Friday, February 24, 2012
Last week took me on an impromptu trip to NYC to visit my BFF and help her move. Recently she found herself in a bit of a pickle...she and her longtime, live-in boyfriend broke up. Seeing as I've found myself with a little extra time these days, and she had a free airfare voucher, flying out on moving weekend seemed like the least I could do.
Going, going, gone!
First order of business on Friday evening when I arrived was dinner before heading downtown. Dinner was veggie burgers and fries at Petey's on 30th Ave. Let me tell you, most amazing sweet potato fries. EVER. Seriously, if you are in the area and are a self-proclaimed french fry connoisseur like myself, this is a must. After dinner we cleaned ourselves up and hopped a train to Manhattan.
View from the train stop.
I should mention here my love affair with the subway. I dream of living somewhere with mass transit like the NYC subway system it would be a dream come true. First of all, no car or driving. Second, (quasi) efficient mass transit. And most importantly, the people watching! Sure, I want want to wear gloves and sanitize everything, but that's just because I'm a bit of germaphobe. I'll take the germs and funk any day.
20mins later we were downtown (how magical is that?!) and headed to Broadway to see Wicked.
I've read the book (more than once) and have been known to sing along to the soundtrack, but I have to say I was a tad disappointed with the show overall. I think it was a combo of my love of the book and how awful I thought the casting of Galinda was in the show (can we say tone-deaf). That combined with the fact that both the BFF and I were distracted by our respective life challenges made it difficult to sit through the show. I am so happy I finally saw it...but kind of wish we had seen The Book of Mormon.
Next stop was Time Square. I've been there multiple times, but when you're but blocks away it's hard not to stroll by. The lights and energy never ceases to amaze me.
I refused to get close enough to pose with them, but I couldn't resist snapping a pic of one of the meany flea-ridden Elmo's panhandling.
Saturday morning, bright and early, it was down to business. The day started by renting a van and heading to Ikea so that the BFF could shop for some new furniture. And by some I mean a van full.
This doesn't even do the van load justice.
Moving in NYC is unlike anything I have ever done. There is no such thing as pulling up to front, or back, of the building, propping open the door and unloading. No. You cross your fingers and hope to find a close parking spot and you schlep everything from the van to the building. And don't even think about leaving the van open or unlocked during the process. Ugh.
After unloading the new furniture we headed back to the old apartment to pack up things there.
Holy Cows! These pics aren't even the tip of the iceberg of what we moved. Some was packed, some was not. Some was organized...much was not. Let's be honest, the BFF has never been a neat freak. I can remember college and wading through the stuff in her bedroom in search of the bed, chair, phone, etc.
Two more van trips later we had the majority of the stuff at the new apartment and it was time to call it a day!
Sunday began a day of building Ikea furniture. Who doesn't love building Ikea furniture? Oh wait, this girl.
Another thing I love about NYC is that every neighborhood has virtually everything you could ever need, and want, within walking distance. The BFF just moved to a new part of Astoria near Broadway and Steinway. Talk about a hip little neighborhood. Either street you walk down you won't be disappointed!
My favorite part?!? The fro-yo! After a loooong day of building furniture and unpacking I would say the non-fat Cake Batter and Vanilla fro-yo with sprinkles and cookie dough was well deserved.
16 Handles. Yum.
Next morning, Monday, we broke our daily Brooklyn Bagel routine with crepes. The bagels were to die for, but the Nutella crepe was a worthy substitute.
Monday was filled with more cleaning, unpacking and Ikea furniture building. Oh! And I painted a wall purple in the bedroom. There was also a bit of a roach situation, but I'd rather not think about that.ever.again. I guess that's the trade off for living in NYC.
Monday was a long, long day, which meant Tuesday started later than planned. We grabbed a quick dinner breakfast/brunch before taking the train downtown to visit a few of my favorite places before I headed home.
A trip to NYC is not complete without a stroll down 5th Ave.
Art display outside Central Park
We also stopped by Lululemon...but I was too busy trying on clothes and shopping to take any shareable pictures. And no trip NYC is complete without a stop by the happiest place on earth, the original Tiffany & Co.
And just like that I was on a plane, headed home.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Also known as Bangkok, Part II
11/27: The Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you've ever been to a flea market, like 7 Mile Fair for those in the WI/IL area, the Weekend Market is kind of like that...but supersized. It's almost as though the world's most eclectic collectors each had an 8x10 storage locker in the same oversized storage locker maze, and all at once they opened their lockers...overwhelming and yet amazing.
To set the mood for the day, we wandered down to Th Suhkumvit to the friendly neighborhood McDonald's, again, for some familiar comfort food. We then decided to wander the soi's (side streets) to see what was in the area. After aimlessly wondering past countless massage parlors and hostels we decided to hire a tuk-tuk to take us to the market.
We approached the driver, who spoke English impeccably well, and asked to go to the market. Without hesitation this fine gentleman told us it was under water, closed, flooded...but he could offer to take us on a 2hr tour of all of the must see sights of Bangkok for 200 baht. It's true, much of Bangkok had recently been devastated by floods...but something didn't small right. And for once it wasn't the soi. We decided to take a chance and walk away from the very persistent tuk-tuk driver, who followed us btw, and ask the nearby cab driver. The cabbie was quite willing to take us to the market and assure us that the market was quite open. Turns out the market was farther than the tuk-tuk could go, but desperate for business the driver was willing to say and do whatever it took to convince the silly foreigners to hire him anyways...
Let that be today's lesson. Thailand is touted to be the 'land of smiles' with the friendliest people. Wellll, sort of. We did not find this to be entirely true in Bangkok, which I suppose is a reflection of it's size and high tourism rate. Know where you want to go, what is a reasonable rate, be willing to barter, and be firm. And don't be afraid to say no and walk away.
Minor hiccup aside, we made it to the market with a few hours to shop and browse. I think it is best to let the picture do the talking...
And eventually found our way to the fish market. This might have been the most astounding part of the market. Goldfish and Koi of ever color, shape and size imaginable. Amphibious lizards. Plants. Piranhas. Waist-high swimming pools set up to house fish nearly as big as I am. And more. Astounding a terrifying all at once.
We seem to have been dropped off at the antiques and fine art end of the market. It was almost as thought we were transported back in time...ornate woodworking, beautiful furniture, sculpture and fine art surrounded us. It was astounding. We wound our way through that section of the market, without any plan or direction, until we ended up at one of the many, shall we say, food courts.
The smell of chestnuts roasting filled the air...as did the stench of dirty soi and fish, but I'm choosing to remember the chestnuts.
Fresh fruit as far as the eye could see. Tangerines, strawberries, pineapple, coconuts, dragon fruit, watermelon. The fruit was being continually transformed into fresh cut fruit cups, coconut water, popsicles, smoothies and fresh squeezed juice. We partook in the fresh tangerine juice and it was heavenly.
We even found freshly roasted ears of corn on the cob, which I am astounded to say that W refrained from trying.
From food court to the bizarre...knock off handbags and clothing, underwear, lots and lots of underwear, and pet apparel. This particular little guy was sporting a SWAT team vest of sorts and helmet complete with protective visor for scootin'. And believe me, the Thai scooted with their pets.
From there we seemed to be transported back a decade or two. Boatneck tee-shirts, neons, sleeveless t's and "retro" prints. Only I don't believe the items to be revival pieces...I think that our 80's wardrobes finally made halfway around the world.
My only true regret in Thailand was not picking up one, or ten, of the slap watches that seemed to be all the rage.
From there we found our way to the shoe department. While there were hundreds of seemingly handmade shoes, there was also an abundance of used footwear. Original Air Jordan's? No problem. The highest of hi-tops in every color of the rainbow? You betcha. It was like falling through the rabbit hole and finding yourself in the closet of an 80's pro basketball player.
We wandered down aisles of precious,and not so precious gems, beautiful beads by the sold by the string or pound.
We looked at reams of fabric of every style, color and weight....
And that is when we decided it was time to call it a day.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I realized the other day the details of our trip to Thailand are growing fuzzier and fuzzier. There are memories and photos that will last a lifetime...but all the details seem to be slowly running together.
The streets are lined with vendors selling everything you could think of: Viagra, pocket knives, knock off t's, trinkets and sex toys. It's all there. It also, endearingly, smelled like rancid sewer. I can't say for certain if the stench was a result of the recently receded flood waters or if it is always that funky, but it was positively nauseating at times. Many of the restaurants along the street were either food carts or open air restaurants. I could not FATHOM eating Thai when all I could smell was sewage. SO instead we found solitude and familiarity in McDonalds.
So before any more of it slips away, and because people are still asking about our trip, I thought it was time to put it all down on paper (so to speak).
11/24-25: TRAVEL TIME!! We started out our travel day, which was Thanksgiving btw, in the very we hours of the morning waiting to catch the Van Gelder bus from Madison to O'hare. From there it was 22+ hours of travel...ORD>DET (1.5hr)>NRT(~12hrs)>BKK(~7.5hrs)
With travel time and time zones we arrive in Bangkok at around 11:30pm Friday. After navigating immigration and baggage claim, and figuring out how to hire a cab, we were on our way to the Radisson Suites Sukhumvit. The sights and sounds of Sukhumvit, from the safety of the cab, were mesmerizing and amazing, much as the sights and sounds of NY Times Square would be to a foreigner. Being that we had been traveling for so long we opted to head to bed and wait to explore the city.
11/26: Exploring Sukhumvit. I have to say, I found Sukhumvit, and Bangkok, to be much more endearing from the backseat of an air conditioned cab. Sukhumvit is the "hip" and touristy area of Bangkok, much like Time Square in NYC, only dirtier and seedier.
Yes, we traveled a few thousands miles to eat McDonalds. On the bright side, in Thailand, McDonalds makes everything fresh as it was ordered. $3 for a 6 piece nugget, medium fry and a medium Coke, combined with A/C and refuge from the funk...it was a no brainer.
After eating our first official meal in Thailand we hired our first tuk-tuk and headed to the Divana Spa for a much needed massage and relaxation.
The streets are lined with massage parlors, but do your research so that you actually get the kind of massage you want...
Divana was a quaint home, complete with outdoor courtyard and garden. They greeted us with an assortment of fresh fruit and tea, and made us feel at home. We opted for a detoxifying and relaxing couples massage (which I cannot recommend enough when you've traveled as far as we had).
From there we headed to a local tailor to contemplate adding a few custom clothing pieces to our wardrobe....
Before calling it a day!
11/27: Weekend Market The Chatuchak Market, also know as the Weekend Market, was quite possibly my favorite part of Bangkok. That being said, it is worthy of a post all of its own (which I promise will be soon...).
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
One week ago today, at about this time, my world was turned a bit upside down. Now before you go all worse case scenario, everyone is alive and well. Our house is standing, our puppies are healthy, and we're still married. So I've got that going for me (or so I keep reminding myself).
Quite unexpectantly, I was let go from my job. A job that I was very good at. A job that challenged me in the best, and occasionally the worst, of ways. A job that I enjoyed.
Impromptu meetings with your boss happen, but they don't frequently happen with HR. That's never a good sign. Even so, I knew I was an asset to the team, so I still wasn't overly concerned when HR walked in. "We're looking to make some changes." Ok, notebook open, I'm all ears. Except in this case "changes" was code for "you don't work here any more." Say what? I couldn't even tell you the generic you-don't-work-here-anymore statement that came next. Could my boss give any insight on the situation? Could he provide feedback or opportunities for growth and improvement? No. My mind was blown. All the while I sat there stupidly smiling and nodding, attempting to digest this completely out of the blue news. Effective immediately. HR blah blah blah.
And then I left. And I cried and swore and cried some more.
When it comes down to it I could air a lot of dirty laundry here. I could point fingers and name names. I could gossip and grandstand and politic. But I am better than the politics that put me in this situation. Yes, it was politics, not performance, that landed me here. That I am sure. Knowing this is both a reassuring and infuriating. Being in a relatively small city, in a niche market, how far will these politics reach? It's hard to say.
So what now? What about the desperately needed home improvements? Or the finishing of the basement? What about the new car we had been saving for? What about the vacations planned for the year or races I planned to travel to? What about the new home we had been hoping to buy in the next few years? How am I doing to pay my bills in the coming weeks, or worse case scenario, months?
The truth of the matter is that I don't have a parental safety net to scoop me up and make everything ok. No one is going to buy me a house, or pay my mortgage. No one is going to create a job for me or pay my bills.
I am an adult. I am independent. I am hardworking and believe in earning what I have. I wouldn't have it any other way. I've never chosen the easy route or expected a handout, and I don't now. All I can do is pick myself up, shake it off, and get myself back out there. I've had a few interviews, some great conversations, and a few leads. I'll come out of this on top, and I'll have earned every bit of it.
And that is something that I am proud of.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Yeah, that pretty much sums up how I feel.
If it was a flaming, shit-covered, profanity spewing roadblock it would be exactly how I feel. But those are hard to come by.
I feel like my life is stuck in a vicious cycle of two steps forward, one step. Wash, rinse, repeat. Every time something goes right BAM! six other things will go incredibly, frustratingly wrong. I can't name names or give details, though goodness knows I so desperately want to. I also one to punch enough people to probably get my ass thrown in jail, but I am an adult so instead I give scathingly dirty looks, delete emails and pretend to not hear them when they speak (very mature). But anyone who's come within a 5ft radius of me can feel the radiating hostility and frustration. And probably has seen me cry. Whatev.
What in the WORLD does this have to do with running? Or marathon training? Or, well, anything?
Wellllll, every well-meaning soul out there is advising me to get out and run. You'll feel better! Well I call bullshit. There I said it. BULLSHIT. Going for a little run never solved world peace, gave food to the starving children in Africa or anything else. Now granted, neither does wallowing in my self pity and anger, but let's not split hairs.
When life hands me a lemon I want to know where the vodka tonic is to put it in. And then I want some Gushers to put in this vodka tonic with the lemon (trust me, it's fabulous). Cocktail in hand I want to pour myself onto the couch and watch hours of mindless bad tv. Sometimes, like last night, the shitstorm and stress of life makes me want to clean. While drinking vodka, obviously.
Monday was a rest day, so drowning my sorrows in beer and bleu cheese was totally ok. Last night, however, was speedwork. I didn't even pretend I was going to go to the gym for a run. And AM Shreddin' hasn't happened yet this week. Nope, no way no day. The alarm may go off, which doesn't really matter because I'm not sleeping at night anyways, but my ever expanding ass doesn't budge from bed for at least another hour.
Tonight I may or may not make it to my 6m run. I'd like to say I will, but who the knows with the way today is going.
I'm watching my bad attitude and this current suckfest called life come between my goals like one giant never ending detour. I want to PR my upcoming half marathon. I want to finish my first marathon. I want to be tone and lean and lose those pesky lb's.
Just not more than I want a vodka tonic and bad reality tv.
Monday, February 6, 2012
That's right, boys and girls, I officially logged my longest run since 2009 on Saturday. And I lived to tell about it (with only a bit of chaffing...).
So here's how it went down.
W had an 8miler on the schedule so he decided to head out with me for the first 4m of my run. It was as perfect of running weather as you can ask for in February. Mid-30's, sunny, dry pavement. In February! Ah-mazing. We headed out to the Lake loop and headed away from downtown (east maybe?). I like to run my lake loop that direction to get the majority of the "hills" out of the way early on.
I love that my ponytail is long enough to swish when I run. :)
The first 4m we ran at a pace W was comfortable with and new he could maintain for his 8m. That combined with the previously mentioned "hills" kept the pace hovering between 11:30-12:00. At 4.01m W immediately turned around, mainly to avoid the next big hill, and headed off to finish his run. That left me with 8m and 2/3 of the lake to run around yet on my own...it also meant I could pick up the pace a bit. Yeehaw!
The next few miles went from the 11:30-12:oo min/mile pace to low tens, which is a touch faster than I should have been running but felt good. The first 6m were run in 1:10:24, roughly an 11:44 pace.
Around mile 7.5 I talk a brief walk break, the only walk break I took I am pleased to say, to eat some Sport Beans (the only food I had in the house) and get a few good swigs of water. At this point I was along John Nolen nearing Monona Terrace and it was chilly. The breeze off of the sort of frozen lake was enough to make me shiver and wish I had another layer on. From there I followed the bike path for a bit (vs Jennifer St). I wasn't even really thinking when I followed the path vs the lake loop, but it was a nice reprieve from the lake breeze. I followed the path until "ice ream" aka Schoepps, where I headed back into neighbor....where I forgot there were a few more hills between me and home.
Around mile 9 or 10 I started to get a little achy and sore. I knew I had a few more miles in me but was ready to be done. I looked at my watch with just under 2m to go and was right around 1:55:xx. It was at that point that I desperately wanted to finish my run in under 1:15:00. I ran and calculated and new it would be a stretch. It would require my last 2 miles of the day to be my fastest. Welllllll, I didn't make it. I came close, but didn't have quite enough gas in the tank for 2 sub-10 miles.
All in all, the goal pace for the run was 60-90secs slower than my 1/2m goal pace which would put it in the 11:15-11:45min/mile. The entire 12m run came in at 2:15:56 with an 11:19 avg pace. The first half was 1:10:24 (11:44 avg pace) with a negative split for the second half for 1:05:32 (10:55 avg pace). I officially have 27 days to add 1.1m to the distance and shave 57sec off the total time...seeing as Saturday felt good I think I can do it!!!
Thursday, February 2, 2012
This morning was Day 6 of shredding for me. I'm no math wiz, but as it has taken me almost 2wks to rack of 6 days of shred it's pretty obvious that I am not doing the full 30 day challenge. At least not this time around.
When I first started following the #30DayShred progress of my Twitter peeps I was all set to jump in. Let's do this! If I can trim down a few inches, build some muscle and maybe even shed a few pounds in 30 days, I'm in. But then I realized that I was attempting to juggle my first ever marathon training plan and (some) strength training, work, life, home reno's, puppies AND the 30 day challenge? Yeah, seems a bit much. Especially the strain of the AM shreds and PM runs on my calves. I had to rethink my strategy. I decided this time around that I would incorporate shredding into my weekly workout regime without putting the pressure on myself to do it every day. I also had no idea how my body would handle this or what I was getting myself into. I feel good about my decision.
That being said, am I seeing the results that other people have? No, probably not. Do I feel the burn, and sweat and grunt my way through each workout? Definitely. As horrifying as it might be should I bite the bullet and take some measurements and track my progress? Probably.
What I have noticed is that the days I wake up and workout before work I feel more awake and energetic in the morning. Sometime I even skip coffee (today was not a good day to do that...). Between the running and the shredding and the conscious food choices (sometimes) I am feeling better about myself. I don't know if my clothes are fitting any different or if I look leaner and meaner, but I feel better so there's that. And it may only be my imagination, but I am fairly certain my butt looks better in my lulu crops already. :)
I will say that post marathon I am planning to buckle down for the FULL 30 day challenge so I can be high and tight for swimsuit and shorts season. Did you hear that junk in the trunk? I'm coming for YOU!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
No matter how many runs she sandbags, I will always love my Lazybug.
The 'Almost Wordless Wednesday' details: I should tell you that I love this fleabag to bits and pieces. I love her more than W. I kid. Sort of. But when 1/2m into a 3m jog she decides to start dragging her paws and pretending to be a 65lb weight on the end of a rope, I want nothing more than to tie her to the nearest tree and pick her up later. Maybe. AND THEN when we get home and she goes all off the reservation crazy and starts tearing around the house with endless amounts of energy? That is when I want to put her in a closet.