Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Day Out in the Wild

This past Friday, Greg and the girls went to the Museum of Natural History. Growing up, one of my best skills was being able to impersonate farm animals. Obviously, this skill transferred to my oldest. While there, Megan, my very own Dr. Dolittle, talked to the turkey...and best of all, the turkey talked back! Watch this little video captured by Greg!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The 7th turkey trot was a smashing success for this family. Best of all, we all crossed the finish line together! We saw some creative costumes - our favorites were the gorilla chasing the banana, the two ODOT orange barrels, someone dressed like Will Ferrell in Elf, lots of pilgrims and indians, bumble bee, a chicken, someone dressed like a cranberry sauce with even the nutritional information on the costume, and Bridget loved the sparkle turkey! Afterwards, we stopped at Erie Island Coffee Company on East 4th. Great coffee with breakfast paninis. Wonderful morning - now it's time to put the turkey in the oven and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Trot Time: Are You Registered?

It's that time of the year again! Time to eat turkey, enjoy the carbs and load up on desserts. What better way to mitigate the damage than to sign up for a Thanksgiving Day run. Our tradition in this household is to run the Hermes Cleveland Turkey Trot. Since moving here in 2003, I have not missed a T-Day race. Thursday's race will mark my 7th year of running! Some years I've tackled the 5-miler, and while pregnant with Bridget in 2006, I ran the 1-mile family fun run. Last year all four of us participated and Megan even got her picture taken with the Couch Potatoes Running Group. It was great fun! Now, we all know that a one mile run is NOT going to offset having two different potatoes and a dessert being served, but it's quality (and healthy) time with my family. So this year, I will be thankful that Greg, Meg and B indulge their mom with a morning run. So what are you waiting for? Get registered!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bodega Bay: Russian River Valley and Sonoma

What a wonderful way to start the morning. Long run completed and now I could relax, sit back, enjoy the drive to wine country.

Headed out to Bodega Bay. Scenic drive. Great place. Our room was incredible. My expectations were more than exceeded as soon as I saw the view from our room (cathedral ceiling, fireplace, small deck). First thing Greg did, of course, was read all the maps. We laid there together watching the sun set from our great view of the bay, took a short nap, then went to the wine and cheese reception where we enjoyed a Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir from Salmon Creek. Surprisingly good.

Decided to go into Occidental to Barley & Hops for dinner and drinks. The ride had me laughing the whole way! Pitch dark with little road markings as we navigated our boat - the grand marquis! What we did see were the following signs: curvy road ahead, trucks entering road, deer crossing, falling rocks, rough road ahead, and "bump". People passed us and Greg kept me laughing with, "Well, they probably think they're passing grandma and grandpa in this car!" The place was well worth it. The draft beer list was rock solid. Greg had the Death and Taxes and I had a Liberty Ale. We tried their special hot fries which were sooooo hot that we had ranch sauce and ketchup and they still hurt! I ordered spicy navy beans over polenta, which I will try to replicate as soon as I get home! Mmmmmmm! Some girl named Jen-something was playing the guitar ala Lillith Fair - one of her songs called "Vineyard Blues" can be found on you-tube. She was actually pretty good. The drive back was fortunately uneventful - no deer or elk! Great two days so far!

Saturday morning was a nice lazy morning, taking our time, then heading out for coffee. Found a little nook called Roadhouse Coffee for bagels and coffee. This little dive had the Talking Heads blaring when we walked in. I turned to Greg and said this must be the place (get it?). To me this was kismet because I was reading Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne (and I just love Talking Heads). Great vibe and even better coffee. Finding the unusual when you're just winging the day is simply the best!

The drive along Highway 116 was beautiful. The coastal skyline was incredible. We pulled over at several locations just to take in the beautiful scenery. As we got closer to Korbel we passed through little areas surrounded by redwoods. We were truly enveloped by these massive trees and greenery. An amazing beauty to be a part of.

First stop was Korbel on our little day trip adventure. Two bottles of Brut Rose later and we were on our way to the next stop. Next up was Joseph Swan. We bought a bottle of their 2005 Zinfandel, but wasn't terribly impressed overall. The best was next. We visited Harvest Moon. I chose this one because I love the Neil Young song and almost chose it as our wedding dance song (it was in the running with This Must be the Place/Naive Melody by Talking Heads and Come Away with Me by Norah Jones. Norah won.). This winery was a delightful surprise. We bought 6 bottles of wine as well as a bottle of their dragonfly olive oil and joined their wine club. The girl who took care of us was knowledgeable, had a wonderful disposition and voice and their wine was sooooo smooth. We loved them instantly. And they had a chocolate lab. I tell you...the day was full of amazing moments like this.

On to Hook & Ladder. Merlot and 2 Zinfandels are being shipped. Neat little boutique winery. Wine was average, but the day was anything but average.

Lunch at Corks restaurant at Russian River Valley. French onion soup and salad. Impressed and it was nice to sit down and relax (translation: kick our buzz with some water and food!).

On to Iron Horse. Greg and I both giggled through our first sample because we were so not into this place and we could read it on each other's faces! They had a big tour going on and we just were like cattle bellying up to the bar. We purchased a bottle to make up for our sample "fee" and headed out as quickly as possible.

Next was Cahill Winery to sample their port. This was a little mom and pop kind of winery with two german short-haired pointers named Daisy and Duke (I grew up with these as a kid). Greg was reluctant to go in as we pulled into their gravel parking lot, but Eddie Vedder came on and I said this had to be fate (he loves loves loves Pearl Jam). We sampled a really good tawny port and, you guessed it, we're having 6 bottles shipped. Plus, we tried a surprisingly good vinegar that they said would go well on ice cream or fresh fruit. Huh? Are you kidding me? We sampled it. And we bought a bottle. Damn, it was that good.

At this point, we hit Mom's Apple Pies to try the much-raved about place in all the Bodega Bay literature. Yep, it really is that good! Super soft apples drenched in cinnamon and nutmeg gooeyness and a crust that screamed watch your cholesterol! Wow!

On our drive back in the good ole grand marquis, we decided to stop at this little dump of a house that we saw last night outside of Occidental that had a Casino sign hanging prominently outside. We walked in, saw 2 pool tables, and a long bar. Decided to grab a pint (no more wine!) while there and started chatting up the bartender Greg, who also was the owner. Turns out Greg bought the place from the Casino family (pronounced Kass-i-no). Ahhh yes, that explains the Casino sign outside! We met Matt the chef and decided this would be our dinner spot. It was just too funny to go anywhere else.

Back to the Lodge to relax, which was such a luxury to do. Up bright and early to pack and get on the road. We made one last stop Sunday morning before heading out to Doran Beach to gather sand dollars to bring back to the girls (which was highlighted in our book), but all we got was incredibly wet. We didn't find sand dollars, but we did see some very strange marine life. Pretty sure the stuff was dead, but we sure did keep our eye on it as we ran back to the car!

Great trip - with plenty of memories!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

San Francisco: Shopping, Eating, Running

Thursday in SF-where do I begin?  I know. I begin with Greg picking me up at the airport in the Grand Marquis, because it was the only rental car available with GPS. It looked like a white cop car. I greeted him with "be nice to me. I'm weepy" because I was already missing Megan and Bridget.  We caught a quick lunch at the Thirsty Bear - organic beer and spanish tapas. Wow! Awesome (and unusual) place. We soon departed so he could go back to the conference and I did a little shopping a union square. As luck would have it, I found the Coach purse I've been stalking for $100 off at Macy's. Cool beans!  After that, I went in and out of some high end shops like Nieman Marcus, Barneys and Saks, but just wasn't feeling the whole commercial atmosphere so I grabbed a coffee, bought the December Martha Stewart, headed back to the hotel, threw off my shoes, snuggled under the amazingly soft comforter and watched a re-run of Bones. Great afternoon if you ask me!

Later we headed to a hospitality suite sponsored by at E&O Trading Company. Perhaps the best apps I've had at a party. Afterwards, we ventured into Chinatown for some pretty darn good Chinese. 

Friday - got up and had a fantastic breakfast at Dottie's, a little gem a few blocks around the corner from our hotel. Greg had the Open Road special which included 2 ginger & cinnamon pancakes, 4 pieces of bacon, home fries and 2 overeasy eggs and juice.  I had an omellete with spinach, their special dill bread, and home fries and kick ass coffee. Great service, small intimate restaurant with like 10 tables. Would highly recommend. Did I emphasize highly recommend? Seriously go there. 

Greg went to his Salesforce conference and then I went on a run which turned out to be 11 miles, give or take. I started out at Union Square down Post Street on to Market until I reached the Embarcadero.  Headed toward Fisherman's Wharf then turned onto Taylor, Stockton and back to Post. What a run! About 7.5 miles for this "lap" and since I felt so good I ended up going back to the Embarcadero until I reached the famed Lombard Street.

Fisherman's Wharf - as you can see they were decorating it for Christmas!

Great view along the Embarcadero - wonderful day in the 50s with a nice wind!

Finishing up where Chinatown and Union Square meet - AND it was right outside of Lululemon. So that's my slideshow of "Where in the World is Robin" :)

Tackled a bunch of hills which caused me to pause then headed back to Union Square for a little side trip to Lululemon, my absolute favorite women's athletic store. I bought the most adorable ski hat, which couldn't have been a more perfect purchase considering the DOWNPOUR that greeted me outside the store. Thank goodness the hotel was just 3 blocks away...and I would soon be taking a hot, relaxing shower. I no sooner got the hotel room when I heard the door open and it was a sopping wet husband! Turns out his route back to the hotel was in the same (drenching) conditions as mine. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today Just Felt Right

Today was a scheduled long run. On the agenda was a 10-miler and the ENTIRE run felt like it should. I ran with puppy the entire distance (he's still in bed recovering as I write this) and it was great spending time in the metroparks. Husband met me on his mountain bike around 7 miles into the run which was so nice to have someone to chat with during the final stretch. Puppy is great and all, but he is a bit silent, if you know what I mean. Nothing hurt. My quads weren't screaming. My calf was fine. I can't describe it, but the run felt right.

On another note, I am keeping my promise to myself. I've enjoyed my lunchtime swims. Bridget and I have been doing mini yoga sessions. Food choices have improved dramatically this week, plus I've enjoyed prepping the meals ahead of time. I look forward to keeping on track. I so love structure.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Reason to Check Off Another State

Husband just shared with me that I am "this" close to reaching silver elite status on our preferred airline. "This" close equates to about 2,000 miles. I have no choice - I gotta sign up for another state. Plus, it could provide me with redemption from my lousy Maine half performance. It's amazing how excited I am about squeezing in another race. I mean, come on, who doesn't like standing in the short, preferred line through security and getting to select seats near the front of the plane versus the next to the johns? The choice is easy-a December race it is!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Post Race Musings

So I was pretty bummed about how my body didn't make it through 13.1 miles and I realized it was a culmination of things. One, I had gotten injured sidelining my running. However, I could have found alternative ways to maintain my conditioning such as swimming or cycling and strength training but I didn't. Two, I worked too many hours at the office due to a major new project as well as worked through my lunch hour. When I trained for portland, I did it during lunch and loved it. Third, I wasn't eating properly. I had let the October halloween/all-you-can-eat candy and junk month get the best of me.

So I took the first steps to address this. I'm not working through lunch anymore. It doesn't score me any points and I'm the only one who suffers. I signed up to start noontime swimming and I already swam during my Tuesday lunch. It really was as good as I remembered it to be.

I brought soup for lunch and felt full all afternoon. For snacks, I brought almonds and a banana. I also bought apples, oranges and bananas at the grocery store and will cook more in the crockpot so that I have healthy leftovers.

I will run at least twice each week and will just alternate during lunch with the swimming. I will not neglect my long run. I will ice as prevention instead of waiting till I'm hobbling. Lastly, I will do at least 2-20 minute yoga sessions to keep my mind sharp and body limber.

I'm on the waiting list for a January trail run here in Cleveland. If I don't make the cut, then at least I'll be ready for the Cowtown race in Dallas in February with my husband. Might be a good excuse for another adults-only trip!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Race Report: 2009 Harvard Pilgrim Maine Coast Half Marathon

First, this was by far the most beautiful, scenic course I have had the pleasure of running. York, Maine is a quintessential New England town filled with a rugged coastline, breathtaking views of the ocean, and even a lighthouse. I'm very happy with my choice to select this race to check off Maine from my 50 states list. For anyone who is counting, Maine is our 20th state!

The course began at the unassuming York High School. We quickly exited out of the parking lot, after a short speech by Kathrine Switzer, ran a short street before making our way onto Long Sands. The road opens up to this majestic scenery along the ocean that is awe-inspiring. I felt like I could run forever surrounded by this beauty. Around mile 9 my legs would send my brain an entirely different message! Our first loop circled around Long Beach, Weber, Ridge, then depositing us back onto Long Beach Avenue.

From Long Beach (mile 3) , we had a clear view of Nubble Lighthouse. It looked so far away, but was only a couple miles. We ran along the shoreline, past beautiful cedar shake homes. When we reached Ocean Avenue Extension, we were high above the shore but the views continued amazing me. When we finished the second "loop" we had completed nearly 8 miles. At around mile 7ish I actually (and foolishly might I add) thought that I might PR because I was a few minutes faster than I normally am at that point in a race.

The third and final stretch continued along Long Beach Avenue while going in and out of a few neighborhood streets. It was at this point that I really felt the inadequacy of my training. At mile 9 I coated my left calf with biofreeze. At mile 10 I coated both my lower quads right above the knee (damn throbbing pain). At mile 11 I reapplied the left calf, although at this point my sample packet of biofreeze was severely dwindled. I walked most of the last mile to mile and a half, and was grateful to have made it across the finish line. When I saw Megan about 100 yards before the finish I was almost in tears telling her I needed rubbed down stat! She's definitely my kid because she snapped at me saying, "get your ass across that finish line because you only have 100 yards. We can talk later!". That's what I needed so I trotted across the finish and heard Kathrine Switzer announce my name.

My only real criticism of the race is that they had too few water stops and had Gatorade offered only at mile 11. Unfortunately, one water stop rampur of water and the mile 11 stop ran put of Gatorade. I liked the family atmosphere because Bridgetgot her face painted and a clown made her a balloon in the shape of a dog. However, damn, if I didn't miss my post-race beer!

Final pathetic stats:
finish time 2:45:24 or 12:37/mile
yep, even the turtle passed me!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Night Before the Maine Half Marathon

Saturday morning began with a wonderful breakfast spot called Popovers where we had great coffee and even better breakfast sandwiches. Afterwards, we checked out the local Farmer's Market at the City Hall in Portsmouth, NH. Bridget got her apple, Meg got fresh baked cinnamon donuts, and I picked out (what I hope to be) a good batch of granola. When we left the Farmer's Market, Bridget spied a neat little playground so we gave her some swing/slide time. Turned out Meg and I enjoyed a little teeter-totter time as well!

The expo for the Maine Harvard Pilgrim Half Marathon will go down as one of the bests. The expo was held in the gymnasium of the York High School and my husband and I both commented on how the smell of a high school gym is like no other and sure brings you back! But best of all, I got to meet Kathrine Switzer!!!! She signed my copy of Marathon Woman, chatted with both Greg and I as if we were the only people around, asked us questions about our racing, and was overall just a fantastic person. Even better, she agreed to a photo with me! Oh yeah, this will be hanging in my office!

Am I ready for this? I dunno. I know I can finish this distance, I've done it about a dozen times now, but timewise I'm not sure what to shoot for. McMillan calculator has predicted a 2:39 finish, but McMillan doesn't know about my calf strain that sidelined me from training. McMillan also doesn't know that 8 miles (last week as a matter of fact) was my LONGEST run. In a way, I hope that calculation is correct; but a part of me sure as hell hopes it is wrong! Fingers crossed...

Happy 16th Birthday, Pumpkin!

We spent Meg's sweet 16 with a great breakfast, little side trip to Harvard which included a Harvard crimson sweatshirt and a chocolate decadence cake at Finale, then a wonderful hotel room in New Hampshire.

Birthday dinner had to be special and it sure was! We dined at Warren's Lobster House in Kittery, Maine so Meg could have real Maine lobster. This place rocks! I'm not even sure I could do it justice by describing our dining experience because we all had a great meal, the service was spot on, and they even sang happy birthday to Meg when they delivered her "ice scream bomb" to her! The sweetest moment was when Bridget softly sang happy birthday to Meg privately while Meg was eating the dessert. Warren's also gives each patron a little key to see if they can open up the treasure chest. Nope, none of us had the lucky key! Back to the hotel to watch Bolt on DVD. A great day for my little pumpkin!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Boston - And So the Trip Begins

Early morning flight to Boston. Stayed at the Nine Zero, a Kimpton hotel. Ever since we stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Westwood on Wilshire Blvd. earlier this year, we've become loyal customers. We have stayed at a Kimpton in LA, Portland OR, Chicagoand now Boston and each location has not disappointed. The Boston location was perfect. Husband quickly departed for a print conference while us girlies spent a wonderful afternoon at the New England Aquarium. The penguin exhibit was fantastic and The IMAX movie Under the Sea 3D was incredible. We girls enjoyed lunch at the Aquarium's cafe before spending a little quality time on Newbury Street.

Too many shops on Newbury Street, but I can always count on Zara's to lighten my wallet. I wish I could remember the coffee shop, but Megan and I will definitely always remember the great scent and flavor of our coffee! For dinner we hit up the North End for the BEST lobster roll at Neptune's Oyster. No trip to the North End is complete with a visit to Mike's Pastries...mmm!

After a good night's rest, we woke up to wish Meg a happy 16th birthday! Greg found this great little breakfast spot on Charles Street where we had some kick ass coffee. A short detour through the cemetary then off to Cambridge for a little Harvard diversion. Cambridge is a quaint town, but after seeing the campus I can now understand why some people refer to Ohio University as the Harvard on the Hocking. Now off to Portsmouth, NH.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Song List Project

I gave my daughter the challenging project of putting together a running playlist of songs to motivate me for my weekend race. I figured it would be neat to hear what she thinks I like as well as what she considers motivational for a 2+ hour race. And yes, I already vetoed anything by Miley Cyrus - not a fan. But this new assignment got me thinking about stupid things like how many song have "run" or "running" in the song title. Below are a few of my favorites from my short web search:

Tom Petty - Running Down a Dream
Bon Jovi - Runaway
Flock of Seagulls - I Ran (So Far Away)
Run to You - Bryan Adams
Run - New Order
Running with the Night - Lionel Richie

It's ridiculous how much time I could waste perusing songs. So what's your favorite "running" song?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Two Wonderful Autumn Weekends in a Row

What amazing weather in Northern Ohio! Friday, we walked to pick up our pasta dinner and it was pure bliss to be able to squeeze in a to-go dinnertime walk. Saturday was my long run where for 8 miles I was fortunate enough to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage that the Metroparks offered. I've said it before but rustling leaves is simply a wonderful sound! Sunday was an early morning trail hike with husband and puppy. I don't know who was happier - me or puppy! One week till race day. Due to an injury sidelining my training there probably won't be a PR. But who knows...I can still hope and keep my fingers crossed! Stay tuned.