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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Halfway through 2016! (How did that happen so fast?!?)

Here we are in the second half of 2016… wow, has time ever flown by!  And I have not been very consistent with writing on my blog (major understatement).  I have missed writing on it, but somehow I am always. doing. something.  Almost literally.  I keep thinking of things I would like to write on my blog, but then never take the time to actually write them.  So what have Mike and I been up to that I am apparently never at my computer long enough to write a blog post these days?

Well, for starters, Mike has continued to be busy with travel here and there and that keeps both of us on our toes (always prepping for him either coming or going).  It looks like that’s finally going to slow down a little which will be nice.  It’s getting difficult to keep explaining to Piper why her best friend is gone.

"I'll lay on top of you so that you can't go anywhere."

“I’ll lay on top of you so that you can’t go anywhere.”

 

I’ve also been continuing my running, and my running buddy and I had a great half marathon three weeks ago!

A 1:45 half marathon!

A 1:45 half marathon!  If we look happy it’s because we ARE!  🙂

 

We’ve signed up for a full marathon in Portland in the fall and are really excited!  We’re planning to train together through the summer… we have both helped each other become much faster over the past couple of months.

I also picked up boxing several months ago and am kind of in love.  I’ve been taking 2-3 classes a week for the past three months, so at this point I’m committed.  I ordered my own pair of boxing gloves so that I can stop using the gym’s.  I ordered them partially because it’s time to take my boxing relationship to the next level and partly because my mom thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world that I’m learning to box and she wants a picture of me in Rocky shorts wearing my boxing gloves.  I’m way too embarrassed to ask someone in my boxing class to take a picture of me with my gloves on (like… do I think I’m Floyd Mayweather or something??), but if I have my own gloves Mike can take my picture himself.  Anyway, the boxing gloves are on the way, with a picture of boxing Karena to follow in the near future.

Mike and I also finally started an herb garden on our roof!  We carried tons of soil and heavy planters up to our roof.  And by “we”, I mean “Mike”.  I carried nothing.  I’m a boxer and a runner, not a weight lifter.  😉

 "Any more sixty pound bags you need me to carry up THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS??"

“Any more sixty pound bags you need me to carry up THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS??”  Good thing this man lifts weights.

 

For the first round of the herb garden, I only planted basil, silver thyme, parsley, and rosemary.

Garden Project: Phase 1

Garden Project: Phase 1

 

Round 2 occurred when the nursery we go to had a Fourth of July sale… 40% off all herbs!!

Garden Project: Phase 2

Garden Project: Phase 2

Phase two consisted of one additional (and healthier-looking) basil plant, golden thyme, oregano, and mint.  The mint is in a separate pot in the planter because apparently that’s how you do mint so that it doesn’t take over all of your other herbs.

Mike and I also picked up hiking!  We went on a big hike up Mount Si over the Fourth of July weekend.  Eight miles roundtrip!  The website says that he first four are solely uphill, and Mike and I can vouch for that.  Four miles steadily and steeply uphill!!

Our shoes are ready for some trail miles! Eight, to be exact.

Our shoes are ready for some trail miles! Eight, to be exact.

 

The drive to Mount Si was only 45 minutes… so close!!  It was also very cloudy, but we figured that climbing a mountain is probably better on a cool, cloudy day than on a hot, sunny day.

The drive to Mount Si

The drive down I-90 to Mount Si

 

The sun actually ended up coming out, but the trail was almost entirely shaded by all of the big, old trees.  The hike was amazingly beautiful.

Lots of gorgeous, old trees!

Lots of gorgeous, old trees!

 

It's a looooong way up to those treetops! (But don't worry... we surpassed those treetops by a long way before we reached the top of the climb.

It’s a looooong way up to those treetops! (But don’t worry… we surpassed those treetops by a long way before we reached the top of the climb).

 

The view from the top was amazing.

I don't know about you, but this is why I climb mountains.

I don’t know about you, but this is why I climb mountains.  Otherwise I’d just, you know, box.

 

In other completely and totally random news, I have picked up adult coloring.  Has anyone heard of this as a thing??  The pictures have much finer levels of detail than children’s coloring books (and thus require more work to stay inside the lines).  Apparently it’s good for your mental health too.  Bonus!  I find it relaxing to sit down with my uber adult, detailed coloring book and colored pencils.  And tell myself it’s way more adult than what I did when I was five.  😉

For the Fourth of July, Mike and I didn’t watch the fireworks (even though they shoot them off about a mile from our house so we really should have gone).  But I was really busy coloring and Mike was looking up record players online, so it was pretty hard for us to justify leaving our house.  We did go over to a friend’s house who was having a dinner party earlier in the day, though, and that was so much fun!  It is blueberry season here in Washington, so there were loads of fresh blueberries on sale at the grocery store.  So I ended up making blueberry bars to bring, and they were well-received.  🙂  We ate outdoors because it was so nice outside, but it got colder as it got darker so then we all ended up inside for dessert.

In addition to looking up record players, Mike has been busy helping me with the herb garden.  (It’s a good thing someone was strong enough to carry all those bags of soil to the roof, because Piper and I certainly weren’t.)  He’s also been researching lighting fixtures because he wants to add light to our kitchen and put up a pendent light in the kitchen.  I helped select the pendent light, and then I’m staying out of it.  This is definitely a Mike kind of project.

Also, we finished watching this season of Game of Thrones.  And by the way, for a season that was as ho-hum as this season, it sure went out with a bang!!  I will NOT post any spoilers, but oh my gosh!  That final episode of this season had my jaw dropping after the first twenty minutes.

So, long story short, things are plugging along here.  Mike, Piper, and I are enjoying the summer.  Well, we mostly are.  Piper has another UTI, but at least this one can be treated with pills instead of daily injected antibiotics like last time.  And so it goes.  That poor girl.  She’s a lot crankier when she has a UTI, though, so she’s been a little difficult to live with lately.  Even more queenly and intolerant than her normal queenly and intolerant self.  🙂

Our first CSA produce delivery is next week, so I’m very excited for some new cooking inspiration from all of the farm fresh produce… I literally can’t wait!  I’m so excited that I texted Mike in the middle of the workday to let him know that I was excited.  Clearly I only communicate about important matters.  😉

And work continues to be busy for both Mike and me.  Mike is doing some work that he finds more interesting these days, so that’s nice.  And work is really busy for me too.  I somehow managed to get myself promoted again, this time to technical lead for my team.  I keep thinking about that phrase about everyone getting promoted to their own level of incompetence (is that something from Dilbert and the pointy-haired boss?  Where did I hear that phrase?).  I keep feeling like I’m going to hit that point soon if I haven’t already.  That point where I’m out of my depth and am just being incompetent at my job and really need to be demoted to get to a productive point again.

And that’s our life in a nutshell these days!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth and is looking forward to the second half of 2016!

Happy 4th from my queen cat who likes to sit on dining room chairs, but only dining room chairs that have towels on them.

Happy 4th from my cranky queen-cat who likes to sit on dining room chairs, but only dining room chairs that have towels on them.

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, CSA, Gardening, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Running, Seattle, Weather, Work

Spring in Seattle

So let’s talk running.  I haven’t talked a lot about running in the past few blog posts, but my running has been going really well.  As in… I have never been this fast.  A friend and I ran a 15k (~9.3 mile) race last week, and we averaged a 7:45min/mile pace.  I typically don’t even run that fast for a 5k, much less a 15k.  And it’s crazy how it all seems relatively effortless.  I’ve been trying to think what might have changed, and I’ve really only changed one thing since my running started improving so radically over the past few months.  I (finally!!) took the advice of a naturopath doctor I went to two years ago who told me that my body had trouble processing B-12, and recommended a special B-12 supplement for people with the MTHFR genetic mutation (which apparently a big percentage of the population, including me, has).  Since anemia is also a symptom of B-12 deficiency, maybe this supplement will also stop the on-and-off again anemia I’ve had forever?  Regardless, the B complex vitamins affect energy levels strongly, so maybe my body finally has some methylated B-12 at its disposal and has energy to burn?  So I’m speculating that the B-12 levels are what’s making the difference in my running.

Regardless, my friend and I had a great race last weekend!!

After the race in front of Lake Union!

After the race in front of Lake Union… notice the Space Needle to the right of my head

Oh!  And in other super-fun-fitness news, a new fitness studio opened up very near our house, and they offer a wide variety of classes.  I was instantly intrigued by the boxing class they offered so I started taking that.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  So much fun!!  I literally love it!  The hour long class just flies by without me noticing it.  The first half of the class is warm-up/conditioning (so things like holding a plank pose, jumping rope, etc).  The second half we get on our wrist wraps and gloves and hit heavy bags.  HOW HAVE I NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE??  It is absolutely a blast!  So now I’m trying to do that Monday evenings and Saturday mornings.  I’ve done cardio kickboxing before, but this is actual boxing where they talk about keeping your hands in guard position to avoid getting hit by your opponent and stuff.  It’s so much fun, and the instructor is so patient and helpful.  I already bought my own wrist wraps and I feel like a ‘real’ boxer of the Simon and Garfunkel variety walking to class carrying them, even though in reality I’m completely a beginner and still forget not to pull my elbow back before going in for an uppercut and forget my footwork as soon as I start doing punching combinations.  🙂

Lest anyone think that I have a corner on the fitness-fun market, Mike faithfully goes to the gym twice a week and lifts very, very heavy weights.  I tried to get him to come to boxing with me, but he literally can’t understand the joy of hitting something hard.  I get out of work on Monday and can’t wait to get to boxing class where I can pound the living daylights out of a heavy bag, but Mike just doesn’t get that.  He wants to go to the gym and deadlift and benchpress 150+ pounds, which sounds like a huge nightmare to me.  So each to his own, right?  🙂

Since we’re on a fitness roll, I’ll continue on this theme for another paragraph.  🙂  Now that I’m a registered yoga teacher and a certified personal trainer, I have twice the continuing education credits to rack up every couple of years so that I can renew both.  And before you ask… no, you can’t use the same credits for both.  That would make life too easy.  🙂  So I’m currently taking a class for renewing the PT certification in Corrective Exercise.  It’s a fascinating class and is making me a lot more aware of my own movements and the movements of those around me.  I’m literally finding myself riding in the car with Mike and commenting on a jogger running by who has a hip hike and a knee abduction going on that probably indicates a tight IT band and a weak gluteus maximus.  Mike patiently puts up with me.  🙂

Speaking of the nice weather (was I??), it has been amazing!  The Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend were really wet and windy and I got caught in a downpour during my long run.  I literally walked in the door soaking wet.

Running in the rain.  But with gorgeous purple flowers!

Running in the rain. But with gorgeous purple flowers!

However, starting on Memorial Day the weather has just been wonderful!  The weather has been in the high 70’s/low 80’s with just enough of a breeze to keep things cool and keep our house from overheating.

Watching sailboats on Lake Union last week with our neighbors!

Watching sailboats on Lake Union last week with our neighbors!

 

While watching sailboats, I got friendly with a couple of ducks...

While watching sailboats, I got friendly with a couple of ducks…

Piper of course loves the sun, and quite frankly Mike and I are loving it too.  We have been grilling at least once a week for the past month… we’ve already grilled our standard favorites multiple times.  We’ve grilled lots of corn, potatoes, and kale, and have also done some sweet potatoes and a pepper and onion mix.  And for the carnivores among us, we have also done chicken and beef franks and hamburgers.  And all of our leftover food always gets eaten!  Every last nibble.  Yum!!  We are definitely enjoying the grill so far this summer!

The first time we grilled franks this summer, I was trying to explain to Mike the trick to making sure they got brown all the way around and Mike just looked at me like I was crazy.

I paused.  “Do you already know how to do this?”

“I know how to do everything,” Mike replied, somewhat imperiously.  “There are multiple ways to do things and I know them all.”

Well, you can’t get much more of a grill master than that.  😉

So, while our summer is off to a great start, it has been busy!  Mike was in California on business part of last week and thought he was going to be gone this week as well but it’s been pushed out so it will be next week instead.  So with the unpredictability of his travel it’s really difficult to plan anything.  That’s been a little draining for him, and my job has been really busy which has been a little draining for me.  I basically got promoted to senior level right when we had a department-wide reorganization and, being one of the few senior engineers in the department, I’m expected to be one of the driving forces in the new organization.  Hmm… tall order!  🙂

Basically I think Mike and I are ready for a vacation but haven’t really decided how to handle that since Piper basically needs daily injections.  I think a perfect example of where we’re at mentally is when I was making Mike scrambled eggs and toast for dinner tonight.  When I cracked the eggs, they seemed thinner-shelled than normal, and I said, “hmm”.  Mike instantly picked up on that.

“Is there something wrong with the eggs?”

“No, no,” I assured him.  “They’re fine.”

Mike looked at me, kind of tired and 100% not convinced.  “Can I have a normal egg?  I’m not in the mood to weather a weird egg.”

And that’s where we are at, I think.  Totally fine but not in the mood to weather any weird eggs.  🙂

In frivolous, uninteresting news, I got a bright pink workout tank top on sale.  I mean really bright pink.  Like… almost iridescent.  It looked fine online, but… in person it’s a little intense.  When I wear it I feel like I’m basically screaming for people to look at me, which I don’t really like.  Also, I was doing sit-ups while wearing it, and the towel I had underneath my back turned pink.  So basically I now know that I can’t wash it with anything else or it will bleed neon pink over everything.  #firstworldproblems!  What is the lesson for me to learn here?  😉  Don’t buy workout shirts on sale?  At least not sight unseen?  Or only buy innocuous colors that can’t bleed over anything?  (Incidentally, I’ve tried that, but then I end up with pale grey shirts that I have to worry about everything else bleeding other colors onto.  At least the neon pink shirt holds its own… I have no fear that it will turn any other color in the laundry other than that extremely loud boisterous neon pink.

In other frivolous news, I read an article that eating pickles and pickle juice after running helps rebalance sodium levels.  Apparently vinegar is also really good for helping lower inflammation in your body after a run.  Any excuse to eat pickles and pickle juice, right?  Am I right??  Well, Mike doesn’t think so.  Mike can’t stand pickles and isn’t a fan of this new trend I’m trying.  He claims I smell like pickles the rest of the day.  One day I came home from boxing and ate some pickles and Mike, always creative in coming up with less-than-flattering nicknames, pronounced me a “boxing pickle-nose”.  So that’s my current nickname around the house.  Lucky me.  I still don’t have as many nicknames as Piper though.  I literally couldn’t count all of them.  I think the only reason Piper hasn’t learned the entire English language is because she’s kept busy just keeping track of all of the new nicknames we have been giving her over the years.

In other news, one of our rose bushes died over the winter, so a month ago Mike put in a new one.

Can you guess which one Mike put in?  If you guessed the super thriving looking one, you are RIGHT!

Can you guess which one Mike put in? If you guessed the super thriving looking white one, you are RIGHT!

 

One more thing this guy can do... grow roses...

One more thing this guy can do… grow roses…

Already Wednesday evening… on to the weekend!  Mike and I have a cooking class this weekend which should be fun called “Cooking without Recipes”.  I think that’s the next step for me in my cooking development… relying less on recipes.

I hope everyone is enjoying the start to the summer!

Puget Sound from my office building... gorgeous!

Puget Sound from my office building… gorgeous!

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, Friends, Gardening, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Running, Weather