size, so Lia and I both had to get a couple sizes up and we both snagged a couple pairs of long workout pants as well.  Lia was slightly more selective in choosing workout pants, which proved to be a good choice later when we put them on and mine were so baggy they basically hung down to my knees and I had to inelegantly bunch the waistband up in front of me with one hand.  Underwear was next, and it was nearly impossible to find that in our size too.  We also found a couple of towels which were surprisingly fluffy given their $2.97 price tag.  (How can a full size bath towel be that cheap?  Isn’t that the price of a Nestle candy bar?  Or a pack of gum?  Or… I don’t know… the tax on a movie theater ticket?  Is this why people shop at Walmart??)

After hurriedly paying for our purchases and getting exactly no weird stares while in line at the checkout (again, it must be remembered that this is Walmart), we all headed for the restrooms to towel off and change into our new luxury clothing.  Fortunately the restroom was almost empty when we entered, and Lia and I took our bag of goodies into one of the big stalls and shut the door.  Stripping out of the wet clothes and drying off with the surprisingly fluffy towels did a lot to revive us.  Getting the hoodies and workout pants on did even more to revive us.  While we were in the midst of changing and talking and giggling through chattering teeth, a couple women came in to use the restroom and I honestly have no idea what they thought we were doing in there.  Especially when we both emerged from the same stall with soaking wet hair wearing clothes 4 sizes too big and then primly washed our hands thoroughly at the sinks as though having bathroom hands was the biggest issue we were facing at the moment.

Back outside we located Mike and drove home.  And for dinner, we out for steaming hot bowls of Vietnamese pho to recover from the experience and warm up from the inside out.  We also had spring rolls, because spring rolls are always amazing.

Mmm… I had planned to get a little more info in this blog post, but I think the hike took front and center.  Maybe that’s as it should be.  It was a hike worthy of remembering.  And for the record, after one time through the wash, the surprisingly fluffy Walmart towels were surprisingly un-fluffy.  They basically had no more fluff and resembled thin cloths.  Who knew that a towel could lose that much fluff and still remain physically in one piece?  That’s almost an art of design in and of itself.

Interestingly, although that was a very unusual day for me, I actually had a deja vu moment related to that hike a couple of weeks later that I’ll detail in the next blog post.  Which will hopefully not take a month to arrive.  🙂

Friends!

Friends who hike together get wet together!

 

And… I must include a picture of Piper because she is loving the sun these days!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

Gorgeous sun-cat!

 

I hope everyone is having a great week!  🙂

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A new boxing gym and lots of warm sun!

What a long blogging absence!

Well, spring has come to Seattle.  Almost summer, really.

Mike and I have been enjoying some warm evening walks and great grilling sessions.  We are definitely ready for summer!  Oh, and our heat-loving cat is also ready for summer and spends most of her time lounging in furniture next to windows where she can soak up the sun’s rays.

This past few weekends were kind of a whirlwind.  In a sad twist, the boxing gym that I have been attending and loving for the past year closed.  Not enough members to make it financially viable!  😦  A big group of us from the gym went out last Wednesday night after the final boxing class for the gym and had a great time together laughing and chatting.

Love this group!

Love this group!  Well, not the two people at the bar.  I have no idea who they are.  😉

Hopefully our community will last despite the gym closing.

Final boxing class! Clearly this class builds great arms and shoulders

Final boxing class! Clearly this class builds great arms.

The boxing instructor from there also teaches at another gym, so I went there for a trial run last weekend.  It was good… I could see myself going there regularly.  There’s a picture of a panda bear with googly eyes wearing boxing gloves hanging over the water fountain and I’m kind of in love with it.

This is how I feel when I have to spar with heavyweights

This is how I feel when I have to spar with heavyweights

When I mentioned it to my boxing coach, he laughed and said that everyone loves that panda and he doesn’t know where the picture came from.  There’s also a giant colorful painting of the Seattle city skyline with a beautiful phoenix rising from its midst.  I think the idea is that you work out and…. rise above your expectations… in Seattle….. I’m not really sure exactly the idea.  But it’s oddly inspiring anyway.  The owner’s dog Brody also frequents the gym and I can totally get into petting a big, friendly great dane mix while I’m wrapping up.  In the class on Saturday, there was a super nice but very tough woman who my boxing coach says is my future sparring partner.  There’s also a super nice guy with a mohawk and a couple of newer boxers.  All in all, I think it will work out.  I’m going again tomorrow after work with one of my boxing buddies from the old gym.  I have the feeling several of us will end up there.  🙂

There’s also a pull-up bar in the new gym, and I did four unassisted pull-ups on that yesterday.  Getting stronger!  My dad always asks me if the boxing is going to help me to defend myself if necessary, and based on this article I ran across from a few years ago, maybe yes?  I know I definitely wouldn’t try to mug anyone in my boxing class.  🙂

While we’re on the topic of articles, I’m also in love with this dog who flunked out of police academy for being too friendly.

Apart from finding a new gym, I have been doing some cooking lately.  My most recent creations are a coconut red lentil dal and roasted herbed chicken with brussels sprouts and carrots.

Red lentil dal

Red lentil dal

 

Roasted herbed chicken with veggies

Roasted herbed chicken with veggies

 

My team at work also had a team building event last week where we attended a cooking class together.  It was pretty fun.  We made tapas, which are basically Spanish small plates.  Definitely a lot of cooking has been going on lately!  This weekend, though, I’m prepping for Lia’s arrival on Tuesday instead of doing a bunch of cooking.  I’ll likely do some cooking while she’s here, but nothing that I’ll make ahead of time.  Anything cooked will be fresh from the oven!  🙂  Hopefully the weather is good enough to grill one day too.  🙂  Most of our days have been beautiful lately but they have been interspersed with rain.  We’ll see how the weather goes!

Last weekend I went out with Mike and a couple of friends and I was talking about how great it was to have a cat.  Then yesterday morning, one of my previously-petless friends texted me and said she she was at the humane society and was getting a cat.  Then she called me half an hour later and said she was at the pet store and wanted advice on what litter/food/toys/etc to buy.  Then she texted me that night to say that her new cat was asleep on her lap and was purring.  So sweet!!!  I’m glad I’m spreading the cat love.  🙂

This weekend was a really relaxing, laid-back weekend.  Mike did a lot of cleaning in his office room and I did some cleaning of my bathroom drawers.  They were embarrassingly cluttered with soap, extra containers of floss, moisturizer that I haven’t even used yet, etc.  I didn’t get it organized up to Mike Danenberg standards, but they are better than they were before.

Piper pretty much just lay in the sun all day.  Sometimes she was on the couch, sometimes in her heated bed, and sometimes on the floor near the back door, but always in the sun.

One cool thing I discovered recently is that the Seattle Light Link Rail system (i.e. our train/subway-ish transit system) that used to mainly go between downtown and the airport now has stations in Capitol Hill and in the University district.  I knew they were building them, but didn’t realize they were finished until a group from work wanted to take the Light Link Rail up to Capitol Hill.  We literally got there in three minutes.  Three minutes!  I can’t stress how amazing this is!  Taking driving, traffic, one-way streets, and parking into account, that easily would have been a thirty minute trip by car.  Public transit is amazing!  The Capitol Hill and University stations are both really nice and shiny and new too.  That definitely opens up more evening dinner options for Mike and me since we normally didn’t go to Capitol Hill because parking is such a pain up there.

I went to try out a new gym this afternoon with some of my friends from our old gym that closed.  The class we took was pretty fun.  It was basically circuit training that took place in a giant, sunny studio with floor-to-ceiling windows on two full walls of the gym.  It also had a giant projector that showed what song was currently playing in the gym.  Overkill?  Probably.  Reasonably fun for a change?  Yes.  Interestingly, despite the giant projector displaying the song currently being played, there wasn’t a clock anywhere in the gym.  I don’t like to think of myself as a clock watcher (how many minutes are left of this workout anyway??), but I do like to have some sense of whether I’m thirty minutes in or fifty minutes in.  So that was a little weird.  Wouldn’t it have been easy to make the projector also show the current time as well as the current song?  I can’t really see myself going back to the gym anyway because it’s pretty pricey for the monthly membership fee and honestly didn’t have a ton to recommend it besides it’s floor-to-ceiling windows, but it was fun to try.

Our weather in Seattle today was 80 degrees and sunny.  Perfect!  Although it does mean I have to be better about watering my tomatoes.  A few of the plants looked a little wilted when I went out to check on them today.  (The sungold tomato plant actually has small tomatoes on it already though… soooooo exciting!)  The basil is of course thriving.  It loves 80 degrees and constant sun.  Actually, Piper and that basil plant are very similar from that perspective.

Hoping everyone has a wonderful week… we’re already approaching the solstice and the end of our lengthening summer days.  How did that happen so quickly?

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A random day in the life…

It has been a long time since posting!  But interestingly, I’m starting to miss writing.  And that was part of the point anyway, I think… stop writing until I missed it.  Let’s see… it’s basically impossible to post about everything Mike and I have been up to in the past several months, so I’ll just put some random things down in the random order that they enter my head and we’ll see how it goes.  Yes?  Good.  On we go.

I feel like my life has been on fast-forward the past couple of months.  Basically here’s the low-down on the basics.

Mike has been trying to bring his lunch to work with him more often.  This is for two main reasons:

  1. Save money.  Lunch downtown is typically expensive.
  2. Eat healthier.  Apparently I’m a healthy cook.  Who knew?  😉
  3. Faster lunches.  Heating up something quickly in the office microwave is always faster than running out for an actual lunch hour.  (Spoiler alert: Mike and I have been very busy at our jobs the past six months!!)

What does this mean for me?  COOKING!  I enjoy cooking anyway, but I have gone from cooking one or two meals on Sunday afternoon to cooking more like 4 or 5 (there are very few meals Mike and I can both enjoy, hence the big variety).  For instance, this past weekend I made chicken and rice casserole with roasted broccoli, herbed baked chicken, beef brisket, broccoli lentil soup, and an assortment of side dishes.  That means basically Sunday afternoons are almost entirely spent cooking.  Good news: I’m becoming a better, more confident cook.  Bad news: Mike still mostly likes meat and potatoes, so I’m a *little* stifled in the creativity department.  I have been cooking myself some slightly more exotic spicy foods, though.  And maybe it’s just as well Mike doesn’t like them, since I seem to go through the leftovers pretty quickly all by myself.  😉

This weekend will likely be a little busy.  Tomorrow night Mike and I are going out to dinner with a coworker of mine from work and his wife.  It’s a little weird because I don’t actually know him very well.  He is originally from Ireland, moved to Palo Alto for work, and just moved to Seattle because his wife’s family now lives in Seattle.  The first day I met him in the Seattle office, I could tell right away he was from Ireland because of the accent, and we got talking about Ireland.  As it happened, Mike and I were going to the grand opening of an Irish pub in Fremont the following day (a block from our house!!  That’s clearly a dangerously close distance!), so I invited him and his wife along.  Fast forward to the following day, and there we were…. Mike, me, him, and his wife, along with two of their friends from San Francisco, and two of his friends from Ireland crowded into a crazy loud, crazy crowded Irish pub.  There was live Irish music booming through the pub (and I do mean booming… they had a guy there playing the bagpipes!  He was playing Scotland the Brave… which isn’t Irish… but…. whatever, right?).  😉  Anyway, it was a super fun evening, but a little light on actually talking since the pub was LOUD!  And my coworker’s Irish friend and his Brazilian wife were amazing.  🙂  The Brazilian woman and I ended up doing Irish dancing along with a bunch of other people in the pub.  It was a little interesting being taught to Irish dance in front of a noisy pub audience by a Brazilian woman, but it was such a blast!!  Loved it!  Let it never be said that I missed out on an opportunity like that.  🙂  So it was a fun night, but Mike and I didn’t really get to know my coworker and his wife much.  So…….. after this huge long backstory, Mike and I are getting together with them for dinner at a quieter restaurant tomorrow night.  Anyway, that will be fun!  We’re going to an epic restaurant in Seattle that Mike and I haven’t been to before because we typically don’t go to epic restaurants when it’s just the two of us (and we’ve actually been going out even less lately since I’ve been doing lots of cooking).

Then my run club is having a meetup in West Seattle Sunday morning, so I’ll be doing my long run with them.  Then Monday morning I’m flying to Palo Alto for work, so I’ll be away most of the week.  I’m getting Mike set up with vet appointments so that he doesn’t have to inject Piper with fluids and antibiotics himself while I’m away.  I took her in for her routine check-up on Wednesday, and the vet said that she is doing amazingly well.  Her kidney values are stable, no bacteria in her urine.  Basically we have a super healthy cat.  The only caveat is the once a day antibiotic injection, once a day fluid injection, once a day pepcid pill, the special kidney diet food, and epikiten powder sprinkled on all her meals.  But that’s all.  Other than that she is apparently as healthy as a horse!  🙂  She even gained 0.4 lb taking her to a whopping total of 6.7 lb.  What a victory!

Piper's usual unblinking stare while sitting on my lap

Piper’s usual unblinking stare while sitting on my lap

What else?  Well, the weather has been unexpectedly cold, windy, and (gasp!) snowy this winter.  It’s like we’ve had much snow, but we’ve had like six days of snow instead of our usual half day.  Apparently this is the snowiest winter in Seattle in the past 32 years or something like that.  I’m having a hard time coping over here.  What am I supposed to do with all this snow???  I’m going to have to buy a windshield scraper or snow shovel or something (right now we don’t own either).  One day last week, there was a giant snowstorm (read: we got FOUR INCHES OF SNOW in FREMONT.  That has NEVER happened while we’ve lived here.).  The entire city went crazy, a tanker overturned on I-5 (the only north/south interstate for commuters), I-5 got shut down for six hours while they got the tanker out of the road, in the meantime all the crazy I-5 traffic was diverted in and around Seattle causing massive commuter delays.  I ended up walking 4.5 miles home from work, and given the hundreds of people waiting at the bus stops, it was the correct thing to do because I would have been waiting for a bus for a looooong time.

Snow!  With footprints in it!!  This NEVER happens!

Snow! With footprints in it!! This NEVER happens!

In other news, I tried to adopt a second cat.  Multiple times.  And it failed.  Let me tell you about it.  First I saw the most adorable (A-DOR-A-BLE) kitten named BB on the Seattle Feline Rescue website that had a genetic problem with her back legs and couldn’t walk very well.  I was all set to go through physical therapy sessions with her and fix up our stair-heavy townhome to be more friendly to a mobile-challenged kitten.  And I kept looking at the picture of her adorable fuzzy, black face every hour at work to coo over her.  I showed her picture and description to all of my coworkers and they all assured me that she was a perfect fit for my household.  She showed up on the website on Sunday, and it took me two days to convince Mike to let me call on her.  I called Tuesday, and she was already being adopted.  WHAT?!?  I was rudely awakened from my dreams of Piper and little BB curled up together on the couch while Mike and I were away at work.  Next I dragged (literally) Mike to a cat adoption event two weekends ago, and we met a beautiful senior, blind cat named Rita.  I fell in love with her gentle demeanor and her soft grey fur and there was no way she would want to bully Piper (even Mike agreed with this).  I asked if I could hold Rita (i.e. outside of her crate), but they said I couldn’t do that without filling out an adoption form.  And, by the way, they had run out of adoption forms.  O…. k.  They told me to call the adoption hotline, which I did the next day.  I was interviewed by a stern-sounding woman whose first question was, “What kind of a home are you going to give Rita?”

Maybe I’m overly dense, but I had no idea what she was looking for as an answer to that question.  A good home?  A loving home?  A home with the finest tuna on a silver tray?  After that I was asked where Rita would sleep.  I explained that my current cat typically slept with us on the bed and I figured Rita would sleep there as well if she wanted to.

“Well, what if she doesn’t want to sleep on your bed?” the woman asked me, as if I was making a great deal of assumptions about Rita’s nocturnal preferences.  “Then where will she sleep?”

“Umm…” I wasn’t sure what the *right* answer was here.  “Wherever she wants?  Our current cat has a heated bed.  We were planning to get one of those for Rita as well.  Maybe she would want to sleep there.”

Anyway, that was probably the first ‘interview’ I’ve had in my life that really didn’t go well.  (Actually there was one internship interview I had in college that went more poorly, but I won’t go into that here.)  Somehow I seemed to “pass” the interview, because the woman told me she would pass my contact info on to Rita’s foster mom.  However, apparently I wasn’t the most desirable applicant for Rita, because when Rita’s foster mom called me two days later there were already two people in line to meet Rita.

And then my hair dresser told me that when she got a second cat, her first really old cat lost the desire to live and died a week later.  Talk about a traumatizing story.  So then I decided that maybe it’s best not to get any other cats while we have Piper.  Which, of course, made Mike supremely happy.

Speaking of cats!  Mike and I saw Kedi this past weekend.  It’s a story about street cats in Istanbul.  I loved seeing the streets of Istanbul through the cats that live in them and revel in the freedom and friendship they have with the human inhabitants there.  So fun!  I definitely love my four-legged, furry friends!!

My pensive furry friend

My pensive furry friend

I also ran a 15k race last weekend with my best racing buddy.  We raced together all last spring/summer/fall and ran Portland together.

Off to a strong start this season!

Finishing up the race by the space needle under a gorgeous blue sky!

Finishing up the race by the space needle under a gorgeous blue sky!

 

The daylight is finally starting to come earlier (although with daylight savings time this weekend, I’ll lose an hour of it again).  Why??   I need that hour of daylight in the morning to help me get up!  Also, I’m not really into losing an hour of sleep this weekend, especially right before my Palo Alto trip.

Love these early morning run views!

Love these early morning run views!

 

As far as what Mike’s been up to lately, he has a slightly different role at work (systems development engineer), so he’s been spending more time at work ramping up.  He’s enjoying himself, so I’m happy about that!  He has also been working out at the gym more frequently lifting weights.  He just hit a personal record on deadlifts (I think it was 3 sets of 3 at 245lb… I literally can’t even comprehend that much weight!)  We have also been experiencing lots of interesting office politics at our jobs (particularly with both of us being more senior, we’re seeing a lot of the “behind the scenes” parts of how our departments work).  Interesting, to say the least.  And it’s pretty clear that neither of us fit the “conformist” role very readily.  So lots of philosophical discussions around that in the evenings while we hang out with Piper.  And he’s also researching BMW’s.  I am unclear whether or not this means there is a new car in our future.  He may just enjoy looking up nice cars.  Or he may be gearing himself up.  Once again, I am unclear.  😉

Have a wonderful daylight savings weekend!  Note to self: Must remember to change all the non-auto-adjusting clocks in the house or I risk being confused about the time until we fall off daylight savings time again in the fall!

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Boxing shoes and blue mascara

Recently Mike and I headed back to the midwest to visit family.  We are getting too old to take red-eye flights (although Mike has been claiming he’s “too old” for this since 2005), so we always pretty much plan on one day of travel each way.  It was great to see everyone in both Mike’s and my families and get to spend some quality time with them.  But it was definitely tiring.  When we got back on Tuesday, we were ready for a weekend, but a weekend was still several days away.

Interestingly one of the things I missed during the time in the midwest was cooking.  How random!  It is really strange that something that started purely as an “I want to eat healthy and know where the food I’m eating comes from so I guess I’m willing to cook” attitude has morphed into a “When is the next load of CSA produce coming because I want to cook immediately.  Very strange.

Anyway, I got parsnips from this week’s CSA produce which is always a red flag to make some kind of stew, because Mike loves parsnips in stews and most of the time when he asks for them they aren’t seasonable so I use rutabagas instead and hope he will be fooled (he’s usually not… parsnips have a distinct taste).  Most of the veggies this week were very fall-oriented root vegetables, so I did a lot of roasting.  I roasted up beets and leeks (a great combination by the way!  Add fennel as well if you have it!).  I also roasted up garlic cabbage, two different varieties of squash, and some cumin-spiced cauliflower.  And of course I made a pot of beef stew with the parsnips and other veggies.

Here’s one interesting thing.  As I took bag after bag of the produce out of the fridge to wash and cut and prep, I kept waiting for these yellow carrots to show up.  I clearly remember getting them in the CSA box because I thought it was weird that they had included half the carrot greens for the carrots (i.e. they hadn’t trimmed the greens all the way off, but they had trimmed all of the leafy good part off and just left the long, hard stalks).  So I specifically remember noticing those carrots.  And I went through all the bags of produce and they weren’t there.  I repeat: they weren’t there.  I literally have no idea where they went, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that I may have done something stupid with them.  Like throw them away, or put them under the sink with the onions, or… you get the idea.  If they show up, I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, I guess that was for the best because I wasn’t sure how I was going to use them anyway.  Mike prefers orange carrots and gets suspicious with me when I use carrots of other colors.  The splash of orange color is pretty nice in soups/stews in comparison to the pale yellow of the other carrots.  Also, I bet the orange carrots must have more beta carotene, but you couldn’t prove that by me.

The one thing that I somehow forgot in the hotel room in Michigan was my tube of mascara.  Not a big deal, especially since there was a new mascara brand that my hairdresser wanted me to try anyway.  I went and got some my first day back in Seattle.  I got it in Midnight (the same color name as my previous mascara).  All good, right?  Right??  Well, the next day I put on the new mascara in front of my bathroom mirror and then went to work.  Still all good.  Then I went to the restroom and under the track lighting in front of the sink I saw that my mascara was a glittery blue.  Well, well.  Fortunately the glittery blue only seems to show up under very specific lighting which doesn’t include the normal lights at work or at home.  But definitely does include the track lighting in the restroom at work.  Mike told me that it was likely due to fluorescent lighting.  I was planning to go to boxing that night and wondered whether or not my mascara was going to look blue in the gym.  I figured Mike would know.  He was out of town for work, so I texted him.

“You think the lights at the gym are fluorescent?”

“Yes.  Why?”

“Darn.  Ok.  Then I have to stop by the store before boxing to get new mascara or it will look glittery blue.”

“No, I think it’s halogen track lights that cause the glitter.  Filament bulbs like our stove hood.”

“Oh, I thought you said fluorescent?”

“I meant halogen.  But I can’t fully guarantee that.  I’m basing this on what lights make your engagement ring sparkle.”

“Yeah diamonds and glitter mascara are very similar.  😉  Oh maybe I can test it at the our stove.  Before I leave for boxing.”

“Either way nobody would care if your mascara glittered or not.”

“I care.  It looks stupid.  Black glitter is fine.  Blue glitter… is just ridiculous.”

“At boxing nobody would likely notice.”

“Some things must not be left to chance.”

“Actually Floyd Mayweather wore gold shorts for his last fight.”

“And if I get to be as good as Floyd Mayweather I’ll wear glitter blue mascara.”

“I think I’ve seen flashier things than blue sparkle in the boxing ring.  Lol”

“Lol”

I love our text conversations.  🙂

On another boxing note, I have been trying to find boxing shoes for a long time, because my running shoes really aren’t cutting it in boxing.  Running shoes are pretty much built assuming you’re only moving your feet forward and backward… not side to side.  So after only a couple of boxing sessions, I typically see my running shoes start to develop holes in the sides of the shoes (typically the outer little-toe side of the shoe) from all the side-to-side motion in boxing.  Mike and I have been to several sporting goods stores in the Seattle area looking for boxing shoes with no luck.  I basically have three issues finding boxing shoes.

  1. There isn’t actually such a thing as “boxing shoes”.  There are wrestling shoes that boxers also wear.
  2. How many female wrestlers have you ever heard of?  None?  Exactly.  So there really aren’t women’s wrestling shoes.  Women get men’s wrestling shoes.
  3. So, since I had to get men’s wrestling shoes, I knew I’d have to try them on before I bought them since I literally had no idea what size wrestling shoe I would wear in men’s sizing.

Mike and I found some wrestling shoes at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store, but the smallest size they had was a size 8 in men’s.  I tried that on, and it was way too big.  So this weekend, Mike kindly agreed to drive me all the way to Issaquah (which feels like it’s SO FAR AWAY, because it’s way east of Bellevue but is actually only 17 miles away) because there’s a big Dick’s Sporting Goods there.  As it turned out, they had a good selection of wrestling shoes!  I was pretty determined that I wanted either Nike’s or Asiics because those are the big two providers of wrestling shoes (Nike has traditionally been the main provider, but they seem to be moving out of the space and Asiics is moving in).  I found a pair of 7.5’s and tried those on.  Hmm.  They were ok… but kind of big.  I tried 7’s next.  Those were good.  I had just about decided to go with those, when Mike handed me another pair to try.  They were a size 6 and were a boy’s shoe instead of men’s and I was pretty confident they would be way too small but I tried them on anyway.  And as it turned out… they fit perfectly.  But they weren’t even men’s shoes… they were boy’s!  And they weren’t Asiics or Nikes… they were Adidas (which to me feels like a very “has-been” 80’s brand… sorry to anyone who loves Adidas or works for Adidas or is sponsored by Adidas).

I frowned down at them.

“I can’t get boy’s shoes… it’s humiliating.”

“No,” Mike said.  “It’s totally fine.  You just have small feet.”

“I do not have small feet,” I said defensively.  “I wear 8.5 in women’s running shoes.  There is nothing small about my feet.”

“Well, they’re a boy’s size,” Mike replied.  “And I like how these shoes look.  Besides, they are cheap because they’re kids shoes.  That’s nice.”

I couldn’t really argue with him, since that seemed to be the objective truth.

I tried a different tactic.  “But they’re ADIDAS!  That’s an 80’s brand!  What do they have to do with boxing?!”

“It’s pretty hard to argue with the price,” Mike shrugged.  “I think Adidas are fine.  They make a lot of soccer shoes.  See?” he said, pointing to the soccer shoe section made up largely of Adidas shoes.

I squinted at the shoes.  “All the ugly 80’s styled ones are Adidas.  The other brands are better for soccer shoes.”

Long story short, I walked out with the Adidas.  #firstworldproblems

And now I have boxing shoes!  Which I’m excited to try out Monday night!

Today Mike has been cleaning algae and gunk off of the roof in preparation for winter.  I’ve been cooking.  And Piper has been enjoying the sunshine after a week of rain!  I hope the nice weather lasts!  Our October this year was the rainiest in Seattle on record!  Typically we get 3 inches of rain; this October we got 10!  We are ready for some sunny days to offset all the water.  🙂

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Rainy Portland Marathon 2016

Time for a race recap of the Portland Marathon!

First, I kind of wanted to sue weather.com for false advertising.  The weather report for Portland all week called for 72 degrees, partly sunny, and no rain.  48 hours before the race, that changed to 80% chance of rain.  24 hours before the race that changed to 100% chance of rain.  Well, ok then.  I had no idea how my body would feel about running in the rain for four hours, but it looked like I was going to find out.

It was lightly sprinkling in Seattle on Saturday (the day before the race), and I did a short run to loosen up my legs Saturday morning in the drizzling rain, and I felt strong!  Strong and prepared for a marathon the following day!  I listened to ‘Til I Collapse by Eminem and Eye of the Tiger from Rocky, and I was feeling ready to go and very antsy to get to the start line.  My typical night-before-a-long-run snack consisted of two coconut milk yogurts and either one or two peanut butter and jelly Larabars (depending on the length of the long run).  Then the morning of the long run, I typically had one more yogurt and one more Larabar before the run.  It’s important to replicate your training as much as possible in your race, so Mike and I stopped at a Fred Meyer grocery store on the way down to get a little cooler and ice for my coconut milk yogurt.

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Mike saving the day by getting ice for my yogurt

I had my Larabars and my yogurts.  And one of basically every type of running outfit available, including both my pairs of running shoes.  (I couldn’t make up my mind what I was going to want to wear, so I brought literally everything.)

Mike and I were initially planning to drive down with my running buddy and her husband, both of whom were also running the marathon, but at the last minute her husband got a bad cold.  It was up in the air whether or not he would be able to run the race, but he decided he was up to it.  However, in an effort to stay healthy the day before the race, Mike and I drove down separately.  The drive was pretty much constant (I always forget how much traffic there is between Seattle and Portland because we actually haven’t been to Portland many times… maybe 4?).  We found the hotel without much difficulty, but it was pretty packed since we were staying at the same hotel the race expo was at.  Mike and I walked over to the race expo and picked up my race packet.  We also looked for a very lightweight running rain coat that I could wear the following day, but we really didn’t see any.  Maybe everyone else had the same idea and they were already all taken?  My right hip flexor was feeling tighter than I knew it should feel (maybe from the ride down in the car?  or the cold and rain?).  Regardless, Mike and I had a quiet dinner at the steakhouse across the street from the hotel where we were staying.  My treat, since I had basically dragged Mike down to Portland to stand out in the rain taking pictures.  Mike got a steak and I got a giant plain baked potato.  Perfect race fuel!  Then we went back to the hotel, went over the race course so that Mike could decide where to take pictures.  Then I ate two yogurts from the cooler and two peanut butter and jelly Larabars.  I was ready.  I went to bed and slept like a LOG.  I know a lot of people can’t sleep the night before a race because of nerves, but I have never had that problem.  I can basically always fall asleep.  Most of the time that’s awesome, but sometimes it’s not.  Like when I’m in uninteresting meetings at work.  Anyway, I slept really soundly, and my alarm went off at 5:00am.  We were meeting my friend Anna and her husband Nick at 6am, so that gave me plenty of time to think about my race outfit.  I thought about it while I retrieved one more yogurt from the cooler for breakfast and munched another Larabar.  (People think that you run so you can eat whatever you want, but I actually find that when I’m seriously training I have to be way more careful what I eat…. the last thing you want is an upset stomach or overactive digestion during a long run or a race!  So I tend to gravitate towards the same tried and true foods.)

After sticking my head out the window to verify that, yes, it was raining, I went through all the running clothes I’d brought to try to choose what I wanted to wear.  I settled on my thinnest capri pants (which were purple, so made it easier for Mike to spot me during races… bonus!) and a running T-shirt.  I woke Mike up to help me choose which running shoes to wear.  My options were the lighter, faster, but less supportive pair that had fewer miles on them or the heavier, slower, more supportive pair with more miles on them.  I put both pairs on multiple times and jogged across the hotel room trying to make a decision.  Mike just watched me.

“You think I’m crazy, right?” I asked.

Mike shrugged.  “I’m pretty OCD actually.  I’m like this about most stuff.”

I eventually decided on the lighter pair.  I put them on, attached my bib to the front of my running capris and my timing chip to my shoe.

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Timing chip ON!  Ready to go!

 

We met up with Nick and Anna outside of our hotel and walked the few blocks to the start line.  There was a really weird corral setup where different corrals entered from different streets, so Anna and I were a little confused looking for our corral C.  We were already wet and there wasn’t much we could do about that, but on the way to the starting line Anna accidentally stepped right in the middle of a big puddle and soaked her sock and her shoe.  Running a marathon with a wet foot right off the bat sounded miserable, so we went to a little running shoe store near the start line that was open early to accommodate the marathon runners.  While Anna bought a new pair of socks and changed into them, I listened to one of the store employees stand on a bench and give a short, inspiring speech about running and having fun and focusing on the nice temperature instead of focusing on the rain.

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Focus on the temps instead of the rain?  Sure.

Then Anna and I found ourselves at the start line and I queued up my marathon playlist.  Ready to go!

And now for a rabbit trail.

As (some?  many?  most?) of you know, I have approximately a 7 year history trying to get a marathon time below 4 hours.  I started training back in 2010 for my first marathon.  It didn’t go well.  I registered for the Detroit marathon (why Detroit and not Chicago?  Why??  Chicago is a much better race.) and got IT band pain and ended up not being able to complete the marathon.  I had another false start that ended in IT band pain before finally getting to the start (and finish) line of my first marathon in Seattle in June of 2011.  I fought IT band through the race, it was miserable, I was in pain the whole time, and I limped across the finish line with a time of 4:22:14… over 22 minutes shy of my goal.

Frustrated but determined, I trained for the Las Vegas marathon in December of 2011.  It was the first year they were doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series in Las Vegas, and it was rough.  My training runs had gone great with little IT band pain, but I started getting sick around mile 11 of the race.  Like really sick.  Like I wasn’t able to keep the energy gels coming in fast enough to balance the speed at which they were coming out.  Sorry, TMI, but totally the truth.  As it turned out, the race organizers were using Las Vegas city water at the water stations on the course, which made a lot of runners sick.  If I thought the Seattle marathon was hard, it was nothing compared to the Vegas marathon.  Running down the strip was awesome, but I was so sick to my stomach I couldn’t think about how awesome it was.  I was too busy looking for the next bush by the side of the course.  I basically limped weakly across the finish line of that marathon with a time of 4:35:43 (and I felt lucky to even have that time), limped right back to my hotel, fell into the tub, and lay there in the warm water trying to figure out what on earth had happened.  (I didn’t find out about the water situation until later, so I didn’t realize I wasn’t alone in getting so sick.)  The best part of that race was hanging out with my bestie Lia (who lived in Vegas) the day after and eating as much of a giant Whole Foods salad as my touchy stomach would allow.

At that point I swore off marathons.  Every runner has heard about “marathon amnesia” (i.e. you forget how terrible a marathon was and sign up for another one anyway).  I did not have amnesia.  I remembered exactly how bad it was to run FIFTEEN MILES while looking for the next bush and trying to force down energy gels that my stomach was rejecting.  Since 2011 I had run a couple of half marathons a year, lots of 15ks, 10ks, and 5ks, but I was steering clear of marathons.

Until I joined the Seattle Green Lake Running Group in April of this year.  They were encouraging, helpful, and coincidentally all training for fall marathons.  I became friends and running buddies with Anna through that group.  She had run one marathon previously and basically had a terrible experience as well (super rainy, hilly, muddy course).  Together we decided that we could run a marathon together.  After all, we couldn’t have a worse experience than our collective previous marathon experiences, right?  After checking out a couple of local-ish races we decided on Portland, an old race celebrating their 45th year this year.

And that was how I found myself at the start line of the Portland marathon at 7am on a dark, rainy morning.  My right hip flexor still felt tighter than I knew it should which wasn’t a great sign.  I heard some runner say at some point that if you’re already feeling problems before mile 8 of a marathon you’re in real trouble.  Where did that leave me, given that I was already feeling muscle tightness before I started?  Anyway, not a very encouraging thought, but I decided to be positive.  Negative thinking would get me nowhere.

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Anna, Nick, and I staying as dry as possible before the race.  Those orange ponchos ROCKED!  And were only $4.

When our corral started off, I just focused on taking it slow-ish and fell into step with Anna.  The first couple of miles we were mainly hitting our pace.  We started out a little fast according to our GPS watches, but when we hit the 5km (3.1 mile) sign on the course, our watches showed that we’d gone 3.5 miles.

“It’s going to be a long course,” Anna said.  “That’s discouraging this early in the race.”

I agreed.  If it’s a long course (even if just by 0.4 miles) that tacks on extra minutes to your final time and make it harder to hit a sub 4 hour goal.

We kept running.  The first five miles or so was running around downtown Portland and the surrounding areas.  Then we started to head north towards St. John’s Bridge, and the rain started to come down harder.  My right hip flexor had progressed from tight to painful by this point (maybe because of the cold and rain?), but I was concentrating hard on keeping good running form, and the pain was manageable (unlike IT band pain which is basically impossible to run through).  One thing I have 100% learned during years of running is that good running form can help you run through a lot, and bad running form will absolutely lead to pain.  I knew that if my form suffered early in the race I would be in a lot of pain by the end.  Around mile 11, we passed Mike and I flashed him some bright smiles for the camera even though my hip flexor was painful and the rain was getting pretty old.

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Mile 11… still smiling.  And twinning.  Total coincidence that we both wore the same shirt!

Around mile 15 we started up a long slow hill taking us up to St. John’s Bridge.  We were running into a strong headwind, it was really rainy, and my hip flexor pain was starting to be harder to manage.  It was pretty clear at this point that Anna was having a better race day than I was, given my hip flexor.  She ran on ahead, and I stayed back, going at my own pace, knowing that if I kept below a 9 min/mile pace I’d finish under 4 hours, even given the long course.  The hill up to St. John’s Bridge was about a mile and a half long, but it actually felt pretty easy.  Yay for all the hill training I did in Seattle!  Running across the bridge, I was actually able to pick up my pace and my hip felt a little better.  Back to being tight instead of painful.

Once across the bridge, I hit mile 18 soon after and told myself at that point I only had 8 miles left and I just had to hang on to a 9 min/mile pace (normally really easy for me, but I was still feeling tightness in my hip).  The next two miles went by quickly and actually felt pretty pleasant.  The rain had backed off a little, so even though I was fully drenched, at least I wasn’t actively getting so much more drenched.

They say that the first half of the marathon is 20 miles and the second half is 6.2 miles.  It was with great trepidation that I hit mile 20. My hip flexor was back to being painful, and the 3:45 pace group passed me, so I knew my shot at a 3:45 time was gone (not that I was really fazed by that given that I was only shooting for a sub 4, but it was still a little discouraging).  Mile 21 was HARD.  Everything hurt.  The bottoms of my feet, there were twinges in both my IT bands, and my right hip flexor continued to be in pain.  And then Til I Collapse by Eminem came on my playlist.  I remembered running to that almost exactly 24 hours earlier and feeling so strong.  Time to keep running strong.  I picked up my pace a little and was thrilled to discover that mile 23 was mostly downhill and I managed an 8:12 min/mile pace.  Sub 4 hours was looking really attainable unless something really went wrong.  I was just about to the bridge that would cross the Willamette River back into downtown Portland.  I knew that at the end of the bridge, I would hit mile 25 (well, actually more like mile 25.5 because the course was too long), where Mike was planning to be stationed again with a camera.  I wanted to hit that point strong, but I was struggling during mile 24.  I had very little left.  Everything hurt (not just the hip flexor anymore), and I’d been pushing through rain and wind and pain for 3+ hours at that point.  But I knew I was going to finish.  And I knew I wanted to finish as strong as possible.  I crossed the bridge, holding on to my pace, and then saw Mike up ahead.  That gave me a boost, and I gave a bunch of happy smiles for the camera.

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Victory arms UP!  Only a mile to go!  Or, you know, a mile and half because of the long course.  Whatever.

It’s hilarious, because looking at those pictures from mile 25 it’s not at all clear that I was struggling to maintain pace.  I look surprisingly happy.

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At least my form at mile 25 was still great

And then I was past Mike and I had a little over a mile to go.  I had to stop quick once or twice just to stretch out my hip flexor for a second, but I made it through the last mile.  I kept waiting and waiting for the finish line to show up.  It didn’t show up and didn’t show up.  But Eye of the Tiger came on my playlist, which was more than enough to keep me moving.  My watch showed that I’d already gone 26.2 miles, but I knew I wouldn’t be done until mile 26.7 ish.  Finally I turned a corner and saw the race finish line and the giant LED digital clock.  The hour’s place still showed a ‘3’, and I knew I hadn’t started right when the clock started so I was going to come in under four hours easily.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:51:14.  Anna was about three minutes ahead of me with a time around 3:48, and her husband Nick had a blazingly fast, amazing race despite his head cold and ran a 3:24!  (For anyone interested in numbers, here are my final stats.)

I found them and the three of us collected our race medals, finisher’s shirts, and struggled back towards the hotel.  Ideally we would have hung out, waited for Mike, gotten him to take our pictures, celebrate in our successes, etc.  Practically, our legs were seizing up, my hip flexor now refused to contract at all, and it was continuing to rain and now that we were no longer moving we were drenched and chilled.  We limped back into the hotel, and Anna and Nick caught an Uber back to their hotel about a mile away and I forced my chilled, numb fingers to text Mike to let him know I was back at the hotel.  My hands were so cold that I had to put my race medal, bottle of water, and finisher’s shirt on the floor of the hotel so that I could use two hands to get the key card into the door slot.  Once inside, I struggled to get my drenched clothes off without flexing any of the muscles in my legs and then stepped into the hot shower.  Mike came back to the hotel a few minutes later, not quite as drenched, but still really wet.  Even his raincoat was completely drenched.  He had been out in the rain for so long that the rain literally penetrated the raincoat.  I didn’t know that could even happen, but Mike explained to me that rain coats are really just “water resistant”, not “water proof”.  Good to know!

After both Mike and I had taken hot showers we walked over to take a look at the indoor mall that was a few blocks from our hotel.  I was feeling surprisingly pretty good.  I had a bottle of water and was drinking regularly, but definitely felt like my sodium levels were out of whack.  I remembered that after my long training runs I typically ate soup, or something else high in sodium, and I hadn’t done that after this race.  Mike and I went to a middle eastern place in the food court and I ordered two fattoush side salads and also surreptitiously took 8 of their little salt packets.  I ate two salt packets just plain (yup, this is what being a runner does to you… you are completely oblivious to the strange stares you’re getting as you toss back salt packets in a mall food court), and I sprinkled the rest on my two side salads which I ate with gusto.

Although Mike and I were planning to stick around in Portland for an extra night, it remained so rainy that we were just kind of over the whole thing.  We were out of towels and out of soap in our hotel room after all our showers, and our wet clothes were dripping all over the bathroom floor from their spot on the shower curtain rod in the bathroom.

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Yup, pretty much sums up my thoughts

On the drive back, I was recapping part of the race to Mike.

“It was pouring rain, we were running into a headwind and up the hill to get us to St. John’s bridge, and my right hip flexor was in pain pretty much constantly even though it was only mile 15 and I had over 10 miles to go, and I was asking myself, Why am I doing this?

Mike’s eyebrows raised as he kept his eyes on the road.  After a brief pause he said, “And what did you come up with as a reason?  Because I can’t think of one.  I mean, sure… this time it was for the sub four hour time.  But what reason will you give next time?”

I sat back in the seat and tried to think of a good reason.  And I couldn’t come up with one.  I really couldn’t.  Not a single one.  I wasn’t even sure why the sub four hour time was important to me except that I’d started trying to hit that seven years ago.  It has something to do with the rush of accomplishment, of doing something today that seemed impossible yesterday, of breaking through self-imposed boundaries.  Ultimately, why does a man climb a mountain?  Because it’s there.  And maybe there is no other reason.

Quick addendum: The Portland Marathon officials actually came out and apologized for the long course a couple days after the race; it was a mistake on their part and they sent the runners through the wrong course in the first couple of miles that tacked on an extra 0.4 miles so they’re correcting everyone’s time.  I’m still waiting to hear my “new” official time.  Probably somewhere in the 3:48 vicinity.

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Already autumn! Scarves and rosebushes…

If you are reading this, you must be a very patient person who’s content to follow a blog for months without hearing so much as a peep from the author.  Either that or you are subscribed to the blog so you can forget it exists until an email pops up in your inbox letting you know that the author has finally awoken from her non-blogging insanity and has something new up for the world to see.

I’m not sure where to start with Mike’s and my busy summer.  At a high level: I’m almost done with marathon training for Portland (the race is this Sunday!), Mike has been doing lots of home improvement projects, my role at work has changed to being an engineering lead in addition to my old role, Mike’s work has morphed towards more of a systems engineering role, Mike can successfully grow rosebushes, and I have been cooking up all my CSA produce diligently every Sunday afternoon and haven’t let anything go bad.  Oh, yes, and Piper has another urinary infection (UTI’s for those of us who are very familiar with the acronyms at this point).

That’s our summer in a nutshell.

I mean, there are lots of other things I could say.  It was a beautiful summer.  Lots of warm, sunny days, lots of relaxing evenings at restaurants (well, one evening a week, which is what Mike and I usually keep ourselves to), time with friends, long hours running in sweat-soaked shirts (which has transitioned this fall to long hours running in rain-soaked shirts)… and so on.

So that’s a very high-level synopsis of our summer.  But what are we actually doing?  On a day-to-day basis?  In a way that doesn’t read like a resume of our lives and a list of events (since life is, after all, much more than a list of events or a series of checkboxes).

Let’s start with the small things.  Yesterday the weather turned suddenly and surprisingly cold and rainy.  Well, I was surprised anyway.  I probably don’t look at the weather report often enough.  I ended up going to work in a thin jacket on a cold, blustery, rainy day.  I made it to work, but when I went out to grab lunch I made the decision that I was not going to spend all afternoon frozen.  I made a beeline for the shopping district downtown and walked right into Nordstrom Rack with a hunch they would have a nice scarf to keep me warm.  Just inside the door was a rack filled with the fluffiest, most giant scarves I had ever seen (slight exaggeration, but only very slight).  And they were on sale.  Very rarely do things in life line up this nicely, but this time they did.  I grabbed a green striped one, and literally three minutes later I was on my way again with the widest, fluffiest, most giant scarf ever wrapped around my head and neck.  It was so fluffy, in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to take it off when I got back to the office.  So I took my coat off, but continued to wear my fluffy scarf.  I got so many comments on my fluffy-scarfed appearance that afternoon that I lost count.  My favorite was from a co-worker who said I was morphing into a Babushka (read: Russian elderly woman).  Right.  On.  The.  Mark.  I refused to apologize for the scarf or take it off.  I let any of the doubters feel how fluffy it was, and pretty much had everyone convinced by the end of the day that it was the best scarf ever.  It shed green fluff all over my office chair and my nice, black coat, but there is a price that must be paid for warmth and I was more than willing to pay it.  🙂

While I’m on the subject of winter-wear, I have two coats for this type of fall weather in Seattle, and I’ve been alternately wearing one or the other over the past couple of weeks just depending on which one I happen to grab off the coathook on my way out the door.  One of them has a hole in the left pocket, and the other has a hole in the right pocket.  It is a constant battle of memory to make sure that I remember which coat pocket has a hole in it on any given day.  If I’m not careful, I’ll wind up putting something in the coat pocket with a hole and it’ll fall out.  The struggle is real,  people!  (#firstworldproblems)  I am pretty sure that a less lazy person would just sew the holes shut, but that is apparently not how I roll.  I prefer to look at it as a test of my memory each day.  Let’s see… phone goes in the left pocket today.

Last summer was really hot and dry and one of our rosebushes out front died.  It was a yellow rosebush but I have never cared for yellow roses, so I asked Mike if we could replace it with a white one instead.  We went to Skye Nursery (the most amazing plant haven ever!!) and picked out an Icecap white rosebush early this spring.  Mike did a bunch of research on planting rosebushes, even though I told him that all he had to do was dig a hole in the ground and stick the rosebush in it.  Technically he didn’t even need to dig a hole, since the hole was already there from the previous dead rosebush.  However, Mike persevered and planted the skinny little stalk in the perfect way at the perfect depth with the perfect potting soil, and that thing has thrived!!  It is putting all of the other rosebushes to shame and is still brightly and proudly blooming with a bunch of blossoms now while all the other rosebushes have lost their blooms for the winter.  It’s such a little beacon of whiteness from the front of the house.  I love it!!  So, in case there was any question on the matter, Mike can grow rosebushes.  Awesome rosebushes that put all other rosebushes to shame.  (And this surprises exactly no one who knows Mike.)

And what about the bigger things that are slightly more impactful than rosebushes and scarves (although honestly I feel like those are two very impactful things in my life)?

Let me talk about work.  I’m a software development engineer in test (which means pretty much exactly nothing to someone not familiar with the software field).  What I do isn’t really important, especially not to talk about on a blog.  But I do want to talk a little bit about what I’ve been working on this summer, because I’ve been working a lot on team development which is something that is a lot more relevant to most people than most parts of my job.  We had a big re-organization around the first of the year which resulted in four new teams.  A few months later, I was moved to being the engineering lead for one of the teams.  New teams are a funny thing.  All of the people on the team are trying to get a sense of where they add value, what areas they are the subject matter expert in, how to interact with all of the other team members, etc.  Bottom line: no one’s very comfortable.  Everyone’s trying to figure out the new team dynamics.  I felt a little ill-equipped to lead a team, especially a newly-formed team, since management really isn’t my thing.  It was a lot of work…. figuring out how to be a team lead, how to prepare and report weekly status, working with the program manager for my team to define priorities, estimate engineering effort and complexity for each month, serve as a buffer and decision maker for the team, make sure everyone on the team stayed focused on the right priorities, and helping all of the team members find their niche on the new team.  But the really cool part is that I feel like we are there.  When I watch the team interact in meetings, I love what I see.  All of the team members feel comfortable enough to speak up, voice concerns, have disagreements in a respectful and sometimes humorous way, no one is afraid to admit when they’re wrong, and everyone is a subject matter expert in some areas.  It makes me feel really proud of them.  And a little bit proud of myself because I feel like I helped facilitate that.  I helped create that environment where everyone feels free to speak up and everyone has a place.  In our quarterly meeting with all of the leads and managers, the manager of the program managers said that he had taken time to speak one-on-one with each member of the engineering team, and that they were all happy and feeling good about the team and about their work.  My manager attributed that to me (not strictly true, of course, because I had a great group of people to start out with… but even so, it seems as though I’m doing something right in this “engineering lead” role).  So, anyway, finally I’m able to talk about some of my work that isn’t just relegated to being some “technical” stuff that no one’s interested in hearing about.  😉

And of course, lots of running for me this summer training for the Portland Marathon!  Some pictures from my runs:

Sailboats on Lake Union!

Sailboats on Lake Union!

 

Aurora Bridge

Aurora Bridge

 

Near University Bridge

Near University Bridge

 

Evening run....

Evening run….

 

Early morning run

Early morning run

 

Watching all the crew boats out practicing on Saturday morning on the lake

Watching all the crew boats out practicing on Saturday morning on the lake

 

From this morning's run.  :)

From this morning’s run. 🙂

 

In case you weren’t aware, I seriously live in the most gorgeous city… these cityscapes just never get old for me.  🙂

I also participated in the Girls Who Code program that Groupon hosted in Seattle this summer.  It’s a program that teaches high school aged girls how to code.

A picture of me and my mentee from the Girls Who Code program.  Love this girl!!  (P.S. Why do I always wrinkle my nose like crazy when I'm smiling??  I look like I'm grimacing!)  ;)A picture of me and my mentee from the Girls Who Code program.  Love this girl!!  (P.S. Why do I always wrinkle my nose like crazy when I'm smiling??  I look like I'm grimacing!)  ;)

A picture of me and my mentee from the Girls Who Code program. Love this girl!! (P.S. Why do I always wrinkle my nose when I’m smiling?? I look like I’m grimacing!) 😉

 

Speaking of things I love… these two top the list!

LOVE!!  :)

LOVE!! 🙂

 

And speaking of Piper… what would a blog post be without a couple cute pics?

In the sun...

Upside down in the sun…

 

On a kitchen chair...

On a kitchen chair…

 

On a laptop getting cat hair deep into the keyboard...

On a laptop getting cat hair deep into the keyboard…

 

I’ll also include a couple pics of my work in the kitchen so that everyone actually believes I’m still cooking regularly.  🙂

Cooking up pasta sauce and sauteed greens.  Soup is simmering in the pot on the back of the stove.  I'm definitely a multitasker!

Cooking up pasta sauce and sauteed greens. Soup is simmering in the pot on the back of the stove. I’m definitely a multitasker!

 

Prepping veggies!

Prepping veggies!

 

Piper likes to oversee my work from the kitchen windowsill.  She makes sure I get the job done right.

Piper likes to oversee my work from the kitchen windowsill. She makes sure I get the job done right.

 

On a completely unrelated note, Mike discovered this fall that he actually likes pumpkin beer despite not liking pumpkin (although, really, who doesn’t like pumpkin?  It’s basically just like squash and what’s not to like about squash??), so we’ve had our share of pumpkin beer around the house this fall.  I think it’s really helping Mike get into the “autumn spirit”.  How is it already almost Halloween?  The holidays will be here before we know it!  There are only three weeks left of the CSA produce, which is a little crazy.  It feels like I just started getting deliveries.

On another note, Mike has been taking bunches of pictures with his camera so that he’s all prepared for taking pictures at the marathon this weekend!  Hopefully he’ll get pics of me, my friend, and her husband since we’re all running.  In all likelihood my friend and I will run the race together and her husband will run on ahead because he’s speedier.  Mike’s all prepped with his camera to get good action shots!  And this will be a good trial run of being gone for a night or two away from Piper, since we’ll be away for five nights going back to Michigan later this month.  Hoping that she does fine with us gone and just the cat sitter coming in to take care of her and give her the daily fluids!

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