Monday, July 28, 2014

Time is on Your Side

I had a nice chat with my Dad on the phone yesterday (while running), which has been a long time coming. It's amazing how you can keep thinking that you will call someone "tomorrow" or do something "in a few minutes" and all of a sudden hours, days or weeks slip by. I always thought that people who stated that they were, "SO busy" were just bad at time management. I haven't changed my mind about that completely; I have only just gotten worse at managing my own time.

While studying, I made a list in my head of all the things I have been wanting to do or needing to do in the last few months but have put off in order to study. I have mentioned before, but I was never any good at studying. However, this time, it's my job (and my pride!) on the line, so I am buckling down and trying to get it done. In 10 days, I will have literally HOURS of my life back. I am really, really looking forward to that day.

So I thought I would quickly share my list with you and then get back to studying again (and do another load of laundry, and get my lunch ready for tomorrow, and go set the rat trap in the garage, etc).

- Costco trip
- Pickling veggies (almost out of pickles)
- Trip to REI (need a new headlamp)
- Baking/cooking for fun (not just one pot meals for necessity)
- Get a massage (1 hour of bliss)
- Plan a vacation (well deserved!!)
- Catch up/visit with friends/family (on the phone and in person)
- Go camping (summer is nearly over!)
- Start taking more photos
- Organize my room / files (bought containers; now I just need to use them)
- Go browsing at Barnes and Noble (for hours...)
- Buy a few new tops for work
- READ A BOOK!

When you get busy, what takes a back burner? Is there anything you are looking forward to doing soon?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Price of 21 Days in France and Germany


Louvre
We spent 21 days exploring France and Germany. We visited Paris and the Alsace region of France before heading to Germany's Black Forest; the Bodensee (known as Lake Constance in Switzerland); the Bavarian city of Fussen and its castles; Reutte in Austria; Dachau, the former concentration camp; the Romantic Road villages; and the medieval walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousal
Along the way, we enjoyed at least eight museums and two castles, toured a winery, drove the autobahn and winding country roads, went for a gondola ride, powered a luge down a mountain, took some guided city tours, rode the rails, meandered through markets, devoured the best food each country had to offer, and enjoyed every moment except for the train strike in France.

So, what did it cost?   Before you guess, let me remind you that a similar length tour with either Women Traveling Together or Rick Steves would cost you $491 and $323 respectively per person/per day.  Even Untours, which simply rents an apartment and gives you the phone number of a contact person, charges $284 a day for a couple.  (Click here for the article explaining those tours and their prices.)

Continue Reading>>

Monday, July 14, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014

I am procrastinating studying, and so am finally attempting to write a quick recap of Boston. For most it is a little too late, but for me it is good to get it down while I still have memories about it.

My training was going well up until the end of March. One day I was running on the trails, doing a 20 mile run, and my Achilles tendon on the left side started to ache. I figured it would go away, but as I kept running, it kept getting worse. Of course, I was about 10 miles into my run and practically as far from my house (and/or a road) as I could have been. So I walked the last 10 miles home. For the next three weeks up until Boston, I ran about 20 miles total. Let me tell you, this is not a lead up to a big race. I could not decide whether it would be better to rest and hope that it was better by the time I had to race, or to "work through the pain". However, I actually listened to my own advice (or the advice that I would have given others) and stayed of it for the most part.

Race day came and luckily it was not too hot. It started off cool, but by race time it was probably about 50, which was perfect. I wore an old button up shirt with a cardigan and tights as my throw away outfit and was laughing at all of the other strange outfits in the athlete's village. For those of you not familiar with the marathon, you first get on the bus around 6 and get bussed to Hopkinton where you wait until it is time for your wave. My wave started at 10:20 so I had plenty of time to stand around in the portapotty line and people watch.

Portapotty people watching

The race started and, as always, the crowd participation was fantastic. I don't even wear headphones, as there really is no need. The sound of other runners' feet, the screams of the crowd, the music and laughter...all of this was my "music" for the day. Of course, with all of the positive vibes and sounds of running feet, I started out too fast. In addition to starting out too fast, I realized that I had not trained for speed very well. In addition to that, around mile 7 or so, my Achilles started to ache slightly.

Beer? Cigarettes? Donuts?

As you may or may not know, Boston is a mostly downhill course. For the first 10 miles, it is a slight downhill, so it's easy to prance along, feeling good. However, around 10 it starts to level out and then your legs (mostly hip flexors and quads) start to scream at you for starting out too fast. That is what happened to me. Miles 1 - 6 were all around 7:50 min/mile. Things were looking up! The Achilles was not bothering me; it was a beautiful day!

Miles 7 - 10 were around 8:00/mile. Things were starting to ache; the fact that I had not trained was starting to show; I was starting to get tired and I still had 16 miles left.

Miles 11 - 18 were around 8:30/mile. Things were falling apart. I wanted to stop. My quads were burning and my Achilles was aching and I wanted my Mommy.

Miles 19 - 26 were torture. I went from 9:10 to 9:15 to 9:30...and completed my last couple of miles at around a 9:40. It was not fun. I was so happy to round the corner on Boylston and see the finish line in the distance. The silver lining is that I carried my camera and I got some pretty good photos of myself crossing the finish line, even though I heard someone shout at me as I was finishing, "put the camera down and finish!"

I'm trying to finish Mr.!

I crossed the line at 3:47:40, or an 8:42 pace. This is 24 minutes slower than my time last year, almost a minute slower per mile. It was not a great feeling.

The silver lining? I ran into a friend of mine from Oakland in the finish shoot. Also, afterward I met up with my parents in the Boston Common and we went and had a celebratory Sam Adams 26.2 (or two), which was priceless.

The verdict? I think I am done with Boston. There are other fish to fry. However, I was glad to come back and show those bullies that we are not afraid of them. We will keep doing what we love and not let fear hold us back. Take that, bullies!

Have you ever run a race or done something just on principle? What would be your advice if someone who was injured wanted to keep running through the pain?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Germans Do What?


...on a hilly street in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
We'll find out Sunday if Germany will win the 2014 World Cup, but Germans are already winners in so many ways.

Although they eat substantial food (Nothing light and airy about German dishes.) plentifully served in restaurants and tantalizingly displayed in bakeries, the population exercises away any excess calories.
Continue Reading>>

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Drive Germany's Autobahn and Live to Tell About It


Parking is indicated throughout Europe with a white "P" in a blue square.
I've easily driven in five countries in Europe with no problems except one--a flat tire in France (You can read about that mini-disaster here.)--but I was nervous about Germany.  For the most part David and I would be sticking to two-lane roads, but what about the autobahn?  There's no speed limit on many autobahns (Some do post a limit).  Cars would be whizzing past us at a hundred miles an hour!

Continue Reading>>

Currently: July

I took my series 7 exam on Monday and it was not the most fun thing I have ever done. You know how, no matter how much you are prepared, you feel inadequate when the time comes to perform sometimes? Well, the exam was a two part exam and I took the first half and felt pretty good. I did not feel good about the second half and after I finished, you have to push a button that says, "if you push this, you cannot go back. Do you want to continue?" and I really did NOT want to continue. But I pushed it and 15 seconds later (which felt like hours, my heart was beating SO hard), it gave me my score. I passed! Phew. One down; one to go. 

Current Book - The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book got good reviews from all my friends on Goodreads. I have to admit, maybe it's because I am studying at the same time, but I am finding it only so-so. It's about books, so of course that's a plus, but it's just not riveting. 

Current Running Path - The other day I took a run out to the Bay Bridge trail, where they built us a new bridge and are taking down the old one. It was pretty cool to see, and is kind of an end of an era. This bridge was damaged in the 1989 earthquake and it's been a long road replacing it, but it's finally done. Now they just have to get rid of the old one.



Current Drink - Sparkling water. It's my new treat to myself. I even got some mint the other day and have been drinking it with mint and lemon. It's so refreshing!

Current Excitement - See above regarding passing the Series 7. Phew! 

Current fashion trend - These are everywhere. In all different forms.


source

Current Favorite Blog/Website - I have to admit, I have not really been reading blogs/websites lately. The only one I have really visited lately has been the Oakland Library website, and maybe Goodreads.  

Current Garden Item - So far we have tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes and peppers! Summer is here!




Current Love - Running with people. I still mostly run by myself, but have been doing maybe one run a week or every two weeks with friends, and it really makes the time of a long run go by faster!

Current Food - See above regarding garden items. I made the best salad yesterday with radish, cucumber, tomato, toasted pecans, feta, lemon and mint. It was so good and fresh!

Current Indulgence - Trail mix. I have been going to town on it. It's my study snack. Unfortunately, I find it hard to stop eating it! 

Currently Pondering - How long my current computer is going to last. Right now it only has a little bit of space left, and I've gotten the black (not blue) screen a couple of times. To be fair, it's about 5 years old, but I am really hoping it hangs on for a little while longer! Also, I am not sure if I want another laptop, or a tablet. I want it to be more portable, but I really like the big keyboard and operating system on my laptop!  

Current Mood - Great!  

Current New Find - I am probably way behind the times here, but I found these great noodles that are made from yam and I love them!! I don't eat a lot of pasta, but these are a good substitute when you are feeling like a pasta-like dish! I really like them sauteed up with mushrooms, a bit of ginger, some miso and any other veggie that I have in the fridge.  

Current Peeve - People who borrow something and don't put it back. Use what you want, but replace it! 

Current Song - This song has come up on my Pandora a few times recently and I find it very haunting.

 

Current Triumph - Getting through studying. It's been a lot of years since I have had to do that.  

Current TV Show - Greys Anatomy reruns. They are my "reward" for a long study session.

Current Wish-List - New running shoes.  

Currently Delaying - Starting study for the next exam. I don't want to. I want to take a break. However, the train is still moving, so I cannot get off now!

What is your current indulgence? Have you ever tried yam (or tofu) noodles? Have you jumped on the leopard pants band wagon?

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to Avoid Getting Lost Driving in Europe


Driving from southeastern Germany to the alps in Austria.  The motorcyclist is the only other traffic. 
I have driven in Ireland, England, France, Italy, Spain and Germany and gotten lost in every single country.  Except Germany.

There's only one thing that saved David and me from wandering back roads aimlessly this summer, and you will want to make sure you have it too.

Continue Reading>>

Friday, July 4, 2014

Medieval Punishments

Shame was a potent punishment hundreds of years ago.  The man forced to wear this mask had stuck his nose into too many peoples' business; or the horns might indicate he'd been cuckolded by an unfaithful wife; or maybe the person simply had very bad thoughts as symbolized by the snake and the devil.

In tiny villages where people lived their entire lives within a few blocks of each other, one's reputation was important. Being mocked or shamed by all your neighbors was painful, so magistrates found imaginative ways to punish people by placing them in embarrassing contraptions.

Continue Reading>>

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How a Tourist Saved a Beautiful Medieval City


View of the valley from the old city walls that still encircle Rothenburg.
In the 1930s, John J. McCloy's mother visited one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the world, Rothenburg ob der Tauber* in Germany, where she walked the cobbled streets, strolled through the gardens, and sketched as many scenes as possible.  When she returned to the United States, she couldn't stop talking about this beautiful place where every turn revealed another setting that should be captured in an oil painting.  Her impressionable son hung on his mother's every word, studied the picture of the city that hung in the McCloy living room, and vowed to some day explore this magical place that conjured so many dreams.

City walls and guard towers.
Before he could visit it, though, he'd have to find a way to save it from being demolished during World War II. Hitler had told all his forces to let cities burn rather than surrender, but USA Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, was determined to try to save the city his mother had taught him to love.

Continue Reading>>

Looking Back: June

June started with my Dad's birthday and ended with Western States, and the in between was like a suitcase that you pack so full that you have to sit on it to make it all fit. I wish that I was current with this space, because there have been so many things that I want to report on (and remember). However, it's just not meant to be right now, so the stories will have to wait. Unfortunately, if we don't get things right down on paper, we tend to forget the small details, which are often the ones that make the event/day/story special.

North Matthieu Lake, OR

Study: (50 - 60 hours) Once again, studying ruled the roost this month, which is not surprising, as my exam is scheduled for July 7th. I am not that great at studying, however, after talking to some of the other new people in the office who are also studying, I feel pretty good about my progress. I got through all of the material and then took an overall practice test, which allowed me to go back and focus on some of the areas where I need more work. Since then, I have taken a few more practice finals and have been passing them. So...fingers crossed that I do as well on the exam as I have been doing on the practice exams. Having said that, I will be SO GLAD to not have to get up early every day to study and to come home every night and study.

Reading: (2 books) I actually read this month! Once I started to take more practice exams, I found that I really needed a break from the computer, so I would fit in a half an hour of reading here and there. Also, I did take one flight and had a few days of rest, so I crammed in a bit of reading here and there. I read The Sense of an Ending, which was only so-so, and A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) which was actually quite entertaining. Actually, it was just what I needed for study break material, which was something not too deep or meaningful.

Tahoe Rim Trail, NV

Running: (206 miles) Okay, so this month was not ALL about study. What can I say; running is my release. I am also training for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50 mile run, which is on July 19th. The race is done at an elevation of 6500 - 9000 ft, so I went up to the area one weekend and did two long runs in order to get some kind of preparation for the altitude. Also, I spent some time in Oregon and I love running and exploring the trails up in the Cascades. However, since they are also pretty high up (6000 ft), I ran into snow a few times and could not get past it. Finally, I went up to Auburn and watched a bunch of my friends run the Western States Endurance Run (more on this later) and of course ran around a bit that weekend as well.

Rob Krar, #1 overall at WSER

Travel: Although I have not gone out of the country, this year has been a great one for local travels. In June, I went to South Lake Tahoe, Auburn and central Oregon. Each trip was a great time with friends and I got in a lot of hiking, walking, running and outdoors activities, which to me is the perfect vacation! The trip to Oregon was especially fun because it was with my good friend and her two girls, one of them who is 4, the other is 2 months old. It was great to spend time with them all and it always amazes me how fast they are growing!


Metoulious River, OR

Other than that, I have been tending the garden, running a bit with the dog (Emi -- her mileage is probably about 12 for the month of June) and working!

How was your June? What outdoor activities have you been doing? When was the last time you had to study for something?

**Also, last but not least, I want to wish a very Happy Birthday to my mom and her twin sister!**