Category Archives: Running

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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Filed under Pictures, Running, Weather

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

Cooking, running, and filtering

Spring (summer?) finally came to Seattle this past weekend!  We were getting temps in the 70’s and everything was sunny and warm!  It has been so nice that I have been walking some extra blocks before catching the bus so that I can enjoy the weather longer.

Mike and I had probably our most relaxing weekend in recorded history.  For once we had nothing that needed to be done… only minimal chores.  I ended up going for a run on Saturday morning and inadvertently ran into a race.  It was actually a race that I had considered running and then decided against.  So I got to run part of it anyway.  🙂  About the most ambitious thing we did was get a car wash.  Our car was literally coated in pollen, so a carwash definitely seemed appropriate.  Unfortunately we neglected to take into account that there’s still plenty of pollen floating around the air, so by the following morning our car was covered with pollen again.

We went out Friday night and went downtown to the Belltown neighborhood and had a blast.

We walked past the new biospheres that Amazon is building downtown so that Mike could show them to me.

Mike and biodomes

Mike and biospheres

 

We also went out to eat at a really nice pizza place that had an amazing bar!

Pizza and old-fashioneds.... yum!

Pizza and old-fashioned’s…. yum!

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately.  This weekend I made chicken parmesan with spaghetti squash and carrot cumin coconut soup.   I also cooked up some acorn squash and roasted up some vegetables.  I had made the carrot soup before, so I knew how amazing it was.  I did one weird thing making it though.  I decided I wanted it to be more brothy and less lentil-y this time than last time so I decided to add more broth.  However, I wanted to keep the cumin and coriander proportions right, so I ended up doubling the amounts of everything that went into the soup except for the lentils.  After I had doubled the carrots, garlic, celery, and onion I stopped to think about it and realized it would have been much easier to just make the recipe as-is and halve the amount of lentils rather than double the entire receipe except for the lentils.  Oh well!  It’s so good that I definitely don’t mind having the extra soup!

The chicken parmesan was another story.  It was full of unknowns.  I’ll start at the beginning.  The natural foods grocery store that we go to offers a lot of cooking classes (a couple a week).  Mike and I signed up for one called “Mastering the Pan” that showed you how to sautee, sear, and other pan-related techniques.  The class was so much fun!  It was a hands-on class where we all helped out chopping things up and cooking them under the instructor’s direction.  The instructor for the class is actually a chef, and he was extremely knowledgeable!  He was so knowledgeable that I trusted (almost) everything he said about cooking.  Well, one of the things he said is that you should always use stainless steel pans rather than non-stick.  He said that when you burn something or something sticks to the pan when you’re using a stainless steel pan, it’s not the pan’s fault… it’s the cook’s fault.  As someone who has only had a few brushes with stainless steel pan cooking, I felt like he was talking directly at me.  He taught us how to gauge the heat of the pan by listening to the oil and other techniques for cooking with stainless steel pans.  As it happens I have a nice stainless steel pan, but have mostly been too afraid to use it because whenever I cook with it, it seems as though everything sticks to it.  So I decided that I should put my new cooking skills to use while they were fresh in my mind, which was why I decided on the chicken parmesan receipe.  It involved pan searing chicken followed by baking the chicken in the oven, which was exactly like one of the things we’d done in the class.  So it felt mostly within my comfort zone.  I was intimidated enough by the whole pan searing in a stainless steel pan thing that I cut and chopped all the vegetables for the recipe and prepared the breading for the chicken before I even so much as turned the stovetop on.  Then with bated breath, I turned on my burner, liberally poured some oil in the bottom of the pan, and waited anxiously to see the oil form ‘legs’, a term we had learned in class that meant the oil was forming lines moving vertically up the sides of the pan and was ‘medium-high’ heat.

“Hey,” Mike said.  “Why is your pan starting to smoke?  Do you have the heat on too high?”

I had been so intent watching for ‘legs’ that I had barely noticed the smoking.  I stared at my pan, trying to figure out why it was smoking so much more than the instructor’s pan.  As I glanced at my bottle of olive oil on the counter, understanding dawned on me.

“I used olive oil,” I said, slightly ashamed that I had already forgotten that the instructor had specified that olive oil is not good for searing because it’s not a high heat oil.

“That’s not a high heat oil.  It smokes,” Mike said.  “You better open the windows and get that off the stovetop before our smoke alarms start going off.”

Yup.  And time to find the sunflower oil.

Fifteen minutes later I had cleaned and dried my pan, rid the kitchen of smoke, and was ready for round two against the stainless steel pan.  Did I say ‘against’?  I meant ‘with’.  Clearly.

I dunked the chicken in my egg mixture and then in the breading.  Then I tossed the first three pieces into the pan.  First of all: don’t ‘toss’ chicken into a pan with hot oil on it.  I got a few oil drops on my legs and it wasn’t the best feeling I’ve ever had.  Then I went to prep the other pieces of chicken in the breading mixture.  That only took me a few minutes, but before I had even finished, Mike spoke up again from behind me.

“Is the chicken burning?  It looks like it is.  Remember this isn’t like in the class where we were searing chicken with the skin on.  This is skinless chicken breast with a breading on it.  Searing chicken skin takes a lot longer than browning a breading.”

The chicken was burning.  I whisked it out of the pan and onto a baking sheet.  I carefully inspected it.  The side in contact with the pan was darker than desired, but it was still ok.  I stuck it back in the pan, turning the other side down to sear (this time making sure that I only let it sear for a minute or two).  Then I popped the whole set of chicken pieces in the oven.

And realized that I was kind of left with a mess.  Searing chicken in a pan results in lots of pops of oil that render your stovetop kind of a mess.  I had pretty much decided that I was done with the whole stainless steel pan experiment (it was fun while it lasted… it’s not you, stainless steel pan; it’s me!).  But then Mike tried the chicken.  And he really liked it!  And had seconds.  And then thirds!  Unprecedented!

So, I think I need to keep the stainless steel pan along the sidelines, ready to come to my aid for the occasional seared or sautéed dish that can benefit from some heavy heat.

You’re probably wondering what Mike was doing all the time I was cooking (besides showing up occasionally to let me know what I was doing wrong… I swear he has like a sixth sense when I don’t know what I’m doing.  He never hangs around when I’m cooking stuff like veggies that he knows I can handle in my sleep.).

Well, Mike was installing a water filter inline with our refrigerator so that the water and ice cubes that come from our refrigerator are now FILTERED.

This was my idea (so that we can have the clearest, cleanest water possible), and Mike spent like a month researching how to do it and the best filters and everything, and then he got ready to work.

Every conceivable tool. Actually, not every conceivable tool. I've been in Tool World in Lowes and Home Depot way too many times to think these are the only conceivable tools.

Every conceivable tool. Actually, not every conceivable tool. I’ve been in Tool World in Lowes and Home Depot way too many times to think these are the only conceivable tools.

 

He also got out all the flanges and bolts and screws and farrells he needed.

Bolts and screws and... yeah. Lots of stuff.

Bolts and screws and… yeah. Lots of stuff.

And then he got to work hard-core.

Working hard. And thoroughly. And one-track-mindedly. I couldn't get him to respond much during this time.

Working hard. And thoroughly. And one-track-mindedly. I couldn’t get him to respond much during this time.

 

Piper wondered what all the cooking and plumbing fuss was about.

Actually she didn’t wonder at all.  She napped in the sun.

SO much more fun than working!

SO much more fun than working!

 

And eventually Mike had an awesome setup and the filter project was finished!

A filter! And a water regulator and a gauge. Because what's the use of anything if you can't measure it?

A filter! And a water pressure regulator and a gauge. Because what’s the use of anything if you can’t measure it?

 

I finished cooking way before Mike finished, so I went on a run in the gorgeous weather and saw lots of cool stuff.

This flowering tree had the most beautiful flowers! No idea what kind of tree it was...

This flowering tree had the most beautiful flowers! No idea what kind of tree it was…

 

This St. Bernard puppy is already as tall as my knee and already weighs like four times what Piper weighs. SO CUTE!

This St. Bernard puppy is as tall as my knee and already weighs four times what Piper weighs. SO CUTE!

 

Crossing the Aurora Bridge at dusk... I love my neighborhood!

Crossing the Aurora Bridge at dusk… I love my neighborhood!

 

And then later, Piper and I had to cuddle up for a selfie!

Say 'cheese' Piper! Piper? Piper?

Say ‘cheese’ Piper! Piper? Piper??

Unfortunately the weather was really too good to last given that it’s only early April.  Monday was significantly colder, and Tuesday was colder yet along with a lot of rain.  Ah, well.  It was a taste of summer, so hopefully we have a beautiful summer to look forward to!

And that’s all for this blog post!

I love this cat.  Which no one who reads this blog knew previously.

I love this cat. Which no one who reads this blog already knew.  😉

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Filed under Cats, Cooking, Food, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Running, Seattle, Weather

Races, family, and getting back in the blog-posting saddle

Somehow my puzzling has fallen by the way side.  I’m not sure what happened.  I bought two puzzles at the same time around Thanksgiving, and had so much fun putting the first one (a gnome castle) together.  The second one (a view of Venice at night) has just been languishing on the dining room table for over a month.  I dutifully assembled the border and a few small chunks of pieces, and then it’s just sat on the kitchen table.  I’m honestly not sure what happened.  My best guess is that a gnome castle is somehow inherently interesting.  And maybe a picture of Venice isn’t (although the real experience of going to Venice definitely is).  Regardless, I disassembled the little bit of puzzle I’d done so that we have more dining room table real estate back since I don’t seem to be getting puzzling traction.  Mike is trying to be sorry that the puzzling isn’t working out, but it’s hard for him because he’s looking forward to having a full dining room table again.

I ran a really fun 15k race a couple weekends ago.  The route was scenic and went along the waterfront downtown and then north all the way up SR-99 right past Mike’s and my house before turning around and heading back downtown again.  There were 12,000+ people signed up for the race, so it was recommended that you arrive early.  I used to be so conscientious about getting to races early, and now I count it a victory if I arrive just as the start gun is going off.  It took me about fifteen races before I realized that if you get to a race early all that earns you is the right to stand in the cold (and usually wet) morning for an extra forty-five minutes.  Oh, and it also gives you the right (the need, actually) to use the port-a-potties at least twice before the start of the race.  And, really, who wants to use a port-a-potty even once (much less twice)?  So now I try to time my arrival so that I’m barely in the nick of time and I’m completely happy.

When I woke up to an almost sunny morning the day of the race, I was optimistic that I would get out of the whole race dry.  I hopped a bus downtown (picking one that wasn’t on a re-route schedule for the race).  The race started and ended at Seattle Center, which is an area where a lot of Seattle events take place.  There are two main advantages to running races that start at Seattle Center.

  1. They have a huge auditorium (several actually), and they always open up the main one before races.  So if you don’t want to stand around outside freezing to death waiting for your race to start, it’s very advantageous to pick a race like this one that has a giant heated space to do your stretching in prior to the race.  Literally the trickiest part of any race is to arrive early enough to get a parking spot while also being late enough so that you aren’t standing outside forever waiting for the race to start.
  2. Bathrooms!  Lots and lots of them.  It’s somehow in a runner’s psychology to decide fifteen minutes before the start of the race that they should use the restroom one last time.  This causes literally huge and terrible lines at all the port-a-potties stationed at the race start lines.  However, when you have a giant auditorium you have (you guessed it!) INDOOR bathrooms.  And a lot of them!

I arrived plenty early, so I hung out inside stretching.  All was well until about ten minutes before race time when people started crowding to the windows and I saw that it had started pouring rain.  I really hadn’t dressed specifically for rain.  I had a running coat on, but it wasn’t waterproof, and I didn’t have a hat.  I did have a wide headband that I figured would help a little though.  I watched as some of the more prepared people around me started pulling out disposable glorified garbage bags to slip over their heads like ponchos to keep the rain off.  I watched as some of the less prepared people wearing shorts and tank tops shifted from one foot to the other.  We all headed out en masse towards the start line and fortunately the rain already seemed to be lessening.  We headed off down hill towards the waterfront.  That was nice from a scenic perspective, but I’m always suspicious of races that start off with a mile of down hill running.  What goes down must come up (at least where running races are concerned), and I knew I’d be seeing those same hills later in the race but I’d be headed up instead of down.  We ran down along the water front for a mile or two and then turned and headed back up towards Seattle Center.  The rain had cleared and the sun was actually out.  I was getting overly warm and contemplated tying my coat around my waist but ultimately decided against it since I didn’t feel like stopping.  We ran past Seattle Center and headed north on Aurora all the way up past Mike’s and my house and almost to the zoo.  When we got close to the turnaround point to start heading back south to Seattle it started to rain again all of a sudden.  When we turned south, I realized that there was a strong south wind that I hadn’t noticed before because it had been at my back but now it was in my face in full force.  At least it was mostly downhill headed back to Seattle!  After about half a mile of running south, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain.  I tried to check the time on my running watch, but it was raining so hard that I couldn’t wipe the water off of my watch fast enough to see the time (while running anyway).  At that point I was committed.  I was already soaked so I had nothing left to worry about.  I tore back down Aurora, looking forward to seeing Seattle Center, a finish line, and a warm building (not necessarily in that order).  The rain finally let off a few miles later, and I ran the final couple of miles in only a sprinkling, misty rain.  Since I was already soaked, though, it almost didn’t matter whether it kept raining hard or not.  At some point your clothes physically aren’t going to absorb any more water.  When I finally hit the place where we turned west to go to Seattle Center I tried to kick up my pace a notch and was surprised that my body didn’t want to go any faster.  Maybe I had been running faster than I’d realized given that I didn’t have anything extra left to give at the end?  I managed to keep up my pace through the last quarter mile, but I definitely wasn’t able to speed up at all.  The finish line (with the big warm auditorium behind it) was a welcome sight, and I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:18:12 and an average pace of 8:24 min/mile.  Definitely better than I was expecting, especially given the weather and the hills.  Or maybe the weather actually helped, because I was motivated to get the race finished.  😉

The same weekend of the race, Mike did a lot of landscaping work.  He pulled weeds in the front and along the side of our townhome and then laid down “beauty bark” which is apparently something that helps prevent weeds from growing in the future, although I’m a little unclear how that works.  I did lots of cooking while he did that.  I have been getting bored of cooking variations on the same things, so I made up some different dishes this week.

I started with smoky chicken with crispy chickpeas, and then made an eggplant coconut curry and a maple chicken with roasted squash.  Everything turned out surprisingly good.  I am loving Clean Eating magazine and am now getting my recipes almost exclusively from there.

Despite all my cooking, Mike and I felt like going out to dinner one night a couple weeks ago, so we went to a Taco Bar that was only a few blocks from our house but somehow we had never been there.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I have literally never had tacos that good in my entire life.  I had the black bean sweet potato tacos and they were phenomenal.  They took tacos to an entirely new level.  I was already contemplating how soon we could return as we left.  Afterwards we went to a whiskey bar conveniently located only a block from the taco bar.  I enjoyed some scotch while Mike opted for Old Fashioned’s.  It was all entirely too good.  And it being only a four minute walk from our house?  Amazing!  How are we somehow blessed enough to live close enough to all of this stuff??  Then we came back to our house and started watching an episode of Suits, a law show that we’ve been watching off-and-on, but we were too tired to finish it.

I have been in a ‘second cat’ mood these days, so much so that I got Mike to go with me to the Seattle Humane Society last weekend to look at cats.  However, I had already poured over all the available cats on their website prior to going, so I already had one specific one that I wanted to see.  Unfortunately he wasn’t actually at the Humane Society… he was at a Petsmart in Issaquah to get more exposure.  Darn.  Again, Mike tried to be appropriately sad for me even though he doesn’t want to get another cat.  He even offered to go to the Petsmart with me to see the cat, but I declined.  Issaqah is a ways away and it was a pretty rainy day.  And I didn’t feel like I was actually going to get a cat that day so it would have been a rather futile effort.

My music choices have been beyond bizarre lately.  I’ve been alternating between old Celtic folk music, 90’s rock/alternative, modern rap, and he new Chris Cornell album (because I think Chris Cornell basically deserves his own genre).

This past week, Mike’s parents were here visiting from Michigan!  What a treat!  We got to hang out with them and with Mike’s sister Catherine and her two daughters over the weekend.  It was a whirlwind weekend that started with a ferry ride to Whidbey Island followed by a little shopping and a long drive to Deception Pass.  We were attempting to get there before dark and didn’t really manage that.  However, it was surprisingly gorgeous at night, especially with the full moon overhead illuminating the gorge and water below the bridge.  So that actually worked out well.  We ended up getting back down to Everett late, and Mike and I went out to dinner with his parents at an Irish pub close to their hotel (really about the only place we could find that was still open at 11pm).  The food there was good, though, so it turned out to be a good choice!  The next day we went on an abbreviated trip to the zoo.  I say ‘abbreviated’ because we didn’t really get to the zoo very early, so we skipped parts of the zoo and just focused on the animals that the kids especially wanted to see.  It was a nice day for walking around the zoo regardless, though, and we enjoyed it!  The following day was filled with some shopping and some wine tasting in Woodinville.  We went on a short tour of Chateau St. Michelle and I was impressed with the lineage of their wines and interested to hear about how they create their wines.  It was fun to hang out with everyone for a few days!  Going back to work after such a full weekend to a day packed with back-to-back meetings definitely felt like a change!  But at least the day flew by!

It’s already almost April…. I literally have no idea how that happened!  My goal for April is to post more blog entries.  I’ve really been letting that go lately because it literally feels like I am always 100% busy.  However, it’s important to keep the blog posts coming… I sometimes think  that writing is about the only ‘creative’ outlet I have these days, so it’s definitely important to keep it up!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  And my mom reminded me that Easter Sunday is this weekend.  So Happy Early Easter to everyone!  (How is it already Easter?  It must be here early this year!)

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Life in Seattle, Rain, Running, Seattle, Seattle Restaurants, Visitors

Visitors and iPhone batteries

Mike was busy this evening, and Piper and I had lots of options for fun things to do in his absence.  We considered all of those options, but then decided it would be nice to write a blog post while listening to classical piano music and spending a cozy evening at home.  Because that’s how Piper and I roll.

This has been a crazy few weeks, folks.  Basically a bunch of work got backed up over the holidays (because of deployment lockdowns and lots of people being on vacation and now things have sped back up to warp speed.  I suspect it will be a week or two before things start to settle down.

Last week was very exciting because we got to see Mike’s sister Catherine and her family!  They are staying in Washington (up in Everett) for several months, so hopefully we’ll get to see more of them.  🙂  They came down one night last week to see our house and so that our nieces (aged six and three) could open the Christmas presents Mike and I got for them.  We even kept our tree up an extra week so that we could have the presents under the tree for them when they arrived.  It was so much fun seeing all of them!  And I loved the change to reconnect with our nieces… they are at the ages where they change so fast in between visits!  🙂

A friend of mine’s wife posted a meme on Facebook teasing him about rearranging the dishes that she puts in the dishwasher.  At first I started to laugh.  Like really?  Who reorganizes in the dishwasher?  Who even cares??  And then I realized that I do that when Mike puts dishes in the dishwasher.  I mean, he means well, but he puts them in wrong.  And inefficiently, so that we can’t fit as many dishes in there.  And what’s worse, I was completely oblivious to the fact that I have been rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher for years until I saw that meme and had a minute to think about it.  Scary!  How many other meme-able things am I doing that I don’t even realize??  Is this one of those ‘ignorance is bliss’ instances?

Speaking of dishes, I ran out of mugs (and by ‘ran out’ I just mean that they were all in the dishwasher.  Carefully arranged too, I might add), and I wanted to have some hot tea.  So I really had two choices:

  1. Dig out my set of four big mugs from one of the cupboards
  2. Use a tall water glass instead

I was starting to lean towards option 1 when I realized that I wasn’t even 100% sure where the big mugs were.  Well, that settled it.  I wasn’t going to go through cupboards looking for the big mugs.  A tall water glass it was then.  Mike has an electric hot water heater (What it that thing called?  I know it isn’t called a ‘hot water heater’; that’s the thing that everyone has in their basement that allows them to take long, hot showers.  Some kind of an electric tea kettle or something.).  He uses it to heat up water for his French press coffee, so I used that to heat up water for my tea.  I actually had no idea how much water a tall water glass would hold.  I know our mugs hold 12oz comfortably or 16oz really full.  But who knew how much the water glasses held?  I eyeballed it and filled the little hot water heater with water and turned it on.  And then I looked dubiously at the water glass, suddenly doubtful whether it was meant to hold boiling water.  Well, it was glass, right?  Glass wouldn’t melt like plastic would or anything.  It would probably be fine.  I was trying to remember whether I’d ever microwaved anything glass and, if so, how it had turned out, when the water boiled.  I dubiously poured it into the water glass and was interested to see that the water glass held 24oz.  Mental note to self, should I ever again need to know how much water fits in a standard tall water glass.  I poured the water into the glass, and steam poured out of the top and fogged up the sides of the glass.  Which was fine, I guess, but when I went to pick up the glass it was waaaaay too hot.  So clearly water glasses aren’t designed to be as thermally insulated as coffee mugs.  I had to hold it by the very top edges (which didn’t feel very safe, by the way) to carry it downstairs to the computer where I was typing.  And I had to wait a few more minutes before it was cool enough for me to be able to hold it in my hand without burning myself (why are there no warning labels on water glasses warning that they are not appropriate for hot liquids?  There seem to be warning labels on everything else.).  So clearly, water glasses don’t seem to be optimized for hot liquid.  When I was carrying it, I pictured the temperature differential overcoming the glass and it shattering in my hand.  (I’m sure when I started telling this story, that’s what you thought would happen because in general I am the type of person that sort of thing happens to.  Normally this is true, but not tonight thankfully.)  🙂

I had a little excitement over here tonight.  I was going to go for a run and wear a new Lululemon shirt I just got on sale.  I’m normally a little wary of buying Lululemon stuff on sale, because it’s so good that if it’s on sale there must be something wrong with it, but this seemed like a nice-looking red yoga shirt.  At least it looked nice on the model on the website.  When I tried to put it on there were so many straps and diagonal pieces of material that I wasn’t sure I was putting it on right.  And, in fact, when I got it over my head and struggled into it, I felt a little weird.  I looked in the mirror and saw that I absolutely had it on wrong.  I had gotten the straps right (only because I have some practice with Lululemon tops… I wouldn’t recommend  a beginner try it), but one of the decorative diagonal pieces of fabric was across my back instead of across my chest where it belonged.  It’s a testament to how busy my life has been these days that I actually considered just going for the run like that rather than waste time getting that impossible shirt up and over my head and try getting it on correctly again.  The top looked a little funky, but it covered everything important just as it was.  However, I decided against that because the diagonal piece of fabric already felt really tight across my back and I had the feeling that it would suffocate me when I started breathing harder during the run.  It would be pretty embarrassing to be taken to the ER because your incorrectly-worn shirt had caused you to pass out from lack of oxygen.  Eventually I got the shirt in place correctly (I think?  It still didn’t really look like the one on the model.) and got out for my run.  And that’s why that top was on sale.  I should have known.  The tops that I have bought at full price there last forever and only have two straps so you don’t have to have a degree in running clothes to understand that one goes over each shoulder.  Lesson learned?  Probably not… I can’t resist a sale tag at Lululemon.  😉

Isn’t it life that when you’re trying to get your phone to run out of battery it refuses to, but when you’re sitting there hoping the battery lasts just a little bit longer it dies?  It’s supposed to be good to fully discharge your phone battery periodically.  Mike says that helps the software ‘learn’ what fully empty is so that the percentage of battery life it shows you is more accurate.  So after my run today when I saw that my battery life was down in the single digits I decided I’d run the battery fully out and then recharge it fully.  Well, easier said than done.  I’ve started every processor-intensive app on the phone.  I’ve turned on location services, bluetooth, and wifi.  When it still refused to run out of battery, I tried to tell  google maps to calculate a route from my house to Antarctica (that ought to get the processor going, right?), but google maps is smart and came back right away saying there were no known routes.  So instead I settled on Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins in Florida (no, I have no idea what this is, but I already had Antarctica typed into my phone, and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins was one of the options.)  Google maps did come up with a route to get me to Empire of the Penguins, FL, but warned me that the route required tolls.  Given that the route was 3,000+ miles I would be surprised if there weren’t a few tolls in there somewhere.  And still, the phone has been stuck at 1% for the past half hour.  Clearly I’m doing something wrong.  Maybe in some odd, inverted law of physics, the more work you have the processor doing the more efficient it can be with power consumption.  Although that might interfere with the law of the conservation of energy.  Oh well.  Never mind.  I turned the screen brightness up all the way and have it sitting beside me so if it tries to turn the screen off to save power I’ll be here to stop it and make sure that screen keeps glowing.

You’re probably wondering how Piper is doing because I hardly ever talk about my cat.  😉  She is feeling much, much better!  She still has two weeks of antibiotic injections left, but she and I have fallen into a rhythm with those, so it’s not so bad.  First thing in the morning, and then first thing when I get home from work.  I remember when I first started doing this, the vet told me that it’s typically easier to give a cat an injection than to give them a pill, and I remember wondering what he was smoking to think that.  But now, as surprised as I am to say it, I actually agree.  As long as it’s a small needle, I’m to the point with my ‘technique’ now where Piper barely seems to even register the poke.  And only two weeks left!  Very exciting!  What will I do with all of my free time after I don’t have to prep antibiotics and give injections?  Probably learn a foreign language or knit an afghan or something equally big and dramatic.  Or cook.  I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of cooking lately, but that will have to wait for the next blog post because the battery on my phone finally died, and now I’m going to go start it charging again.  🙂

I hope everyone is having a good week and is not experiencing too much snow!  Unless you’re a skier, in which case I hope you have all the powdery, dry snow your heart desires.  🙂

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Filed under Cats, Christmas, Family, Life in Seattle, Random Thoughts, Running

Happy 3rd Anniversary to Us!

Mike and I have had a really busy December… I mean a really, really busy December.  With Mike’s long hours the past week or so, I haven’t been doing much cooking so all my careful weekly food prep is kind of out the window right now.  (Hopefully I’ll get back on board after the holidays… it can be one of my New Year’s resolutions.  Which reminds me… I should look back to last year’s resolutions and see if I got anywhere with them!)

Anyway, Mike has been working a lot, and I have spent my evenings shuttling Piper around to the vet, giving her meds, running errands, etc.  It’s all good, but Mike and I will both be glad of a little time off over Christmas and New Years!

Fortunately, we both took time to celebrate our third wedding anniversary.  I feel like it should actually be our 10th anniversary instead of our third since we’ve actually been together over 10 years, but oh well.  We’ll go with three.  Three is a good number.

I made plans to go to a live show and dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse downtown.  I have co-workers from Brazil, so I have discovered the entity that is the ‘Brazilian Steakhouse’.  I even bought a Groupon for it (yay Groupon!), so it was much cheaper than it would have normally been.  We got there, and the interior was just beautiful!  Dimly lit, dark wood… very lovely!  We had a very relaxing time hanging out, listening to their live Brazilian music, and making multiple trips to their super amazing all-you-can-eat salad bar.  I came back from my first trip to the salad bar with a hugely overloaded plate full of exotic olives, sliced veggies, roasted veggies, pickled veggies, and a few odds and ends like roasted mushroom salad (SOOOO good!  And I don’t even like mushrooms!) and quinoa salad.  Mike’s eyes shot up when he saw how full my plate was.

Mine is the plate on the right. ;)

Mine is the plate on the right. 😉

“Are you going to be able to eat all that??” he asked.

“Ha!” I said.  “You’ve actually been with me for ten years without knowing the copious amounts of vegetables I’m able to eat?”

I not only ate that whole plate but I went back for another similarly-sized one.  Mike shook his head while he attacked our meat platter.

Lots of different types of meat

Lots of different types of meat

 

Suffice it to say we both left absolutely stuffed!  Great food, great atmosphere, great company!  Here’s to three years and hopefully many more!

Mike relaxing

Mike relaxing

It has been raining cats and dogs out here.  And I don’t mean typical Seattle rain… I mean, rain pouring from the sky, rivers flowing down the street kind of rain.  Every time I mention to Mike how much it is raining, he says, “Well, our plants are probably happy.”  This is the difference in perspective when you become a home owner, I guess!

Seattle rain and fog. This is what we're known for. This and coffee.

Seattle rain and fog. This is what we’re known for. This and coffee.

On Tuesday I took my CPR refresher class after work.  It’s probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve taken the class, so you wouldn’t think there would ever be any new info in them, but surprisingly each instructor has a different background and a different take on the info so I always find that the time goes by really fast and I always pick up some useful nuggets of information.  One of Tuesday’s nuggets: if you are alone and encounter a person who needs CPR, you should first call 9-1-1 and then start CPR if the person is an adult; you should do two minutes of CPR and then call 9-1-1 if the person is a child.  Interesting.  Also of interest: King County (Seattle) has the highest rate of survival for cardiac arrest in the world.  I seem to remember hearing that in my last CPR class, too, so maybe it’s been at the top of the list for the past two years?  Not sure on that one!  Last item (potentially) of interest: My bottom hand when doing CPR was really sore the next day and felt bruised.  Maybe I’m a little bit too enthusiastic in my CPR?  Anyway, now I’m all renewed for my personal trainer cert for the next two years.

I went to Piper’s vet one evening after work last week to get a refresher course in giving antibiotic injections since guess who is not responding to the current antibiotic?  If you guessed Piper, you’re wrong.  It’s the bacteria in Piper’s bladder.  Apparently those bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic pill that’s been working so well for us for the past couple of years.  Don’t use antibacterial soap, folks.  This is what it leads to: resistant bacteria.  Maybe if Piper wasn’t always washing her paws with antibacterial soap…

Anyway, we’ll see how well twice daily injections go over with Piper.  And with me!  We have fallen into a good rhythm with the subcutaneous fluids that I give her every other day.  That just feels a lot less often than the twice a day antibiotics I’m now giving her.  It feels like I’m always calculating when 12 hours has passed and it’s time to give her another injection.  But onward and upward, right?  That’s Piper’s feeling.

We had stuff spread out on the table here, and she was very interested!

We had stuff spread out on the table here, and she was very interested!

Mike and I did some Christmas shopping for our nieces last weekend and ended up at Toys ‘R’ Us.  Holy cow!  That store is crazy!  Has it always been that giant and that crowded??  Somehow as a kid the only time I remember being there was when I got a new bike and I really only remember the bike aisle.  But there seemed to be just millions and millions of toys.  One of our nieces likes the Elves and Friends lego sets.  I totally do too, although I don’t own any!  Cora, you and I should hang out and play legos!!  🙂  I am not too old for that!  😉

Last weekend I went for a run  at 4:30pm, which at this time of year in Seattle might as well be midnight.

This is 4:30pm! How is that even possible??

This is 4:30pm! How is that even possible??

 

Love this bridge at night! (Or, you know, 4:30pm)

Love this bridge at night! (Or, you know, 4:30pm)

 

I had heard of the movie Love Actually multiple times through the years as a good, British Christmas movie, but had never watched it.  Well, I decided this was the year to see it!  Piper and I watched it while Mike was working late, and it was so good!  At least I liked it.  Lots of different, heart-warming stories going on, some happy and some sad.  So good!  Warning if you decide to watch it: I cried through the last twenty minutes and I’m not typically a movie crier.  But there’s only so many heart-warming love stories I can withstand at one time, and this movie has like fifteen.  I made Mike watch it with me later (and he agreed only if he could drink a beer while watching).  I again cried through the last twenty minutes (even though I completely knew what was coming this time) and Mike didn’t cry at all, shrugged at the end, and said they were nice enough stories.  We are going to see the special Christmas release of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie Hateful Eight on Christmas Eve, and I strongly suspect that will be much more Mike’s speed that Love Actually.  🙂

Our Christmas Day plans are still undecided, which at this point probably means we don’t have any.  Which is fine!  We’ll both have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, so that makes for a four-day weekend.  I should probably get my cooking in gear enough to at least make a nice meal even if it’s not the over-the-top traditional Christmas meal.  I asked Mike if he wanted to order the pre-cooked meal from the local grocery store this year, but he said that a whole turkey is always so much food.  Which it is.  And that we’ll end up wasting most of it.  Which we will.  And that we’ll forget to freeze the turkey before it goes bad.  Which we always do.  So I think we’ll go for something smaller and less traditional this year, but I haven’t decided what yet.  Maybe something Mexican?  Quesadillas maybe??

Piper has decided that she likes the Christmas tree, so it turns out that our little Halloween cat is also a Christmas cat!

Halloween Christmas Cat!

Halloween Christmas Cat!

 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!  (Because sadly as busy as things have been with Mike’s work and with Piper’s health the past couple months I haven’t gotten any Christmas cards out at all).  So a blog ‘Merry Christmas’ callout to friends and loved ones may be the closest we get this year!

One of our neighbors came over and dropped off a plate of Christmas cookies one day this week… all different flavors and types… just the kind of plate my mom would make up (although no frosted cut-out cookies… Mom, you’re still the only person I know hard-core enough to make those!)   I am so full of admiration… both of them work full time…. where do they find the time to make a big variety of Christmas cookies?  Clearly I need some lessons in time management!

Anyway, Merry Christmas again, from the west coast Danenberg household!  Sending lots of love for a wonderful 2016!  🙂

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Christmas, Food, Holidays, Life in Seattle, Pictures, Rain, Running, Seattle, Seattle Restaurants, Weather, Winter