travel

Wish I was still in Hawaii!

I almost just stayed in the Hawaiian Airlines VIP lounge (thanks Pops!) at the Honolulu airport and just skipped getting on the plane back to California.  I mean, I had already warned my co-workers that I would not be a happy camper when I came back, so to just prepare for it. And as I was heading for the elevator on my last day of work, he yelled “you are coming back, aren’t you?” So at least he kind of knew it was a possibility, right?:)

This trip was months in the making. Back in February, I was having a FaceTime conversation with a friend. This is no ordinary friend. I’ve known his family (parents and all 5 siblings) since my 1st year of high school.  He’s a year older than me, and one of his sisters a year younger than me. We were all in choir together, and his parents were super awesome and always helped out. Music is a huge part of their family, so everyone was involved. Even the youngest 3 kids, and they didn’t even go to our school.  During our junior year choir competition trip to San Diego, I got really sick and got a super comfy ride in their RV (instead of the smelly bus).  I even went to prom with them, and the oldest son was my prom date. Then right after I graduated from high school, they moved to Florida.  SUPER SAD. A few years later, the parents and 3 of the kids moved to Wisconsin, with the oldest staying behind in Florida.  Then a couple years later, shortly after I had graduated from college and was still in San Diego, the family moved to southern CA. THE WHOLE FAMILY! 2 parents, 5 kids, 2 spouses, 2 babies and 2 dogs. I was ecstatic.

I drove up any free weekend I had, and they were the best weekends ever. Music, family, food, singing, ukelele and guitar playing, pool lounging, more singing and uke playing and just love love love all around.  I was like a member of their family, and they all treated me that way. Then last July, I quit my job (hoorah!), but that meant moving back to northern CA.  Shortly after I moved, they got set to move once again (all job relocations) to Las Vegas. 2 parents, 3 kids, 1 spouse, 1 toddler and 2 dogs. One of the kids moved to Long Island, and one trekked her way to Sydney, Australia. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be! They were supposed to all be together forever! THANK GOD FOR TECHNOLOGY!!! Through phone calls, text messages, iMessage, Facebook, Instagram and FaceTime, it could feel like we were still closeby, even if there was a 16 hour time difference.

Back to that FaceTime convo earlier this year:) I was talking to Scott (oldest son) about life and what was going on with everyone, and then I hear someone coming down the stairs (out of shot) and say “Hey! What are you doing in August?” (it was their dad). When I said I had NO idea since I was still job hunting, he said “you’re coming with us to Hawaii in August.”  I never thought it would actually happen (since I was jobless and all), but after booking my flight in June, I told him not to make a promise he can’t keep because I was all set! I anxiously awaited the next two months until we could all be reunited in Oahu for their family reunion (told ya I’m one of them!)

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This is what greeted me 🙂 After a million giant, excited hugs at the airport, we headed to where we were staying in Waianae… literally ON THE BEACH.

Since you got a super lengthy back story, I’ll try to keep the rest mostly amazing pictures.

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best hugs EVER!

Followed by…

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… super awesome photo bombs :)

They were there for 2 weeks (and Sarai was there for a whole month while her Australian visa was being sorted with work!) for a family reunion and to celebrate one of the babies turning 1 (HUGE deal in Hawaii. TONS of family and friends and food and fun).  I missed the party since I was there for the 2nd week (bummer).

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The most adorable family ever!

They took pictures with the 5 siblings with the beach in the background – they came out so great! And then family photos with various poses: mom with her sons, pops with his 2 girls, mom and pops with their kids, mom and pops with their grandbabies, etc.

They also provided me (ok, it wasn’t for me specifically) with entertainment that night. Since their uncle (lives there) hasn’t seen them since they were younger, and he was the person who organized everything, they decided to thank him by dancing for him.  He got the front and center chair, the music (recording) was playing from the car, and the kids went out an ddanced a few traditional dances. Then pops got out his ukelele, and the 1 oldest boys grabbed a uke and guitar and set up on the side.  Pops sang and played the uke, the boys strummed their instruments, mom called out the next move and the kids danced. It always brings so much joy to my heart and soul when I watch this happen.

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We woke up to the scene on the left (at 7am), and decided to go for a run on the beach. I haven’t done a beach run (or any run for that matter) in SO long, and I could tell. It was rough.

And one day was spent at the North Shore for some hot (burn your skin off haha) beach action, sea turtle scoping and beautiful scenery watching.

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Breathtaking ocean views … from $22 million houses haha

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This lazy bum was hanging out on some reef and rocks, searching for some lunch. Out of respect, you don’t touch them, so we got close and stared. Hard.

Also, thanks to Under Armour Women and their What’s Beautiful campaign partnership with Fitfluential for the sweet tank top that got me through a lot of this Hawaii trip (also doubles as a pj top and travel top!)

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His cousin was a little further down, taking a midday siesta.

And the obligatory back-to-the-camera-observing-the-beautiful-views photo:

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… I also saw another photo from that same day where I look like I’m about 5 months pregnant with an alien baby. Now I know it was a semi-awkward angle, but I also know that I’ve gained almost 20 pounds in the last 10 years, I’m 8 pounds heavier than I was when I graduated college 5 years ago, and that my trip to Europe last summer left me 5 pounds heavier. It also doesn’t help that I’m only 5’1 and ONLY gain weight in my midsection. Needless to say it was a slap in the face and a real eye-opener as to what I need to do to get back into shape and drop about 8-10 pounds (goodbye fat, hello muscle!)

Nick grabbed the goggles and underwater camera and dove in to see what they were doing below the surface and got some really awesome shots of them just hanging around (I’m assuming they were totally just cruising, waiting to jump into the EAC, a la Finding Nemo haha):

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Fin! Noggin! Duuudddeeeee….

The next morning, the dolphins were out again (they would come into the area where our cabins were about every other day, swim around, jump and spin in the air, and then swim around some more.  You could swim out (only on my first day there, since they were SO close to shore), or you could take a kayak, canoe, paddleboard or SUP and just float by them. It was life changing and awe-inspiring and mesmerizing and tear-worthy to say the least.image_15

Most of the days were spent just enjoying our time together, being lazy beach bums, playing and singing and listening to music, etc. A lot of airport trips happened, as people were leaving all at different times, and TONS of delicious meals were shared together. One day we did go downtown to the Made in Hawaii festival (too expensive for my wallet), and then to the swap meet (much more in my budget!), and to downtown to check out the Royal Palace, have lunch and go to Ala Moana mall (where I may or may not have purchased a pair of Tiffany earrings that I’ve wanted for almost 5 years but I never buy myself anything and it’s my birthday month!)

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This was our view form breakfast on Friday morning. I’ll never leave!

One our last full day there, we decided it was a definite Meatball Day. Do nothing but play music, sing, sit on the beach and the water.  It was the most beautiful days out of my entire trip, naturally, and I may have gotten a little red from laying out so much that day (but it turned into an awesome tan a couple days later, don’t worry!)  I also retired a pair of my Brooks Running shoes there (what a place to retire!), stood on the wall and took in the panoramic views and got reallllyyyyy sad:

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Goodbyes are horrible, so we avoided them at all costs (if someone was sleeping when we left, we didn’t wake them up).  My favorite thing to photograph with my super awesome iPhone was the sunsets. Beyond amazing sunsets.  Also, I’ve never seen the moon set before, and witnessed it on the beach a couple days in. It was the most bizarre thing to watch!

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… until we meet again Oahu!

Saying Goodbye to Seattle

Sunday and Monday were our last days in Seattle after the race, and I was a little a lot bummed about that.  We woke up Sunday morning and it was (surprise!) raining, so we decided to head to a local winery (Woodinville houses TONS of wine tasting rooms and breweries, so there were plenty to choose from).

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This is what my ankle looked like Sunday morning 🙁 I got a couple spider bites at some point, one on top of my ankle and one right on my Achilles. The one on my Achilles made my ankle swell so much you couldn’t even see my ankle bone! This is totally what my cousin was complaining about when she was 9+ months pregnant. It stayed like this from Sunday morning until after I got back to California on Monday night, and the swelling wasn’t completely gone until Wednesday morning. It was disgusting and looked like there was a giant growth on the back of my ankle.

Kelly, Kat and I had breakfast, and then headed into town to Chateau Ste Michelle to take a little tour. The property was really beautiful, and they have summer concerts outside there, and tons of great acts were lined up for this summer! (Steve Miller Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Pat Benatar, Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Harry Connick Jr., OneRepublic and Sara Bareilles).

Now I’m not a huge drinker, and even less of a wine drinker, but the tour and info provided were fun and we decided to do a tasting afterwards, and 5 of the 6 were delicious!

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We got a 3 win tasting at the end of our tour, and then opted to each pay $10 for a 4 tasting (which ended up being a 6.5 tasting; high fiver lady wine pourer!)

        After our tasting was over, we headed to Red Hook brewery for a little beer, snacks and to watch the Mariners game (we beat the A’s!)  While the service was less than stellar (personalities don’t appear to be a quality desired in bartenders there), the drinks and food were good, and we got to watch the game (after practically needing to beg to watch a local sports game. Weird).

We went back to the lake house, lounged around for a bit (aka, I took a nap because 3 wine tastings + 6 wine tastings + a beer = down for the count), and woke up just in time to start helping with dinner.  After a long and delicious dinner, doing a load of laundry and starting to pack up our stuff so we wouldn’t have to later, we headed to the backyard for our final night of camping next to the lake.

Woke up Monday in time for a last delicious breakfast, and to head into Seattle proper for our Brooks Running HQ tour! I was contacted the week before the race by one of the awesome social media guys at Brooks that heard I was coming up for the race, and he invited me to their temporary HQ (they are in the process of building an awesome new building in Seattle, just for themselves) for a tour, before I headed back to California.  You know I wasn’t going to turn down that offer!

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Sadness and excitement as we say goodbye to the lake! I think this is the perfect sendoff!

The drive into Seattle was beautiful with amazing views of Mt. Rainier since it was a clear day (also perfect sendoff), and we pulled up to Brooks HQ with a few minutes to spare.  It’s currently in a temporary building (they recently moved into it, along with Moving Comfort, their sister company), while they build their own building for a super awesome HQ, and you better believe I’m looking forward to another tour once they’re in their new building late next year.

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The lobby of Brooks HQ. Would you expect anything less than a super awesome, giant-sized running shoe on wheels?!

We got the tour of each of the different departments and what each person does, said hi to a few people, and they even had the new seasons apparel and shoe ideas up (no photos allowed of course, but mama was taking mental photos of every single piece that I wanted! I could hear my credit card crying from inside my purse).  We saw idea boards up, and even competitor shoes that they use when building their own shoes, what works, what doesn’t, how we’re going to take over the world, etc 🙂

We also walked past the Moving Comfort area, but I couldn’t take a look since they technically operate as two entities. I wanted to run up and tell them how amazing they are, and how much my life changed when I found their sports bras and no longer needed to double bag the ladies, etc., but they were hard at work (gave them a Twitter shoutout afterwards though! Next time I’m in Seattle, for sure!)

Afterwards we headed outside and around the corner to have some lunch (thanks Derek!) and visit the Cavalcade of Curiosities before it’s officially retired.  Kelly and I both had our gait analyzed (mine was what I thought it was, and Kelly’s mind was blown with her results, since they were the complete opposite of what she thought she needed!), took some photos, grabbed a shirt, and then headed back to HQ for one last picture before saying goodbye.

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You know I love that pose!

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I love Seattle; always have. But look at that backdrop! How can you not fall in love with the city?!

We parted ways (Kelly and family were staying at the lake house for a month), and Kat and I headed to Pike Street to check out the market, walk around, take a couple pictures and grab a cup of coffee before we headed to the airport.PicMonkey Collage1

Goodbye Seattle! Until we meet again (and hopefully a whole lot sooner. It had been 14 years since I went back up there, and frankly that’s just WAY too long!)

Time to rock Seattle!

Ahhhh, the race day recap.  When I wax poetically about how I wasn’t at all tired from that early morning wake up, how amazing my pre-race breakfast was, how I was able to go to the bathroom so easily before in a super clean, indoor bathroom (runners dream!) and had a seamless transition to my corral, where I ran an effortless race and smashed by PR while waving to the crowd.

Oh wait, what?! That didn’t actually happen?? In my dreams…

Since we were staying at the lake house, it was full-on camping style in the tent in the backyard.  Luckily we had a double air mattress, and real bedding, so we were super comfortable and warm the entire time. No waking up with stiff joints or sore muscles or a stiff neck. We had packed our bags (and my overnight bag) and put them in the car the night before, which worked out well. Got dressed, grabbed breakfast to go and were on the road at 4:45am with a few minutes to spare. It took us about 35 minutes to get to Seattle Center and park (I had pre-purchased parking at the 5th & Mercer garage, which is literally right next to the corrals. Super easy and worth it).  After parking, we did last minute changes (I was still in flip flops when we left the house, and when you have to pack your own fuel and hydration, there are lots of little additions to your race day outfit that are necessary.

At 6am we headed to Seattle Center to get the girls coffee (still envious of those who can drink coffee at all, let alone right before a race, and not have terrible stomach aches or poop your pants during a race. I bow down), and find a bathroom. Luckily the Armory was open, warm, clean and had 2 coffee places open before 6am! 2-3 levels of bathrooms that had seat covers, flushed and water to wash your hands (SCORE!).  Even though I took care of business, I still always worry about needing to go to the bathroom at mile 1.

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Pre-race and excited! Also, having your aunt Flo visiting during a race is not fun at all… for anyone involved. Thanks involuntary bloating!

We then headed for our respective corrals (17, 20 and then three of us in corral 28) and would meet again at “S” at the finish area (S for super awesome, naturally).   To say I wasn’t fully prepared for this race would be an understatement. To say that I’m not fully prepared for any half marathon I’ve done would be an even bigger understatement.  I have to listen to my body, and only run two times per week while training, unless I want to end up with shin splints again.  I have to stop running 3-4 weeks before a half marathon to give my shins time to get used to the face that they’re about to do a whole lot of work soon.  I ran the Rock n Roll San Francisco 1/2 on April 7th, and hadn’t run anything over 4 miles since then (oy).  For the last few weeks leading up to the race, my left hip was giving me issues (I have less cartilage, so my hips grind and pop and are just a nuisance in general sometimes) and I felt like I had strained my left calf.  But I was determined to PR (lol).

It takes me usually about 3-3.5 miles for my body to warm up and get out of the “what the what?!” shocked stage and then I can kind of settle into a more comfortable run.  It definitely took me longer this run, and at mile 3, I started intervals. Run 13 minutes, walk 2 minutes. My shins and calves were so tight that during the walk portion, I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace because my legs were so tight and heavy, and I couldn’t flex my ankles).  I did this with Suzanne until mile 9 when we finally parted.

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I get emotional when I’m running. This memory mile, full of photos of people who have lost their lives, followed by photos of people killed in action, followed by these folks holding flags got me all kinds of choked up.

I was trying to take pictures while running, but am not super coordinated, so when I looked at them later, most were super blurry (especially the ones I attempted to take in the tunnel).  Miles 2-9 felt like I was building a giant blister on the ball of my right foot, which was really uncomfortable, but luckily after the race, I realized it was just a hot spot, there was no blister and it was just a little bit raw, whew!  When we looked at the elevation chart before the race, there was a HUGE hill just before mile 9. Seriously though, straight up and straight down. I almost peed my pants when I saw it.  When we got to mile 9, there was just a long tunnel with a slight elevation climb, but nothing horrible. Apparently GPS went wonky in the tunnel and jacked up the elevation chart. Thanks for the heart attack technology.

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How adorable is this couple? They said they were going to finish the race together, and when his wife was struggling, he held her hand for the entire rest of the race (this photo was taken around mile 9.5).

At mile 9, I finally left my friend Suzanne (her mom later told me I needed to ditch her sooner haha) and headed off on my own for the rest of the race.  Oh wait, did I mention that I realized as soon as my plane landed on Thursday that my Garmin was still plugged into the wall next to my bed? Yeaaaahhhhhh. So I basically had no idea how I was doing the entire time. I didn’t really like it, especially since I had thoughts in my head of a PR.  By mile 9, it was pretty warm, completely sunny, and I was slightly regretting not putting on my sunscreen, but I’d power through. The last 4/1 miles were spent people watching (my favorite past time) and just enjoying the amazing views: CenturyLink Field, SafeCo Field, downtown Seattle, the Sound, and the Space Needle. The people of Seattle were awesome and cheered us on, and then when we were running alongside the freeway, people were honking and waving as they drove by on the other side.

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LOVED these Mariners bigheads!

At this point, I was feeling good, and once I left Suzanne, I ran the rest of the way, with no intervals. I did however slow to a walk when I grabbed water at 2 stops, and had to stop once to try to stretch out my left hip (not successful).  After hitting mile 12, I still felt good, so I wanted to finish strong (you know, that last push, semi-sprint to get a good time/and look like a boss in your finish line pictures).  We had one last turn before the surge… and this is what we see around the turn:

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Yep. That’s an overpass… and a final hill. At mile 12.7. WHAT THE WHAT?!

Talk about killing your spirit at the end. Quite a few people had to walk this hill because they just didn’t have the juice to run up this last hill (myself included. I had to walk half of it).  When we got to this point of taking the picture, I heard a “you’ve got to be kidding me” beside me and looked over, across the dividing tape, and saw a poor guy running the full marathon that wasn’t happy to see a hill at mile 25.8. There were plenty of people that agreed with him, trust me.   Once we got to the top of the hill, the short sprint to the finish started, I smiled for the photographer (fingers crossed I don’t look disgusting in the photos since it was warm and I was ridiculously sweaty), and grabbed a bottle of water and my bling… Commence post race photos 🙂

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You have no idea how happy I was when they yelled “lactose free!” as they were handing out this chocolate milk. I’m lactose intolerant and am always super bummed when chocolate milk is given post-race because I reaaalllllyyyy want it, but don’t want to get sick. PS, this was DELICIOUS!

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Top left: 10 year friendiversary runcation success!
Top right: standard asian squat stretch, post-race (thanks for teaching me early Lola!)
Bottom left: woot woot!
Bottom right: apparently I’m not an even sweater. This is my super awesome ViewSPORT tank and it’s supposed to read: I AM A BEAST when you sweat. I almost got all the letters!

If you think that tank is as awesome as I do, head over to the ViewSPORT website! From now until July 7th, they’re celebrating with a BANG! You get a free shirt with every $50 purchase! Everyone loves free!

After the race, we raced back to the Monorail to get back to Suzanne’s hotel so we could shower and check out by noon. Note to others: request a late check-out on race day (if you’re not staying longer) so you can enjoy the finish area, and don’t have to stress about making it back in time.  After showering and check out, we headed to Pike Place for brunch/lunch and a little sighseeing before heading to the Mariners game.

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Pike Place Market; adding my gum to the disgusting/fascinating Gum Alley; GOOOO MARINERS!! (clearly I really like this pose)

I’m happy to announce that the weather on Saturday was absolutely beautiful and the Mariners beat the A’s! It was a really great game, and I’m so happy I was able to finally get to a home game in the new (to me) field. Also, while looking for another friend in the big bar area in the outfield, I ran into an awesome fellow former Team in Training mentor from San Diego, who moved to Seattle 2 months ago for work. Such a small world! Extra large beers were had 🙂

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Such a beautiful day! And an equally beautiful view of SafeCo Field with CenturyLink Field in the background.

I’m sad to announce that I was 2 minutes from my PR. I have no one else to blame but myself (seriously, not being fully prepared, forgetting my Garmin and running with someone else). I’ll be back for you #RnRSEA. COURSE REVENGE WILL BE HAD!

HUGE thanks to all the brands that get me through every run and race:

  • Brooks Runningshoes, shoes, shoes! (I’m drooling over all the latest models)
  • Injinji socks – have literally saved my feet from blisters. And how awesome are toe socks?!
  • Compression sleeves – I have Zensah, CEP and Pro Compression sleeves and love them all. Keep it tight folks!
  • Moving Comfort – To say that they have saved the tatas is an understatement.  I used to wear 2 sports bras and still had problems.  Running wasn’t comfortable OR attractive (don’t get me wrong, I’m still an ugly runner)
  • I have an uber sensitive stomach, so I have to pack my own fuel to get me through long races. It would be far easier to run “naked,”  and eat/drink whatever they offer on course, but no one wins with that plan. NO ONE. My SpiBelt helps keep my ID, cash, salt capsules and Honey Stinger gels all in place! Speaking of uber sensitive, I found out the hard way to not eat Gu gels or drink Gatorade on the course. I now bring my own fluid so I don’t get super sick during/after a race: NUUN to the rescue! Moving Comfort saved the tatas, Honey Stinger and Nuun have saved my entire body (and mind). I almost stopped running because I was getting sick all of the time. As soon as I found these two, I knew I had a power duo and could resume a normal, active life again, without worry of being out of commission for 8+ hours after a race.
  • Sunblock – Kinesys and Mission are my favorite for outdoor activities, and especially because I have sensitive skin.
  • Headbands of some sort – #curlyhairdontcare was made for me. My hair has a mind of it’s own, and given the chance, looks like a wild, afro, lion mane. Cute, right? NOT.  I have Brooks Running headbands (for colder runs when I need my ears covered), Bondi Bands when I’m feeling sassy and need to express myself a bit more, and Bic Bands for a little oomph (who doesn’t love sparkle?!)

#RnRSEA expo recap

I had planned to write a super awesome expo recap of all the awesome booths I went to/free stuff I picked up/how I had to unbutton my jeans from eating all the free samples (please don’t tell me I’m the only one), but after a long day of travel, we didn’t stay very long at the expo (sad day, I know).  I LOVE LOVE LOVE expos, and it’s a great way to try new things, as well as network with brands/companies/people that you’ve been conversing with online for ages.

The expo was at CenturyLink Field Event Center, right in between CenturyLink and SafeCo Fields (squee!).  This Seattle sports fan was SUPER happy.  I wanted to go into every sports store in the area, but I tried to contain myself… my credit card is thanking me now.  It was raining (surprise!) when we arrived, so we parked a decent walk away and headed towards the event center.

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It’s no Kingdome, but I’ll take it :)

I think this might possibly be the easiest RnR expo I’ve been to in terms of getting my bib, shirt and bag. There was ZERO line for my bib, and about 60 seconds after handing over my drivers license, I was on my way to grab my shirt (another 30 seconds), and my drawstring bag (30 seconds – ps, the quality of the drawstring bags seem to be improving. I’ve had so many rip at the drawstring hole).  After picking everything up, we headed into the Brooks area so that I could drool over all the clothing options they had available.  I’ve been trying to be really good about NOT spending money on running clothes for the foreseeable future since i have enough (although I could REALLY use a good racerback tank that actually fits me and doesn’t make me look pregnant), and a pair of capris that does that same thing.  Being short, having a short torso and having overly large lady parts for my size makes buying running clothing (and clothing in general) extra hard. Logos on the chest are hidden underneath my chest and smalls are just a smidge too tight, and mediums are usually fine on my chest, but HUGE on my arms and torso.

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I wanted all of these, but luckily/unluckily they didn’t fit my body type, so all I ended up with was a #RnRSEA magnet/bottle opener. Damage control success!

Pretty much the only thing I knew I was going to buy at the expo was Nuun. My stock was sadly very depleted and I was in dire need of a few more tubes.  After walking through a few aisles, and collecting Lara bars and Smartfood samples (Christmas!), I easily found the Nuun booth.  The stores in my area never have the U Natural Hydration tubes, so I was really excited when I saw them behind the sample containers.  See how I sad I needed a few more tubes? When they’re $5 each at the expos AND you get a free water bottle, the definition of “a few” quickly changes to “how ever many I can shove into this bag” (true story).  A few meant 8. And because I bought a bajillion, I’ll be doing a Nuun water bottle and tube giveaway soon! Get excited kids, you’re lucky that tube won’t get devoured before the giveaway! Nuun is seriously my favorite way to hydrate before a race, during a race, after a race and just life in general. If you’ve read any past blog posts, you know how much I love it. I went through a horrible period of time where I was trying to figure out what hydration and fuel to use, before I had discovered Nuun and Honey Stingers, and it wasn’t pretty. I was constantly ill and it was really hindering my running and almost made me stop running 🙁  Then we received a ton of grape flavored Nuun at our Team in Training group run and my life changed. Thanks Nuun!

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… it’s only an addiction when it’s something bad… right??

I then devoured a bag of Smartfood popcorn and a chocolate covered marshmallow (SOOOOO excited the Hot Chocolate run is coming to San Francisco! Shhhh, you didn’t hear that from me!).  I did the 5k in San Diego in 2012 and it was fabulous, and was bummed there wasn’t a NorCal option when I moved to the Bay Area. Problem solved!

Quick exit of the expo and we headed past SafeCo Field to have lunch at Pyramid brewery, and of course had to stop for a photo (or 10).

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GOOOOOOOO MARINERS!

After eating a delicious meal at Pyramid, we headed back out into the rain and headed for the lake house we’d be staying at for the weekend, in Woodinville.  Since it rained the entire day/night, we tried to make the most of it, and headed out in the kayak, canoe and row boat once the rain let up.  The 2 tents were already set up in the backyard (home for the weekend), and it was really nice to be back in that setting after so long away. When I was a kid, I lived in Washington, just across Puget Sound in a tiny town, right on a lake. The Canadian geese would fly over our house every day/night, and the bald eagles would just hang out on top of the tall trees on the side of our house.   The smell of rain on the lake and in the woods just brought back all of those amazing memories!

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FRIDAY!

This is what I woke up to:

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pure heaven

We took advantage of the lake and just had an easy day on Friday, in preparation for the race the next day.  We woke up to a delicious pancake breakfast, compliments of my friends sister, and then after cleaning up, ran a couple errands in town (I didn’t bring a bathing suit for the lake!), and then came back to get the boats out again.  There’s a floating dock in the middle of the lake with a diving board, so we all agreed we’d load up the 3 boats and take them around the lake before ending at the floating dock and everyone had to jump off the diving board into the water.

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Showing off my (virtually) non-existent rowing skills :)

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First jump in… it looks like I’m literally attacking the water.

We came in for lunch and then decided that since we needed to stay active the day before a race, and stretch our legs and let our lungs know who’s boss, we’d go on a hike in the woods and attempt to find the rope swing (rope swing eluded us).  I love love love Washington woods, and miss having them surround our old house when I was little. We’d run around the neighborhood with no worries at all, and climb trees all day.  The hike ended up being about an hour and a half, and after about an hour, I couldn’t hold my bladder anymore.   What I could hold onto was a giant tree, while I had the longest pee of my entire life (I’m pretty sure it was about about 2 minutes. TMI, whatev), while multitasking and swatting away mosquitoes (no one wants mosquito bites where the sun doesn’t shine).

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makes you feel so small!

After our hike, we took showers, had dinner and then went out in the boats again (just the adult ladies this time… with drinks!) while the kiddos started the bonfire. S’mores are definitely carbo-loading before a race right?! It was the perfect way to end the day, and celebrate the solstice!

… race day recap coming soon!

  • Do you like expos, or do they overwhelm you?
  • Do you like camping?
  • What’s your favorite activity to do in nature?

 

Runcation prep: Rock n Roll Seattle

2013 is a big year for me. My cousin got married in February and I was part of the wedding ( so much fun!), I landed a job in San Francisco at the very end of March/beginning of April, I PR’d my 1/2 marathon time in April at the Inaugural Rock n Roll San Francisco, and 6 days later, PR’d my 5k time during a hometown race.   A few weeks after I PR’d that 5k, I was doing a Friday after work run along the Embarcadero and tied my PR time for the 5k.

Next big thing for me: FINALLY being able to complete the Rock n Roll Seattle 1/2 marathon (third times a charm, right?) .  I first attempted this race during my first season of Team in Training in 2010. I had raised over $3,500 and was set to go… then a stress fracture happened and I was done. Strike 1.  I was SUPER excited to come back in 2011 for the race, but the sponsoring charity changed from TNT to American Cancer Society, and our chapter no longer trained for that race.  Strike 2. I was really upset, but instead did Rock n Roll San Diego.  I still wanted Seattle though, so 2013 is the year!

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3rd times a charm for Seattle also ties into my roommate from college (freshman year roommates and we’re still friends… I think that deserves an award of some sort).  We were going to go up together in 2010 before my injury, so she didn’t go (my bad!), and then last year, she was going to go up with her (then) boyfriend, but about a month before the race, he got a new job and couldn’t take the time off. Strike 2 for her. So we’re both trying for the 3rd time this year.

In addition to the 3rd try, 2013 is actually our 10th anniversary of knowing each other! We were randomly chosen to room together in the dorms, have been through it all together, lived together again during my senior year of college/her credential year, and are still friends. We both went to the DMV together the fall of 2003 (her mom drove us) and took our permit tests together (we both somehow made it to 18 without learning how to drive… it was fate), passed and celebrated together.  End of August 2013 marks our 10 year Friendiversary, so we’re celebrating 2 months early with a runcation! It’s going to be fabulous!

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And since we’re both along the same lines most days, I texted her a few days ago saying how unprepared and undertrained I was, and how I thought I strained my left calf muscle.  She then informed me that she thought she might have a broken big toe. Two peas in a pod, the two of us. Also, both hot messes at this point.

I used to live up there when I was a kid, and my gramps was born and raised in Forks (before stupid Twilight ruined the town), so I’m a huge Seattle sports fan, and am really excited to be able to catch my first home Mariners game since 6th grade. Yay vacations!

Texas Wedding

I recently got back to California from a little over 2 weeks in Texas for my cousins wedding. It’s something we’ve been planning for and get super excited over since they got engaged about a year ago.  Love my cousin to pieces (we’re a lot alike and get along great) and love her fiance as well (we get along really well and love to watch sports together. WIN!), and they’ve been dating since she was 17… ah high school love!

Her wedding planning style is something I see myself doing. She didn’t stress over anything, wasn’t a bridezilla, picked what she wanted and didn’t change her mind or second guess her choices, and when it wasn’t something truly important, she didn’t care, as long as it looked good. So refreshing!

I’ve been in a couple weddings in the last few years and had hair and make-up done for both, and liked both (loved one, liked another).  This one, not so much (I guess everything is bigger in Texas, but not necessarily better?) Hair and make-up fails, as evidenced by the following pictures.  For my hair, I initially asked for a similar style to what I wore for the first wedding, which I loved and got a lot of compliments on.  The stylist looked at it and said he couldn’t do it because he didn’t know how to braid. You do event hair and don’t know how to braid?! So I had to scramble in the salon to find another hairstyle. I settled on the style on the left, after confirming with him that he could do it. The end result? The photo on the right, NOTHING like the photo I showed him, and looked like a rats nest:

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It was already falling before the ceremony started, and had so many stray hairs hanging down that another bridesmaid had to try to salvage it with more bobby pins and hairspray while getting dressed.

The make-up was eh as well (moreso than the hair).  A few of us opted for the more expensive airbrush option, since it looks better and stays better. I had airbrush done for the first wedding I was in, and it looked AMAZING! Seriously flawless through the ceremony, reception and into the night.  When we got to the church to get dressed, my face looked like a caked on oil pan. So sad. The following pictures were taken after the reception. It was so blotchy and flaky and gross. I’m hoping that the photographer didn’t get any close up photos of me at the reception 🙁

ImageDespite that, the wedding and reception were amazing! The ceremony was traditional Catholic mass (minus cord and veil), and was just beautiful.  The reception was SO MUCH FUN! Definitely the reception winner for all the weddings. Everyone had a blast, everyone got up and danced and it went until almost midnight, with everyone still partying!

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Me and the father of the bride after the wedding.

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Me and the bride before the ceremony started.

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Only a few of the California crew

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Look at that little guys face!

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Jumbo cupcake tree. Enough said.

I already miss Texas!!

Going, going, back, back…

to Cali, Cali.

After 2 months in Virginia, I’m heading back to California. My flight doesn’t leave until 530am tomorrow, but I wouldn’t have had a ride so guess who’s sleeping in the airport tonight? And by sleeping I mean doing everything I can to stay awake all night to guard all my bags since people can come and go as they please. It’s not going to be pretty and neither will my face/personality tomorrow. Sorry people on my flights!

Before heading back, I had one last thing to do – head to DC to visit a friend from my study abroad year. When we were in Germany we saw each other pretty much every day. We ate together, we traveled together, we slept in über sketchy hostels together, we got into shenanigans together. I haven’t seen her in person since the end of July 2007, so this reunion was LONG overdue.

20121120-222337.jpg While waiting for her to get off work, I stopped at this fabulous cafe called Busboys and Poets. If you live in DC/northern VA/MD, check it out. 4 locations and all FABULOUS. They also have a lot of veggie/vegan friendly items like that little number above. Fuji apple sandwich with Gorgonzola cheese and fig spread. I didn’t even care that the toasted bread was tearing up the roof of my mouth – I annihilated that sandwich. And then I wanted another. I need to try to replicate that recipe pronto.

And now a few photos from my trip:

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20121120-222715.jpgMLK and baby feet (mine)

20121120-222752.jpgMe and my bff Abe, no big deal.

20121120-222834.jpgMy new bff Hank (sorry Abe). Cutey sat there and munched on that French fry while I stuffed my face with an overpriced pretzel. We chitchatted and then he started to feel the ill effects of that grease and grabbed his chest like he was having heart palpitations. You better believe I took photos and video!

20121120-223026.jpgAir and Space museum.

The trip was fabulous but much too short. Hopefully the next one won’t take 5 years and all the girls that were in Germany can all get together in the same place. Road trip anyone?

Also, I straightened my hair for the first time in months and its crazy long. It was getting in my way while packing and I almost caught it in the zipper of my suitcase. Also, if I don’t lean my head forward while pulling up my pants after going to the bathroom, it gets stuck in my underwear. Do what you will with that little nugget of information.

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1. What’s the last vacation you took? Have any planned for the near future?

Battle of the Coasts

My brain is torn. I’m half on the east coast, half on the west coast. Physically I’m in Virginia, but mentally I’m packed and headed back to California.

I’m trying to make the most of my remaining 15 days here before I fly home – even though the remaining 2 weekends will be spent out of state (but 2 fabulous weekends visiting friends and family). I’m also trying to get the most out of my gym membership since I don’t know if I’ll be able to get one once I get home since I’ll be unemployed (oy).

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Stationary bike, can you please fit into my carry-on? I did this because I was about to try Cracker Barrel for the first time. Better believe that gym trip beforehand was necessary!

I headed to Colonial Williamsburg yesterday for the last time, to enjoy the fresh air, costumes, history, atmosphere, fresh air and to clear my head a bit. I wish I was staying longer so I could explore some more of the area!

20121105-202150.jpg Oh nothing much, just a little George Washington action going on here.

And I also have to point out that I’m a big procrastinator. Some of my best papers in college were written in crunch time. My latest trip to Europe was the same way. I didn’t really have an agenda and was just winging it. I had some clothes and my passport; I’d be fine wandering around Europe for awhile!

The same can be said for race photos. I bought the finish line photo from the very first half marathon I did to commemorate my first big race, how hard I had worked, my time with Team in Training, and finishing with my nephews picture. Since then I haven’t really purchased any because either a) the photographer didn’t get a picture of anything more than a partial leg or a ponytail (ridiculous), b) my face/body was NOT happening, or c) I agonize over the available photos and cant choose which one I want. But I did finally buy a photo of my very first trail race (which was half marathon #6) that I ran in mid-September (it only took me a month and a half to decide!) It finally came in the mail today and I’m so happy I bought it 🙂

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What’s your favorite race photo? Worst? (I’ve got plenty of those!)

Wicked 10k race recap

Another race already?! You better believe I’ll sign up for anything J&A Racing throws at me. Those folks are amazing. They know how to organize a race, keep the participants happy (and safe after this weekend), and throw a fabulous finish party! I’m really bummed I’m leaving the state sooner than I thought and won’t be able to run their Surf-n-Santa race, but I might just make Shamrock a destination race, they’re that good.

Wicked 10k is a costume-themed race (unless you’re in corral 1 it seemed), that runs from the VB Convention Center, along the boardwalk and back.  The finish line party was supposed to be on the beach, but with Hurricane Sandy letting us know she was on her way, they knew it just wouldn’t be safe and didn’t want to take any chances. After already putting up the finish line party tents, they made the executive decision to move the party to the Convention Center. Did you know those tents take 12-14 hours to put up and break down?  They worked tirelessly through the day and part of the night to take them down. Having a party on the beach sounds like fun, but not when the winds are crazy, and it’s not safe for participants, staff or volunteers. Great call J&A!

I had run Crawlin Crab a few weeks ago and was ready for another race. I had PR’d my 1/2 time and I really wanted to PR my 10k time. Mostly because I feel like I’m in a bit of a running run right now. And because I’m competitive, whatever. And I obviously had to dress up, it’s a Halloween race! You can’t be wicked without a costume! Thanks to Team Sparkle, I had the first part of whatever my costume would be, a turquoise sparkle skirt.Now what to pair with it… I decided on the Little Mermaid. My favorite Disney movie from when I was a kid. I had the sheets, pillows, comforter, wall hangings, you name it. I still have the Little Mermaid blanket my nana made me when I was 6. And I wasn’t even a girly girl! Right now I’d like to think I loved it because she was a strong, independent woman who did whatever it took to get what she wanted, and wasn’t afraid of eels. Except I wouldn’t be caught dead with slithery creatures like that, blech. But at 6, I’m pretty sure it was because of her seashell bra and catchy songs. I gathered the rest of the costume, and made the top, just in time for the race (literally the night before and the fabric glue said to let dry for 24 hours, so my fingers were crossed it wouldn’t rain)

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I left extra early for the race, to get parking at the Convention Center = won’t have to walk to the start or from the finish party = YAHTZEE! It was dark, I was tired and hungry. Not a good combination. But the costumes were enough to keep my spirits high while warming up/waiting in line for the bathrooms.

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Seriously… this is all I needed to proceed to party.

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I started in corral 5, based on my projected finish time. I had only run one 10k previous to this (in San Diego), so I took a minute or 2 off of that time and hoped I could run it faster than before.  Again, they had a fabulous MC for the race (was the crab from Crawlin Crab the same Dracula from this race? If so, kudos to J&A for finding an awesome MC!)

I wanted to start and finish strong, but I know my body and my legs feel like they’re burning for the first couple miles. Literally burning off. It’s not a pleasant feeling, so the first few miles are more mental than anything. I was running this one by myself, so I tried to keep my breathing steady and pick people off one by one (also, refrain from yelling BAM! every time I do so).  It’s a flat race, which is great, and the run down Atlantic wasn’t too bad while warming up the body.  Once we turned around, ran a bit on the boardwalk and then back onto Atlantic in the opposite direction, it was HELL.  Headwinds galore. I was leaning forward trying to keep steady, was being blown all around, and every time I lifted my left leg to run, the wind would slam it into my right leg, making me trip at least 5 times. Hurricane Sandy was letting us know she was on her way, and that she was angry.  This 2-mile stretch was one of the hardest I’ve done in a race, because I felt like I had no control over my body, I was fighting the elements, and they were winning. But I didn’t walk, and I didn’t give up. I wanted to run a strong race, even if that meant arguing with the wind the  entire time.

I listened to my body and was able to run a little faster than I had expected. If that wind hadn’t been there, I was almost on course to finish in under an hour. If I had somehow managed to do that, I probably would have passed out (while peeing my pants from excitement), as soon as I crossed the finish line. When I finished, I knew I had PR’d bigtime. It was a great feeling. Then I walked from the finish line, through the crowds of friends and family and walked back to the convention center alone. Great feeling was gone, alone feelings were back.  Luckily the finish party was great and lifted my spirits.

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Bakers Crust chili in a breadbowl, 2 free Blue Moons and a great medal that doubles as a bottle opener? J&A, you’re amazing.

The finish party was great. Good food, drinks, live music and the results of the costume party. Prepare to be amazed.

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1st place for the couples costume. If they didn’t win, I think there might have been a riot.

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Group costume contest. 2nd place was to the London Olympics. Personally, I think the Royal Wedding procession from this years Bay to Breakers would have beat them hands down.

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Met up with some other fabulous costumed runners at the end.

Overall? Despite the hard winds, I loved every second of this race. I can’t praise J&A enough for their great races, and wish race companies/directors were this involved in not only their events, but the people running them as well.

Final time: 1:01:09 – I beat my previous 10k time by over 9.5 minutes. ShaBooya ShaBooya Sha Sha Sha Booya ROLL CALL!

Mile 1- 9:53
Mile 2- 9:59
Mile 3- 10:01 (start of the headwinds, feeling skeptical)
Mile 4- 9:47 (still in the headwinds and not letting them defeat me!)
Mile 5- 9:44 (start of the run on the boardwalk, listening to live music and enjoying the view of insane swells)
Mile 6- 9:35 (this was me still thinking I had a chance of under an hour so I was pushing it. Then I realized I wouldn’t make it, didn’t care and kept pushing it)
Final .26- 2:12

And even though Sandy is here, rearing her ugly head, the stores and schools are closed, it sounds like our windows are going to come flying through the house, and everything is flooded, something amazing happened last night:

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TAKE THAT DETROIT!!!

Virginia is for…

Runners. Lovers. Cures. Beautiful fall mornings that freeze my toes off in my Rainbow flip flops but are perfect for running. Ridiculous traffic and taking forever to get anywhere. History. Nature.

When I got to Virginia, the first thing I did was look up running stores (ok, so I did this about 2 months before coming here. I wanted to make sure I had what I needed! I was sad to find out there was no REI, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts or Roadrunner Sports anywhere remotely close to here. Seriously though, what are the outdoor stores here?!) The closest running store is about 45 minutes away with no traffic – blech.  That pretty much eliminates being able to do any of their weekly fun runs or events they may have during the week in the evenings. It also usually eliminates any packet pick-ups during the week, since I can’t get there in time.  But what can you do right? I stopped by one of the local running stores, Running Etc. to take a look around, register for a race and see what they had to offer, compared to what I’m used to. It’s a medium-sized running store, with apparel, shoes and gear – and also the only running store in this area that carries Honey Stingers gels. You have no idea how hard it is to get them here, and driving 45 minutes to an hour just for gels isn’t going to be possible all the time.  The people are friendly and they know their stuff. My kind of place! I also saw this little gem and HAD to have it, naturally.

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And then, if you go onto the Tourism website for the commonwealth of Virginia, it proudly boasts that Virginia is for Lovers. Literally, you can buy the slogan on everything (even a koozie. You know I’m tempted!) A state that’s for runners and lovers?! Come to mama. I’ve seen it on t-shirts, bumper stickers, signs, and it’s even the featured slogan for another J&A Racing event, Virginia is for Lovers 14k. They also have a Sweetheart 6k and Cupid’s 1k. So cute!  I already completed one J&A Racing event, the Peroni Crawlin’ Crab 1/2 marathon, and have another one of their events this Saturday, the Blue Moon Wicked 10k.  If the Wicked 10k is anything like Crawlin’ Crab, I want to do all of their races! They seriously know to get things done. Small events (they have a big one in March as well), well organized, the people that run the company are super friendly, quick to answer questions or concerns, and they throw a wicked after party (pun totally intended).  I have no idea how long I’ll be in this area, but as long as I’m here, I’ll be racing their events and handing out high-fives when they’ll accept em.

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I was also missing my Team in Training family (viva los Verdes!) and contacted the local chapter to see if they needed any help/wouldn’t mind me tagging along and professing my love for the cause. I met up with them this past Saturday and met the campaign coordinator and their coach. It’s a much smaller chapter than what I’m used to (only 1 coordinator and 1 coach for the season/area!), but I like it. The family atmosphere is still there, the same as it was in San Diego, and the love for the Team was just as prevalent. I have to admit that I was a little bit jealous/envious when I saw their training shirts. They have purple tech shirts that say Virginia is for Cures on the back. How awesome is that?! I secretly (I guess not so secretly since it’s on here) realllllyyyyy want one.  Bummed I didn’t get a picture when I was there, but hopefully I can snap one when I meet up with them again.

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Also, the temp at night and in the mornings is dropping. Even though it’s expected to be in the mid-70’s for most of this week, it’s still about 43-45* when we leave the house to make sure the kids get off to school. Not sure how much longer I can wear the flip-flops, so I’m going to have to (sadly) let that little piece of California go, and probably buy proper shoes. Oh, and a real coat. Again, where is the outdoor store here? I miss you REI!

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I also went to Colonial Williamsburg on Sunday during my day off and it was a fabulous little road trip in the area. More on that, including pictures, later this week.