Celebrating A Year of Redefining Athlete (2014)

Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of Redefining Athlete. Considering I only wrote 39 posts in the first year, it clearly took me a little while to get into the swing of things (writing posts is harder that it seems, ESPECIALLY when your blog is about fitness and you’re suffering post-Ironman burnout), but I think I’ve finally found a groove that feels ‘right’.

I’m also happy that this anniversary falls very close to New Year’s, so I’m going to celebrate by posting my favorite moments from 2014/the first year of Redefining Athlete (On NYE, I’ll give you an update on my goals for next year and how I fared this year [spoiler: not well]).

My favorite moments from 2014:

Stupid American…

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You can’t walk 50 feet in Oktoberfest without running into one of these cookie stands. The cookies are not for eating, they are essentially Valentines for your sweetheart. After a day of drinking beer by the liter, however, the idea was made to buy a cookie and taste it. It tasted like crap. Cardboard. We also thought the cookie looked hilarious hanging half-eaten around Paul’s next and a million times more hilarious when someone yelled: “Stupid American! You aren’t supposed to eat zee cookie!!!”

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That holy @%#$ feeling after arriving in Hong Kong

19 hour flight, no luggage, no idea what the heck we are doing.. just admiring the skyline of one of the biggest cities in the world. A feeling that made me feel very insignificant, yet kinda invincible at the same time.

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What are the chances? in Boston

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There was an estimated 1 MILLION spectators and 35,000 runners at this year’s Boston Marathon. You can read my full review here, but after runner tracking totally failed me, I had no idea how to locate Paul on the course. With no way of knowing where he was at, I still can’t believe my luck that I stumbled walked out of the bar within mere seconds of his passing by where I was standing. Fate? Destiny? Drunken ingenuity? Either way, the stars aligned I got to see him on the 26th mile and I’m really thankful for that. I still can’t get over the chances of it happening.

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The crowds were insane.

Dinner in Santa Barbara

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Paul and I took the train here from LA before a wedding and had such a blast wine tasting and exploring for a day. The perfect couple’s getaway.

We also had the best crab of my entire life at the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. Perfectly cooked, juicy, almost sweet. What dreams are made of.

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And just to be clear, the best moment I am referring to is eating this crab.. not the perfect couple’s day mumbo jumbo.. but that was nice too.

The day of YOLO

I did 3 things on August 10th (our 1 year anniversary) in Hawaii that scared the heck out of me, but I’m proud of myself for doing all of them and taking the opportunity to live in the moment and not chicken out:

1. I swam in a waterfall at Waimea Falls (even after googling the terrifying rumors of human sacrifice that might have occurred here). It gets up to 30 feet deep! Yes, I thought about it every second I was in the water.

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2. I jumped off a cliff into the water at Waimea Bay (but less cool is that I didn’t have my mouth closed, though so I thought I cracked all my front teeth.. I didn’t)

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3. And then, I jumped off a catamaran into the ocean way offshore. We thought the captain was joking at first.

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Nothing for miles, but sharks and other deadly things

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The water was SO clear and blue

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Oh, and we had anniversary pancakes (since we couldn’t wait and scarfed the top tier of our cake at 6 months)

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Skipping my 10 year high school reunion

High school wasn’t nearly the torturous, tumultuous 4 years that some people experience (especially considering I met my husband during this time), but can I still get an amen for how much better life is without it?

And thank you Facebook for providing me anything curious minds need to know…

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

Let it go, let it go

I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!

Crossing the finish hand in hand

Paul is just a tad faster than I am (his best marathon is closer to my half marathon time than my full) and we rarely actually run together. It meant a lot to me in June when we ran Grandma’s Marathon together and crossed the finish line hand in hand.

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I also finished a heck of lot faster with him there to judge me for walking :)

Celebrating Love (with no planning needed)

We went to an insane amount of weddings this year. Each one was different and unique and so full of love in their own way, so I can’t pick a favorite specific moment. Attending weddings after you are married is a MILLION times better than before. You can appreciate all the details while knowing you (hopefully) never have to do all that planning again, and take the time to just simply enjoy all the love in the air and reminisce about how in love and happy you felt on your own day.

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My cousin playing with the flower girls

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I get how cheesy how the above was, but seriously. Weddings are expensive and stressful. I have a whole new appreciation for them now and love remembering how much fun I had at my own.

So, here’s to another year of Redefining Athlete (I already renewed my domain name, so you are stuck with me until then..)! Thanks to everyone reading along and commenting :) I really appreciate it more than you know!!

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Christmas Gift Guide: Want, Need, Wear, & Read

Hate to break it to you, but by this time next week Christmas will be OVER.

If you are anything like my father, this means you haven’t even considered starting your shopping yet. So, while this list is way late in the season, I still thought it would be fun to compile a gift guide (with the added bonus that everything below is still available to order in time for it arrive by Christmas)!

Seriously.. What did procrastinators do before Amazon Prime?

(As a fun note, absolutely nothing below is sponsored.. this is just a list compiled of my own favorites which I either bought with my own money or just think is a fun idea).

While this year I’m not exchanging presents with my family, one of the ways I stay organized while shopping is to try and target a present from each of the 4 groups: Want, Need, Wear, & Read.

Want: Giving presents that they actually want

Need: Something they could really use

Wear: Something to wear

Read: Something to hopefully pull their head out of a screen for a least a few minutes.

For fun I’ve also included a Splurge category, if you are feeling particularly spend-y!

Need:

L.L. Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Sheets

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It only dawned on us about a month ago that while we registered for some really nice sheets for our wedding, we didn’t include anything warm and cozy. I bought these sheets online and they are LIFE CHANGING. The comfiest flannel sheets I’ve ever owned. We got them in green, but the Botanical Floral print is really cute! As a bonus, until Dec 24, you can earn a $10 gift card for purchases $50+ and there is FREE shipping that will arrive by Christmas if you order by December 22!

WD My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

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I know, I know. You won’t be winning over too many hearts with an external hard-drive for Christmas, but this is the NEED category, remember? As someone who JUST had their hard-drive re-imaged, I can’t stress enough how useful this little backup was. It was so easy to use, small enough to tote around, and has a TON of space on it (even 1 or 2 TB). After my snafu on Monday, I ordered a 2nd one so I have a backup-backup.

Read:

For Him: Outside Magazine

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I LOVE this magazine. I’m not even sure how I first started getting it (I think some credit card offer), but for someone who isn’t much of a hiker or camper, this magazine is just flat out interesting. I used to love Runner’s World, but after subscribing for a couple years I can’t help but feel like every article is recycled. Outside Magazine is great, especially for any guys in your life, because the topics are so varied. I’ve read some really great articles this year on chef’s trying to incorporate invasive species into their menus , safety at obstacle course races, and a case for unschooling. This is actually a magazine I look forward to reading each month because the topics are all a surprise, but still focused on fitness/outdoors/healthy lifestyle.

For EVERYONE: Unbroken

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Everyone should read this book. I put it off for way too long because I was too hung up on the idea that it was a book about war. It isn’t. It is an incredible biography that will suck you in from the beginning and make you use Google a half dozen times just to confirm that this is, in fact, NON-fiction. I’ve heard the movie sucks, so please please please read the book instead!

Guilty Pleasure: Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

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This is the first book in the Flavia de Luce series and it is sort of a British Harriet the Spy for adults. Flavia is a kid detective, but solving adult crimes. My mom and I love these books and they are definitely good ‘beach’ read material. The newest one comes out in February, so you will have no problems finding the series in stores.

The Next Gone Girl: Weight of Silence

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I read this book back in 2009 when it came out and it made me fall in love with Heather Gudenkauf. I’ve read all of her books since, but Weight of Silence is still my favorite. If you loved Gone Girl (which PLEASE tell me you have read it already), then I’d recommend checking out this book which is also dark, twisted, and completely addicting!

Wear:

Orange Mud HydraQuiver (Single Barrel):

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I bought this backpack after the rave reviews from Shut Up and Run and I’m so happy that I did. I’ve done a few races that require you to carry your own hydration, and the waterbottle on this pack, along with the pockets, make it incredibly useful for toting Gu, my phone and everything else I need. There is also absolutely no bounce and I was able to get the waterbottle easily in and out without taking the pack off. I wore it for the very first time when I made my 50-miler attempt, and had no issues (no chafing after 33 miles in a tank top = win!).

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Not my favorite pic, but here I am at Psycho Wyco with my HydraQuiver on!

 

Pearl Izumi Women’s Fly Intercool Shrug

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I adore this shrug. As a pasty person with skin a shade whiter than Snow White, as soon as the sun comes out, I roast. This shrug is incredibly light-weight, but prevents me from burning. It is also so thin that when I do take it off and tie it around my waist, I can’t feel it. It is also helpful as arm warmers on slightly cooler days, but I primarily use it during the summer to prevent burning and to stay cool from the sun. For maybe a more appropriate CHRISTMAS gift, they do sell thermal versions for winter!

Want:

Lil’ Reds

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These would make the cutest White Elephant gift or add a fun touch to an ugly sweater party. I love how adorable these are and the price is just right at about $10 for 40,

 

Kingdom Builder 

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Paul really likes games like Risk and Axis & Allies, but I’m not big into anything that requires a lot of time and strategy. This game is the perfect compromise and for someone who NEVER wins at Monopoly, I’ve managed to kick butt numerous times on this game. The goal is to earn as much gold at the end from building little settlements on the board (don’t worry, no math involved). The rules change each game based on what cards you draw. Bonus: The game only takes about 30 minutes and has a few expansion packs if you really like it! It’s casual nerdy :)

Splurge:

Philadelphia, PA

I’m a big proponent of ‘experiences’ over ‘stuff’. If you are looking for a vacation or 3-day weekend, I think an easy and affordable option (that still offers tons of things to do) is Philadelphia!

We visited in 2011 and had such a great time. The city is very walkable, so need for a rental car!

A few of the things we really enjoyed:

  • Cheesesteaks

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  • Eastern State Penitentiary – A former prison that now is in ruins (in the midst of a city). One of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Haunting!

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  • Cheesesteaks

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  • Mac’s Tavern – Owned by Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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  • City Tavern – Home to my favorite beer on this planet. Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce”. The food is pricey, but they have a bar area!
  • Cheesesteaks

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Paul and I with Penguins (we look like babies!)

 

He's so cute!!

He’s so cute!!

 

Custom Home Ornament

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This is one item on the list I haven’t personally used, but I think it is the cutest thing ever. While you can no longer get the ornament on time for Christmas, the shop offers gift certificates (and Etsy does too!). Submit a photo of your home and have it crafted into a unique and adorable keepsake for about $50. For a cheaper gift with the same thought, I’ve also seen people getting a copy of the key to their first place and stringing it on some festive ribbon!

 

I hope these give you some ideas for gifts (or for yourself)! Remember only 6 more shopping days left!!

Anything I’m missing? Have you used any of these products? Let me know!

 

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2014 Recap

I adore Disney. So, in lieu of Christmas presents this year, we decided to escape to Florida and attend something I’ve always wanted to do: Christmas in Disney!

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Since Disney World on Christmas Day is ranked as one of the absolute busiest days (with unofficial estimates that the park maxes out at about 100,000 people) we decided to skip traveling during the actual holiday and attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) instead.

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MVMCP takes place on about a dozen nights throughout November and December and is only for guests who bought a ticket to the actual party.. so if you are in Magic Kingdom during the day, come 7pm, you are booted.

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There are mixed reviews through the internet with those who love or hate the party, but Paul and I absolutely adored it. I couldn’t recommend it more.

For $70 ($30 less than regular park admission), you get full access to the park for 8 hours (you get to enter the park starting at 4pm even though the party doesn’t officially start until 7pm) and exclusive access to party-only shows and activities.

Our absolute favorite event was Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. It was so good that we watched it twice, but it was infinitely better the first time when we watched it from the heart of Main Street.

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Falling snow (aka soap suds), a gorgeous view of Cinderella’s Castle dripping in icicle lights and all the characters decked out in their Christmas outfits was exactly the Disney Christmas that I was imagining.

The Holiday Wishes fireworks were also the best fireworks I have ever seen. Perfectly timed lighting, seamlessly integrated music, and just an incredible amount of explosives… it was probably the first time fireworks didn’t absolutely bore me.

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The rest of the entertainment options were fun too. Each show was cute, chock full of Christmas carols and had a tolerable plotline that was worth following.

A Frozen Holiday Wish

 Celebrate the Magic

A cute show staring all of Mickey & Friends in Christmas costumes

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A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas

We almost skipped this one, but it might have been my favorite!

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Jingle Cruise (a revamped version of the Jungle Cruise)

This was really cute. I am an absolute sucker for the corny jokes on the Jungle Cruise and so the Jingle Cruise was a blast to me. I swear Jungle Cruise Tour Guide is my dream job.

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We also got the chance to ride all of the attractions we wanted!

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Roller coaster selfie on Thunder Mountain

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Paul destoyed me at Buzz Lightyear

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We even got to sneak on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train after only a 25 minute wait! (Though I thought the ride was a little disappointing.. I think it would be much better during daylight when you can see the whole park from the peaks).

The only bummer was that my favorite, The Enchanted Tiki Room, was closed. I’ve been to Disney 5 times now since 2009 and the infamous Dole Whip still eludes me.

In addition to all the shows, they also have free hot chocolate and sugar cookies for all guests. I thought they tasted pretty good!

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So, if you get the chance to be in Disney at Christmas, I can’t recommend Mickey’s Christmas Party enough! For adults, the smaller crowds allow you to still ride all your favorite attractions while getting the chance to appreciate all the Christmas magic! For those with younger kids, I’d recommend the party, but do not do a park during the day too. I saw so many exhausted kids who were either sobbing or passed out by 8pm…

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The rest of weekend was a lot of fun too! We stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside resort and had a blast taking the boat to and from Downtown Disney.. despite the freezing weather!

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Bob performing at Riversides River Roost

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We rented Surrey bikes to cruise around the resort

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Selfie on the boat from Downtown Disney to our resort

Seriously.. of course when we go to Orlando it is actually colder (upper 40s) than it is in Kansas City!

We spent Saturday at Epcot exploring the Holidays Around the World exhibits and food.

 

Cronut!

Cronut!

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Turkey Waffle – a filling sweet potato waffle with roast turkey and green bean casserole (all-in-one holiday dinner) at Promenade Refreshments

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In France, bûche de noël au chocolate (chocolate cake shaped like a log)

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Hot Salted Caramel in Germany. SO sweet, but so good!

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A hidden Mickey at The Seas

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Nom!

 

 

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Then we headed over to the Grand Floridian Resort to check out the GIANT gingerbread house and gorgeous Christmas decorations there!

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It was a really fun weekend! Time for me to start talking Paul into returning to Disney for next year’s Mickey’s No So Scary Halloween Party!

 

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#TBT Travel: Hawaii (August 2014) Part I

Travel is a big big part of our lives and I definitely regret not blogging about a lot of our trips this year. I’m starting #TBT posts because I find a lot of best travel advice from other blogs and I like sharing what we did and did not like. Plus it is a nice escape from the dreary, cold wasteland that the Midwest is currently acting like :-D

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View from Diamond Head

This trip was special to us, not only because it was for our one-year anniversary, but also because snagging our Hawaii flights for so cheap was what really inspired us to start traveling more and to get into collecting airline/hotel points and travel hacking in the first place.

As you may have heard about in the news, around this time last year Delta Airlines goofed and posted a ton of mistake fares on their website. Paul heard about it and during the [very small] window of time when the fares were posted, we managed snag our Hawaii flight and a couple others.

We definitely lucked out. First class to Honolulu is something I’ll never pony up for, but I’d be lying if I thought you should travel any other way :-P

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The seats turned in to lay flat beds and despite having 3 4 5 Mai Tais on the flight over (and watching 3 movies), I almost didn’t want to get off the plane when we arrived. It was definitely an awesome treat.

We used A8 Airport Shuttle to give us a lift from the airport to our hotel and I can’t recommend them enough. The driver was waiting for us when we arrived (we did have a reservation) and we didn’t have to wait until he had a full van in order to take us into the city. Parking is so expensive in Honolulu (almost $30/night to park at both of the hotels), so we decided to pay A8 the flat fee for transportation from the airport and then wait to pick up a rental car on our 3rd day to save a bit of money. We simply spent the first couple days exploring the area close to the hotel (no cabs needed!).

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We stayed at 2 different hotels during our 5 nights and the first hotel was the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort. I loved it. The location is perfect for Waikiki Beach, restaurants, and shopping. It is also crazy close to the zoo and only about 2 miles from Diamond Head’s entrance.

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Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort

We had an ocean-view room and the scenery did NOT disappoint. The other perks I really liked from the hotel were the concierge lounge (for Hyatt members they have complimentary breakfast, light snacks throughout the day, happy hour for drinks, and dessert at night), and the bar at the pool, Swim. Swim was fairly pricey during the day, but their Happy Hour pricing (starting at 4pm) was seriously cheap and one can NEVER have enough fruity drinks.

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View from our room

Day 1:

We arrived in Honolulu on Wednesday in the early afternoon. We didn’t have the rental car yet, so we just immediately hit the beach. We walked along Waikiki Beach and spent time soaking in the sand and sun. We even saw some wild sea turtles! I have always heard that a lot of people say they don’t like Waikiki because of the crowds, but I honestly felt like they weren’t bad. I definitely felt far more claustrophobic in Fort Lauderdale.

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A whole group of sea turtles

After the beach, we went to dinner and experienced the best food we had all trip: Marukame Udon. After eating Marukame Udon, I feel an intense sadness for whoever named Angel Hair Pasta… I mean, seriously. If you think angel hair pasta is the makings of a holy celestial heavenly spirit, then your small pea-sized head will literally explode when you eat this udon. Marukame Udon was absolutely #1 on my bucket list when it came to Honolulu, thanks to my research on Yelp. Sun, sand and palm trees be damned, I wanted noodles. I was NOT disappointed.
We meandered on over to the restaurant close to 8pm, but the line was still packed (granted everyone eats pretty late in Hawaii). However, the line moves pretty quickly which is good because my attention span is basically non-existent.

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I ended up with the Ontama Bukkake udon and Paul ordered the Niku udon. We still argue over whose was better (mine obviously was). We also stocked up on a ton of the chicken and shrimp tempura.. but to be honest, the tempura isn’t needed. Just the udon is all you need. The noodles were incredible. Fresh and delicious. The perfect consistency. And the broth. The broth with the egg. Ugh. So good. This was hands down the best noodle meal I’ve ever had. We never made it back for a second meal during our vacation, but everywhere else we ate just didn’t hold a candle. This is definitely my #1 recommendation if you are coming to Honolulu regardless of if you are a fan of Japanese food or not. The experience of the line, seeing the cooks in action, and the dining is part of the fun too.

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Ontama Bukkake udon

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Niku udon

Day 2:

Thursday morning we woke up naturally early (thank you time change!) and headed out for a run towards Diamond Head. From the Hyatt Regency, it is only 2 miles to the entrance of Diamond Head, but man, the elevation is a bit deceiving. There was a gentle incline the entire way and I was wiped out by just 2 miles! The rest of the hike was definitely a highlight of the trip! It was a little more intense than I thought it would be (not a smooth paved path to the top), but the views were incredible! Make sure to go early (crowds were small!) before it gets hot and bring some water!

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Afterwards we headed over to Musubi Café Iyasume because musubi was another on my must-have list while in Honolulu (if you are sensing that food is a trend, then you are right). Musubi is actually like Spam sushi. It is a slice of grilled Spam on top of rice, wrapped together with dried seaweed. It is really popular in Hawaii as lunch or snack food, especially among surfers.

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We ordered a ton of the items that seemed to be the most popular knowing we had a fridge back at the hotel to stash stuff in. Spam, Spam and egg, Spam egg bacon and cheese, etc. We also ordered some of the fried chicken and the tuna musubi. All of it was delicious, but the Spam options were the best. I wish I could get these in the states (or even in a 500 mile radius of the Midwest). I keep meaning to try and create them at home, but haven’t tried yet (I’ll keep you posted if how it goes!).

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It was also nice having these stashed in the fridge as a quick snack between hiking or beach time. The restaurant is cute and small, but clean, and they are only a couple of blocks from the beach. I vote for taking your food to go and enjoying it oceanside :)

We spent the rest of the day on the beach, at Swim (the pool bar) and then exploring the shopping and local bars close to the hotel.

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Day 3:

Today is the day we survived Hurricanes Iselle and Julio. Our entire trip (and the days leading up to it), the news had been reporting 24/7 about how the island was going to be pummeled with these 2 hurricanes. We knew about them before we left, but our choice was to cancel our trip completely and miss out on the things we had booked…. Or risk it. Needless to say, I’m VERY happy we didn’t cancel (and no, we never really considered it an option).

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Our hotel had us bring the patio furniture into our room on Thursday night, and fill up the bathtub with water to use with the toilet, but when we woke up on Friday, there was nothing more than a light drizzle. We ate breakfast and I took a nap, but when I woke up at 11am, it was sunny and bright outside. Paul went to go pick up our rental car, and we headed up along the southeast coast to explore.

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We stopped at the Halona Blow Hole and watched the waves crashing on the black rock. This was really neat to watch and the waves have a very hypnotic effect. As per usual, the photos do not capture the beauty of this spot.

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Then we parked at the Makapu’u Tom-Tom Trail Start and then hiked up to Makapu’u Point to see the lighthouse. The views here were very pretty and I thought the hike was more fun than Diamond Head was (more to see, more coastal views, not to mention a lot less crowded).

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For a late lunch, we went to Ono Seafood. This was the best quality poke (salad made of raw cubed tuna) that we had the whole trip.. and trust me, we tried a lot! It also happened to be the cheapest as well. Most places we went had at least a poke appetizer, but it was always $$$ for very little.

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Ono had a whole little box of brown rice and a 2 big scoops of poke for $9! Win. The place was about a mile and a half from hotel, so we drove, but parking is basically non-existent. We ended up getting our food and eating it on our hotel balcony facing the ocean :-D This is more of a “shop” than a restaurant since the only seating consists of 2 picnic tables, but the food was worth it. They offer a variety of poke flavors and you do have the option to split your $9 box into 2 different flavors. We ordered 2 boxes and tried 4 of the flavors. And we loved all of them (but my favorites were Hawaiian poke and Shoyu Ahi).

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So for a day that was supposed to be ruined with rain and winds, we ended up getting about 2 hours of drizzle. Definitely worthy of the “I survived Hurricanes Iselle and Julio” t-shirts that flooded all the gift shops!

Our trip balanced our nicely with some adventure and hiking in the mornings and quality beach and relaxation time in the afternoon and evenings. Our travel style is to try as many new things as possible and I was pretty surprised how much time we actually spent at the beach this trip. That goes to show just how beautiful the water was!

Check back for Part II soon!

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Vanderkitten VIP

I got some news this weekend that made me very excited. I was accepted as an ambassador Vanderkitten’s 2015 team!

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Vanderkitten is a clothing company that makes active-wear (mostly cycling apparel) for women who are tired of the typical pink selection. They are a big proponent in support of women’s equality in sports. “Empowering everyday women to do extraordinary things!”. I found their brand a few years ago and was smitten from the beginning by their gear and I’m excited to represent them in all my races this year.

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Plus, I love cats.. so there’s that too :-D I can’t wait to see the team kits for this year!

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She really hates me

The rest of this weekend was pretty low-key. The temps were pretty cold, rainy, and foggy, but knowing that this is the best I’m probably going to get for a long time, I tried to take advantage with a quick ride outside.

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And no, I was not smart enough to go during the high of the day.

I only rode for 45 minutes, but I still had to break out the hot hands and lobster gloves.

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I’ve been riding my new Salsa Vaya and it is quite the adjustment not to be able to drop down into aero position whenever I want.

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It was pretty gloomy for the ride, but still really Midwest-pretty.

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My house is right near that water tower in the distance.

 

The rest of the day consisted of a lot of laziness:

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And these beauties (Thank you, Whole Foods):

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We are off to Disney for our Christmas on Thursday (I CAN’T WAIT!!!), but I have a #TBT Travel post planned for while we are away, so be sure to subscribe or check back on Thursday for it!

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12 Hours in Hong Kong

You may not have realized this yet, but we are borderline insane.

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Our Cats: “You’re leaving us again?”

I haven’t shared much about this trip because the overwhelming consensus is that a lot of people just don’t get it. And there isn’t really anything to get… We flew 19 hours to Hong Kong, explored for 12 hours (mostly in the middle of the night), and then flew back to the U.S.

The main purpose of the trip was to take advantage of cheap airfare and frequent flier promotions in order to earn miles towards future trips (and yes, a 19 hour flight gets you QUITE a bit of miles), but a lot of the point was also to see Hong Kong.. a place we have never been before.

Before our flights, we actually spent quite a bit of time on prep work. We had NO idea what the trip would actually turn into and as much research as you can do, there isn’t a ton of information on what to do in Hong Kong between the hours of 1am – 6am.

We had a short bucket list and printed out directions everywhere. We also made sure to have the names and addresses of places both in English and Mandarin. We typically do this for all trips, but since we were going to be short on time, we made sure we had our plan down.

We then flew from Kansas City to Phoenix (had an awesome meal in the Phoenix airport [not something I say often]), and then from Phoenix to Seattle.

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Barrio Cafe at PHX

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Barrio Nachos: Beef with sauteed mushrooms, garlic, onions, jalapenos, spinach, cream, chorizo and bleu cheese and “fresh Mexican farm cheese”

We then spent the night in Seattle. Our friends taking the trip with us live here and it was fun catching up, playing Frozen board games and feeling giddy about the insanity in front of us.

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On Saturday, our flight didn’t leave until almost 2pm. Since we were only spending 12 hours there, we didn’t have a hotel booked in Hong Kong and so we didn’t really need much of anything. I just brought a backpack and it was mostly filled with stuff for the flight (books, headphones), essential toiletries (toothbrush, hairbrush) and a sweatshirt.

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The appropriate use of your allowed quart size ziploc bag of liquids

We lucked out and on the flight we had 4 bulkhead seats in a row. This was pretty much key in curbing insanity. We got a few meals, watched a couple movies and napped, but a majority of the flight was spent catching up, playing card games and well, abusing the free alcohol in Economy Comfort policy. I’ll admit the last 5 hours or so were a bit tedious.. I was starting to panic that I hadn’t slept enough to be awake the next 12 hours…. But it was fun and I’ve worse flights. Far. Worse. Flights.

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Then something I rarely ever experience happened. We actually landed early. Instead of getting in closer to 8pm, we arrived and were off the flight by 7pm. No checked bags = no wait! So we head over the Airport Express (train) station that is inside the airport. They do have machines to purchase tickets, but if you skip those and go to the counter, they offer group rates on 4+ (but this does require talking to someone who may or may not have ANY idea what you are trying to say).

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We took the Airport Express to Kowloon Station, but since it was dark out we really couldn’t see anything. We then took a taxi from Kowloon Station to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. Typically I would recommend just walking.. but by the time we got off the plane, bought tickets and took the train ride to Kowloon, we were pushing 8 pm when the  Symphony of Lights starts, so we didn’t want to risk taking a wrong turn.

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The Symphony of Lights was number one on our bucket list. It is a laser light show projected on and from the buildings that make up Hong Kong’s skyline. When you are on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, you are in Kowloon looking over Victoria Harbour at the Hong Kong skyline. I’ll have to admit that the actual Symphony of Lights was just okay, but the skyline itself was INCREDIBLE. Absolutely gorgeous. This point was the first time since stepping off the place that we actually had a second to stop and breathe and it was a bit surreal to realize that, holy crap!, we are in Hong Kong.

The light show is only about 15 minutes, so afterwards we bought tickets on the Star Ferry to take us across Victoria Harbor and into Hong Kong.

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A lot of people take the ferry DURING the light show, but we were really close on time that we probably would have missed the show during boarding.

The ferry was a quick ride and a little rickety, but we still in awe of the skyline. It was neat to look out from all sides of the boats while in the harbor and to see the vastness of all the buildings completely surrounding us.

When we docked and got off the boat, we were off to bucket list item #2: dim sum.

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The restaurant we chose, Tim Ho Wan, the Dim-Sum Specialists, is actually the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred eatery. Even more awesome, is that it is actually located IN the International Finance Centre Mall, a stop on the Airport Express. So, if you are taking the Airport Express train from the airport and don’t get off on the Kowloon station like we did, then this is your next stop. Convenient!

However, this is where our research failed us a little bit. Tim Ho Wan was open until 9pm, but they had stopped seating closer to 8:30. Rats… but thankfully they offered us take-out :-D

The staff showed us the contents of 3 Styrofoam take away containers and asked if we wanted them. Uh, SURE! We bought them. No idea what they were.
We were able to find some general seating on the 4th floor of the train station, so the 4 of us huddled around our Styrofoam containers savoring every morsel to come out of them. I’m just sad I didn’t take more than a single photo.

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Up first: Baked bun with BBQ Pork. SO good. This is their pride and joy from what I gathered from other online reviews, so I’m really happy this happened to be in the random assortment that we bought. This pork bun is forever setting the bar for Dim Sum to me. Tasty, warm, delicious. All things awesome. (top box in the photo)

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Source: http://www.openrice.com/en/hongkong/restaurant/central-tim-ho-wan-the-dim-sum-specialists/61957

Second: Deep Fried Dumpling Filled with Meat. Slightly more unconventional compared to what I’m used to. The dumpling was heavily saturated, but so so good. Others in our group weren’t as wild about this one, but I adored it. (bottom box in the photo)
The third box: Pan fried turnip cake. This we had no idea what it was. Slightly gelatin in consistency, but no discernible taste. It was good. The box was demolished, but only later research led us to figure out what it was. I wouldn’t get this one again, but only because the first two items were THAT good.

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Source: http://www.openrice.com/en/hongkong/photo/central-tim-ho-wan-the-dim-sum-specialists

So, we were disappointed that our timing didn’t allow us to get a seat, but we thoroughly enjoyed our food. We failed on our mission to get true dim sum, but I guess that just means we need to come back!

After our meal, we snagged another taxi and made it over to the Victoria Peak tramway. For Hong Kong $40 ($5 in USD), the tram takes you up to 1,811 ft which is the highest mountain on the island. It was a STEEP ride.

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At the top there are a ton of stores and shops and then an observation deck (Sky Terrace 428). This view was stunning. Having just seen New York in June, this view makes the Big Apple seem like weak sauce. It absolutely pales in comparison. It was here that I realized I need to invest in a better camera.

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We spent a good hour on the Sky Terrace. Victoria Peak was the end of must-do items on the bucket list. So, what next? A bar. Which is fair, since at this point it is pushing closer to 11:30pm/midnight.

 

We take the tram back down the mountain and then walk over to Lan Kwai Fong. Lan Kwai Fong is a bar district that is geared towards expats. Mostly everyone here spoke English, which was nice and so we walked up and down the couple of blocks and checked out a few of the bars.

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One pretty sure-fire way to guarantee you never leave HK.

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They also had a couple 7-11s in the area. International 7-11s are notoriously awesome (as far as I’ve seen) at being an awesome place to pick up cheap, local snacks and even cheaper alcohol. The backpack came in handy as we stocked up on lots and lots of snacks and drinks.

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Around 1:30 am, the bar area started to get a little sketchy. We took a taxi back to the Hong Kong Airport Express station at the mall that we were at earlier. Unfortunately the station was locked. The good news? Hong Kong has no open-container laws. So, we camped out on the steps of the mall with our drinks and snacks and played card games until the station opened at 5:30 am.

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These were awful. AWFUL.

We bought our return tickets to the airport (and even were able to check in for our flights at the train station) and then crashed hard on the train back to the airport.

We used our flier status to check out Virgin Atlantic’s Hong Kong Clubhouse and got some free breakfast and then pretty much slept the 4ish hour flight to Tokyo.

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We only had about 2 hours for our layover in Tokyo. However, the entire trip was made because of this:

AUTOMATED. BEER. MACHINE. Yes, we raced. Plus a small spread of sushi and other food. And showers. It was a good 2 hours.

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Then we boarded our flights and I slept almost the entire way back to Seattle. I used a lounge at Sea-Tac to work for a few hours and then we boarded a flight to Chicago. We spent one night in Chicago with family before then heading to Berlin, which you can read about here! (We also had impeccable timing, because as we arrived in Berlin, we heard the news about the protests starting in Hong Kong).

Phew. So was it worth it? DEFINITELY… but I think my butt is still a little sore :)

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Des Moines Marathon 2014 Race Recap

If you’ve been reading my blog (you haven’t, no one does), you may have noticed a theme in my race recaps. I love pretty much every race I do, even when I suck. I loved the beauty of Big Sur and Duluth, I loved how the North Face Endurance Challenge (a fairly crummy race all things considered) had such a unique course considering how many times I’ve run downtown Kansas City and even Rock N Roll Las Vegas (the course that makes you run through the dark desert with nothing to see for 14 miles) has redeeming qualities (like being in Vegas)… but I’m sad to say that I really wasn’t all that thrilled with the Des Moines Marathon.

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Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything WRONG with the race. It was well run, offered plenty of parking, had a place to stay warm before the race, had plenty of well-stocked aid stations, offered a decent medal, gave away a pretty baller long sleeve pullover as the race tee and is in my absolutely favorite state. However, everything just stacked up to be mediocre and now with it 3 weeks in hindsight, I really just don’t love it. But, let me recap!

The race is sadly on a Sunday (man, I hate Sunday races… nothing like running a ton and then having to just go home so you can go to work the next day). The expo was tiny, but decent for the actual size of this race. The race merchandise was weak. I didn’t buy anything, but they did give you a solid race pullover for your race tee and I’ve worn in probably 5 times so far.

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We stayed at the Holiday Inn on Merle Hay Road which is our typical haunt for Des Moines races (Dam to Dam, HyVee Tri..). It is the cheapest in the area and there is PLENTY of downtown parking, so getting a close hotel isn’t a priority here.

Free parking was a win and we headed towards the start. The day was actually a lot colder than expected. Apparently we are rookies and so didn’t even bother checking the weather until we arrived in Iowa. This meant a stop to buy long sleeved gear on Saturday. Whoops. And yes, we bought $100 in gear despite having received those long-sleeved pullovers because we believe that strongly in not wearing the race tee on the day of the race, haha.

The start was immediately adjacent to a YMCA. We cooped up in there to stay warm and use the restrooms. A nice touch, but the lines were insane. Not the race’s fault, there were dozens of port-o-potties out there in the cold.

The race started without much fanfare. Half and Full marathoners raced together for the first few miles until the split off. The race was tiny. Only 1586 marathoners (compared to 4900 half marathoners) so the split was welcome. Unfortunately those first few miles were really the most interesting of the whole race. Running through the downtown and seeing the buildings and the Capital were nice and then we spent the next 23 miles looking at people’s houses.

I’ve taken the liberty of annotating my own map to be more descriptive of the course:

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Did you see the elevation chart? The half marathon is smooth and flat because you are running the last half of the course. The first half of the marathon is seriously hilly. Nothing crazy, but steep enough hills that if you aren’t careful, you are going to burn yourself out quickly. It also gives you the chance to check out some of the ritzier houses in the neighborhood.

You wind up and down and up and down and look at more and more houses.

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Mile 12 brings you to Drake University. You get a thrilling 400 meters around the bright blue track that has a few straggling spectators in the stands. It gives you a slight change of pace. Especially exciting for me was that I did see Jeff Galloway here. I made it my goal to try and beat him (spoiler: I didn’t).

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After the track, you get to go and look at more houses for another 5 miles. Perhaps this race is designed by the local real estate agency?

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Coming up around 16/17, you head onto some nice trails and get to run through the woods. It is a nice peaceful trail and since the crowd was so thin, I got some nice time to myself. Some nice time to question why I didn’t bring my iPod.

The on-course entertainment is also the most unusual. They really had to dig deep to come up with these acts. There were some people early on playing drums on trash cans. Interesting and Stomp-like. So modern! Then on the trail there was a violinist. Classical music is the elixir for PRs, I hear. Towards the end there was a guy parked by the river (not a joke) with his van playing a small keyboard and seeing God Bless America. I can’t lie and say that the entertainment didn’t entertain me. In fact, it gave me more to think about in terms of the strange culture that is Des Moines. There were some actual bands thrown in the mix, so it wasn’t all atypical, but definitely a far cry from the entertainment of bigger races.

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Finally I get into Waterworks Park. This gets a little interesting because there is about a mile stretch where you are running parallel to the runners who have just completed the lake loop. I saw Paul and our friend, Nick here. We also saw some of friends cheering us on! This was a good pick-me-up. We ran through the park and while you can definitely say there were a lot of spectators here, they were all just sitting in their lawn chairs staring at you while they waited for their own runner. Great. Not awkward at all.

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Finally I start approaching mile 21/22. I was excited for this part of the course around Gray’s Lake because it follows a lot of the same course as the HyVee Tri. I try to pump myself up, only a few miles left! There is an announcer near Grey’s Lake and some loud music and this was probably the highlight of the on-course entertainment. And considering the highlight is the announcer insulting my Cyclones jacket is the highlight, I think that sums up the race nicely (I’m kidding: The Cyclone/Hawkeye rivalry is thickest here!)

I trudge on through a trail that takes me closer to the city. I assumed once I got downtown the area would pick up and the spectators would bring me in strong. Eh. With all the roads blocked, there aren’t many spectators and with the cold weather, I think that scared a lot of people inside. The spectators didn’t pick up enough to be motivational until the final .2. I got a high-five and kiss from Paul and then I sprinted like a coked out orangutan in hopes that everyone couldn’t tell that I just walk/jogged the last 26 miles.

I was the last one of my group to finish. My goal was to simply beat my Berlin time from 3 weeks prior and I managed to do that by 10 minutes. I grabbed a water and then surveyed the demolished food tents and just left. My friend who ran the 5k said the beer was long gone and most of the food was as well, so we just headed out. The start and finish are right next to each other so the car was very close (a nice perk of the smaller race). Downtown Des Moines has tons of nearby restaurants and bars, so we made our own after-party. And then, since it was Sunday, got in the car to drive home 3 hours and get ready for work on Monday. Le sigh.

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So, like I said. I’m not thrilled with Des Moines. It is a nice little race that doesn’t have anything wrong, but just doesn’t have oomph to it. I’m not saying it needs to be gaudy and give you a dinner plate sized medal or throw colored powder at you, but I think the course is the problem. I can run through my own neighborhood any day of the week.. the thrill of racing is partially the chance to get to see things and run places you can’t just do on your own.

Course – D

Medal – B

Race Tee- A

Communication/Logistics/Management- A

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Everything is AWESOME (Weekly Workouts)

After becoming nearly diabetic with the amount of Halloween candy that I ate last Friday, this last week has been, well, AWESOME.

I’m pretty psyched to be back on track and even though everyone else is winding down for the off-season, I’m excited to FINALLY have some mojo back and I plan on building what will hopefully be a STELLAR winter base.

2015 Races:

January: Star Wars Rebel Challenge (Half Marathon and 10k)

March: Dirty Kanza Training Camp (4 fun-filled days of biking, biking and more biking)

April: Paris Marathon (I really really want a PR, but A race for the Spring is definitely….)

May:Dirty Kanza 200 (I’m in way over my head on this one, but I can’t be more excited to try and not fail).

October: Ironman Louisville

So, being 6 months out from anything serious (Run Disney races are purely for entertainment and minimal sweat), I’m slowly working on building up a strong base while I try and figure out how the heck to train for 200 miles of riding on gravel.

Last Week’s Workouts:

Sat (11/1): 8 mile run. I almost got out of this one since we test drove some cars in the AM and got back later than intended, but Paul made sure I got out the door.

Sun (11/2): 16.3 mile ride. My first ride on my brand new Salsa Vaya. A super windy day, a bike with no aero bars, a new bike seat and barely any cycling fitness = one rough start.. but it was still a fun time.

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Mon (11/3): 1 hr trainer ride: Used a Spinervals DVD to do an FTP test, but did all the work with none of the data. Goofed up my Trainer Road so I didn’t actually capture a new FTP. Fail, but a successful sweat.

Tues (11/4): 6 mile run outside. Me. Outside. Before 6 am. There is no way your brain can comprehend the miracle that this is.

Wed (11/5): 6 mile run outside. AGAIN. A little slower than Tuesday’s run, but still 6 miles in 1:04 on a decently hilly route. I’m a saint.

Thur (11/6): 1 hr trainer ride. Another early morning date with Coach Troy.

Fri (11/7): 40 minute trainer ride. This was technically going to be my rest day, but I am absolutely terrified by the fact that I woke up early 5 days in a row. I have to keep the momentum going or risk losing it forever.

Sat (11/8): 10 mile run. This one hurt. I tried something other than my beloved GU gels and I regretted it. My splits were awful compared to my typical runs, but there was some suffering.. but I got it done and even saw a horse.

Sun (11/9): 2 hours on the bike trainer. What started as a bizarre day (drove to the airport to ride outside, but ended up calling the cops on some sports car who was speeding back and forth and then bailed because I was intimidated and paranoid, so I rode at home on my trainer), ended up with a good workout, but a reminder that I need to slowly build up my mileage because my butt is NOT used to sitting on the bike for hours upon hours like it used to be. Only 7 months to build it up to 12/13/14/15/16 hours on that seat!

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This week’s goals: Keep the momentum going and not hate the new swim class I signed up for!

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Berlin Marathon 2014 Race Recap

It’s been a crazy fall and I have a lot to catch you up on!  The Hy-Vee Tri that I was fairly gung-ho about in my last post, ended up being fairly disappointing. Flooding reduced it to a sprint instead of an Olympic distance, but that was probably a blessing in disguise. I only would have been disappointed in the fitness I had lost since last year. However, Hy-Vee is always a great race: awesome swag, big crowds and a fun post-race celebration with friends :-D My goal is to do the Hy-Vee Tri every year.

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A few weeks later, we were off to Berlin! I’ll keep this recap short and sweet with mostly pictures. To sum up my run: I struggled, but I had fun with friends and a blast exploring Berlin on foot. I ran with Paul, and my friend, Ferg (it was his first full marathon!) and I am so glad that we mostly stuck together for the whole race :-D We had two other friends that ran with us too, but they ran at their own pace.

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Fernsehturm Berlin

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Berliner Dom

This was my first time in Europe and I absolutely loved it. Bikes everywhere! We did a ton of sightseeing in the 4 days prior to the race and while the time on our feet wasn’t conducive to a great race, Berlin was purely about survival and fun. No PRs and certainly no A games.

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The expo was hands down the largest expo I have ever seen (including Chicago and Boston!). Room after room of vendors, but we lucked out and barely had any waiting to do since we went first thing on Friday. One very neat thing was that they actually printed out your bib while you waited.  It was much quicker than searching through a pile. I also didn’t realize that they do not provide a t-shirt, even at the finish line. I’ve never done a race that doesn’t give you a shirt!.. but there was plenty of options to buy one at the expo.

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A Runner Brandenburger Tor at the Expo

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At the Expo

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A necessary souvenir

We stayed in Mitte at a cheaper hotel (EasyHotel) for the first few days we were in Berlin and then switched to the Grand Hyatt for Saturday and Sunday.  The Grand Hyatt was less than a mile to the starting area and a nice place, but pricey if you book without points.

The race didn’t start until 8:45 am, so it was strange to not wake up until 7am on a race day! Breakfast was provided by our hotel and this was my favorite part: I actually ate a pretzel before the race. I wasn’t intending on it, but when it came between a bagel and pretzel: the pretzel wins!

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The breakfast spread. I got the pretzel!

We made the walk over to the starting area and it was very easy to figure out where to go. Almost everything is in English in Germany, so we were easily able to grasp where to go and how to use the subways/trains while sightseeing.

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Walking to the race start!

 

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Waiting for the race to start. They handed these out :)

The starting line crowd was ENORMOUS. They even had some cheerleaders get up and lead the crowd through a jazzercise like warm-up. I didn’t really participate other than bob around to the music, but it was fun to watch the old guys and most of the crowd waving their arms and swaying and bouncing.

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Not a great picture, but shows the cheerleaders leading the crowd and the mascot, Fritz!

 

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Check out the running shoes on this guy! They have heels!

The first few miles were fairly crowded, but it thinned out. I would say the crowds of the race were comparable to Chicago.. packed at first, but you can get around when you need to. Even once it thinned out, there was constantly a ton of people, but with enough space to pass and breathe.

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You can just barely see the starting line up ahead. SO many people!

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Crossing the start!

It was an interesting experience running a race measured in kilometers. It makes you feel like you are FLYING at first, but by the time you get to 35km, it is a struggle trying to do the mental math to figure out how long to go! :-D

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21km = halfway!

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A shot from the course!

The best surprise: Hot tea served at aid stations is AWESOME and a magical elixir. The worst surprise: plastic cups are hard to run through! It is a miracle that I didn’t trip on these!

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Paul running through the hoards of plastic cups. It was starting to get warm out!

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We passed a lot of the sites that we had seen earlier in the week…. but hands down my favorite part was moments before the finish line when you run under the Brandenburg Gate. Incredible!

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Superman Ferg right after running under the Brandenburg Gate

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After running under the gate, the finish line feels rather small, but it felt so so good to finish! The medals are simple, but gorgeous. I’ll admit I’m getting a tad tired of the bigger is better attitude of medals we have in the states.

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After the marathon, the REAL fun started! We spent one more night in Berlin, took a fantastic train ride to Munich (YAY to no open container laws on trains!) and then spent one glorious week in carb heaven: Oktoberfest!

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Post race at the Brandenburg Gate

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Trains with bars are the best

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View of part of Oktoberfest from the top of the Ferris Wheel

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Inside on of the beer tents!

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Ferg holding 5 beers at one time

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Inside another beer tent! These can hold around 5,000-8,000 people in just one! And there were a dozen of these!

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Outside of another beer tent

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THE BEST FOOD. Cream cheese and chive stuffed pretzel. OMG. We ate these 3 times.

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Day Trip to Bavaria to see Neuschwanstein Castle. Gorgeous.

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Psycho Wyco 50k (AKA 23 miles) and Kansas 5150

July is my birthday month! I love having my birthday in the summer and it always reminds of the pool parties or trips to Six Flags that we would do for my birthday! This year, Paul had a bachelor party to attend during my birthday, so we celebrated early with sushi and seeing Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Starlight, the outdoor theatre.

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Since he was gone on my birthday, I decided to do something exciting solo. Of course, that translates to a race. I signed up for Psycho Wyco on purpose, but I meant to only sign up for the 10 mile race.. because, you know, I was supposed to have completed 50 miles the weekend before. Well, I goofed and signed up for the 50k by accident. I decided to roll with it anyway. I mean, what’s 21 more miles?

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The race started fairly late at 8am and I live pretty close to the trail, so I even got to sleep in a little bit. The 50k and 20 mile racers started at 8am and it was already pretty toasty. The course was another looped course with 3 10.3 mile loops.

I really don’t trails run very often. I love it and I wish I did, but I always get nervous about getting lost. I wear my old pair of Brooks Cascadias which I bought when we hiked the Inca Trail in 2012. I have no issues switching between these and my Brooks Adrenaline. I also wore my Orange Mud backpack which I am in love with. I was able to stash my phone in there since I was running alone, as well as Gu.

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The first loop was a blast. I had an awesome time navigating the rocks and branches. It amazes me how some people can just barrel down a hill at top speed, while I often stop to climb over things. I definitely need practice!

I finished the first loop (10 miles) about 30 minutes faster (1:30) than when I ran the loop back in December! I stopped at my gear bag and ate some jerky, refilled the water bottle in my Orange Mud backpack and then started loop 2. This loop was a lot slower, but I was still feeling good. Thankfully the trail is mostly shaded. I stopped at each aid station to fill up my bottle and I had the GREATEST bacon grilled cheese at one stop. Towards mile 17, I started to get really hot. The temp was in the mid 90s and while we were in the shade, there wasn’t any wind on the trail either.

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At the end of loop 2, I ate a lot more jerky, chips and more Gu. I started loop 3, but I was struggling and very hot. I walked almost an entire mile before trying to get my pace back up. By 1.5 miles into loop 3, I was ready to call uncle. I alternated run/walking until I got to the first aid station around mile 3. The volunteers were SO nice. They encouraged me to sit, drink, eat and take the time to cool off, but I wasn’t really interested in it. This certainly was NOT an A race, I was ready to just call it a day. One of the volunteers gave me a ride in her car back to the Start. I was feeling rather guilty for taking the ride, but she said she had driven almost 10 other people back already too. It was a HOT day.

My soaked bib

My soaked bib

I turned in my bib and they still gave me the 20 mile medal. All told I went about 23.5 miles. I know I could have toughed it out and walked the rest of the loop, but hell, it was my birthday. I wanted to get home, shower and order some pizza :-D

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The next weekend (July 20th, hey, I’m only a month behind!), we had Kansas 5150. I had originally wanted this to be an A race so that I could qualify for the 5150 championship at HyVee in August. However, after major IM burnout, I really haven’t swam or biked much this spring. Paul was in the same boat, so we just decided to go out there and get some good exercise in :-D

The swim was wetsuit legal, but boy, it was warm. I was worried almost immediately that I made a huge mistake wearing it, but it ended up not overheating me too bad. My swim was slooooow, but I felt good and steady the entire time. I never needed to flip over and backstroke or stop or anything.  My time was 44:26. Woof.

I was hoping to blow my bike time out of the water from last year just because I was now on my tri bike and I think I have grown a lot as a cyclist in general. I ended up only averaging .2 in speed more (14.2 overall), but at least I didn’t feel so deflated after my bike like I did last year. After last year, I was convinced I could never pull off an Ironman. I also felt confident knowing the course and after getting past the halfway point, I made an effort to try and kick it up a notch. I really need to get back on my trainer and riding outside, because I think I have the potential to make some real strides on the bike.

The run was HOT, but I pushed hard to get under 1:00. I ended up hitting 1:01:18, so close, but not quite. The run is still my favorite part.

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Overall, I came in last in my division (out of only 7). Ouch. However, that means I still qualified for the HyVee championship race by default…(same as last year). If you can tell by my random ultramarathons, under-trained Grandma’s Marathon, and this race, my training or lackthereof is just all over the place. If I want to get GOOD at anything, I need to pick a plan and stick to it, but right now I’m honestly having fun just experiencing everything.

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On the radar I have the HyVee Triathlon over Labor Day weekend and then the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. I’m making no promises for HyVee, but I’d love to get focused on running a bit more and race Berlin at around 4:30.

Oh, and a teeny little thing happened: Paul and I signed up for Ironman Louisville in October 2015. Sorry for partying :-D

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